Cape du Couedic Lighthouse

State Library SA PRG 280/1/43/61

The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse was constructed between 1906-1909 and was the fifteenth to be built on South Australia's coast.

The State Library SA PRG 280/1/43/61 has this description of the photo (above):

"Two men and a woman standing by a marker at the site for a new lighthouse at Cape du Couedic on Kangaroo Island; Casuarina Island can be seen in the distance." It is dated 1909 which is questionable as that was the year the light was exhibited (switched on).

1909 First head lightkeeper Gilbert Gavin Duthie; Second keeper George Ernest Luckett.  The third keeper  Mr. G. Marmant.

[George Marmont / Marment / Marmant] was installed as a lightkeeper when the Cape de Couedic light-station was opened. Since then he had been attached to the staffs at Borda and the Neptunes [where he he was accidentally drowned in July 1910] ...

FATALITY AT THE NEPTUNES. (1910, August 6). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 17.

LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER. Injured in 70ft Fall. TRANSPORT PROBLEM. 50 Miles of Rough Country.

Information has been received by the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service that on Monday Mr. H. N. Beare[Henry Netherton Beare, 1881-1970] head lighthouse keeper at Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island, was seriously injured in a fall, and that he was now awaiting assistance from the department for removal to hospital. Mr. Beare fell a distance of 70 feet from a platform in the light tower, and broke several ribs.

The lighthouse is in a most inaccessible position.  Between it and Kingscote, the nearest town, there is 50 miles of rough country, with many deep valleys. It is proposed to use a motor car equipped with several stretchers. The car will be used for the more accessible parts, and In the valleys and over the rough country the injured man will be transferred to stretchers. At Kingscote an aeroplane will be waiting to take him to Adelaide, and a motor ambulance will meet the 'plane at the aerodrome. In the event of the motor car failing to traverse the broken country to the lighthouse a tug will be sent to Cape de Couedie to pick up the Injured man.

- Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Saturday 4 May 1929, page 17

— Light Station. — 

Cape de Couedic— many modern charts erroneously spell the name with a final e instead of c— is associated with the discoveries of the French explorer, Capt. Baudin. It marks a section of the coast of Kangaroo Island which has been responsible for the loss of scores of lives and of hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of valuable property. The construction of a lighthouse on the spot was long advocated by the Marine Board, but shelved from time to time. A great deal of the credit for its installation is due to the late Premier (Mr. Price), and his Government. Mr. Price took a deep interest in the matter, and when convinced of the need for the light, set aside £5,000 as the first instalment for its erection. The plans were prepared by Mr. J. B. Labatt (Assistant Engineer of Harbours), and the whole station has been erected under his direction, with the assistance of Mr. R. de N. Lucas. 

The inaccessibility of the place was a great drawback to the work. All the original material had to be landed in boats upon the beach just below the cliffs and carried up a zigzag pathway that was hewn out of the face, until a temporary flying fox was erected. In this, as well as in the subsequent operations, Capt. P. Weir, of the Governor Musgrave, rendered very valuable aid. 

The first landing was effected on October 4, 1907, and the work since carried out to a successful issue included the erection of a small iron pile jetty, the building of a permanent flying fox, operated by an oil engine, the construction of an engine house and masonry stone and water tank at the summit of the cliff, a road three-quarters of a mile long, three keepers' cottages, and the erection of the lighthouse tower and the lantern. The construction work was first in charge of Inspector G. Wisdom, but subsequently, when his services were required elsewhere, Mr. T. Reynolds' was placed in control, and be has brought the plans of Mr. Labatt to a very satisfactory conclusion. The station has been placed in telephonic communication with Cape Borda. The cost of construction has been £16.000, including £5,000 for the lights. 

