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Lighthouses of Northern Territory

State Indexes > NT > Point Charles Lighthouse

The Point Charles Lighthouse

Point Charles Lighthouse is the oldest in the Territory, built in 1893.

The Point Charles Lighthouse from the air [Photograph: EJ]
The Point Charles Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: EJ


LOCATION: Lat. 12° 23.5' S, Long. 130° 37.8' E (map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
CONSTRUCTION: Wrought & Cast Iron
CHARACTER: Flashing 0.1 in 5 sec
LIGHT SOURCE: 12v Halogen Lamp
POWER SOURCE: Solar panels
INTENSITY: 37,000 cd
ELEVATION: 39 metres
RANGE: 17 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 32 metres
CUSTODIAN: In dispute

The MV Cape Don Crew supplying Point Charles in 1963 [Photograph: AMSA]
The MV Cape Don Crew supplying Point Charles in 1963
Photograph: AMSA

MV Cape Don Crew conducting maintenance on Point Charles in the 1950s [Photograph: AMSA]
MV Cape Don Crew conducting maintenance on Point Charles in 1963
Photograph: AMSA


Since settlement in 1870, the port at Darwin had always been difficult to navigate due to shallow waters, swift currents and many shoals, most of them uncharted.

The South Australian Government had been pressured for years to build a lighthouse by mariners and others, but was loath to spend money for the distant Northern Territory. Nevertheless, construction on the NT's first lighthouse began in 1892, at Charles Point on the northern end of the Cox Peninsula, 21 kilometres from Darwin. 

The wrought iron tower consisted of a central tube, almost two metres in diameter, braced and strutted. A spiral staircase in the tube led to the lanternroom, where a Chance Brothers revolving first-order dioptric optic using a vapourised kerosene burner with incandescent mantle was installed. The light began operating in 1893, showed a green, white and red light.

The focal plane was 26 metres about ground, and 36 metres above sea level, enabling the beam to be seen for 32 kilometres, and from Darwin itself. 

Lightkeepers cottages were also constructed, made of galvanised iron, with wooden floors and surrounded by verandahs to help with the heat.


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

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 Point Charles Lighthouse [Photograph: Winsome Bonham]
The Point Charles Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham


NEAREST TOWN: Wagait Beach
DISTANCE (Wagait Beach): 8 km
DISTANCE (Darwin): 138 km by road. 12 min by sea.
ACCESS: Is currently an issue with Christian Voice lease

The Surrounding Area


Update on access to Point Charles Lighthouse, NT Bulletin Apr 03

The Point Charles Lighthouse from the air [Photograph: John Ibbotson]
Point Charles Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: John Ibbotson

Special Thanks to:

  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph
  • AMSA for Photographs
  • EJ for Photograph
  • John Ibbotson for Photograph


  • Des Stones for information
  • Thierry Tomczak for information
  • From Dusk to Dawn by Gordon Reid

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