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Cape St George

The broken remains of what would have been a lovely tower

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 accepted.

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 The Point Perpendicular lighthouse has now been replaced by an unattended, automated light tower.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

Point Perpendicular can be seen on the north head of Jervis Bay

Technical / Historical Details
Nearest Town Jervis Bay  Height - Elevation 18.9m (62ft) - 67.7m (222ft) 
Lat/Long: 3509.9 15045.3  Lantern  
Construction Sandstone  Lens  
Built 1860  Character  
First Lit   Range NM  
De-activated 1898  Open Grounds only 
Architect Alexander Dawson  Access Road 
Reference   Accommodation No 
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