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Montague Island

Montague Island, the largest inshore island on the NSW coast, is 9km off Narooma. It is now a nature reserve under the control of NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. It is the home to seals, seabirds and about 10,000 pairs of penguins. It is covered with gigantic granite boulders and from one of these rises the tall, slender tower of Montague Island Lighthouse.

When Cook sailed along the coast of NSW in April 1770, he didn't recognise that Montague was in fact an island. He thought it was the tip of the cape extending from Mount Dromedary and named it Point Dromedary. The convict transport "Surprise" in 1790 established that it was an island and named it after George Montagu Dunk, Earl of Halifax.

The decision for a "First Order Fixed and Flashing Light" was made in 1873, and after the finance was approved in 1877, tenders called in October 1878.

The successful tenderer at 13,900 pound, attempted to build the lighthouse but failed and became bankrupt. Following a re-tender process, W H Jennings and Company was given 18 months to complete works, and finally finished the lighthouse in October 1881, 4 months early. Officially it was fit lit on 1 November 1881.

"It is a dioptric white light of the first order, the lamps being encircled by glass prisms which catch and flash out every beam of light they transmit. When the light is used, there is a steady flare for 30 seconds, then an eclipse for 13 seconds, and then a brilliant flash lasting 4 seconds, followed by another eclipse of 13 seconds duration. THe lantern is so laege that half a dozen men can stand inside the circle of reflecting prisms, and it is so beautifully constructed that clockwork of the most delicate order makes it revolve" - 'Our Lighthouses', Sydney Morning Herald 22/9/1883

When constructed the 40 foot high tower with an elevation is 252ft produced 45,000 candelas. It originally consumed oil, although some reports say it used kerosene. Power was increased to 250,000 candelas i n 1910, with the installation of a Douglas incandescent kerosene burner. In 1923 output was again  increased to 357,000 candelas.

A Mercury float was installed in 1926 and character changed to flashing every 7 and a 1/2 seconds. Although the cottages were powered by electricity from the 1950's, the light was only converted to electricity in 1969 with an increased intensity of 1,000,000 candelas. Four panels from Green cape were fitted changing the nature of the light to every 4 1/2. Electricity removed the need for a third keeper.

The 1st order was last lit on 14/9/1986. It was replaced with a battery of solar powered quartz halogen lamps radiating 2 beams of 120,000 candelas whilst consuming just 75 watts of power. The dismantled lens was packed prism by prism in individual cases surrounded by expanding foam and sent to Sydney for storage.

In October 1986, Narooma Apex Club requested that the Dept of Transport & Communications return the lens to Narooma to be placed on permanent display. This was agreed upon provided that it was housed in in an acceptable manner.

It was decided to house the lens in an extension to be built on the Narooma visitors centre and grants were sought. Many hundreds of hours were provided by Apex members and general members of the public. The light was officially handed over in a ceremony on 10/ 8/ 1990 by Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Bill Haydon AC. The mechanism may be operated using a coin slot with proceeds gong to the maintenance program.

Weather permitting, morning and evening tours depart from the Narooma Town Wharf in Blue Water Drive every day. The morning tour departs at 9.30am, departure time of the evening tour varies with sunset. TOurs last approximately 4 hours.

Adults $69 Children ( 1-15yrs) $49.50 Family (2+2) $198 with extra child $33

Contact Narooma Visitors Centre 7days 9am-5pm  on 02 44762881


Ref: The Lure of Montague - Laurelle Percy
Tourist information

Technical / Historical Details
Nearest Town Narooma  Height - Elevation 21.0m (69ft) - 79.9m (262ft) 
Lat/Long: 3615.2 15013.9  Lantern  
Construction Gray round granite tower  Lens  
Built 1881  Character Fl.W. period 7.5s 
First Lit   Range NM 20W  
De-activated   Open Yes 
Architect   Access Tour boat 
Reference 6568 K 2576  Accommodation No 
Other Links: National Parks   

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