Port Adelaide Lighthouses
The lighthouse arrived in South Australia in April 1867, having been prefabricated in England and shipped to Australia in pieces. It was erected at the entrance to the Port River and was first lit on January 1st 1869.
The lighthouse stood on a platform approximately 20 feet above the high water mark, supported by wooden piles. It was originally intended for lighthouse keepers to live in the base of the tower, however , the weather conditions proved this plan to be unsuitable, and accommodation was built for the keepers between the decks.
In 1901 a screw pile lighthouse was erected on Wonga Shoal (8 miles from Port Adelaide) which was first lit in July 1901, incorporating the lantern and machinery from the old Port Adelaide Lighthouse which it replaced. The light was 22.5 metres above high water and visibility was 30 miles.
It was was destroyed in November 1912 when the sailing ship ‘Dimsdale’ struck it, drowning 2 keepers.
The iron structure from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse was re-erected on South Neptune Island in the Spencer Gulf. It was transferred to the Island via the vessel
Governor Musgrave, and was fitted with a new second order dioptric light, first exhibited on November 1st 1901. Lightkeepers and their families lived in a cottage on the island, and stores and mail arrived monthly from Adelaide. The lighthouse used a grandfather clock principle to rotate the mechanism, requiring rewinding every 90 minutes. The illuminant was vapourised kerosene, in use until 1976 when it was converted to electricity.
The Port Adelaide Lighthouse now stands at the end of commercial road, Port Adelaide, as an exhibit of the South Australian Maritime Museum. This is, however, after almost 120 years serving South Australia’s coastlines. It was decommissioned in 1985 and acquired by the South Australian Maritime Museum, restored and reassembled on its present site on Black Diamond Square.
Neptune Island Lighthouse Specifications
Height to Platform: 50 feet
Height Overall: 69 feet
Number of Steps: 69
Visibility of Light: 25 miles
Character: 3 flashes in a 50 second cycle
Sources: Graham Arriola, South Australian Maritime Museum, Marine Board Reports, The Observer and the Port Adelaide Historical Society library.