The Nobbys Head Lighthouse at Newcastle

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse at Newcastle

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse was established on an island whose future was doubtful right up the period prior to the light's establishment.

Aerial view of the Nobbys Head station
Photograph: Winsome Bonham

LOCATION: Latitude 32° 55.1'S, Longitude 151° 48.0'E (map)
OPERATOR: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
CHARACTER: Group Flashing (2 & 1) in 20 seconds
LIGHT SOURCE: 120V, 1,000 Watt, Quartz Halogen Lamp
POWER SOURCE: Mains Power, Stand-by Diesel
INTENSITY: 580,000 cd
ELEVATION: 25 metres
RANGE: 24 nautical miles
HEIGHT: 35 metres
CUSTODIAN: Newcastle Port Corporation

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse and Signal Station
Photograph: Richard Webber


The present lighthouse was established on Nobbys Head in 1854, which was then a small isolated coastal islet just off Signal Head.

It was only the third lighthouse built in NSW after the Macquarie Light in 1818 and the Hornby Light that was also built in 1858.

The first beacon had been lit on Signal Hill in 1804 to guide vessels into the Hunter River. It was an open coal fire that was only seen for several kilometres.

An oil burning light in a large metal device was established in 1821 and was visible for 12 kilometres. The oil light was not reliable so the beacon reverted to the coal fire once again.

The small tower has since been dwarfed by the taller buildings that house the Signal Station and Port Watch, amongst other things.

Originally called Coal Island, the Nobbys Head said to have originally been 60 metres high, was joined to the main land by a causeway that was begun in 1818 and later completed in 1846.

In 1854 it was intended to blow the island away to improve the harbour but strong public protests forced cessation of the work of destruction.

However the island was further reduced to 25 metres to accommodate the building of the lighthouse and signal station in 1858.

The original 20,000 candle-power light was attended by three keepers. The light was converted to electric operation in 1935 and demanned.

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse
Photograph: Grant Maizels

Nobbys Head juts into the sea at the entrance of Newcastle Harbour
Photograph: Grant Maizels

The Nobbys Head Lighthouse and Signal Station
Photograph: Annette Flotwell

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