“Every light has a different character, the navigator picks up this character and looks at the chart and says ‘ I know where I am now’” John Cook, Tasmania’s last Lighthouse keeper
Southernmost Lighthouse Tour in Australia
Cape Bruny Lighthouse is the only Southern Tasmanian lighthouse open for inspection. The heritage listed 1836 Bruny Lighthouse towers 114m over dramatic cliff tops and coves that form the rugged Tasmanian coastline of Cape Bruny. John Lee Archer, the famous architect that designed many well-known structures around the world was well ahead of his time and the iconic lighthouse he designed still stands proud today.
“You’d sit there in the tower, on some of those nights, it was eerie those nights, a mass of white sheet and sleet and that, it’s hard to explain – as you look into the storm, but it’s just like looking into a firestorm, just roaring at you as it hits the tower”
John Cook, Tasmania’s last Lighthouse keeper
Climb the original wrought iron spiral staircase to the top of the tower and step out onto the balcony to take in the breathtaking views of the sweeping southern ocean to the wild Tasman Sea, South East Cape, Whale Head and the small islands dotting the coastline… Experience the extraordinary & vast scenery for amazing photo opportunities at every point of the compass – with albatross, gannets and many other pelagic seabirds gliding over the relentless ocean swells… observe migrating whales, short-tailed shearwaters and Wedge Tailed Eagles swooping close to the tower.
When first lit in March 1838, the Cape Bruny Lighthouse was Tasmania’s third lighthouse, after the Iron Pot Lighthouse at the entrance to the River Derwent and the Low Head Lighthouse at the entrance to the River Tamar. It was Australia’s fourth lighthouse. It is now the country’s second oldest and longest continually staffed extant lighthouse.
The Cape Bruny Lighthouse project was commissioned by Governor George Arthur in 1835 after a series of tragic shipwrecks south of Bruny Island, Tasmania. John Lee Archer submitted his final design for Bruny Island Lighthouse in January 1836. Construction began April 1836 with his team of 12 convicts. It was constructed from locally quarried dolerite and Bruny Island lighthouse was completed and first lit in March 1838.
The Cape Bruny Lighthouse and its last keeper, John Cook were made redundant in 1993. John Cook was a keeper of lights for 25 years and spent 13 years at Cape Bruny. “I didn’t want to leave, when the time came I was very sad, everything was becoming automated it was like the tide coming in and you couldn’t stop it,” says John, the last and second longest serving keeper at Bruny.
Craig Parsey’s (Managing Director of Bruny Island Safaris and Cape Bruny Lighthouse Tours) family, Anthony & Robyn Parsey, were Lighthouse Keepers with John Cook on Maatsuyker Island off the South Coast of Tasmania, Australia’s Southernmost Lighthouse, later being transferred to Eddystone Point in the North East of Tasmania, Low Head on the Tamar River and finally to Cape Bruny where Craig attended his first school. Previous to this he was homeschooled at each light station.
Many of the stories you will hear about being at the Cape Bruny Lighthouse Station are derived from real life experiences of Craig’s family and from many interviews with John Cook. John & Chris Denmen and family also deserve a special mention and were a big part of the lives of the Parsey Lighthouse Keeper family, spending many years on Maatsuyker and Eddystone Point until closure. John Cook, John Denmen and Tony Parsey are amongst the last kerosene keepers in Australia.