Cape Bruny Lighthouse

South Bruny, Tasmania | C.1838

Photo Credit: Phoebe Dennis

The Cape Bruny Lighthouse is an inactive lighthouse located at the southern tip of Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia. It is the second oldest extant lighthouse tower in Australia, as well as having the longest history of being continuously manned – 158 years.

The project was commissioned by Governor George Arthur in 1835 after a series of shipwrecks south of Bruny Island and construction began in April 1836. The lighthouse was built by convict labour using locally quarried dolerite over two years. When first lit in March 1838 it was Tasmania’s third lighthouse and Australia’s fourth.

Cape Bruny was initially illuminated by a Wilkins lantern, consuming one pint of sperm whale oil per hour. In 1892, sperm oil was replaced by the better quality colza oil. In 1903 the original staircase was replaced and a cast-iron staircase was installed and the Wilkins lantern was replaced with a Chance Brothers lantern, which both remain in the tower today.

In December 2000 the light station area, including the lighthouse, became part of the South Bruny National Park. The lightstation was maintained by a permanent caretaker until 2011 when the Parks & Wildlife established a rotational volunteer caretaker program. Volunteers live on-site in the caretakers cottage for four-week periods, assisting with repairs and general maintenance.

In June 2012, the Tasmanian Government sought expressions of interest from commercial operators wishing to take over the operation and management of the Cape Bruny Light Station. No tender was awarded, and the today remains managed by the Parks & Wildlife Service with assistance from volunteers.

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