South Neptune Island is about seventy or eighty miles west of Althorpe Island (previous post) in the Great Australian Bight below Spencer Gulf. I didn’t visit there but I saw the old lighthouse in Adelaide, where it had been erected as a South Australian Maritime Museum exhibit the year before. The replacement lighthouse on South Neptune was a small brick structure, for greater ease of maintenance. I would have taken this image on 18 May 1987.
The image in the book had a strong green caste due to the floodlights for which it was not so easy to compensate in those days. Here, I have corrected the colour. The orange streaks at the bottom are car tail lights, passing by during the exposure.
There were several of this type of lighthouse guarding the seas of South Australia. Several of them were erected on reefs. On a least some cases, they would be on a platform above the reef, supported by metal piles screwed into the reef. Construction was therefore difficult and time-consuming and when they were commissioned it meant three families crowded together on a small structure with few alternative activities.
This lighthouse is 20 metres high and on South Neptune it stood 74 metres above the sea. It stood at Wonga Shoal at the entrance to Port Adelaide from 1869 to 1901 and was re-erected on South Neptune Island in 1901, after a replacement lighthouse was erected on Wonga Shoal. South Neptune would have been a fairly arid place to live, with no natural water supply, no capacity for a vegetable garden and only the capacity to run a few goats. The Neptune Islands are home to New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian Sea Lions and are also visited by Great White Sharks and Bronze Whalers.
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