The Cape Moreton Light

During 1856, with vessels now entering Moreton Bay via the northern entrance between Bribie and Moreton Islands, the New South Wales Government erected the Cape Moreton lighthouse, a stone tower 23 metres high and 120 metres above sea-level. This lighthouse, with its original lens, is still in use.

The stone for the lighthouse and the light keepers’ cottages was quarried at first from the immediate neighbourhood of the works, but it was found to be of bad quality underneath the hard top and the remainder was obtained from a nearby hill. The lantern was of iron with 16 sides. The government schooner Spitfire carried the lantern and many of the other items for the lighthouse from Brisbane to Moreton Island, landing them at the pilot station (at Yellow Patch) whence they were transported overland to the site. Such an important and interesting event did the operations of the new light prove to be that pleasure cruises to view the lighthouse were run on the (paddle) steamer Breadalbane, taking about 100 passengers from Ipswich and Brisbane, with music and dancing enjoyed on board while in the river.

Cape Moreton Light early 1900s. To right is Superintendent’s House. The picket fence surrounds the well.

Clair Craig (daughter of early 1900’s keeper, George P. Byrne):

When shipping approached from south or north the Watch House at Cape Moreton would signal (with flags during the day, Morse at night) “Do you want a pilot?”  If the ship required a pilot to guide it into port, we then notified them on board the pilot boat which was anchored near us at the Yellow Patch in the shelter of the island, and they went out to meet the approaching ship. The pilot would then board the ship and guide it up to Brisbane, the entrance being rather hazardous due to sand banks.  After berthing he might stay in Brisbane for a few days break before re-joining the pilot boat.  The pilots lived aboard, so they were always glad to visit us for a break on dry land.  We used to watch them coming up the narrow track to the Cape.  We always knew Captain Scott by his attire of white duck pants and a black coat.  He would stay with us for a few days.  We had an upright piano in our house which my father imported from America in 1900.  Both my mother and Captain Scott were good pianists, and they loved playing duets together. 

Cape Moreton Lighthouse 1854

Kevin Mohr (relief keeper):

Cape Moreton is the worst lighthouse I’ve ever been on because it has a spiral staircase and when you get to the top, there is no flooring and you have to step out onto a vertical ladder with nothing between you and the ground floor far below. I never liked that – especially in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep.

I went up to Cape Moreton Lighthouse a couple of times. After the American Liberty ship Rufus King mistook Point Lookout for Cape Moreton during the war and went aground, it was decided (in 1942) to paint two red bands on the Cape Moreton Lighthouse to prevent any further repetition of this mistake.

Cape Moreton Lighthouse today (Photo Rebecca Heard)

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