Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

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See also Lighthouses of Australia - Cape Willoughby

Established in 1852, the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, originally known as the Sturt Light after Captain Charles Sturt, is the oldest in South Australia. It is set on the eastern extremity of Kangaroo Island.

A carpenter employed in the construction of the Cape Willoughby lighthouse, Peter Clark died on Kangaroo Island 23 March 1891, but was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery. On expiration of the lease, the family gained permission to relocate the headstone to the Cape Willoughy lighthouse.

Unnamed Male JOHNSON born 28/5/1858 died 2/6/1858 Cape Willoughby Buried under stables at Cape Willoughby Parents Charles W JOHNSON & Mary Ann Toohey. Source: Light Keeper records (FindMyPast)

State Library SA. Tower and cottages, looking east at Cape Willoughby. 21 December 1938. To see a selection of photographs in this collection, search on Archival number PRG 1642/29  at the SLSA site.

1860. Sturt lighthouse— Head Keeper, W. C. Cawthorne; Second Keeper, Donald Macarthur ; Third Keeper, John Tapley. 

MARINE BOARD. (1860, November 2). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 3.

23 Jan 1869 death of John Tapley, 56

14 Jun 1860 death of Georgeana Sarah Cawthorn,  58, wife of William Cawthorn [sic]

07 Aug 1866 birth of Hannah Carter, to parents William Heppard Carter and Jane nee Holland

04 Feb 1871 birth of Kate Elizabeth Carter, to parents William Heppard Carter and Jane nee Holland

20 Mar 1873 birth of Robina Margaret Taylor, to parents John Dunn Taylor and Elizabeth nee Taylor

27 Jul 1874 birth of Rose Annie Webling, to parents Alfred Charles Webling and Mary Ann Deslandes

30 Nov 1874 death at Lefevre Peninsula, of Alice Maud Mary Webling, age 1, daughter of  Alfred Charles Webling and Mary Ann nee Deslandes

30 Dec 1874 death of Frank Halsey, 18, at Antechamber Bay, residence Sturt lighthouse

27 Sep 1885 birth of Thyra Isabel  Horswill, to parents William John Horswill and Isabella Jane nee Boyce

27 Jul 1903 death of Donald McLeod, 57

17 Jul 1909  The Cape Willoughby light is a lovely sight to witness as it flashes out its signals every one and a half minutes, and great credit is due to Messrs Angus and Payne for the excellent way in which they attend to their lighthouse duties, in addition to their post and telegraph work.  

AROUND CAPE WILLOUGHBY. (1909, July 17). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 3. 

31 Jan 1914 Mr Slater has been appointed head keeper in place of Mr Angus. Mr C. Nelson third-keeper at Cape Willoughby lighthouse, returned from his annual holiday on Saturday. Captain De Beer, who has been acting third-keeper at Willoughby, accompanied by Mrs De Beer, re turned to Adelaide on Monday.

DISTRICT OF DUDLEY. (1914, January 31). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 5.

06 Feb 1914 death of George Angas, 60, in Adelaide

04 Nov 1920 death of Thomas Pynn, 35, in Adelaide

07 Apr 1924 death of Margaret Catherine Laver, 37, in Adelaide. Wife of Charles Poynton Laver

30 Mar 1925 death of James Barnes, aka Edgewood, 47, (res. Kilkenny)

01 Jan 1927 birth of Clive Anthony Ayliffe, to parents Frank (Francis) Keith Ayliffe and Dorothy Augusta nee Frank

1928 Mr. George Henry Mackrell in charge.

18 Jun 1930 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

" .... They left for Cape Willoughby on Monday in a gaily decorated motor with shoes, tins and placards dangling. They arrived at the Lighthouse 'mid showers of confetti and the banging of kerosene tins. The three houses were gaily decorated with signalling flags, the flags reading "Welcome Home." Headkeeper and Mrs Turner gave a "Welcome Dinner" to the young couple when the usual toasts were honored. Those present at the Dinner were : — Mr and Mrs Turner, Mr and Mrs Corkhill, Mr and Mrs Mackrell, Mr and Mrs Cameron, Miss Jean and Master Donald Cameron, Mr McGair and Master George Leahy."  - Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), Saturday 28 June 1930, page 2

12 Dec 1932 death of James Edward Smith, 54, in Adelaide

1941 electoral roll, William George Lovell (1898-1946)  lighthouse keeper, Cape Willoughby. Wife  Nellie Thelma nee Hewett.

