Lighthouses and lightships

Lighthouses and lightships are a popular subject for researchers and family historians. Below are some sources available in the museum library and elsewhere.


General and British

The story of lighthouses and lightships
Olwen Reed. Loughborough, Eng.Wills & Hepworth, 1968.
387.155 REE

The story of our lighthouses and lightships: Descriptive and historical
W.H. Davenport Adams. London. Thomas Nelson, 1891.
627.922 ADA

Lighthouses: their architecture, history and archaeology
Douglas B. Hague et al. Llandysul. Gomer Press, 1975.
387.155 HAG

Lightships and lighthouses
Frederick A. Talbot. London. Heinemann, 1913.
623.8942 TAL


From dusk till dawn: A history of Australian lighthouses
Gordon Reid. Melbourne. Macmillan; in association with Department of Transport and Communications, 1988.
623.8942 FRO

Australian lighthouses
John Noble. Lane Cove, N.S.W. Nelson Doubleday, 1967.
623.89420994 NOB

Romance of Australian lighthouses
Valmai Phillips. Adelaide. Rigby, 1977.
623.89420994 PHI

Guiding lights: Tasmania's lighthouses and lighthousemen
Kathleen M. Stanley. Hobart. St David's Park Publishing, 1991.

Other items of interest in the library's collection can be found by searching the subject index of the catalogue under the term 'Lighthouses'.

Looking to buy books? Shop online at the museum store.

Guides to collections of material held in Australia

The Australian lighthouse: An introductory guide to resources
Canberra: Department of Transport. Marine Operations Division, 1984.
623.89420994 AUS

Lighthouses in Australia: A guide to records held by the Australian Archives
Canberra: Australian Archives, 1991.
623.8942016 LIG
Provides plans, information on personnel records, lightship and lighthouse tenders and more. Fact sheets giving a guide to the holdings relating to lighthouses in Brisbane and Hobart can be found in the transport section of the National Archives Fact Sheets.  

Note: Official records relating to lighthouses and lightships are split between State Archives and the Australian Archives as responsibility for lighthouses rested with the states until 1915 then became a Commonwealth responsibility. The states retained responsibility for harbour and river lights.

Admiralty list of lights and fog signals.
Taunton, Somerset: Hydrographer of the Navy.
Library holds current issue only.
REF 623.8942 ADM
This annual, multi-volume publication is the standard reference on the lighthouses of the world. It gives location and technical data on each and is divided geographically.

Plans and drawings

"Designing lights: drawings for colonial lighthouses lX17-lX99 from the heritage collections of the Department of Transport"
Ingrid Anderson et al. Sydney. Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter), 1986.
623.89420994 AND
Catalogue of technical drawings from the Department of Transport in Canberra. The collection is now available at the National Archives.

Online sources

  • The Lighthouses of Australia website is a useful portal that will direct you to more online information.
  • The National Archives Beacons by the Sea site accompanies a touring exhibition and includes drawings of lighthouses in its collection. Also links to stories about Australian lighthouses.

Useful addresses

Australian Archives
PO Box 7425
Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610

State Records of New South Wales
Search Room
2 Globe Street
The Rocks

Queensland State Archives
PO Box 1397
Sunnybank Hills QLD 4109

Public Record Office of South Australia
PO Box 1056

Archives Office of Tasmania
77 Murray Street

Public Record Office of Victoria
PO Box 1156

Public Records of Western Australia
Alexander Library Building
Cultural Centre

Northern Territory Archives Service
PO Box 874

Lighthouses of Australia Inc.
PO Box 4734 Knox City VIC 3152.

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