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Australian Lighthouse Books

FIRST ORDER - Australia's Highway of Lighthouses

First Order – Australia’s Highway of Lighthouses documents the extraordinary history of Australia’s greatest lighthouses – those bearing a first order lens, measuring up to twelve feet high and six feet across. Painstakingly researched First Order presents in chronological order, the motivation, history of design, construction and function as well as the technical details of each lighthouse.

Searle, Garry Keith (2013) Seaside Lights, ISBN 9780992309107, Hardback
Source:, PO Box 84, Glenelg, SA Australia 5045

BEACONS OF HOPE - An Early History of Cape Otway and King Island Lighthouses

Traces the discovery of Bass Strait and the establishment of the lighthouses at Cape Otway and Cape Wickham on the northern tip of King Island and ultimately the light at Currie Harbour on King Island's West Coast

Walker, Donald (1998) Athelstone Trust, ISBN 0 646 35985 1, Soft cover book
Source: National Maritime Museum or contact the author at 8 Crisp St, Essendon VIC 3040

An autobiography by Margaret Hill, who emigrated to Australia in the 1950s. Having left a comfortable home, her family found life in a migrant hostel primitive, with poor food, hot corrugated iron rooms and very basic facilities. To escape these conditions, they took a job on an isolated lighthouse.

Hill, Margaret (1999, reprinted 2005), Cromwell Publishers, Manchester UK, ISBN 1 901679 46 2, Paperback
Source:, Robinson's book shop in Frankston (Victoria), Farrell's book shop in Mornington (Victoria) or from the author

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN - A History of Australian Lighthouses

The definitive source of information about Australian lighthouses and lighthouse history. 
From Dusk Till Dawn describes the history of Australian navigational aids, within the framework of Australian maritime history. The first part traces the early development of colonial lighthouse services in the light of competing demands for public expenditure and the overall control of the British authorities. The second part deals with the establishment of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service early in the 20th Century, and the third part discusses the social history of the work and conditions of lighthouse keepers.

Reid, Gordon (1998), Macmillan, ISBN 0 333 47709 X, Hard cover book
Source: Out of print

GUIDING LIGHTS - Tasmania's Lighthouses and Lighthousemen

A comprehensive record of Tasmania's lighthouses. The book relates the colour and drama in the lives of the lighthouse keeper and their families.

Stanley, Kathleen M. (1991) St. David's Park Publishing, ISBN 0 7246 2568 2, Soft cover book
Source: Out of print


Kristoferson's Light is an adventure story for young readers set at the Point Hicks Lighthouse on the Far East Gippsland coast. Inspired by the author's research into the history of the lighthouse for the Gippsland Heritage Journal, this novel is an historically accurate introduction for young readers into the events of James Cook's Australian landfall and the history of Point Hicks. Abalone poachers and the resident lighthouse ghost feature in this tale that wends its way through the unique Australian wildlife, Aboriginal middens, shipwrecks and sea creatures that are the magic of East Gippsland's historic Wilderness Coast.

Haldane, Robert (2003), ISBN 0 9751346 0 4, Soft cover book
Source: Available from selected Gippsland booksellers, or from the author

LEADING LIGHTS - The Story of the Warrnambool Lighthouses and Lighthouse Keepers

The Warrnambool Lighthouses, situated on Flagstaff Hill overlooking Lady Bay, came into being following the exploration of Bass Strait and the increase in shipping in the Strait

Douglas, Elizabeth (1998), Covell Publications, Warrnambool, ISBN 0 949068 27 6, Soft cover book
Source: Covell Publications, PO Box 59, Warrnambool VIC 3280

Describes the history of the lighthouse including the keepers

Ayris, Cyril (1996), Cyril Ayris Freelance, ISBN 0646277871, Soft cover book
Source: Augusta, Margaret River Tourist Bureau, PO Box 240, Augusta WA 6290

LIGHTHOUSES OF AUSTRALIA - Images from the End of an Era

A pictorial guide and history to all of the lighthouses around the Australian coast

Ibbotson, John (2000), Australian Lighthouse Traders, ISBN 0 646-41674-X, Hard cover book
Source: contact the author at Australian Lighthouse Traders, 4/19 Elm Street, Surrey Hills VIC 3127

An information guide containing details of how to visit selected lighthouses around the Australian coast, with specifics on access, directions, costs, and what to expect once there

Ibbotson, John (2003), Australian Lighthouse Traders, ISBN 0 9581214-1-9, Hard cover book
Source: contact the author at Australian Lighthouse Traders, 4/19 Elm Street, Surrey Hills VIC 3127

A reference book that includes a wealth of information and superb photographs about Australia’s remote lighthouses and buoys, plus photographs of Australia’s traditional lighthouses which were not published in John’s previous books.

Ibbotson, John (2006), Australian Lighthouse Traders, ISBN 095-812-14, Hard cover book
Source: contact the author at Australian Lighthouse Traders, 4/19 Elm Street, Surrey Hills VIC 3127

LIGHTHOUSE OF TRAGEDY - The Story of Bustard Head Lighthouse, Queensland's First Coast Light

Describes the mammoth task of building the unique, pre-fabricated cast iron lighthouse, the alteration it has undergone and the changing lifestyles of its keepers through 118 years.

Buchanan, Stuart (1999), Coral Coast Publications, ISBN 0 9586433 0 X, Soft cover book
Source: contact the author at Coral Coast Publications, PO Box 90, Samford QLD 4520

LIGHTHOUSES IN AUSTRALIA - A Guide to Records held by the Australian Archives

A Guide listing records held by the Australian Archives regional offices relating to the administration and operation of lighthouses.

