The Black lighthouse at Queenscliff was built in 1862, replacing an earlier sandstone lighthouse built in 1843, it is located 40 metres above sea level and depending on the tower’s bearing it emits either a fixed light or an occulting signal with an interval of 15 seconds. The black lighthouse is one of four in Queenscliff that are used as a leading line to guide ships through the notoriously dangerous mouth of Port Phillip Bay. It is 25m high and built of Bluestone.
There are several conflicting stories of where the bluestone for the lighthouse came from. One version claims that it came from Scotland as a ships ballast, another claims, the stone was quarried in Melbourne and shipped to Queenscliff. The current version, according to current tour guides, is that the entire lighthouse was cut in Scotland, transported, and assembled on-site by numbers.
The lighthouse was designed in Scotland and strangely enough Shortland’s Bluff (on which it is built) is 40m above sea level, but was designed as a wave-washed lighthouse, with curved walls to deflect shock from waves, and with an entrance 5m above the base, they used to climb a rope ladder for the first ten years until a ground-level door was cut.
Fort Queenscliff was built around the lighthouse during the Australian Gold Rush after concerns that ships carrying gold might be susceptible to attack from thieves. The light was converted to gas in 1890, and then to electricity in 1924. It is supposed that the first public telephone service in Victoria was installed here. Today the lighthouse is unmanned and automated.
Next week I will do the White Lighthouse at Queenscliff, then I think I need to find some more, til then happy snapping and safe travels