Despite the fact that there had been
absolutely no input of maritime expertise the site for Cape St
George lighthouse was selected. Five thousand pounds was allocated
for the erection of the structure, and a tender for construction
Almost immediately, the project was plunged into controversy.
Numerous communications and reports were received by the Pilot
Board, questioning the angles of visibility of the site from the
north and south and even its proposed and actual locations.
(These in reality proved to be five miles apart.)
Finally, the Board examined the site, reporting that the
initial map prepared by Millington and Dawson suffered from
"discrepancies of so grave a character that it is impossible
to decide whether either position marked on the map really
exists." Furthermore, they suggested that the facility would
not accomplish the object for which it was erected. Despite these
glaring deficiencies, and further disagreement by a majority of
the Board, the lighthouse was commissioned on 1 October 1860.
The saga continued, as a Select Committee was appointed to sort
out the entire matter. This committee found out the Board had been
grossly negligent in approving a location without prior inspection
and in relying on maps of dubious accuracy. In conclusions it
reported that "errors - very grave errors, highly censurable
- have been committed in the erection of this lighthouse."
Thirty-eight years and many arguments later, a replacement
lighthouse shone its beam from the opposite and northern side of
Jervis Bay, at Point Perpendicular. The Point
Perpendicular lighthouse has now been replaced by an
unattended, automated light tower.
The old lighthouse was not to be left
to weather and eventually fall gracefully with age. Two lighthouse
towers would obviously create confusion for marine navigation,
especially in daylight hours during foul weather. Near the turn of
the century explosive charges were used to reduce the tower and
parts of the keeper's quarters to rubble - end of problem. No
exact date is recorded as to when the building was destroyed.
The historic and cultural value of the site has been recognised
and it is listed on the Register of the National Estate.
The lighthouse was the scene of several accidents. The last
account of misery and misadventure concerns two unrelated teenage
girls who had been reared like sisters. Their fathers were the
Principal and Assistant light keepers. In July 1887, the Principal
Keeper's daughter, Kate Gibson, tripped while holding a loaded
firearm. The gun discharged, striking her friend Harriet Parker in
the back of the skull, killing her instantly. The jury of the
ensuing Coronial Enquiry stated that Harriet had died "from a
gunshot wound accidentally received, and that Kate Gibson was not
to blame as they were skylarking ..."
Harriet Parker's gravesite can be found in the nearby
Greenpatch Camping Area.
Text from interpretive signs