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State Indexes > NSW > Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse

The Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse

Wollongong is the only point on the eastern coast of Australia which has two lighthouses.

The old Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse is located on the end of the breakwater, assisted the passage of vessels into the Wollongong Harbour.

The Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse [Photograph: Apoloniusz Lysejko]
The Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse
Photograph: Apoloniusz Lysejko

Operation (1974)

LOCATION: Latitude 34ⵧ S, Longitude 150嵧 E (map)
OPERATOR: Maritime Services Board of NSW
CONSTRUCTION: wrought iron
CHARACTER: Group White & Red 3 in 20 Seconds
POWER SOURCE: Mains Electricty
INTENSITY: 1000 cd
ELEVATION: 17.1 Metres
RANGE: 10 N Miles (18 Kilometres)
HEIGHT: 12.8 Metres
DEACTIVATED: 1974. Note: Restored light is relit for special occasions.
CUSTODIAN: Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources
HERITAGE: Register of the National Estate


The lighthouse was built in 1871, is situated in the Belmore Basin on the southern breakwater.

Edward Orphan Moriarty, the Engineer-in-Chief of Harbours and Rivers Department, NSW, designed the Lighthouse.

The tower is constructed of wrought iron on a ferro-concrete base.

Joseph Mather won the contract to build the lighthouse, as well as an identical one which was built next at Ulladulla, later moved to Warden Head.

The wrought iron plates were designed and assembled in his foundry, after which they assembled them on site.

It is not known when the original oil burner was replaced. Gas was supplied to the town in 1883. It is known in 1908 that a Kern Gas Burner was installed.

An acetylene gas burner was installed in 1916 and was considered to be a great improvement.

Again it is not clear when the light was upgraded to electricity. Some believe 1922, others as late as 1947.

The first request for a lighthouse was made in 1866 by the Wollongong Borough Council.

Until the lighthouse came into service a temporary red light was fixed in a box at the end of the pier.

While the lighthouse was being constructed their was concern that the tower would not survive in gale force weather, and that under these conditions the keeper would not be able to reach it on the end of the breakwater.

Work was delayed by heavy seas which the lighthouse tower did survive.

Even though the lantern was installed in July 1871 the light was not exhibited regularly until January 1872.

The original Chance apparatus was dismantled about 1970 and the Maritime Services Board of NSW proposed to use it at Eden on the South Coast.

The new Wollongong Head Lighthouse was constructed on Flagstaff Point to the south of the Breakwater in 1937 and took over as the major light in the area.

The breakwater light was extinguished in 1974.


Preservation Issues

Due to years of neglect the wrought iron plates, railing and footing had deteriorated so much that the lighthouse was considered for demolition in the 1970s, however the Wollongong community called for its retention.

This light was placed on Register of the National Estate in 1982, and local organizations contributed to its full restoration in 1978-79.

The lighthouse was transferred to the NSW State in 1997 and is now under the control of Waterways.

It is still the original configuration, divided into three storeys with wooden floors, each storey being connected by iron ladders, the ladder from ground level being outside.

A complete restoration was begun in 2000 and when near completed it was exhibited for the first time in 18 years in March 2002 to coincide with the IALA Conference in Sydney and the Lighthouses of Australia Annual Dinner in Wollongong.

LoA's own Ian Clifford was heavily involved in organising the relighting including preparing the apparatus and setting an historically correct flashing sequence.

The badly deteriorated Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse before restoration [Photograph: Ed Kavaluinas]
The badly deteriorated Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse before restoration

Photograph: Ed Kavaluinas

The opening of the newly restored Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The opening of the newly restored Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse in 2002
Photograph: Ian Clifford

The restored Lighthing apparatus [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The restored lighting apparatus
Photograph: Ian Clifford

The restoration won the highly competitive Australian Engineering Excellence Awards. Further the light was lit once again to celebrate the win during Engineers Week.

Restoration articles in the Bulletin:


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.

The old and the new Wollongong Lighthouses [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The old and the new Wollongong Lighthouses
Photograph: Ian Clifford


NEAREST TOWN: Wollongong
DISTANCE: 1.5 km (Wollongong )
: 80 km (Sydney)
ACCESS: By foot over Breakwater

The Surrounding Area


Pt Perpendicular Expedition Report: (Part 1 of 2) Bulletin Nov 99
Pt Perpendicular Expedition Report: (Part 2 of 2) Bulletin Dec 99
Lighthouses From the Air: Part 2 Bulletin Oct 01
LoA Annual Dinner to Coincide With IALA Sydney 2002 Bulletin Jan 02
2002 LoA Inc Annual Dinner Bulletin Apr 02
US Lighthouse Society Tours Australia - Part 1 Bulletin May 02
Wollongong Breakwater Re-lit Again Bulletin Aug 02
From Poland to Australia – A European's View of Sydney Lighthouses Bulletin Apr 03
LoA Committee member profile: Ian Clifford Bulletin Aug 03
Annette Flotwell's East Coast Lighthouse Trip: Part 3 Bulletin Sep 03


128-year-old Wollongong Lighthouse gets a facelift Bulletin Jul 00
Stage One Renovations Finished at Wollongong Breakwater Bulletin Feb 01
White Towers Re-released Bulletin Jul 01
Award for Wollongong Breakwater Restoration Bulletin Dec 01
Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse Relit Bulletin Apr 02


Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse Bulletin Feb 00
Is William Edwards still rattling around the old Wollongong Lighthouse? Bulletin May 02

Other Wollongong Breakwater Sites

Amery announces $200,000 for lighthouse works DIPNR
One night of light to celebrate lighthouse's 130th birthday DIPNR
Restoration of the Wollongong Breakwater AEEA
Engineers to celebrate with a flick of the switch DIPNR
Wollongong Harbour (Wollongong) - NSW << Great Historic Images Garry Searle
The Wollongong Lighthouses Grant Maizels

The Old Iron Lighthouse at the End of the Breakwater from the air [Photograph: Winsome Bonham]
The Old Iron Lighthouse at the End of the Breakwater from the air
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

Special Thanks to:

  • Apoloniusz Lysejko for Photograph
  • Brian Lord for Photographs
  • Kim Stephenson, DIPNR, for Information
  • Lightstorm Photography for Photographs
  • Richard Webber for Photographs
  • Rod Cairns for Photographs


  • Brian Lord
  • White Towers - The Illawarra Lighthouses, A P Fleming, Illawarra Historical Society

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