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Cape Jaffa Lighthouse facts for kids

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Cape Jaffa Lighthouse (museum)
CapeJaffaLH 0666.jpg
Cape Jaffa Lighthouse
General information
Town or city Kingson SE
South Australia
Country Australia
Coordinates 36°50′09″S 139°50′47″E / 36.835941°S 139.846272°E / -36.835941; 139.846272
Construction started 1976
Completed 1976

Cape Jaffa Lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse formerly located on Margaret Brock Reef near Cape Jaffa on the south east coast of South Australia and whose tower has been located in the town of Kingston SE since 1976. The former lighthouse tower is owned by the National Trust of South Australia who operates it as a museum. The platform which supported the tower is still in place at Margaret Brock Reef as of 2014.


The lighthouse took three years to build and was opened on 6 January 1872. It was originally built 8 km out to sea from Cape Jaffa on the Margaret Brock Reef. One particular shipwreck, the SS Admella was cited at the time as the reason for commissioning the lighthouse.

Known as a Wells screw pile, the original structure was held secure by being screwed into the ocean/reefs rocks. It was 41 metres high and was designed to suit the local conditions. In its original structure, the lighthouse had eight rooms, enough to accommodate two lighthouse keepers and their families with enough stores to last several weeks. The lighthouse used a Chance Brothers lantern which could be seen for a distance up to 40 km.

The federal government installed an automatic light to the structure in the early 1970s and handed operation to the National Trust of South Australia. After almost 101 years of use, the lighthouse was deactivated on 1 April 1973 when a new lighthouse at Robe began operation.

The Lighthouse was listed on the now-defunct Register of the National Estate on 21 March 1978 and on the South Australian Heritage Register on 24 July 1980.

The structure on which the lighthouse tower originally stood still stands as of 2014. It currently hosts a breeding colony of Australasian gannets.

Lighthouse Keepers

When the lighthouse was first in service there were three keepers on duty at the lighthouse and one at the short station. The keepers rotated so that they had one month ashore followed by three on the lighthouse.

The shore keeper would maintain the lighthouse cottages and monitor the radio.

Charles Henry West served as a lighthouse keeper at Cape Jaffa Lighthouse during the period 1893-1919, as well as Troubridge and South Neptune Island. Prior to this, he was a customs officer at Port Adelaide. At the age of 44, he married Emma Isabella Germein (age 27), daughter of Samuel Germein, at Baptist Church Manse, Adelaide.


The lighthouse tower was moved to its present location in Kingston SE in 1976 where it became a museum. It is open during South Australian school holidays.

The museum is set up to show how lighthouse keepers and their families lived in the tower structure. There is a log cabin quilt on one of the beds that is on the National Quilt Register. An interactive display telling the tragic story of the 1852 shipwreck of the barque Margaret Brock was opened in 2016.

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