Lighthouses of Australia: Coral Sea Islands Territory
Australia administers all the islands and reefs of the
Coral Sea south of latitude 12° S and west of longitude 157° E.
Within this area and east of the Great Barrier Reef there are 18 major
reef systems that include at least a small amount of dry land and at
least a dozen other reefs that are submerged entirely or dry only at
low tide. In 1969, these bits of land were assembled into the federally
administered Coral Sea Islands Territory.
None of the islands have ever been inhabited, and the only habitable structure
on any of them is the Bureau of Meteorology station on Willis Island. The station was established in 1921 to provide early
warning of tropical cyclones threatening the coast of Queensland. Willis
Island is normally staffed by three meteorologists and an electronics engineer.
Navigational lights in the territory are maintained and operated by the
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Admiralty numbers are from volume K of the Admiralty
List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA numbers are from Publication
- General Sources
- Map of the Coral Sea Islands Territory
- Wikimedia's useful map of the territory comes from Polish Wikipedia.
- Bougainville Reef (3)
- Date unknown (station established 1943). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20
m (66 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower with gallery, mounted on concrete
piles. Lighthouse painted white. The tower also carries an automatic weather station. A very distant view
is available, but the reef is only a blur in Google's satellite view. Bougainville Reef is an atoll, submerged at high tide, in the
northwestern corner of the territory about 250 km (160 mi) southeast of Cape
Melville, Queensland. The reef is named for the French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who discovered it in 1768. A "temporary" light was established during World War II; it survived until being replaced with a square pyramidal skeletal tower in 1958. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Site
manager: AMSA. Admiralty K3206; NGA 9884.
Lihou Reef Light, 1999
- [Willis Islets (Willis Island) (2)]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane not listed; two continuous green lights. First listed by NGA in 2015, with no description of the structure carrying the lights.
It's possible the lights are on the weather radar tower seen in photos of the weather station. Previously the light (Admiralty K3206.5) was listed as being on a 13 m (43 ft) "radio mast," a steel pole carrying radio
antennas as well as the light. This light was reported "unlit" in 2005. The mast is seen just beyond the weather
station in Laurie Lindner Constructions's 2008 aerial
photo, but in a November 2011 photo it has disappeared. The company built the current weather station in 2006-07. Another aerial photo of the island is also available, and Google has a very distant satellite
view. Willis Island is the southernmost of three small islands of the Willis atoll. Located roughly 600 km (375 mi) northeast of Townsville,
Queensland. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Site manager:
AMSA. Admiralty K3206.55; NGA 9886.
- Lihou Reef
- 1999. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 10 s.
34 m (111 ft) square cylindrical red fiberglass tower, mounted on a square
cylindrical steel skeletal tower with gallery supported by four concrete
piles. A photo is at the top of this page, but Google's satellite view does not show the location of the tower. The Lihou
Reef is one of the largest atolls in the world,
roughly 100 km (60 mi) by 30 km (20 mi). It is named for the British ship captain John Lihou, who discovered the reef in 1823. In 1982 the atoll was established
as the Lihou
Reef National Nature Reserve, now part of the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. The lighthouse is located near the northeastern
end of the atoll, about 640 km (400 mi) east southeast of Cairns, Queensland.
Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: AMSA. Admiralty
K3206.6; NGA 9886.5.
- East Diamond Island
- 2006. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); white flash every 5 s.
25 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery. A closeup photo is available, but the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. East Diamond is an island
in the Tregosse Reef system, which lies to the west of the Lihou atoll. Accessible
only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: AMSA. Admiralty K3206.7;
- Frederick (Fredericks) Reef
- Around 1990 (?). Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white flash every 5 s.
33 m (108 ft) round multistage metal tower mounted on a concrete pier. A Bureau of Meteorology photo is at right, Vaughn Bowden has a photo, and a 2010 photo is
available, but the reef is only a blur in Google's satellite view. The Frederick
Reefs and Saumarez
Reefs (next entry) are in the southwestern corner of the Coral Sea, east
of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef at Swain Reef. Located at the
northeastern tip of the reef, about 450 km (280 mi) northeast of Gladstone
and 180 km (110 mi) east of Swain Reef. Accessible only by boat. Site open,
tower closed. Site manager: AMSA. Admiralty K3016; NGA 10220.
- Saumarez Reef
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); four white flashes every
20 s. 19 m (62 ft) skeletal tower with gallery; a square cylindrical section is mounted on a platform supported by four widely spread legs. The reef is only a blur in Google's satellite view. Located at the
northeastern tip of the reef, about 330 km (205 mi) northeast of Gladstone
and 85 km (55 mi) east of Swain Reef. Accessible only by boat. Site open,
tower closed. Site manager: AMSA. Admiralty K3015; NGA 10300.
Frederick Reef Light, early 1990s
Australian Bureau of Meteorology photo
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: East: New Caledonia | West: Queensland East Coast
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Posted March 20, 2009. Checked and revised May 16, 2016.
Lighthouses: 5. Site copyright 2016 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.