27 November 2012, 10.37 AM
Wollongong is the only point on the east coast of Australia which has two lighthouses. The old Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse is located on the end of the breakwater, assisted the passage of vessels into Wollongong Harbour. This lighthouse is called Breakwater Lighthouse or better known just as the Wollongong Lighthouse.
The lighthouse was built in 1871, and is situated in Belmore Basin on the southern breakwater. Edward Orphan Moriarty, the Engineer-in-Chief of Harbours and Rivers Department, NSW, designed the lighthouse. The tower is constructed of wrought iron on a ferro-concrete base. Joseph Mather won the contract to build the lighthouse, as well as an identical one which was built next at Ulladulla, later moved to Warden Head. The wrought iron plates were designed and assembled in his foundry, after which they assembled them on site. It is not known when the original oil burner was replaced. Gas was supplied to the town in 1883. It is known in 1908 that a Kern Gas Burner was installed. An acetylene gas burner was installed in 1916 and was considered to be a great improvement. Again it is not clear when the light was upgraded to electricity. Some believe 1922, others as late as 1947.
The first request for a lighthouse was made in 1866 by the Wollongong Borough Council. Until the lighthouse came into service a temporary red light was fixed in a box at the end of the pier. While the lighthouse was being constructed there was concern that the tower would not survive in gale force weather, and that under these conditions the keeper would not be able to reach it on the end of the breakwater. Work was delayed by heavy seas which the lighthouse tower did survive. Even though the lantern was installed in July 1871 the light was not exhibited regularly until January 1872. The original Chance apparatus was dismantled about 1970 and the Maritime Services Board of NSW proposed to use it at Eden on the South Coast.
The new Wollongong Head Lighthouse was constructed on Flagstaff Point to the south of the Breakwater in 1937 and took over as the major light in the area. The breakwater light was extinguished in 1974.