Australian Archives Subject Guide No. 1. XII. (1991) Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, ISBN: 0642166250
Source: Out of print

The story of the remarkable Captain Harold Chesterman and his professional association with the sea from when he was one of the few Australian lads enrolled in a British maritime training college, through his career as a young naval officer commanding ships that fought in the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second World War, to when he captained a supply ship that serviced lighthouses and beacons along the Queensland coast. An inspiring tale of a true master mariner.

ISBN: 9781921274121
Format: Paperback
Published: 4th January 2010

P.O. Box 1615,
Rockhampton Qld 4700

With decades of accumulated research, Jervis Sparks decided to complete a quartet of books about Barranjoey lighthouse, and now the second book, The Red Light of Palm Beach, has been published. It details the lives of many of the lighthouse keepers who manned Barranjoey from 1881 until 1932, when it became automated.

Read a review of the book by Kristie Eggleston in the November/December 2005 Bulletin.

Sparks, Jervis (2005), Self-published ISBN 0 9580420 1 2, Soft cover book
Source: Contact the author directly at

The story of placing lighthouses around the coast of the Australian continent. Also a story about people - navigators, pioneers, convicts and especially lighthouse keepers.

Philips, Valmai (1997), Rigby, ISBN 0 7270 0498 O, Hard cover book
Source: Out of print

For 31 years, Jervis Sparks leased Cottage 2 at Barranjoey lighthouse, Palm Beach, NSW, Australia. It was an assistant keeper's cottage and had no electricity nor running water. Over many years he and his wife Bridget restored it to a comfortable 1800s era home - they were the unofficial caretakers of the lightstation and the headland. In 1992, Jervis published the first definitive history of that lighthouse, Tales From Barranjoey.

Sparks, Jervis (1992), ISBN 0 646 07032 0, Soft cover book
Source: Generally out of print. Contact the author at for more information.

Why did it happen? On the night of 20 August 1857, the British clipper ship Dunbar was smashed to pieces at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, sending 121 of the 122 passengers and crew to their deaths just as they were preparing to land after their 89 days from England. Why did this - Sydney's worst maritime disaster - happen? The tragedy shocked Sydney and brought down the Government of the day. Nearly 30 years later, in 1886, another fine ship, the SS Ly-ee-Moon, met a similar fate right under the lighthouse at Green Cape, south of Eden NSW. Of the 86 people aboard just 15 survived. There was no gale or heavy rain. it was a clear night and the Ly-ee-Moon was driven at 12 knots straight for the reef in front of the lighthouse. The stories, linked by the strange coincidence of the lighthouses are told in a clear non-academic form.

Mead, Richard, ISBN 0 909089 03 5, Soft cover 122 pages
Dolphin Books, Sydney Australia

Distributor: Nev Anderson Maps, +61 2 9878 2809 Email:

Records the story of the authors life and work on Queenslands lightstations

Buchanan, Stuart (1994, reprinted 2000), Coral Coast Publications, Soft cover book
Source: Contact the author at Coral Coast Publications, PO Box 90, Samford QLD 4520

THE LIGHTHOUSES OF VICTORIA - A Second Book of Paintings, Poetry and Prose
Paintings of Victoria's lighthouses, beacons and other lights, each painting accompanied by a description and a short poem

Smith, Dacre (1980), ISBN 0 9595198 2 3, Hard cover book
Source: Out of print

The story of the people who have been drawn to Montague Island NSW, whether for work in such a remote and lonely location, for amusement and sport, or to appreciate the extraordinary wealth of wildlife which finds sanctuary within its shores.

Pacey, Laurelle (2001), ISBN 0 9578487 1 4, Soft cover book
Source: Contact the author at PO Box 439, Narooma NSW 2546

THE WHITE QUEEN - A History of the Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet
A detailed history and description of Split Point Lighthouse above the Eagle Nest Reef in Bass Strait, Victoria

Carr, R.V. and Cecil, K.L. (1986), Neptune Press, ISBN 0949583618, Hard cover book
Source: Out of print

This is a story of an 1866 shipwreck of Netherby, vividly related by three different participants. Here was a ship with 413 emigrant passengers and a crew of 38, impaled at night on serrated reefs off the western coast of King Island in Bass Strait, not far from the 1845 remains of Cataraqui. It tells of a near miracle, when the senior officers of the Netherby plus the lighthouse keeper from Cape Wickham were instrumental in saving the lives of all those aboard their vessel.

Read a review by Denise Shultz in the March/April 2006 Bulletin

Charlwood, Don (2005), Burgewood Books, Warrandyte, Victoria, ISBN 1876425180, Soft cover book
Source: Burgewood Books,

WHITE TOWERS - the Illawarra Lighthouses
A history of the lighthouses on the Illawarra Coast (Crookhaven Heads to Cape Bailey). Also includes details on the restoration of the Breakwater light in Wollongong Harbour.

Fleming, A.P., with additional research and material by Herben, C. (2001), Illawarra Historical Society, ISBN 0 909 164 18 5, Soft cover book
Source: Illawarra Historical Society, PO Box 241 Wollongong NSW 2500

Reference list originally compiled by Russ McGuiness, Glenhaven NSW - July 2003 
Revised by Kristie Eggleston - Jan 05, Mar 05, Aug 05, Jun 06

Site constructed by: 
Malcolm S Macdonald t/as Lighthouse Computer Training & Development (1997-2001)
& Lighthouses of Australia Inc (2002-2007)

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