The Woody Island Lighthouses were two of the earliest lighthouses built in Queensland, erected in 1866, four years before the Sandy Cape light commenced operation. The earliest light in Queensland was the Cape Moreton light, built in 1857.
There were two lighthouses, Middle Bluff and North Bluff, set two nautical miles apart, and at different heights, the northern one lower. They were sited so that as ships approached from seaward, they kept the lights in line until they closed vertically. At that point, the ships knew to turn to port to enter the channel.
The two lights and their keepers’ houses were linked by a gravel path, edged with stones.
The north light ceased operation in 1959, and the Middle Bluff one in 1987. Middle Bluff still stands, though it needs restoration, while there is only the frame left of the North Bluff one.
Local architect Gavin Patterson and long-term Land Care members Lesley and Don Bradley (all Division 6 residents!) have been working on the restoration of the lighthouses, with the support of state member Ted Sorensen. Plans have now been prepared for restoration of the Middle Bluff lighthouse,. Negotiations continue with National Parks about how this is to be carried out and funded. Hopefully the northern light and the linking path can also be restored in the future.
All parties are to be commended for the work so far, and I will be keen to ensure this project continues. The site can be accessed by boat on the eastern coast of Woody. I would hope the works can include an access path from the west coast, to facilitate visitors by kayak and similar small craft.
Big Woody Island is already a treasure for many of our boating fraternity. This project can add to the attraction of the island for locals and tourists alike.
An extract from the book River of Dreams by Tony Matthews, with some history and photos of the lighthouses can be accessed on line at http://vk2ce.com/lighthouses/Woody/index.html