Seaside Lights

SeaSide Lights

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Port Adelaide

Originally used in Port Adelaide, the tower was relocated to Neptune Island and later returned

The Red Tower 
Read the story of the Port Adelaide-Neptune Island Lighthouse

Up until the early 1860's a lightship was used to mark the entrance to South Australia's main port at Adelaide. This was not entirely adequate and had long been a source of complaint. A spare lantern imported for the Point Marsden light (Kangaroo Island) but not used, was in 1866, erected in a temporary structure at Point Malcolm (near Fort Glanville) to test its visibility. The tests indicated that the equipment was satisfactory and it was decided to build a tower off the river entrance to house it.

Supposed to be completed in 1867, sinking the metal column into the river bed proved difficult and the fixed light was not exhibited until 1869 and cost very much more then estimated. 

The "Register" February 1, 1872 stated that the Marine Board had been stupid in refusing the offer from Mr Wells to construct a screw pile tower. "We now have an unsightly structure, which cost twice as much as quoted by Mr Wells ... "  The article concluded by implying the light was inefficient.


In October 1874 a more powerful light and materials to "rebuild" the lights support were imported from England. When completed the tower now rose nearly 100 feet and began operating  on Feb 3 1875, revolving every 30 seconds showing a white beam. It was reported that the power of the light increased from one of the fifth order to that of a first order. 

The British architects intended keepers live around the base of the tower in rooms made of iron. The heat of the South Australian summers made this impossible and quarters were prepared between decks of the staying.

By the late 1800's it was considered the structure had become unsafe and Chance Bros of England were asked to erect a new light at Wonga Shoal. In 1901 the Port Adelaide entrance light was removed and replaced with a buoy which commenced operation on July 1 1901, later replaced with a fixed light, mounted on the base of the old lighthouse structure in May 1904. The tower was re-erected on South Neptune Island, where a new 2nd Order dioptric light from Chance Bros was installed. The workers on Neptune Island took great pride that they were constructing the first lighthouse of the new Commonwealth of Australia. The old light was utilised in the new tower on Wonga Shoal, 2.8km off Semaphore Jetty.

Wonga Shoal Tragedy - On Nov 17 1912 the Wonga Shoal tower was destroyed, when hit by the sailing ship "Dimsdale" killing the two lightkeepers on duty.

In 1984 the Port Adelaide tower returned home and was re-erected on the  port's pier as a maritime museum. It is open for public display.

When the tower was moved back to Adelaide a time capsule was found. Inside was this poem written by one of the construction workers, bottles and coins.

Our Lighthouse

When the sun doth gild the southern skies
Above these lonely isles
There is no need for this our lighthouse
Nor can't be seen for many miles
But when the storm and wind doth howl
Upon the ocean wild
The mariner will see this light
Which will beam out so mild
That fancy paints the lights of home
That cottage by the sea
Where dwell his loved ones all secure
From wind and wave while he
Doth work and toil to earn their bread
and die if needs must be
He then will bless this kindly light
And think mayhaps of us
Who built this light that such as he
Might rest secure  while it flashed
Its rays across the sea

he Lens made by Chance Bros. - Birmingham England 
Looking down the spiral staircase

Technical / Historical Details
Nearest Town Adelaide  Height - Elevation ?? - ?? 
Lat/Long: 3447'S 13825'E  Lantern  
Construction   Lens  
Built 1869  Character  
First Lit   Range NM  
De-activated 1984  Open Yes 
Architect   Access Road 
Reference   Accommodation No 
See Also: South Neptune Island 
Sources: Lighthouses of South Australia - Ronald Parsons 
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