Backward Glance: Caloundra’s first lighthouse
  • Wednesday 29 April 2015

The Caloundra Head lighthouse has important links to Caloundra and Moreton Bay's early maritime history.

It was one of the three lights marking the North-West Channel – the other two are on Bribie Island.

Mariners considered it the best light on the Coast and the key to Moreton Bay.

An article in the "Queenslander" newspaper in late 1896 states that construction for the Caloundra lighthouse commenced on March 12, 1896 and finished in August 1896.

It was constructed on a 35 acre reserve which was donated by Robert Bulcock - a Caloundra land owner who was a member of the Legislative Assembly representing Enoggera in Brisbane.

He had an observation tower constructed on his land in Canberra Terrace during a period known as the Russian Scare, in around 1882. This wooden tower was voluntarily manned 24 hours a day.

There were only four houses in Caloundra in 1883. They belonged to Robert Bulcock, Thomas Ballinger (formerly of Buderim and then bailiff in the Brisbane Supreme Court), Samuel Leach (an oyster famer who had a humble house on the edge of Pumicestone Passage) and Australian explorer William Landsborough (who built his house facing Pumicestone Passage in 1881).

The first lighthouse keeper to come to Caloundra was Swedish-born Carl Bernard Waldemar Edlundh. This seafarer had started to travel the world in tall ships in 1869 and arrived in Queensland in 1881.

The lighthouse is reported to be the only one of its kind in Queensland and used a kerosene light known as a "signal incandescent illuminant".

In 1936, the Caloundra light was altered to DC power and, in 1942, it was converted to AC power and became semi-automatic.

Thomas James Shanahan was the last full time lighthouse keeper, finishing in December 1942.

As the town developed, the once solitary lighthouse became an integral part of the community.

The early lighthouse was active between 1896 and 1968 and in 1970 the old Caloundra Head light was relocated from its original location to Woorim Park, Caloundra.

In 1999, it was returned to its original site on Canberra Terrace, where it stands today.

In 1966, the modern lighthouse was built, and it now sits beside the old lighthouse, the oldest surviving building in Caloundra.

As development progressed and higher structures were built, the light’s field of view was reduced.

The Department of Transport had a charter to preserve safety at sea and it was decided that a new lighthouse should be built.

A site was chosen at Point Cartwright and in 1978 a new 32-metre concrete tower was built, with a range of 23 nautical miles.

Point Cartwright Light was the sixth of a group of seven concrete towers erected by the Commonwealth of Australia between 1964 and 1979.

One of its purposes was to alert the Pilot Station at Mooloolaba and to inform the Pilot Station at Lytton of the approach of ships.

Visit Council's library website for details on the series of free and informative Heritage Month events.

Learn more about the Coast’s unique history by reading our Backward Glance series. There’s a new story every Wednesday.