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Point Stephens Lighthouse (outer)

Source: Go to the Register of the National Estate for more information.
Identifier: 1321
Location: Fingal Bay
Port Stephens Shire
State: NSW
Country: Australia
Statement of
Point Stephens Lighthouse, built in 1862, is significant as a rare lighthouse in Australia with a swept tower base and ground floor entrance of its type. The remnants of the Keepers Quarters are significant as the only example in Australia of a terrace of lighthouse keepers' quarters. (Criteria B.2 and F.1)

Point Stephens Lighthouse is significant for its association with Alexander Dawson, the Colonial Architect of New South Wales in the period 1858-62. Few substantial complete buildings of his design were constructed, and the lighthouse is a significant example of his work. (Criterion H.1)
Description: Point Stephens Lighthouse occupies the tip of Point Stephens which is at various times connected to the mainland by a sand spit. The high point is Mount Stephens, 77m above sea level. On the shore line is a band of hard igneous rock. The island is vegetated by a low heath. The lighthouse is situated on the south-east extremity. The Lighthouse is part of the Point Stephens Lightstation, which is listed on the Register of the National Estate. For further information regarding the Point Stephens Lightstation, refer to File No 1/9/64/1, RR No 001320 in the Australian Heritage Commission Register of the National Estate Database. The first European encounter with Port Stephens was made by Captain James Cook during the voyage of the Endeavour. Cook named the port after a Secretary of the Admiralty of the time. The Point Stephens Light was originally operated by kerosene and manned by three lightkeepers. It was converted to a revolving Dalen Acetylene light on 1 July 1922, and manning reduced to two lightkeepers. In 1960 the light was converted to electric operation, remaining manned by two lightkeepers. In March 1973 the station was automated with the installation of a 7ft diameter (2.1m) nal-1 fibreglass lantern, hexagonal lamp array, and a prb 21 rotating pedestal. The height of the tower was thus reduced to 65ft (20m). The light was converted to solar power in 1990. The need for conversion arose from the requirement to power the light from the stand by diesel alternator since 1989 when a fault occurred on the power supply line. The nominal and geographic range of the light is presently 17 nautical miles; the intensity being 40,700 candelas, with a revolution every 30 seconds. The lighthouse was erected in 1862. The design, prepared by Colonial Architect Dawson, relates the shaft of the tower to the form of a Doric column, with an unusual ramped approach, allowing the base of the tower to be utilised for equipment. Walls are of sandstone blocks dressed on two sides and brought by ship as ballast from Sydney. The thickness of the walls varies from 2m at ground level, rising in a concave batter to 0.6m above. The walls continue a further 1.5m above which sets the metal framework for the original glass tower. The overall height is 21m and the exterior has a white paint finish. The interior is divided into four storeys, each having iron floors and stairways. The original access to the building was by a flight of ramped stone steps entering from the north at first floor level. This entrance has since been sealed, and entry is now made from the west, through a steel door at ground level. The lower storey houses equipment related to the lights. The major change from the original appearance is the additon of a fibreglass surround and canopy which replaced the glass tower when it was converted to automatic operation. The glass lantern which housed the original light is held by the Nelson Bay Historical Society. Prior to the opening of the Point Stephens lighthouse twenty four vessels were known to have been wrecked in the area. The most serious of these was the wreck of the Dove in 1828 with the loss of seven lives, and the Pandora in 1836 with five lives. One of the reasons for these misfortunes was the mistaking by mariners of the entrance to Fingal Bay for that of Port Stephens. The Point Stephens Lightstation was also established to assist vessels entering Port Stephens.

Report produced : 29/7/2015
AHPI URL : http://www.heritage.gov.au/ahpi/search.html