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State Indexes > QLD > Old Caloundra Lighthouse

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse

The old Caloundra Lighthouse, the oldest building in Caloundra, was in danger of disappearing again forever.津r its second rescue it is now safely back home in its original position in Caloundra.

The fully restored and relocated Old Caloundra Lighthouse [Photograph: Darlene Thomas]
The fully restored and relocated Old Caloundra Lighthouse
Photograph: Darlene Thomas

Last Operation (1968)

Latitude 26° 48'S; Longitude 153° 08'E (map)
Department of Transport
Timber & Iron
White with a Red sector
500 Watt 110 volt Phillips Lamp
Mains Power
250,000 CD
52 Metres
White 19 Nautical Miles; Red 9 Nautical Miles
11.5 Metres
Caloundra City Council

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse its the Original Location
The old Caloundra Lighthouse in its original location
Photograph: Landsborough Shire Historical Museum

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse Next It's Replacement
The old Caloundra Lighthouse next its replacement
Photograph Courtesy: The Observer


The Caloundra light was established in 1896 and is the typical Queensland tower; a timber frame with corrugated zinc anneal cladding. A single keepers cottage was built adjacent to the light.

It is the oldest surviving building in Caloundra. The light was only attended by one keeper. It was connected to Brisbane by phone.

This light served both as a harbour light and a coastal light directing traffic towards the North West Channel into Moreton Bay.

In 1910, the light was upgraded from a fixed kerosene light to a fixed 4th with an incandescent vapour kerosene lamp, the first of it's type in Queensland.

In 1942, the light was converted to 240 volt mains power with a petrol engine operated generating set as a standby.

In 1967, a new signal tower and lighthouse was erected for the Caloundra Harbour was erected next to the old lighthouse on Canberra Terrace. The old light was discontinued in 1968.

The old light remained until 1970 when under the threat of demolition the Golden Beach Power Boat Club acted and relocated the lighthouse to Woorim Park adjacent to their new clubhouse site.

No funds were made available and the move was made totally by volunteers. Due to the poor condition of the metal cladding it was rendered with concrete to seal it.



After 30 years the Caloundra Lighthouse had deteriorated to the point where it existence was threatened.

A movement, made up of residents and the Council, worked towards it restoration and return to its original location. After several years little has eventuated due to lack of funds.

One problem was that because the building was moved from its original position it was not eligible to go on the Queensland State Heritage Register and therefore did not qualify for funding. It would qualify for registration if relocated back to Canberra Terrace.

The Caloundra City Council has made $50,000 available towards the project (refer to the Bulletin Apr 99).

News Flash!

High drama occurred when on 22 March 1999, an attempt was made to relocate the light tower back to its original location.

The lantern was successful removed. However, when the tower was being positioned to be placed on a low loader for transportation, the timber framework gave away and it dropped to the ground, causing considerable damage (refer to Bulletin May 99).

The tower is placed on the ground while the damage is assessed [Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]
The tower is placed on the ground
while the damage is assessed

Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd

Fortunately the tower was not a write off and was insured. Once the insurance assessment was made the tower was braced and repairs were undertaken (refer to Bulletin Jun 99).

On 11 June 1999, the tower was placed on a float and transported to the original site in Canberra Terrace. The tower was then lifted off the float and lowered onto its original site next to the 1969 lighthouse (refer to Bulletin July 99).

Later that year after the lantern room had been restored, glazed and painted it was taken to the repaired tower and reinstated (refer to Bulletin Feb 00).

An open day was held in March 2001 to celebrate the conclusion of a long and arduous journey. The process is now to move forward to allow public access and appreciation of this Caloundra icon (refer to Bulletin Apr 01).

The Public Inspect the Lighthouse - note the news cameraman in the lantern and the emergency egress ladder positioned for public access days. [Photograph: Eddie Van Dyke]
The public inspect the restored lighthouse during the open day
Photograph: Eddie Van Dyke

The Deteriorating Condition of the Old Caloundra Lighthouse
The deteriorating condition of the old Caloundra Lighthouse
Photograph Courtesy: Brian Lord

The tower is back in its original location after 30 years. [Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]
The tower back in its original
 location after 30 years.

Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd

The Lions Club of Caloundra should be acknowledged as as they have been a driving force in the conservation and relocation of the old lighthouse and their manpower. Negotiations are underway for the Lions Club to take control of the site and (with their insurance cover) will be essential to our plans to open the old lighthouse to public tours.


