This is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse which is perched 91 metres above sea level on the headland north of Palm Beach. This lighthouse marks the entrance to Broken Bay, Pittwater and the water ways that converge to form the Hawkesbury River.
Over the years Broken Bay has formed a safe haven from heavy weather for ships travelling to and from Newcastle, mostly transporting coal. It has also seen traffic from barges carrying food from the Hawkesbury River regions.
For these reasons it was important to mark the headland and as such the first light was recorded here in 1855 in the form of a fire raised in a basket. In 1868 two wooden lighthouses were built at either end of the headland. It wasn’t until 1891 that this more permanent sandstone lighthouse was constructed.
Three cottages were also built alongside the lighthouse which include three keeper’s cottages. These cottages were occupied from 1881 until 1932 when automatic lighting was installed. They remained unoccupied until 1960, which sadly left them vulnerable to vandalism.
After 1960 the cottages were leased with particularly note-able residents Jervis Sparks and his wife Bridget leasing one of the cottages for 31 years from 1968 to 1999. The Sparks painstakingly restored the cottage after heavy vandalism and became the unofficial caretakers of the lightstation. As I understand it even after moving off the headland Jervis has written several books on the area and is still consulted on the area’s management. The Spark’s contribution was recognised when they were awarded the first ever Pittwater Medal by the Pittwater Council.
It’s a lovely place to visit and explore, particularly on a clear day as you get great views of the Northern Beaches and Central Coast to the north.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.
This photo of the area from one of the cottages c1982. Used with permission courtesy of Pam Xenos (@pamjx) via Instagram: