Cape St George Lighthouse ruins, close to Jervis Bay: Built within the mistaken place, this lighthouse killed greater than it saved


The sandstone blocks of the Cape St George Lighthouse tumble over one another in a higgledy-piggledy shambles. As the early morning gentle hits, there is a acquainted vibe – like wandering alone around the ruins of a small Angkorian temple. But the coastal location provides to the drama. Come in winter and migrating humpback whales are commonly seen from the clifftop.

These days, the Cape St George Lighthouse is a good looking, evocative and peaceable website contained in the Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay. But that is maybe Australia’s most cursed lighthouse, and its story is considered one of calamitous error and private tragedy.

For a begin, the Cape St George Lighthouse is within the mistaken place. It was inbuilt 1860, and designed by colonial architect Alexander Dawson, who’s greatest recognized for his work on the Sydney Observatory.

The strategy planning stage was a comedy of errors. The Pilots Board wasn’t given a say on the suitability of the positioning for ships, Dawson’s map of the proposed location was lower than complete, and it appears a lazy contractor took benefit of that. The lighthouse was constructed about 4 kilometres north of the place it was imagined to be, most likely as a result of it was simpler to get the stone there.

The finish outcome was a lighthouse that was just about ineffective. It could not be seen from the northern method, and will barely be seen from the southern method both.

It took 39 years for this error to be rectified. A brand new lighthouse was constructed at Point Perpendicular on Jervis Bay’s northern head in 1899. But that was too late for a number of ships. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment lists 13 ships that have been wrecked round Jervis Bay in that interval. Other sources estimate that considerably extra met their finish.

But even when the brand new, usefully-placed lighthouse had kicked into gear, there was an issue. There have been now two lighthouses very shut to one another. One of them marked the doorway to the bay, and the opposite might simply be mistaken for it. When the moonlight hit the sandstone, the Cape St George Lighthouse was an outright hazard, doubtlessly luring ships onto the rocks.

Eventually, the choice was made to take the tower down with explosives, creating the ruins we see at present.

But the Cape St George Lighthouse wasn’t only a curse for passing ships – the inhabitants had a tough time of it too. For a begin, getting provides to the lighthouse was a nightmare. The nearest place anybody might safely land a ship was Murrays Beach, 4km away. Horses have been required to lug provides from the seaside, and there was not sufficient grass for the horses.

More disturbingly, a run of grave misfortune befell those that lived by the Cape St George Lighthouse. Interpretive indicators point out a number of of the unfortunate ones, kicking off with Isabella Jane Lee. She was the daughter of the principal lightkeeper, and in 1867 succumbed to typhus fever.

It would not be the final demise right here. Thirteen-year-old George Gibson died from pleurisy in 1882, whereas 11-year-old Florence Bailey was taken by typhoid in 1885.

However, the accidents are extra macabre than the deaths from illness. Florence Bailey’s father, Edward, was washed off the rocks whereas fishing and eaten by sharks as his son appeared on.

Francis Henry Hammer, considered 9 or 10 on the time, misplaced his footing and toppled off the cliff whereas pushing rocks round for leisure.

Assistant lightkeeper William Markham, in the meantime, acquired kicked within the head by a horse and died earlier than he might get to Nowra Hospital.

Perhaps most tragic of all was the demise of Harriet Parker in 1887. The assistant lightkeeper’s daughter was shot useless by her buddy, the principle lightkeepers daughter. It’s believed that the latter tripped whereas enjoying round with a loaded gun.

Visit the ruins lately, and the Cape St George Lighthouse appears serene. But the grim previous means that this lighthouse price extra lives than it saved.




The Cape St George Lighthouse is on the japanese finish of the Booderee National Park within the Jervis Bay Territory. A two day go for the nationwide park prices $13 per car.


Unpowered tenting websites throughout the nationwide park price from $25 an evening. Otherwise, keep in close by Huskisson. The Huskisson Beach Resort affords vibrant bungalows for from $100 per evening. See

David Whitley travelled courtesy of Tourism Australia.