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Gabo Island

Gabo Island, offshore from Mallacoota on the NSW/Victorian border is separated from land by a narrow channel less then a kilometre wide. 
The island can be reached by sea or air.

Built of distinctive pink granite quarried on the island, and completed in 1862, this tall elegant lighthouse is on the south-eastern tip of the Island. It is the second tallest tower in Australia with Cape Wickham in Tasmania just 1 metre taller. The first of 3 attempts to build the light failed, when after excavating almost 20 metres looking for a solid foundation, funds had been exhausted. Nothing further was done until a shipwreck forced the lighting of the island back into priority. A small timber tower was constructed, and the lens held in storage was lit in 1854.

Initially a 1st order fixed catadioptric light was installed, but this was changed in 1913 to a 2nd order revolving light. Electrification in the mid 1930's brought the intensity to 900,000 candelas, using a 120volt 1000 watt lamp. Converted to solar power and downgraded in 1993 the light now produces just 30,000 candelas from a small plastic lens, such a disappointment to see after climbing the 47 metre tower.

The tower was transferred to National Parks care, with an undertaking to retain a human presence on the island.Plans of the temporary tower built in 1854The temporary tower built in 1854
(National Archives of Australia)
The 'tupparware' lens now in place, was a disappointment


Tours of the lighthouse and accommodation are available. The Assistant Lightkeeper's residence features three bedrooms, with one double bed, 4 bunk beds, and 2 single beds. The residence also has a fully equipped kitchen, laundry and bathroom and all linen is provided. All provisions must be taken to the island.

Tariff as at June 1998
$70-90 per night
$420-540 per week, for up to 8 people.

Airfare $88.00 return

Parks Victoria - 131963 or 03 51619500
Caretakers - 03 51580255
Air Mallacoota - 0408 580 806
Posing in front of the towerThe spiral staircase, over 200 stairs to the top

The stonework is magnificent, remains of the brackets which held a fog horn can be seen   View of the lightstation from the airstrip
Gabo is the 2nd tallest tower in Australia   The light tower from the Keeper's cottage   The brick wall leading to the tower, built to give shelter from the winds
My transport to the island, a short 10 minute flight    A farewell to the island, with the mainland visible on the horizon
A unique feature is the inclusion of the oil storeroom, in the basement of the tower, rather then a separate building.    The lantern room, with my guide Ian. The caretakers have put in many hours stripping the paint to reveal beautiful mahogany timberwork. Work continues on the metalwork, fine detail under many layers of paint.

Technical / Historical Details
Nearest Town Mallacoota  Height - Elevation 47.6m (156ft) - 54.9m (180ft) 
Lat/Long: 3734.3 14954.7  Lantern  
Construction Red round stone tower, white lantern  Lens  
Built 1862  Character Fl.(3)W. period 20s 
First Lit   Range NM 16W  
Automated 1993     
De-activated   Open Yes 
Architect   Access Boat/Plane 
Reference 6592 K 2558  Accommodation Yes 
Other Links: Parks Victoria   
Gabo Island Day Trip From Merimbula   

  1999-2018 Garry Searle      No part of this site may be used without permission.