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A Timeline of South Solitary Island

The wreck of a Gantry - photo donated by Jetty Dive - click to go to website.

1856 - desirability of lighthouse discussed by Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

1863 - Legislative Council recommended that provision should be made on the estimates for the erection of a lighthouse.

1873 - a conference of the marine departments of the Australian colonies was held at the Marine Board Office, Sydney, to discuss the question of lighthouses generally.

31st October 1877 - the Marine Board, accompanied by the Colonial Architect, Mr James Barnet proceeded to the Island to select the sites for the buildings.

17th June 1878 - Plans and specifications were prepared by the Colonial Architect and approved by the Minister and tenders called for.

9th July 1878 - After the tender was accepted, Mr McLeod and his partners, despatched their first steamer the James Comrie to the island.

1878 - first gantry (jetty) constructed, 5 metres above sea level.

1878 - Horse Tramway and temporary barracks for men constructed.

1879-1880 - Jetty storehouse constructed.

1st March 1880 - first Head Keeper appointed - Captain Leddra at a salary of £180 per annum. His two assistants were Mr Skelton (£108 p.a.) and Mr Burgess (£96 p.a.)

18th March 1880 - Light first exhibited.

8th Dec 1886 - Collison between the Keilawarra and Helen Nicholl, 48 lives lost.

1887 - George Dammerel appointed Signal Master at Emerald Beach on the mainland (now Dammerel's Headland)

5th April 1888 - George Dammerel's young son, George Jnr, aged 10 dies.

1894 - Buildings re-roofed by George Boothby.

1894 - New washhouses constructed near the fowl house.

10 Nov 1894 - George Dammerel's wife, Sarah dies in childbirth (the child stillborn)

1st March 1900 - George Dammerel's eldest daughter, Hannah marries.

12th November 1901 - Steamer, Wyong, is wrecked on the island after losing its propellor and becoming unmanageable.

15th January 1902 - Keeper, William Henry Williams appointed.

1904 - A larger Gantry (jetty) was constructed after first gantry was destroyed.

25th April 1905 - George Dammerel's second eldest daughter, Matilda marries.

1910 - Flagstaff erected on the island.

1st March 1910 -  Keeper, David Robert William Gow appointed.

18th Sept. 1912 - George Dammerel's third daughter (fourth child), Maud marries.

21st November 1912 - Lydia Gow aged 17 years, eldest daughter of the head keeper, Mr D Gow, dies on the island from Typhoid/Enteric Fever

1913, 1914, 1915 - Jetty further reconstructed and repaired.

1918 - Signal Station closes down (note: various dates of closure are recorded)

1930 to 1935 - Keeper - Wilfred Reginal Tulk

25th May 1930 to 13th May 1932 - Keeper - Henry Thomas Parker

1932 - Jetty further reconstructed and repaired.

1937 - Wireless communication started via Morse Code Keys.

May 1942 - Light extinguished for a few nights during World War II

1946 - Harry Fanning commenced operating a launch service from Coffs Harbour.

1947 to 1951 - Keeper - Jim Duncan

January 1958 - First known helicopter lands on the island.

1959 - Jetty built, 13 metres above sea level.

1960's - Partial enclosure of verandahs on cottages for weather proofing.

1974 - Flag pole removed and a helipad was constructed.

22nd August 1975 - Lighthouse automated

29th December 1975 - All residents leave, buildings left to the birds and nature.

7th Sept. 1977 - RAAF Chinook removed the old lantern to the Regional Museum.

1985 - Lighthouse becomes solar powered.

2000 -  handed over to National Parks and Wildlife as custodians.

31st May to 17th August 2004 - Stabilisations works are completed.

31st March 2009 - storm damage to the Regional Museum forces closure of the museum and no public access to the lantern.

September 2014 - new Regional Museum opens at 215 Harbour Drive Coffs Harbour, with collection of South Solitary Island artefacts and relics.  No access to the original lighthouse lantern.