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Lighthouses of Tasmania

State Indexes > TAS > Hells Gate Lighthouses : Bonnet Island & Entrance Island

The Hells Gate Lighthouses

The Entrance Island and Bonnet Island Lighthouses stand at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, a huge inland sea of about 100 square miles.

The Entrance Island Lighthouse at the Opening of Macquarie Harbour.  Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas
The Entrance Island Lighthouse at the opening of Macquarie Harbour
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Bonnet Island Lighthouse.  Photograph: A Beck
The Bonnet Island Lighthouse
Photograph: A Beck

The Entrance Island Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

Operation: Entrance Island

LOCATION: Latitude <<>> S, Longitude <<>> E
OPERATOR: Marine Board Of Hobart
CHARACTER: Occulting 4 in 10 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: Wallace and Tiernan FA250 marine lantern
POWER SOURCE: Solar panels and Batteries
ELEVATION: 13 Metres
RANGE: 16 Kilometres (white) and 12 Kilometres (red)
HEIGHT: 8 Metres

Operation: Bonnet Island

LOCATION: Latitude <<>> S, Longitude <<>> E
OPERATOR: Marine Board Of Hobart

Entrance to Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania (outer light).  Photograph: A Beck
Entrance to Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania
Publisher: Osboldstone & Co


The narrow 120 metre entrance to the huge Macquarie Harbour was discovered in 1815.

Within a year, timber cutters moved in and navigating the narrow entrance and its sandbar was an essential hazard to getting the timber out to Hobart.

A signal station was erected near Cape Sorell in 1822 to indicates conditions entering the harbour. It was manned by convicts from the newly established penal settlement at Sarah Island.

The conditions were so bad at the new Sarah Island that the convicts named the entrance to the harbour Hells Gate. Other records indicate the name was used due to the enormous rush of the tides through the entrance to the harbour which can create very dangerous conditions.

The Opening of Macquarie Harbour Showing the Entrance Island Lighthouse.  Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas
The opening of Macquarie Harbour showing the Entrance Island Lighthouse
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

In the 1890's the discovery of silver and lead at Zeehan greatly increased the traffic entering the harbour works were taken to improve the entrance.

in 1891, a light was exhibited from two white six sided wooden towers, one on the western side of Entrance Island, and the other on Bonnet Island. Also a breakwater was constructed at Hells Gate to check the sandbar and in 1899 a light was constructed a Cape Sorell.

Bonnet Island with it's Lighthouse.  Photograph: A Beck
Bonnet Island Lighthouse
Photograph: A Beck

The Strahan Marine Board purchased a dredge in 1909 and continued to improve the entrance so that many large vessels could enter.

The Entrance Light was powered by gas until 1977, when solar panels and batteries took over.

The light was never manned, although an officer of the Strahan Marine Board was stationed at Strahan until 19 May 1970, when the Hobart Marine Board took over.

The weatherboard cladding was renewed in 1989.


The lighthouses can be reached by boat from the port of Strahan. There are regular tours of Macquarie Harbour that include the lights.

The Surrounding Area

The Historic Town and Port of Strahan

The Bonnet Island Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

Special Thanks to:

  • A Beck for Photographs
  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • Osboldstone & Co for Postcard
  • Winsome Bonham for Photographs


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  • Brian Lord
  • Marine Board of Hobart
  • Wrecks At Hell's Gates by Jack Loney

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