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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: 3818 14445  Lantern  
Construction   Lens  
Built 1874  Character  
First Lit   Range NM  
De-activated   Open No 
Architect   Access Boat 
Reference   Accommodation No 
Other Links: Parks Victoria   

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