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Lighthouses of New South Wales

State Indexes > NSW > Cape St George Lighthouse

The Ruins of the Cape St George Lighthouse.  Photograph: Tim Profert
The Ruined Cape St George Lighthouse
Photograph: Tim Propert

The Ill-Fated Cape St George Lighthouse

The Cape St George Lighthouse was doomed from its very inception. A result of official bungling and lack of supervision, its light lasted for less than 40 years, after which it was unceremoniously destroyed.

Last Operation (1899)

LOCATION: Latitude 35° 09' S, Longitude 150° 39' E (map)
OPERATOR: New South Wales Pilot Board
CHARACTER: 1 Flash every 15 Seconds
DESTROYED: 1917-1922 Naval Target Practice
CUSTODIAN: Parks & Wildlife Service NSW


Recommended in 1856, controversy surrounded this light before construction had even began and completed in 1860. Decisions on the need for a light and its location were made without even consulting the Pilots Board, the controlling authority, about the efficiency of a light at that location.

The problem was that the light was could not be visible from the Northern approach to Jervis Bay, and would barely be visible from the southern approach. Furthermore, the original map and marking of the proposed lighthouse location were so inaccurate that later there were doubts as whether the light had been erected on the selected sight. On top of this inaccuracy the contractor seems to have built the light closer to the quarry he was obtaining the stone from! In fact when inspected by members of the Pilots board it was found to be two and a half miles north of the intended site.

A Select Committee was established by the New South Wales Government to investigate the errors in locating the lighthouse.

From 1864 to 1893 there were twenty three ships wrecked on the South Coast of NSW in the vicinity of Jervis Bay.

The light was eventually replaced in 1889 by a new lighthouse at Point Perpendicular, a much more suitable location for a lighthouse on this part of the coast. The lantern was removed and later used in the Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse built in 1904.

After the commissioning of the new light it was considered that the confusion of having two towers in close proximity to one another would be a hazard to mariner in daylight. As a result, the Cape St George Tower was unceremoniously used from 1917 to 1922 for target practice by the Australian Navy and destroyed.

The Ruined Tower of the Cape St George Lighthouse.  Photograph: Tim Profert
The ruined Cape St George Lighthouse
Photograph: Tim Propert


The lighthouse staff and their families also were affected by tragedy.

In 1895, Edward Bailey, the Chief Lighthouse Keeper was fishing about 3km south of the lighthouse with two of his sons when he was washed off the rocks and drowned leaving a large family of eleven children. Edward a strong swimmer was heading for the shore when he disappeared beneath the waves. The boys had earlier noticed three large sharks swimming close by and it was thought that they might have taken him.

His son Arthur took over his father's position and continued to rear his brothers and sisters. Another son Edward became the Head Lighthouse keeper at Pt. Perpendicular when it opened in 1899.

Harriet Parker daughter of second light house keeper accidentally shot dead in 1887 by Kate Gibson the head keeper's daughter.

We need your help in compiling a list of keepers for this lighthouse. If you have any information then send it to Web Keeper.

Please include this lighthouse's name, the keepers full name and what years they were keepers. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on.

Preservation Issues

Work was to be undertaken to stabilise the ruin from any further deterioration and to make it safer for tourist access.


DISTANCE: 12 km (Huskisson)
: 265 km (Canberra)
: 180 km (Sydney)
ACCESS: Located within the Cape Jervis Military Reserve. Gravel road last 10 kilometres. Car park 150 metres from ruins.
TOURS: Self guided

The Ruins of the Cape St George Lighthouse.  Photograph: Tim Profert
The ruined Cape St George Lighthouse
Photograph: Loretta Dunlop

The Surrounding Area


Coroner’s Inquest - Harriet Parker, Cape St. George Bulletin Jun 2003
Pt Perpendicular Expedition (Part 2) Bulletin Dec 1999


Newspaper Article Marks Point Perpendicular 100th Bulletin Jun 1999

All that remains of the Cape St George lighthouse tower
Photograph: Kristie Eggleston


Looking for William Robert Saunders Griffin Bulletin Oct 2001

Other Cape St George Sites

The Ruined Lighthouse Jervis Bay in Depth

Special Thanks to:

  • Kristie Eggleston for Photograph
  • Loretta Dunlop for Photographs
  • Tim Propert for Photographs


  • Brian Lord
  • Ford Kristo, Cape St George lighthouse, Geo Magazine
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid
  • Helen Ruttley
  • Register of the National Estate

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