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Original Burnett Heads Lighthouse a major landmark

Burnett Heads Lighthouse
A postcard of the Burnett Heads Lighthouse, no date (Gaal/Whittred collection, bun00147).

While the original Burnett Heads Lighthouse no longer serves a purpose of navigating sailors to shore, its history is one that continues in the coastal township.

Now placed in Lighthouse Park, the historic building was once situated on the Burnett River’s south head from 1873.

Made of timber in a hexagonal shape, the lighthouse is approximately 6.8 metres high.

The Queensland Government operated the lighthouse until 1916 when the Commonwealth took over responsibility.

Originally the lamp burnt vegetable oil but was quickly converted to kerosene.

The lighthouse was built in 1873 and manned by a keeper until 1932 when it was converted to a gas operation.

In a recent post to the Bundaberg Regional Libraries Facebook page, Ellen Steel recalled her own family's connection to the lighthouse.

“My great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper there, not sure what dates, late 1800s, but McGowan street was named after the family,” she said.

“My nana, Esther Carmichael, told me stories of how when they came into Bundaberg it was an overnight stay as it was too far to go back to Burnett Heads in one day in the horse and buggy.”

Burnett Heads Lighthouse
The Burnett Heads Lighthouse just prior to its removal to the new site in 1972.

In 1932 the fuel for the light was converted from kerosene to acetylene gas which burnt brighter and cleaner.

The historic Burnett Heads Lighthouse served shipping on our part of the coast for 99 years, from 1873 to 1972.

When it was replaced by a more modern tower in 1972, the Bundaberg Historical Museum Committee, along with the Burnett Heads Progress Association and the Woongarra Shire Council, instigated efforts to ensure the old lighthouse was preserved as an important part of our district’s history.

It still stands at Burnett Heads today, albeit on a different site, thanks to the efforts of these groups.

To find out more about the history of the original Burnett Heads Lighthouse click here.

  • Historical information compiled by Bundaberg Regional Libraries Manager of Library Services Peta Browne.

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