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State Indexes > VIC > Gabo Island Lighthouse

The Gabo Island Lighthouse

The Gabo Island Lighthouse, renown for its striking red granite tower, was built on the south eastern tip of the remote wilderness island. Lightkeepers endured much hardship in the early years.

The Gabo Island Lighthouse against an impending storm
Photograph: David Armstrong


The operation of Gabo Island has been significantly downgraded with the conversion to solar power in 1993. Much of its role has been taken over by a solar light at Little Rame Head, a bluff, about 35 kilometres away on the coast of the mainland.

LOCATION: Latitude 37° 34' 3" S, Longitude 149° 55' 2" E [map]
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
EXHIBITED: 1853 Wooden Tower; 1862 Granite Tower
CHARACTER: Group Flashing every 20.0 seconds
POWER SOURCE: Solar Arrays
INTENSITY: 30,000 cd
ELEVATION: 55 metres
RANGE: 16 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 46.9 metres
CUSTODIAN: Parks Victoria


The earliest attempt to erect a lighthouse on the island was abandoned in 1846 after excavations to the depth of 66 feet (20 metres) to find bedrock upon which foundations could be laid had used all the allocated funding.

A light was eventually established in 1853. It was a wooden tower pre-assembled in Sydney, then dismantled and re-erected on the island.

The lantern that had been intended for the the abandoned lighthouse was held in storage and used in this lighthouse.

Conditions for keepers attending the first light were hard with poor shelter and irregular supplies.

The current lighthouse was completed in 1862 using red granite quarried on the island. Keepers quarters were improved at this time and again in 1888.

The new light had a new first order lantern and a fixed catadioptric lens.

In 1913, it was converted to a revolving light to give it a more distinctive character.

In 1917, the light was upgraded to a incandescent kerosene mantle burner. At this point the character was again changed to group flashing.

A further upgrade was undertaken in 1935 to electric operation powered by diesel generators. The light source was a 120 volt, 1000 watt tungsten halogen lamp, producing 900,000 candles

With the advent of modern navigation aids the light was downgraded in 1993 and converted to solar power.

The island is separated from the mainland by a shallow channel, one kilometre wide. Supplies in the early days were delivered by ship and later by helicopter.

Storms often lashed the island, and if one story is to be believed, the tide with a very severe one in 1895 came right up to the side of the walls of the houses, 16 metres above normal high tide!

The Gabo Island Lighthouse
Photograph: David Armstrong

A real 1895 high water mark ?
Photograph: David Armstrong

The Gabo Island Lighthouse
Photograph: David Armstrong

The Solar Beacon at Little Rame Head
Photograph: David Armstrong


NEAREST TOWN: Mallacoota
DISTANCE (Mallacoota): 16 kilometres
DISTANCE (Melbourne): <<>>
ACCESS: Air (access is restricted) & sea
TOURS: By arrangement

Gabo from air looking south. Light on top left point
Photograph: David Armstrong

The Surrounding Area


The "Riverina" Pilgrimage Bulletin Feb 03

The base of the Gabo Island tower
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Gabo Island Lighthouse from the air
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Aerial view of the Gabo Island Lighthouse
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

Other Gabo Island Sites

Gabo Island Lighthouse Parks Victoria
Gabo Island Lighthouse MaxM3
Gabo Island Lighthouse Garry Searle
Getting Away to Gabo Island Australia Maria Brandl
Into the Light, Alex Lyall, artist, visits the secrets of her past Australian Story

Special Thanks to:

  • David Armstrong for Photographs
  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • Winsome Bonham for Photograph


  • AMSA
  • Brian Lord
  • The Lighthouses of Victoria by Dacre Smyth
  • From Dusk Till Dawn by Gordon Reid

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