Discovering the Fascinating History of Melbourne’s Lighthouse

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melbourne light house

Melbourne, the coastal capital of Victoria, Australia, has a rich maritime history that extends from the 1800s to the present day. The city’s iconic lighthouse, located at the entrance of Port Philip Bay, has been a significant landmark for more than a century. Built in 1906, the Melbourne lighthouse has gone through several transformations, and today its light serves as a guide for ships entering and leaving the port.

The lighthouse stands on the eastern side of the channel, south of the main shipping channel, and has undergone various changes since its construction. The base of the tower was originally made of local bluestone, and the tower was square in shape with a lantern room on top. The light was fueled by kerosene and had a visibility range of 22 miles. Since then, numerous upgrades have taken place to ensure the lighthouse’s longevity and the safety of ships entering and leaving the port.

Exploring the Different Phases of the Melbourne Lighthouse

1. The Beginnings of the Melbourne Lighthouse

The Melbourne lighthouse’s construction began in 1906 after several accidents involving ships hitting submerged rocks surrounding Port Philip Bay’s entrance. The lighthouse’s purpose was to provide ships with a visual guide as they entered the bay. The foundation of the lighthouse is built on a rocky reef that had to be blasted to provide a stable base. The basement is made of bluestone in a rough, rusticated style, which contrasts with the neat cream brickwork of the tower’s upper levels. The tower is surmounted by an iron balcony and an octagonal lantern, which safely houses the light.

2. Upgrades to the Light and Lens

Over time, the Melbourne lighthouse’s light source was upgraded from kerosene to electricity in 1933. It was also fitted with an automatic mechanism to turn the light on and off during the day and at night. The lens itself has a fascinating history; the original order for the lens was placed in France in 1904. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the lens arrived later than anticipated, and by this time, an identical lens had been ordered from England. The French lens was kept in storage and installed in another lighthouse in the state of Victoria.

3. World War II and the Change of Light Characteristics

During World War II, the Melbourne lighthouse’s lantern room was painted black to avoid emitting a visible light source that could aid enemy ships. The light source was changed to an omnidirectional revolving light. After the war, the original white light was restored and later changed to a green light in 1960 to facilitate pilotage. In 1993, the light was further modified to exhibit an occulting green light, which is still in use today.

4. The Keeper’s Cottage

The Keeper’s Cottage, adjacent to the lighthouse, was built in 1909, and the first lighthouse keeper, William Ernest Rutledge, and his family lived there. The cottage is a two-story house made of bluestone, with a metal roof and a verandah. It is an excellent example of the Federation Gothic style of architecture, and its restoration work began in the 1990s, with the cottage opening to the public in 1999.

5. The Restoration of the Melbourne Lighthouse

In 2000, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) invested in the Melbourne lighthouse’s restoration, which included treating the tower’s brickwork and replacement of the lantern room. The tower’s spiral staircase was also refurbished, with a new handrail and balustrades. In 2003, the lighthouse’s original lens was restored and is now on display at the Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park.

FAQs About Buying a House in Melbourne

1. What Are the Popular Suburbs in Melbourne?

Melbourne offers a diverse range of suburbs, each with its unique charm, culture, and lifestyle. Some of the suburbs that are popular with buyers include Brighton, South Yarra, St. Kilda, Toorak, Richmond, and Hawthorn. These suburbs offer residents access to great cafes, restaurants, parks, and schools, making them ideal for families, young professionals, and retirees.

2. How Much Can You Expect to Pay for a House in Melbourne?

The median house price in Melbourne is approximately $850,000. However, the price can vary significantly depending on the suburb, size of the property, and its location. Some of the more expensive suburbs include Toorak and South Yarra, where houses can sell for several million dollars. On the other hand, more affordable suburbs include Frankston and Werribee, where you can buy a home for under $500,000.

3. What Steps Should You Take When Buying a House in Melbourne?

The process of buying a house in Melbourne is similar to other cities across Australia. However, before you start the buying process, it’s essential to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a property. It would help if you also had a clear understanding of your budget, including additional costs such as stamp duty, conveyancing fees, and building and pest inspections. It’s also essential to work with a reputable real estate agent who has experience in the area you’re interested in buying.

4. What Are the Upcoming Developments in Melbourne?

Melbourne is constantly evolving, with numerous developments transforming the cityscape. The new metro tunnel, set to open in 2025, will improve the city’s public transport network. The West Gate Tunnel Project will also provide better access between the Western suburbs and the city. Other significant projects include the redevelopment of the Queen Victoria Market, the Melbourne Quarter precinct, and the Southbank Boulevard makeover.

5. How Can You Finance Your House Purchase in Melbourne?

There are several financing options available when buying a house in Melbourne. It’s essential to do your research and compare different loan options from various lenders. Some of the most popular home loan options include a variable-rate loan, a fixed-rate loan, or a split-rate loan. You can also take advantage of first-home buyer’s grants and stamp duty concessions, which can reduce the overall cost of buying a property.


The Melbourne lighthouse is a significant historical landmark that has stood the test of time. Its restoration in the early 2000s ensures it continues to guide ships entering and leaving Port Philip Bay for generations to come. Whether you’re interested in Melbourne’s fascinating history or planning to buy a house in this beautiful city, Melbourne offers a diverse and exciting lifestyle that caters to everyone’s needs. To learn more about buying a house in Melbourne, visit our Guide to Buying a House in Melbourne.

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