South Channel Pile
The South Channel Pile Light is one of the most recognisable features in
Port Phillip Bay. The 'cottage style' lighthouse was completed in 1874 and
was occupied by lighthouse keepers until the early 1900's. Its purpose was
to guide ships into and through the South Channel. It is of state
significance as the only intact example of a 19th Century manned pile light
remaining in Australia.
South Channel Pile Light is situated in the southern part of Port Phillip
Bay, approximately 3km offshore from Rye.
The Pile Light was built by Robert McCo11 of Melbourne for the sum
equivalent of $3,000. Construction started on the single storey
octagonal building in 1872 and was completed two years later.
The South Channel Pile Light was occupied by lighthouse keepers until the
introduction of bottled acetylene gas as fuel for the light in 1925. The
structure contains a living room, bedroom, inspector's office come
storeroom with amenities and includes a fireplace, chimney and rainwater
tanks -all in a space of only 6 metres in diameter.
A central staircase leads to the light, which was housed in the small
lantern on top of the roof. The light was finally turned off in 1985,
having operated as a navigational aid for some 111 years.
Between 1905 and 1913 a number of murals featuring sailing ships of the
c.1900 era were painted onto the interior walls by William Ferrier, the
lighthouse keeper at the time. These were removed in 1979, restored and are
now housed in the Polly Woodside Museum.
Dredging and natural channel widening had placed the Pile Light in a
precarious position. At risk of being struck by ships using the South
Channel, the old light was lifted from its original position and taken by
barge to Docklands for restoration by Parks
Victoria, in accordance with Heritage Victoria guidelines.
The lighthouse was completely re-clad and re-roofed, while period fittings,
furnishings and materials were replicated to reflect the period in which
the keeper was resident. The structure doubles as a wildlife refuge for the
Australasian Fur Seal and the Australian Gannet.
After conservation works, the Pile Light was relocated from the South
Channel to a site near the Rye Channel in 1998. The original piles have
been left in place to serve as a seal haul-out.
Access to the Pile Light
Public access to the Pile Light is currently unavailable, however Parks
Victoria is investigating opportunities to enable tour operators to take
tours to the structure. It is envisaged that access will be available in
2001. (Not yet available March 2003)
Parks Victoria 131963.
|Technical / Historical Details|
|Nearest Town ||Rye ||Height - Elevation ||9.1m (30ft) - 8.8m (29ft) |
|Lat/Long: ||38°18 144°45 ||Lantern || |
|Construction || ||Lens || |
|Built ||1874 ||Character || |
|First Lit || ||Range NM || |
|Automated || || || |
|De-activated || ||Open ||No |
|Architect || ||Access ||Boat |
|Reference || ||Accommodation ||No |
|Sources: || |
|Other Links: ||Parks Victoria || |