17 Oct 1940 death of William Alfred Ernest Lyall, 67 (res. Penneshaw).  1939 electoral roll, lightkeeper, Cape Willoughby.

On Thursday, October 10th Mr William Alfred Ernest Lyall was found dead by Acting Head Keeper H. P. Cain of Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. The late Mr Lyall was seen mustering sheep nearby and was expected to tea. When he did not arrive at the time expected, Mr Cain went to look for him and he found Mr Lyall lying near some bushes dead. He was 67 years of age and was born at Pt. Adelaide, and was a son of the late Mr and Mrs W. Lyall of Penneshaw. He served in the Lighthouse Service for about thirty years and was Head keeper for twenty years. His courteous and kindly nature made for him many friends, who regret to hear of his death. After retiring from the Lighthouse Service he returned to Penneshaw and has since served for over two years as Councillor of the District of Dudley. He is survived by one brother, Mr F. Lyall of Pt. Adelaide and Mrs Hirst of Penneshaw. His remains were interred in the Penneshaw Cemetery on Friday last, in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends. The Rev. N. G. Gunthorpe officiated at the graveside and Councillors Bates, Buiok, Willson and Neave were the pallbearers.

CAIN, Herbert Percey b. 19 Dec 1888 Beltana, SA  aka Herbert Percy
d. 16 Mar 1958 Daw Park, SA
e. Military 2606 27th & 10th Batt
e. Electoral roll BET 1939 & 1943 Cape Willoughby, Kangaroo Island, lightkeeper
wife 1943 electoral roll Winifred Claire (nee PARKS) (1898-1958)

Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), Wednesday 29 July 1903, page 4

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), Saturday 22 March 1890, page 6... The light on Willoughby has been in charge of Mr. Carter for the last twenty-seven years, and is kept in excellent order. The cape is a signalling-station, and Miss Carter has charge of the telegraph-office. The lighthouse is one of the oldest on the coast, being exhibited for the first time on January 16, 1852. It is a white light, revolving every ninety seconds, and visible twenty-four miles. The light shows all round, but is shut in by the high land, between the bearing of S.W. round by W. to N. by W ¼ W. Intercolonial boats inwards are reported from here some six or seven hours before arrival at the anchorage. ...

MARINE BOARD INSPECTION. (1890, March 22). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 6.


Mr Donald McDonald, headkeeper Willoughby Lighthouse died early on Tuesday morning. At 2 o'clock the President of the Marine Board (Mr. Arthur Searcy) received a telegram stating that Mr. McLeod had a sudden seizure and was apparently dying. A second message at 5.30 conveyed the news of his death. Mr. McLeod was 51 years of age, and unmarried. He joined the service of the Marine Department on January 28, 1878. as fourth keeper at Tipara lighthouse. A year ]ater he was promoted to second keeper at the Eastern Shoal Light and in December, 1881, he was transferred to Rivoli Bay to act in a similar capacity. He was appointed second keeper at Althorpe Island Lighthouse in October, 1883, and after nearly five years' service there he was promoted to head keeper of the Middle Bank Lightship on March 1, 1888. Five years later he was transferred to Tipara as head keeper, and remained there until November, 1898, when he was removed to Troubridge. He took over control at Cape Willoughby on November 1 of last year, and discharged the duties there until his death. As the deceased had expressed a desire to be buried on Kangaroo Island. Mr, Scarcy telegraphed instructions that the police and an undertaker, who are 30 miles distant, should be notified to that effect. 

CONCERNING PEOPLE. (1903, July 29). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 4.

See Hope Cottage Museum, where the light is now located.

Lighthouses of Australia Inc

State Library South Australia. 1915. Part of Searcy collection.

SLSA.Man at the Cape Willoughby lighthouse. 21 December 1938. Vernon Smith collection. To see a selection of photographs in this collection, search on Archival number PRG 1642/29.

SLSA Cape Willoughby lighthouse. The lantern room is the one from Tipara reef, which arrived at Cape Willoughby in 1925, replacing the original De Ville Lantern. c.1925

SLSA. 1914. A group of four people sitting on the entrance steps to the Cape Willoughby lighthouse on Kangaroo Island; left to right: A. Searcy; Mrs.A.De.Beer; Captain Gibbon; S.Cox.

Avro Anson display at the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.  Four airmen died nearby 3rd June 1942: K. W. Hailey, F. R Cassidy, D. R. Stewart, L. F. Pickup

Photos courtesy Chris Ward