— Description of the Lights.— 

The primary light installed is what is technically known as a holophotal group It shows a white light all round, giving a flash of .33 sec, an eclipse of 1.35 sec, then a flash of .33 sec, followed by an eclipse of 5.49 sec, with an interval be tween the double flashes of 7.5 sec. The light is visible for a distance of 27 miles. ????? each, mounted on a cast-iron base, which floats in a circular reservoir of mercury. The lenses are timed to make one complete revolution in 22½ sec The light adopted is known as the incandescent kerosene system, now in use in many of the lighthouses on the coast, in which the mantle is 85 millimetres. This gives a light equal to about 1,000 candlepower. The power of the flash is difficult to estimate, but it is probably about 500,000 candle power. In addition to the primary light there is a subsidiary light fixed 60 ft. below the main lantern, showing a red sector over Lipson Reef and a white sector over the Casuarinas. Both lights were constructed by the well-known Birmingham firm of lantern manufacturers, Messrs. Chance Brothers, on the most approved modern principle. In the main light a system of mercury flotation has been adopted in place of the old-fashioned friction roller, thus enabling the light to be driven with very much smaller power. The lights are placed in a tower constructed of rock-face coursed rubble masonry. The stone, which was quarried locally, and prepared on the spot, is of very high quality. The height of the tower is 55 ft., and the lantern stands 339 ft. above sea level. A feature in its construction is that reinforced concrete has been used for the staircase and floors. Cape de Couedic light is considered to be probably only second in point of efficiency in the southern hemisphere to that of the Macquarie. Lighthouse at South Head, Sydney. 

—The Lightkeepers.— 

The position of head keeper of the light house has been given to Mr. G. G. Duthie, late head keeper at Troubridge Island. He is a very old servant of the Marine Board, and his appointment is a just recognition of his ability for the post. Mr. G. E. Luckett, the second keeper, has also been several years in the board's employ, and his previous appointment was as second keeper at Cape Northumberland. He was shipwrecked in the steamer You Yangs near Cape Willoughby, the eastern extremity of Kangaroo Island, in 1890, and on that occasion heroically swam out to the vessel and rescued the master (Capt. Veitch) from a perilous position. Mr. Luckett also served with one of the contingents in the South African war. The third keeper is Mr. G. Mannant, a former second mate of the Governor Musgrave, and for a long period employed at the Outer Harbour. All three keepers are highly experienced and able men, and in their hands the Cape de Couedic station may be expected to give a good account of itself. That its welcome rays may stave off shipwreck is the earnest wish of all South Australians.

1909 'CAPE DE COUEDIC LIGHTHOUSE.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 29 June, p. 9. , 
Workmen at Cape de Couedic lighthouse  c.1908.  Photo courtesy Hope Cottage Museum

Mr. Danielsen, a light-keeper at Cape Northumberland, has been transferred to Cape DeCoudie, on Kangaroo Island. The head keeper (Mr. P. Turner) also expects to leave for a new station in April.- Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), Saturday 22 March 1930, page 2

SWENSEN, Swen August   b. ABT 1894  d. 18 Sep 1951 Woodville Gardens, SA e. Electoral roll 1939 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island, Head lightkeeper m. HAYMAN, Olive May, 10 Sep 1919 Alberton, SA d. 26 Jun 1982

FISHER, Maurice Albert (Doc) b. 03 Sep 1897 Undalya, SA d. 18 Apr 1992 e. Burial Enfield Memorial Park e. Military 878 Headstone states 32nd Batt. Official roll states 43rd Batt e. Electoral roll 1939 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island lightkeeper m. BROOKS, Dorothy M. 15 Jun 1927 Rosewater, SA d. 04 Jan 1981

SCHRODER, Frederick Herman  b. 28 Sep 1897 Semaphore, SA d. 09 Oct 1961 Daw Park, SA  e. Military 16240 11th Field Ambulance e. Electoral roll 1939 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island lightkeeper m. HURST, Lilly Marian 09 Jul 1924 Semaphore, SA d. 14 Mar 1982

