LIGHTHOUSES at QUEENSCLIFF and POINT LONSDALE
Queenscliffe Maritime Museum depicts 3 aspects of the story of lighthouses:
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
(AMSA) has assisted, encouraged and advised Queenscliffe Maritime Museum in the establishment of an exhibition featuring
lighthouse technology. With advances in technology much lighthouse equipment has
become redundant. AMSA has provided examples of equipment including, flashers, fresnel lens,
lamps, ventilators, timing mechanisms, sun valves, drum lens, switches, hoods,
change over lamps and light panel equipment which for many years helped guide
small and large vessels safely around the Australian coast.
Wall panels depict the Bass Strait lighthouses and describe
lighthouse operations and technology. Visitors to the Museum may stand inside the lens from a lighthouse and see how the prisms distort light and shapes.
entrance to Port Phillip between Point Nepean and Point Lonsdale, known as Port
Phillip Heads or the 'Heads' , is most treacherous to shipping. Whilst Port Phillip
is one of the largest natural harbours in the world, the distance between the
Heads is only 3.05 km. The ebb and flood of the sea through the Heads is
constricted by the narrow entrance with the result that the sea levels can vary
considerably between the inside of Port Phillip and Bass Strait outside.
The rapid flowing and high waters are known as the 'Rip' and present a great
challenge to the skill of navigators.
The channel through which
ships must pass is 200 metres wide. In the early days of European
settlement many ships foundered in the attempt to pass between the Heads.
From the 1850s a series of lights was established to guide shipping through
the Heads and the shipping channel.
At Queenscliff are 2 lighthouses plus associated
navigation towers, built in various stages on Shortlands Bluff since the first light
which was displayed in 1844. To
guide Bass Strait mariners on the approach to Port Phillip a signal station operated at
Point Lonsdale from 1852. It comprised a flagstaff which signalled the tides by
flags during daylight. At night an oil light was shown from the flagstaff. The
current Point Lonsdale lighthouse is a landfall
light with a control room staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year, by communications
officers of Port of Melbourne Corporation.
In recent years new high technology stations have been installed around
Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. Eventually the old lighthouses will go dark,
but at present they continue to shine alongside the new devices.
Queenscliffe Maritime Museum
conducts pre-booked guided tours of Point Lonsdale lighthouse. The 1928 Fog
Horn shed, restored by Queenscliffe Maritime Museum volunteers may also be
Go to the
page for further information.
The Queenscliff lighthouses are not
at present open to the public.