The man in charge of the Post Office was also the lighthouse keeper. At the time the post office was in a house next to the

Carl Walter Edlundh

The first keeper, Mr Edlundh was assisted by his daughter Florence. Born in Stockholm, he was a seafarer who from 1869 sailed all over the world, arriving in Queensland in 1881 were he served the coastal trade before becoming a pilot in Moreton Bay.

From here he served on many Southern Queensland lights finally ending up as the keeper at Caloundra in 1896 with his wife, a Queensland woman whom he had married in 1882. In 1912 it was recorded that they had nine children, 3 boys and 6 fine girls.


When electricity came to Caloundra in 1942 the lighthouse was connected with a backup auxiliary motor in case of power failure. From this point on the light was attended from the Brisbane Depot.

Harold Chesterman who joined the Lighthouse Service shortly after WW2 states:

"It originally had a kerosene light and was converted to automatic and plugged into the town mains when I came into contact with it in the late 1940¹s. It was most unreliable and I had many a trip to Caloundra from Brisbane, where I was based at the Lighthouse Depot at New Farm. At about 5 o¹clock on winter evenings, when all the housewives in Caloundra turned on their stoves and radiators, down went the voltage and out went the light. Then it would change over to batteries and a bell would ring in the Depot and I had to drive up to Caloundra to switch it back from batteries to the mains."

Observer (22nd Feb 1995)

Charlie Bigg (who lived next to the lighthouse) was eventually engaged to look after the light. This meant that the bell would ring in Charlies' house and all that was necessary was for him to walk next door and throw the switch back to the mains.

On the rare occasions when he went to the pictures with his wife, he would engage a 'babysitter' to come in and look after the light.

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse in 1902
The Old Caloundra Lighthouse in 1902
Photograph Courtesy: The Sunday Mail

Keepers who served at Caloundra

EDLUNDH Carl Walter K 1896-1916
BIRRELL Oliver K 1916-1930
RAPKINS Eric Harold K 1930-1934
SHANAHAN Thomas RK 1934
FULLER Albert JW K ?-1936
THOMPSON Alfred Edgar K 1936-1938
SHANAHAN Thomas K 1938-1942
K=Keeper; RK=Relief Keeper
Source: Roger Todd, notes from Caloundra City Libraries, Nambour Chronicle 1912 & Ann Wallin and Associates

Please note, this list is far from complete so we are aware that there may be omissions. If you have a reasonable belief that a keeper should be added to the list please forward it with all you know so we can validate the information and add them to the list.

Please include this lighthouse's name, the keepers full name, what years they were keepers and their position. Also include the same information for any other lights they were on then send it to Web Keeper.

Note on Harold Chesterman:

Harold Chesterman, a Royal Navy officer who survived the North Sea Murmansk convoy runs in corvettes during the war, and whose experiences that "The Cruel Sea" was based on, was Captain of the Cape Moreton, a Commonwealth Lighthouse Service tender.


400 m (Caloundra)
90 km (Brisbane)
Public reserve

The Surrounding Area


Sandy Cape Trip With Denise Shultz Bulletin Feb 01
Caloundra Trip With Denise Shultz Bulletin Apr 01
Annette Flotwell's East Coast Lighthouse Trip: Part 2 Bulletin Aug 03


Old Caloundra Lighthouse Going Home at Last! Bulletin Apr 99
Disastrous End to Moving Old Caloundra Lighthouse! Bulletin May 99
Special Old Caloundra Lighthouse Report Bulletin Jun 99
Caloundra Makes it Home at Last! Bulletin July 99
Caloundra - Back in Place at Last Bulletin Feb 00
Old Caloundra Lighthouse Open Day Bulletin Apr 01

Other Old Caloundra Sites

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse Grant Maizels
Caloundra Head - Old Garry Searle

Special Thanks to:

  • Darlene Thomas for Photograph
  • Landsborough Shire Historical Museum for Historical Photographs
  • Cr Vivienne Coleman for Photographs
  • Roger Todd, Heritage Architect, President of Caloundra National Trust
  • The Sunday Mail for Historical Photographs
  • The Observer for Historical Photographs
  • Brian Lord for Photograph
  • Eddie Van Dyke for Photograph


  • Brian Lord
  • Caloundra City Libraries
  • Cr Vivienne Coleman
  • Frances Whiting
  • John Pye
  • Laurie Sharp
  • Nambour Chronicle
  • Ann Wallin and Associates
  • The Observer
  • Thomas Shanahan
  • Sunday Mail
  • Sunshine Coast Weekly
  • Ken Robertson

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