PAIGE, Frederick William Marshfield  b. 15 Jul 1897 William Creek, SA d. 11 Nov 1979 e. Electoral roll 1941 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island lightkeeper m. WATKINS, Hilda Pearl.  02 Oct 1924 Morialta, SA  d.21 Jan 1951

Photo courtesy State Library SA, B-49813

Mr. P. Turner: Head Lighthouse Keeper, c.1919

CORKHILL, Arthur Markdale  b. ABT 1897 d. 14 May 1952 St Marys, SA e. Occupation BET 03 Mar 1927 & 1931 lightkeeper Cape Borda, Cape Willoughby e. Electoral roll 1943 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island lightkeeper  m. COLMER, Hazel Margaret 18 Jun 1930 Coromandel Valley, SA  d. 17 Sep 1969

SCHOFIELD, Arthur, MM  b. 1886 Manchester, England  d. 09 Nov 1947 Adelaide, SA e. Military 189 10th Inf Batt, 12 Machine Gun Coy, Military Medal e. Electoral roll 1943 Cape de Couedic, Kangaroo Island lightkeeper  m. Gertrude  d. 21 Oct 1958

The stone remains of the Weirs Cove storehouse in Flinders Chase National Park have undergone restoration in an attempt to keep their history intact. Originally completed in 1908, this original Weirs Cove structure was integral to receiving materials and then goods for the remote Cape du Couedic lighthouse and its keepers ...

Historic Kangaroo Island storehouse saved from crumbling

Photo courtesy State Library SA, B49799, c.1920, Jetty, Weir Cove 

Photo: Linnett Tourism Brochure, c.1910, courtesy Anne A'Herran

1954. Today's earth tremor occurred at 1.20 a.m. today, waking residents on and near Flinders Chase and slightly damaging the light at Cape de Couedie lighthouse Light dimmed. Head lightkeeper Mr. George Tanner, said it was as bad as the big quake in SA last Monday week. The Kangaroo Island tremor broke the mantle of the main light in the flashing apparatus of the lighthouse dimming the light for a few moments. But a new mantle was quickly inserted by Mr John Ditcham, lightkeeper on duty in the tower at the time. The light is fueled by vaporised kerosene. There are three married couples and five children at the lighthouse, and all were awakened by doors and windows rattling and the building's shaking. Mrs. Tanner told her husband that when she woke she saw a yellow flash in the sky. Mrs. J. V. Lonzar whose husband is curator of the Flinders Chase flora and fauna sanctuary said: "I woke up to hear a terrific roar like thunder ''The room shook a little, then the sound seemed to trail away." 

K.I. TREMOR HAS NO LINK WITH BIG QUAKE (1954, March 13). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), p. 68. 

An account of George Luckett's sea chest, salvaged from the wreck of the You Yangs, and a description of the Cape de Couedie Lighthouse. Written by Bill May (no date).



Lo ! another star hath risen
Beneath the Southern Cross,
To protect our noble shipping
And their valued freights from loss. 

I allude to Couedie Lighthouse,
With its keepers Georges three,
To watch at night and guard the light,
And keep from danger free.

Twenty-eight miles o'er the ocean's foam,
Its genial rays are shed,
O'er the heaving crests of the ocean's breast
And the graves of the honored dead. 

All praise to the noble structure,
On our southern coast so grand,
All praise to those who built her,
To the work of head and hand. 

There she may be for ages.
As long as the world may last,
Ever sending a timely warning
To the vessels speeding past. 

Then long life to the keepers there,
With their wives and children too,
May they long tend the Coudie Lighthouse
As a happy and peaceful crew. 

May they all work well together,
Mid' the storms or the days so bright,
Be good and keep good for always,
And faithful as Couedie Light. 

With a prayer for the tempest tossed,
With a prayer for those that are lost,
May the dark and stormy night
Be pierced by the Couedie Light. 

— Amen. By G.A.P., C.W., K.I.

[George Arthur Payne - ex Head Keeper at Cape Willoughby Light House ]