SeaSide Lights

Low Head

The first Low Head tower was the 3rd lighthouse to be built in Australia

Low Head - 2008
The first lighthouse at Low Head was first exhibited on 27 December 1833. Designed by Colonial Architect John Lee Archer, it was Australia's 3rd lighthouse and Tasmania's 2nd. It was built by Huckson and Hutchison of Hobart and was first known as the George Town Station. The station is situated 7km North of Georgetown and 50 km from Launceston on the East side of the Tamar River.

The keepers quarters were designed by William Moriarty and consisted of four rooms each. The quarters were attached to either side of the tower, the only lighthouse in Tasmania with attached quarters. The structure, 15.25 metres (50 feet) from the base to the top of the lantern, was erected by Mr Walmsley of Launceston. 

The lantern was constructed at the Launceston Timber Yard, and the original lamps and reflectors were manufactured by Mr William Hart. He supplied "six dozen lamps, including reflectors, at three shillings and sixpence each", and burned sperm whale oil.

In 1835 a revolving shutter, rotated by a clockwork mechanism was installed and in 1838 the original reflectors and Argand lamps were replaced by a catoptric system sourced from Wilkins and Co of London

The tower was falling into disrepair, and it was necessary to rebuid it in 1888. The original convict-built stone tower was pulled down and replaced with the present double brick structure, and painted white. The new tower utilised the original revolving catoptric apparatus. Brewis, in his report of 1912, recommended a dioptic 3rd Order lens with 55mm incandescent mantle, burning kerosene. The new lens supplied by Chance Bros. cost of £1,348 13s ld was installed in 1916.

An auxiliary light was added in 1898. This was a two-wick lamp from Chance Brothers, which showed a red warning light over Hebe Reef from a window about 20 feet below the main light. The reef is named after the ship Hebe sailing from Madras, with Indian goods for Port Jackson. Since that time 9 other vessels have been lost on the reef. The last was the BHP chartered Iron Baron on 10 July 1995, nearing the end of a voyage from Groote Eylandt with a load of manganese ore. All crew were safely evacuated and on July 16 it was refloated and moved offshore. Inspections confirmed major structural damage and it was towed to a site 85km east of Flinders Island wehere it was sunk on 30 July.

  In January 5 1926 a broad red band was painted around the middle of the tower to increase visibility during daylight hours. 

A fog-horn operated by compressed air was installed in a shed near the tower in April 1929. It gave three blasts every minute in the following pattern: a blast of 1.4 seconds followed by a 2.5-second silence; a blast of 1.3 seconds followed by another 2.5 second silence; finally a 1.3-second blast followed by a silence of 51 seconds. There were reports of its having been heard from a distance of 9.6 km at sea and 32 km on land. It was discontinued in August, 1973, but has since been restored and is operated on most Sundays. The Fog-horn, a type "G" diaphone and the Gardner engine is said to be the only fully operational system left in the world. It was manufactured by Chance Bros. Birmingham.

In addition to the fog horn, the keepers were also responsible for the monitoring of the Tamar Leading Lights which had been initially manned. 

Low Head was also a rear leading light with a small light at Dotterell Point, for vessels departing Pt Dalrymple

On April 12, 1937, (some references indicate 1941) hydro-electric power was switched on at the station and the kerosene burner was replaced by a 500 watt electric globe. The clockwork mechanism was also replaced by an electric motor. Candle-power increased to 350,000. Just prior to 1950, the light was converted to mains power, and was de-manned.

From 1865 to 1912, the light was under the control of Alfred C. Rockwell and his son Alfred Rockwell Jnr, a period of 47 years!
Low Head lantern - 2008

Lighthouse Keepers Holiday Accommodation 
Enquiries: Low Head Pilot Station 03 6382 2826

Low Head sunrise - 2008    Low Head sector light    Low Head sunrise - 2008
The 1833 Low Head tower    Low Head c.1960    Low Head postcard

Dotterel Point Leading Light

This small light forms a pair of leading lights with Low Head as the rear. During my visit in 2008 I couldn't determine whether it was active although it is in the current list of lights as a fixed green light.

Leading Light - 2008    Leading Light - 2008

Technical/Historical Details
Technical / Historical Details
Nearest Town Georgetown  Height - Elevation 20.7m (68ft) - 43.3m (142ft) 
Lat/Long: 41°03.4 146°47.3  Lantern Chance Bros. 10' 9" dia with flat glazing panes  
Construction White round brick tower, red band  Lens Chance 3rd order 375mm f.r. triple flashing catadioptric 
Built 1888  Character Fl.(3)W. period 30s fl. 1s, ec. 4.8s fl. 1s, ec. 4.8s fl. 0.1s, ec. 20.1s 
First Lit 01/08/1888  Range NM 23W  
Automated 1995     
De-activated   Open No 
Architect Robert Huckson  Access Road 
Reference 7088 K 3566  Accommodation Yes 
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