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Lighthouses in Sydney & New South Wales

Home > Sydney > Free | Lookouts | Outdoor | Places of Interest | Views | Lists
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I am a travel writer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and food! I love travelling and discovering hidden gems... experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass
Published July 13th 2020
Check out Sydney’s coolest lighthouses with this list
Lighthouses have been part of New South Wales' history since 1791, where navigational aid was on site of where Macquarie Lighthouse sits today. These amazing structures do not just emit light from a system of lamps and lenses to help maritime pilots navigate at sea, they are also cool to look at! Explore inside them, and some of the lighthouses offer epic hikes, fascinating histories, and breathtaking views.

The list below features the coolest lighthouses to visit in New South Wales:

1. Hornby Lighthouse

This stunning red-and-white-striped beauty is arguably the prettiest lighthouse in New South Wales. Its bright colours and visible lantern showcases carnival mischief, and a visit to this lighthouse will not disappoint. The lighthouse and the nearby lightkeeper's cottage date back to 1858, and Hornby Lighthouse, located on South Head, Watsons Bay, is worth the stroll from Watsons Bay Ferry Terminal.

The lighthouse offers spectacular views and makes a perfect city vantage point for whale watching (during migration). Click here for the website.

2. Barrenjoey Lighthouse

This famous lighthouse not just offers gorgeous views, it is packed in history, including its claim to fame as a star on Home and Away and makes for a perfect day out. Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits at Sydney's most northern point, overlooking the stunning peninsula with Palm Beach to the east and Pittwater to the west, and Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay can be seen from the lighthouse.

Tours: Yes- There are guided tours of the Lighthouse, oil room and keeper's cottage every Sunday. Adults: $5pp & Children: $2pp – (at the moment tours are cancelled due to COVID-19- check the website for updates). Click here for the website.

3. Grotto Point Lighthouse

This 1910 domed light structure sits half-way on the Manly to Spit Coast Walk and is surrounded by a quaint picket fence on a rocky headland near Dobroyd Head.

Grotto Point Lighthouse's sister lighthouse at Parriwi Head sits precisely one nautical mile away, and their cousins, the Vaucluse Bay Range Front and Rear Lights. The Grotto Point were all constructed in a style that earned the nickname 'Disney Castle'.

To access the Lighthouse is along a short track, off Manly Scenic Walkway. Click here for the website.

By Brianegge at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

4. Macquarie Lighthouse

Macquarie Lighthouse is Australia's longest-standing, operational navigation light and was built in 1818. The original structure was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway with a clockwork-powered mechanism that shot a bean 35km out to sea.

The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1883 after the first one deteriorated quickly due to the low-quality sandstone foundations that were used. There are tours conducted on selected Sundays, and they offer the opportunity to climb the 100 steps to the now electronic lantern room and the balcony. Click here for the website.

5. Bradleys Head Lighthouse

This active heritage-listed tiny Lighthouse sits on a quaint jetty protruding from the wall of greenery in the Sydney Harbour National Park near Bradleys Head Amphitheatre.

The lighthouse was built in 1905 as a navigation marker and warning light to ships entering and leaving the harbour. The lighthouse is also Australia's first precast concrete lighthouse.

Bradleys Head Lighthouse was named after William Bradley, an officer of the Sirius, guardship of the First Fleet. Click here for the website.

6. Fort Denison Light

Fort Denison was the last Martello tower built in the British Empire and the only one built in Australia. Construction on Fort Denison began in 1841. The lantern and light, built-in Birmingham, England, were added on top of the Martello Tower in 1913, replacing a 20cm gun. The original light source was an acetylene gas carbide lamp, and in 1926 it was converted to electricity.

Fort Denison Light is also home to a restaurant (used for events) and is open for guided tours. Click here for the website.

7. Cape Baily Lighthouse

Cape Baily Lighthouse was first considered in 1931, and in 1950, it was eventually established. It is known for its unique 1950s concrete tower and 19th century Chance Brothers Lantern, powered by solar panels. The active lighthouse was built to let north-bound ships travel closer to the coast avoiding strong currents further out to sea.

Get to the lighthouse via a 3km walk starting at the end of Cape Solander Drive. The walk offers breathtaking coastal views and whale watching opportunities during migration season. Click here for the website.

8. Robertson Point Lighthouse

This tiny lighthouse is a lesser-known lighthouse in New South Wales. It was built in 1909 and is of the same form and construction as Bradleys Head Lighthouse, which was the first of this design to be erected.

This lighthouse is located on the edge of Cremorne Reserve, and access is by foot with the 200-metre walk from Cremorne Point Wharf. Click here for the website.

9. Parriwi Head Light

Parriwi Head Light, also known as Rosherville Light, is located 1.5km behind Grotto Point Light. It was built in 1911. The light was red being powered by a carbide lamp with acetylene gas generated on-site. It was later replaced by compressed gas cylinders that were bought by boat.

Today, the lighthouse shines through the horizontal slit just below the dome, and the light is green and runs on electricity. Click here for the website.

10. Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse

The Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse was initially located about 40km south-east of Townsville. It was built in 1874 as a manned light with kerosene burner and Chance Brothers third order dioptric lens.

Today, the Lighthouse is on display at the Australian Maritime Museum Darling Harbour. Its removal caused a stir among the locals, however, it was too late. Click here for the website.

11. Eastern Channel Pile Light & Western Channel Pile Light

Established in 1924, together with Western Channel Pile Light, the lighthouse was constructed from concrete bottom (originally known as the "gas house") with a copper top and wooden stakes skirt.

The Western Channel Pile Light replaced a marker buoy. In 1996 a 10-metre stainless steel mast, serving as a weather station was installed on the structure. It provided information about weather conditions in the harbour.

Together these lighthouses light guide ships around Pig and Sows Reef just inside Sydney Harbour. They are usually referred to as the "Eastern Wedding Cake" and "Western Wedding Cake". Click here for the website.

12. Shark Island Light

Shark Island has a fractured history and is a place of breathtaking beauty, and is dangerous to both swimmers and ships. During the 19th century, there were numerous shipwrecks and drownings, and in 1890, a white navigation warning light was erected. In 1924 it was replaced by a flashing light. Click here for the website.

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Why? Explore all these lighthouses
When: All year round
Where: Sydney & Surrounds- see above
Cost: Free- (Tours are ticketed)
Your Comment
Thanks for the lighthouse round-up. I've had one lighthouse holiday, visiting them along the east coast. Hope to have another one day.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4159) 28 days ago
They are fascinating structures. Let's hope they never disappear. Neil.
by Neil Follett (score: 2|587) 29 days ago
I agree! Thank you, Neil :)
by Gypsy Rose (score: 2|637) 29 days ago
You are welcome. Thank you, Jenny Rossiter :)
by Gypsy Rose (score: 2|637) 27 days ago
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