Sugarloaf Point Light

Sugarloaf Point Light, also known as Seal Rocks Lighthouse, is an active lighthouse located on Sugarloaf Point, a point about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) southeast of Seal Rocks, New South Wales, Australia. It guards Seal Rocks, a treacherous rock formation to the south. It is the first lighthouse designed by James Barnet. It is also one of only two towers in Australia with an external stairway.

History

The first recorded recommendation for building a lighthouse to guard Seal Rocks was made by a committee of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1863. Original intentions were to place the lighthouse on the Rocks, but because of access difficulties the location finally chosen in 1873 was Sugarloaf Point. The lighthouse was designed by James Barnet, the New South Wales Colonial Architect of the time. Tenders were called in 1874. Construction required building a 1,500 feet (460 m) long jetty, which was used to land the 1,800 tonnes (1,800 long tons; 2,000 short tons) of supplies and materials required for the construction. Construction was completed in 1875 and the light was first lit on December 1, 1875.

The original lens, still present, is a first order Chance Bros. sixteen-panel Fresnel lens dioptric. The original light source was a kerosene lamp with a light intensity of 122,000 cd. This was upgraded in April 1923 to a carbide lamp with an intensity of 174,000 cd.

In June 1966 the light was converted to electricity and the intensity raised to 1,000,000 cd. and automated in 1987, though a caretaker remained on the site until 2006-2007, when the residence was renovated to be used for tourist accommodations. The last caretaker was Mark Sheriff, who was previously stationed in Green Cape Lighthouse.

The current light is a 120V 1,000 W quartz halogen lamp, powered by mains electricity with a backup diesel generator. The light intensity is 780,000 cd, and the light characteristic shown is flashing white with a cycle of 7.5 seconds. Also showing is an additional fixed red light, with a similar 120V 1,000 W quartz halogen lamp, visible to the south, over Seal Rocks and other dangers. This secondary light is positioned at a lower height, and was originally green, changed to red in the 1980s.

Structures

The lighthouse is built bricks, cement rendered, and painted white. The tower has two stories, divided by a concrete floor, the fuel store being located in the ground level. An outside bluestone stairway reaches this floor, followed by internal iron stairs. The total height to the lantern room is 6.7 metres (22 ft).

On top of the tower is a bluestone gallery, the projecting part being supported by concrete corbels, a Barnet design hallmark. The gallery has an elegant black gunmetal railing, another Barnet hallmark. The lantern roof is a copper dome.

A brick-paved walkway surrounds the base of the tower, enclosed by a 4 feet (1.2 m) high cement-rendered brick wall, painted white.

Near the lighthouse are the original Head Keeper's cottage and two semi-detached Assistant Keepers' cottages, designed by Barnet in 1875. The cottages were renovated in 2006 and are now used for overnight accommodations.

North of the tower is a flag semaphore signal station. Next to it is the original concrete flagstaff base which retains some of the original iron fastenings. The flagstaff itself is recent.

Other structures in the complex include a gabled roofed generator shed behind the Head Keeper's cottage, a painted brick workshop room behind the shed, a paint store to the north of the Assistant Keepers' cottages, and a garage.

Site operation and visiting

The light is operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, while the structures are maintained and operated by the Land and Property Management Authority. Sugarloaf Point is part of Myall Lakes National Park, managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. An unpaved road leads to the location and parking is provided. Although the tower is closed to the public, a nearby lookout provides good views.

Building Activity

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    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com