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Lighthouses of New South Wales

State Indexes > NSW > Nobbys Head Lighthouse

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse at Newcastle

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse was established on an island whose future was doubtful right up the period prior to the light's establishment.

Aerial view of the Nobbys Head station
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


LOCATION: Latitude 32° 55.1'S, Longitude 151° 48.0'E (map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
CHARACTER: Group Flashing (2 & 1) in 20 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 120V, 1,000 Watt, Quartz Halogen Lamp
POWER SOURCE: Mains Power, Stand-by Diesel
INTENSITY: 580,000 cd
ELEVATION: 25 metres
RANGE: 24 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 35 metres
CUSTODIAN: Newcastle Port Corporation

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse and Signal Station [Photograph: Richard Webber]
The Nobbys Head Lighthouse and Signal Station
Photograph: Richard Webber

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse at Newcastle [Photograph: Grant Maizels]
The Nobbys Head Lighthouse
Photograph: Grant Maizels

The present lighthouse was established on Nobbys Head in 1854, which was then a small isolated coastal islet just off Signal Head.

It was only the third lighthouse built in NSW after the Macquarie Light in 1818 and the Hornby Light that was also built in 1858.

The first beacon had been lit on Signal Hill in 1804 to guide vessels into the Hunter River. It was an open coal fire that was only seen for several kilometres.

An oil burning light in a large metal device was established in 1821 and was visible for 12 kilometres. The oil light was not reliable so the beacon reverted to the coal fire once again.

The small tower has since been dwarfed by the taller buildings that house the Signal Station and Port Watch, amongst other things.

Originally called Coal Island, the Nobbys Head said to have originally been 60 metres high, was joined to the main land by a causeway that was begun in 1818 and later completed in 1846.

In 1854 it was intended to blow the island away to improve the harbour but strong public protests forced cessation of the work of destruction.

However the island was further reduced to 25 metres to accommodate the building of the lighthouse and signal station in 1858.

The original 20,000 candle-power light was attended by three keepers. The light was converted to electric operation in 1935 and demanned.

The Signal Station With Lighthouse on Nobbys Heads [Photograph: Richard Webber]
The Signal Station with lighthouse on Nobbys Heads
Photograph: Richard Webber


The original light was attended by three keepers. The light was demanned in 1935 when it was converted to electric operation.

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.

Illumination Newcastle Gallery

The Nobbys Head is featured as part of the City's Floodlighting Program. The two links are:

Illumination 18:
Nobbys Lighthouse, 1995
Nobbys Lighthouse, 1995
Illumination 19:
Nobbys Lighthouse, 1995
Nobbys Lighthouse, 1995


DISTANCE: <<>> (Newcastle)
: 156 km (Sydney)
ACCESS: Only on breakwater. Lightstation restricted.

The lighthouse is at the end of a long man-made spit at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. Access to the signal station and lighthouse maybe restricted at times.

Nobbys Head Juts Into the Sea at the Entrance of Newcastle Harbour [Photograph: Grant Maizels]
Nobbys Head juts into the sea at the entrance of Newcastle Harbour
Photograph: Grant Maizels

The Surrounding Area

Nobbys Head from the breakwater
Photograph: Brian Lord


Lighthouses From the Air: Part 2 Bulletin Oct 01
Lighthouses From the Air: Part 7 Bulletin Mar 02
Annette Flotwell's East Coast Lighthouse Trip: Part 3 Bulletin Sep 03


Expressions of interest for use of Nobbys Head Lighthouse Bulletin Aug 03

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse and Signal Station
Photograph: Annette Flotwell


Looking for William Gardiner Bulletin Aug 00
Response to Looking for Horace Parker Bulletin Apr 01
Lighthouse keepers in NSW - Josiah, Fred Sr, Fred Jr & Bill Warren Bulletin Sep 03

Aerial view of Nobbys Head
Photograph: Newcastle Ports Corporation

Other Nobbys Head Sites

History > Newcastle Peninsula « Nobbys sequence Newcastle Port Corp
The Nobbys Head Lighthouse at Newcastle Grant Maizels
The Nobbys Head Lighthouse, NSW « Heaps of historic postcards Garry Searle

Special Thanks to:

  • Grant Maizels for Photographs
  • Richard Webber for Photographs
  • Annette Flotwell for Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • Brian Lord for Photograph
  • Newcastle Ports Corporation for Photograph
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph


  • Brian Lord
  • AMSA

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