Cape Byron Lighthouse and Residences

Go to the Register of the National Estate for more information.
Lighthouse Rd, Byron Bay
Byron Shire
Cape Byron Lightstation, built in 1901, is significant as an intact lighthouse precinct, containing an outstanding late Victorian light apparatus which is the only Henry Lepaute optic and pedestal in Australia (Criteria B.2 and F.1).
The lightstation, with its dramatic nature of the landform, the intactness of the lighthouse buildings, their Picturesque design and the lack of subsequent development at the place, is significant for its great aesthetic appeal. This is reflected in the large number of visitors that travel to the place (Criteria B.2 and E.1).
Cape Bryon Lightstation is significant as an important element in the establishment of navigational aids along the New South Wales coast, which reflects the economic development of the surrounding region (Criterion A.4).
Cape Byron Lightstation is located 2km from the township of Byron Bay. It is situated on a rock headland with a precipitous cliff of about 122m in height on the eastern side. The Lighthouse Reserve is about 3.5ha in area.
The Cape was named by Captain Cook after fellow navigator Vice Admiral John Byron, commander of HMS Dolphin's worldwide voyage of exploration in 1764-66. The first European exploration of Byron Bay was made in August 1826 by Captain Henry John Rous, commander of HMS Rainbow. Rous had been directed to seek a navigable river and safe anchorage. Rous considered the bay offered the best position on the coast for such conditions.
The lighthouse is situated on Cape Byron, the most easterly point on mainland Australia. It provides navigational guidance to the shipping along the east coast and also marks several inshore hazards. Contractors Mitchell and King undertook the construction of the tower and ancilliary buildings for 9,970 pounds. Work commenced in July 1900. The light was first exhibited on 1 December 1901. In 1914 the original concentric wick burner was replaced by an incandescent vapourised kerosene burner with a subsequent increase in the light's intensity from 145,000 to 500,000 candelas. The installation of improved apparatus in 1922 doubled the power of the light. In 1959 the light was converted to electric operation and staff reduced from three to two keepers. The lightstation stands on a bold rocky headland 2km from the township of Byron Bay. Access to the station is by road. The white circular tower is constructed of cement rendered concrete blocks. The structural method employed in the building is noteworthy being the second application of standardized on site and off site building elements to Australian architecture. It is built of concrete blocks, thus eliminating the traditional dependence on quarrying on site. It stands 23m high and is surmounted by a 13ft diameter first order lantern. The optical apparatus consists of a 920mm focal radius lens on a mercury float rotating pedestal driven by an electric motor. The lens was manufactured by Henry Lepanate of Paris. The light source is a 1,000 watt 120 volt tungsten halogen lamp. The apparatus gives a character of flashing every twenty five seconds with an intenssity of 1,000,000 candelas resulting in a nominal visible range of 26 nautical miles. A low intensity fixed red subsidiary light is exhibited overJuan and Julia Rocks to the north north-east. The small and distinctively shaped signal house is today known as the Flag Room. Like the lighthouse, it is constructed of precast concrete blocks. Accommodation at the lightstation consists of the headkeeper's residence and a duplex cottage which houses the assistant. Both buildings, of concrete block construction, were erected in 1901. Associated buildings include two garages, a workshop and public toilets. Quite a prominent feature of the place today is the use of fences and gates to demarcate the property. Some of the original fencing is extant, including much of the aris rail fencing, while the others are either a conglomeration of recycled old pieces, such as the south side fencing of the quarters, or new materials, such as the entrance fence and gates. The lightstation is connected to mains electricity but a 2.5 KVA diesel alternator has been installed for emergency use.