Lighthouses of Australia: Northern Territory
Australia's Northern Territory occupies the north central
part of the country with a tropical coastline facing the
Timor Sea to the northwest, the Arafura Sea to the north,
and the Gulf of Carpentaria to the east. Except for the port
and naval base of Darwin, the coast is thinly populated and
difficult to reach.
The territory has five more or less traditional lighthouses, all associated
with the approaches to Darwin. Unfortunately, all the lighthouses are
either closed to the public or difficult to reach, so they are not very
The lighthouses are managed by the Australian
Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) or by the Darwin
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume K of the
Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA numbers are
from Publication 111.
- General Sources
of Northern Territory
- The section of the Lighthouses
of Australia site devoted to Northern Territory lights.
and Lightvessels in Australia - Northern Territory
- Index to Wikipedia articles; many include photos.
from the Air - Part 6
- Article from the Lighthouses of Australia Bulletin of February
2002, including good aerial photos of Northern Territory lighthouses.
Australia Chasing Lighthouses - Part 2
- Article from the Lighthouses of Australia Bulletin of December
2000 by John Ibbotson, including visits to the Point Charles and Cape
- Australian Lighthouses
- This site, posted by Kevin Mulcahy, has a comprehensive list of Australian
- World of Lighthouses - Northern Territory
- Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Australiens und Ozeaniens auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Point Charles Light, Darwin, November 2010
Wikimedia Creative Commons
- Tiwi Islands Lighthouse
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 30 m (98 ft); three white flashes, separated
by 2 s, every 15 s. 15 m (49 st) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery;
entire structure painted white. Winsome Bonham has an aerial
photo, and Google has a satellite
view. Located at the southwestern point of Bathurst Island, marking the
beginning of the approach to Darwin from the Timor Sea. The island is an aboriginal
reserve, and visitors require a permit from the Tiwi Islands Land Council.
Tours are available from Darwin. Site open, tower closed. Operator/site manager:
AMSA. ARLHS AUS-244; Admiralty K3318; NGA 9520.
Darwin Area Lighthouses
- * Point
- 1893. Active; focal plane 39 m (128 ft); white flash every 5 s. 32 m (105
ft) hexagonal pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower with central cylinder, lantern,
and gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Wikipedia has a fine article including the photo seen above, Wikimedia has additional photos, Huelse has
posted a historic postcard
image of the light station, Bryson Lashbrook has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view. The oldest lighthouse in Northern
Territory, Point Charles Light was prefabricated in England by Chance Brothers. In the late 1990s, the surrounding land, formerly
a Radio Australia facility, was leased to Christian Voice Broadcasting. CVB fenced the property in 2003, shutting off public access to the lighthouse. However, the lease expired in June 2010, and it is reported that access has been restored. Located
on a headland about 25 km (15 mi) northwest of Port Darwin. Site believed to be open (more definite information needed), tower
closed. Operator/site manager: AMSA. ARLHS AUS-056; Admiralty K3322; NGA 9524.
- Emery Point (2)
- 1915 (station established 1900). Active; focal plane 18 m (60 ft);
three flashes every 15 s, white or red depending on direction. 9.5
m (31 ft) square steel skeletal tower with lantern and gallery; entire
structure painted white. A photo is at right, a good 2007 photo
is available, John Ibbotson has a good closeup
photo, Wayne Roddom has a distant view, and Google has a satellite
view. Located in the Larrakeyah Barracks, a historic military
post at the entrance to the inner harbor of Darwin. Site and tower
closed (Larrakeyah Barracks is now the headquarters of Australia's
Northern Command). Operator: Darwin
Port Corporation (?). Site manager: Larrakeyah Barracks. ARLHS
AUS-071; Admiralty K3324; NGA 9528.
Emery Point Light, Darwin, July 2007
Flickr photo copyright suey_j; used by permission
- East Vernon (2)
- Date unknown (station established 1928). Active; focal plane 12
m (39 ft); flash every 5 s, white, red or green depending on direction.
11 m (36 ft) square cylindrical white fiberglass tower mounted on a square platform supported by robust piles. James Smith contributed the photo at right, and Bing has a satellite
view. The present tower is probably built on the
same piles that supported the original. Lighthouses of Australia has
photo of the original lighthouse; it was a square skeletal tower
with lantern and gallery that appears to be twice the listed height
of the present tower. The light guides vessels approaching
Darwin from the northeast. Located just offshore on the south
side of East Vernon Island, about 60 km (40 mi) northeast of Darwin.
Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS AUS-066; Admiralty
K3316; NGA 9540.
- [Southwest Vernon Island]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 6 m (20 ft) white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on the northern tip of Southwest Vernon Island, about 10 km (6 mi) west southwest of the East Vernon Light. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty
K3317; NGA 9536.
- [Northwest Vernon Island]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); two flashes every 10 s, white or red depending on direction. 9 m (30 ft) white fiberglass tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located off the west end of Vernon Island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty
K3317.5; NGA 9538.
East Vernon Light, 2012
photo copyright James Smith; used by permission
- Cape Hotham
- 1928. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); three white flashes, separated
by 2 s, every 15 s. 16.5 m (54 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern
and gallery; entire structure painted white. Winsome Bonham has an aerial
photo, and Bing has a satellite
view. Civil Plus Constructions has photos of a repainting of the lighthouse in 2010. Located at the end of a long peninsula about 80 km (50 mi)
northeast of Darwin, marking the entrance to the Clarence Strait,
the eastern approach to Darwin. Accessible by boat or helicopter. Site status unknown, tower closed.
Operator/site manager: AMSA. ARLHS AUS-245; Admiralty K3315; NGA 9544.
West Arnhem Lighthouses
- Note: Arnhem Land is a large region at the northeastern corner of the Northern Terrtitory.
- 1917. Active; focal plane 50 m (163 ft); white flash every 10 s. 36 m (118
ft) cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery rising from an octagonal
base. Tower unpainted, lantern painted white. The keeper's houses have been
converted to a fishing lodge; renovated in 2010, they are available for overnight accommodations.
A photo is at right, Winsome Bonham has an aerial
photo, and Google has a fine satellite
view of the station. Cape Don is Australia's northernmost traditional lighthouse,
standing in latitude 11°18.0' S. This is the only Northern Territory
lighthouse on the territory's Heritage
Register. In 2005 the original Chance Brothers 3rd order Fresnel lens
and its rotating apparatus were discovered in storage and donated to the Queensland Maritime Museum in Brisbane. Located on the tip of the Cobourg Peninsula, marking the entrance
to the Dundas Strait. Accessible by boat or by air; driving from Darwin is
possible in the dry season but requires permits and careful preparation. Site
open, tower closed. Operator: AMSA. Site manager: Garig
Gunak Barlu National Park. ARLHS AUS-028; Admiralty K3314; NGA 9548.
- New Year Island
- Date unknown (1963?). Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); three white flashes
every 30 s. 30 m (98 ft) slender round cylindrical steel tower with gallery,
supported by guy wires. The Northern Territory Library has a 1986 photo, but Google's distant satellite
view does not show the lighthouse. Located on a small island in the Arafura
Sea about 60 km (40 mi) northeast of Cape Don. Accessible only by boat. Site
and tower closed. ARLHS AUS-179; Admiralty K3313; NGA 9552.
East Arnhem Lighthouses
- Cape Wessel (2?)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 54 m (177 ft); white flash every 5 s.
30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower with a small white fiberglass lantern. The Northern Territory Library has a 1986 photo, and Bing has a distant satellite
view. Lorraine Phelan has a 1972 photo showing an earlier tower. Cape Wessel is at the end of the Wessel Islands, a chain of islands
extending 120 km (75 mi) northeast from the Napier Peninsula into the Arafura
Sea. The light here guides vessels entering the Gulf of Carpentaria, the large
embayment of northeastern Australia. Located on Rimbija Island, the northeasternmost
island of the archipelago. Accessible only by boat. Admiralty K3312; NGA 9556.
- Truant Island (2?)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 39 m (128 ft); two white flashes every
15 s. 18 m (59 ft) skeletal tower. No current photo available, and Google's distant satellite
view does not show the lighthouse. The Northern Territory Library has a photo, taken either in 1975 or 1986, that shows a round cylindrical stainless steel tower like the 1970 Imperieuse Reef Light off the Kimberley coast and the 1974 Pelsaert Island Light in the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (both in Western Australia). Located atop a small island about 75
km (45 mi) south of Cape Wessel. Accessible only by boat. Admiralty K3311;
Cape Don Light, West Arnhem, January 2009
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: East: Queensland's Far North
| West: Western Australia
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Posted June 25, 2004; checked and revised July 28, 2014. Lighthouses:
9. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at