The Narungga aboriginal people have traditional association with Troubridge Island and other islands in the area.
The island and shoal was first named by British navigator and cartographer Captain Matthew Flinders on the 24th day of March 1802, after Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge.
Troubridge was a Royal Navy officer, who served during the Anglo-French War, the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.
Flinders also named nearby Troubridge Hill and Troubridge Point.
Above:- Captain Matthew Flinders. Image c/o Wikipedia
Above:- Sir Thomas Troubridge. Image c/o Wikipedia
Numerous ships were wrecked or grounded prior to the installation of the lighthouse on Troubridge Island. Official records state that 33 crews travelling west from Adelaide became shipwrecked in the early 1800s. It is believed there were many more.
The first to fall victim of the Troubridge Shoals was the loss of the brig 'Dart' in 1838 which was bound from Adelaide to King George's Sound. She went ashore on the Troubridge Shoals and was wrecked. Fortunately there was no loss of life.
Six months later the 'Parsee' wth 30 passengers and goods was wrecked on Troubridge Shoal.
In 1838, Lieutenant W.G. Field, Commander of the brig 'Rapid' was "ordered by his Excellency to repair immediately to the Troubridge Shoal, in consequence of information having been received that the Paree had been wrecked there and that one of the passengers, the lady of C. Boucher, Esq, was in a dying state, and no medical assistance to be obtained."
Field reported the following about Troubridge Island:
"The island is about half a mile in length and three hundred yards in width, twio or three feet above high-water mark, with some very slight indications of vegetation on it. It is at the N.E. end of the shoal, which from it assumes the shape of a horse-shoe..."
In February 1851, John Baker who was the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, together with George Elder the Deputy Chairman, and D Melville the Secretary, informed the South Australian Government of the utmost importance of a lighthouse at the Troubridge Shoal.
Above:- John Baker. Image c/o Wikipedia.
Above:- John Morphett. Image c/o Wikipedia
The men stated:
"many instances which have occurred from time to time, of vessels bound to or from Port Adelaide, having sustained injury there, calling urgently for the adoption of some effectual means of ensuring their future safety as far as practicable".
They further stated:
"For the above, and other reasons, the Committee beg to urge earnestly upon the Government the necessity for at once taking the requisite measures for placing a light on Troubridge Shoal".
Despite their pleas, the proposal was rejected by the South Australian Government except for John Morphett who was in favour of a lighthouse.
Above:- a portion of a newspaper article from the Adelaide Times, Tues 5 Aug 1851. c/o Trove
In July 1851 the Marion, a large immigrant ship with 350 people on board sailing from Plymouth also fell foul of Shoal.
On the 2nd day of August 1851 the South Australian Gazette and Mining Journal published the following comment after the Marion disaster....
"Nothing is ever done, either rightly or in time. There has now, from first to last been losses on this shoal of about 150,000 pounds. As wreck after wreck occurs our sleepy government rubs its eyes, holds up its hands, turns over gently and without responsibility, to the other side, and there it goes ....sound asleep again."
Although there was apparent inaction by the Government, a local foundry, Wyatt & Co of Adelaide constructed a model for an iron lighthouse at its North Terrace foundry.
In September 1851, a Select Committee was appointed to take evidence on the propriety of a temporary light on Troubridge Shoal. Among those appointed were Captain Charles Hervey Bagot, Sir George Strickland Kingston, Elder, Hall, John Hart, and William Younghusband. They were supposed to report their findings on 25 November.
Above:- Chalres Bagot. Image c/o Wikipedia
Above:- George Strickland Kingston. Image c/o Wikipedia
Above:- John Hart. Image c/o Wikipedia.
Above:- William Younghusband. Image c/o Wikipedia
In October 1851 a survey was conducted of the Troubridge Shoal by Captain Thomas Lipson, Naval Officer and Harbour Master, which was described in the South Australian Register on the 25th October 1851 as a 'dangerous locality'.
It was reported that Lipson was of the opinion 'that it would be most desirable to erect a Lighthouse on Troubridge Island, because of its greater elevation and the superiority of such a light to sea-going vessels".
Above: Article from the South Australian Register, Sat 25 Oct 1851. c/o Trove.
On the 12th day of December 1851 the Registrar-General moved that £4,000 be placed on the estimates for a lighthouse. However it was not until August 1852, that the 'Yatala' sailed for Troubridge Island with members of the Trinity Board aboard the ship. Their purpose was to determine a location for the lighthouse. The Trinity House of Port Adelaide was established in 1851 and was responsible for the creation and maintenance of lighthouses, lightships and buoys and other navigational aids.
In January 1852, a sum of £4,000 was placed on the estimates again. This time the proposal was for the erection of an iron lighthouse on Troubridge Shoal to be brought in from England. This would have upset the local industry Wyatt & Co of Adelaide.
The contract to design and build the Troubridge Island lighthouse was won by a British engineering firm which was headed by Alexander Gordon, a pioneer civil engineer who specialised in lighthouse construction, specifically prefabricated cast-iron lighthouses.
On the 30th day of November 1854, after 93 days at sea, the newly-built clipper ship Wynaud arrived at Port Adelaide. On board was the Troubridge Island lighthouse, after a passage of 93 days, with the Lighthouse on board.
Above:- The Wynaud. Image c/o Trove
In December 1854 tenders were called upon for the transportation of materials to Troubridge Island.
Above: article from the Adelaide Observer, Sat 30 Dec 1854. c/o Trove
In January 1855 tenders were called for the construction of the foundation of the lighthouse, and in March 1855 additional tenders were called for the building of cottages for lighthouse keepers.
The construction of the Troubridge Island lighthouse commenced in 1855 under the supervision of engineer Robert Hyndman.
Troubridge Island lighthouse was the second lighthouse to be built in South Australia, the first being Cape Willoughby on Kangaroo Island.
The lighthouse was constructed of ten cylindrical cast iron segments which were shipped out from Britain and were bolted together on site. It is believed that Troubridge Island lighthouse is only one of two towers of this type constructed in Australia. The lighthouse is 24 metres (79 feet) in height and is 340 tons. A cast iron spiral staircase runs between the outer and inner walls connecting five rooms at its core.
The Troubridge Island lighthouse and the keeper's cottages were built at a cost of £9,396.
A significant amount of building material was delivered to the island. This included the schooner 'Fame' which delivered 25 tons of clay and iron work in April 1855. In May, the 'Fame' returned to the island with more more clay, 10 tons of shingles, iron and fittings.
In June the barge 'Sir William Forster' delivereddelivered portions of two wooden houses.
Winter was not to deter deliveries to the island. The barge 'Rose' made two trips and transferred 130 bushels of lime, ten tons of water and stores for the men.
In 1855, applications were received by the Trinity Board for Head, Second, and Third Lighthouse Keeper. A. Bruce was successful in his application of third keeper, as was William Tapley who was appointed as second keeper. Mr. Jamieson was appointed the Head keeper.
During December 1855, members of the South Australian Government visited Troubridge Island to inspect the progress of construction of the lighthouse and cottages. They discovered that two wooden houses which had been temporarily built for the engineer and workmen had almost filled with watwer and sand.
In January 1856 the 'Yatala' sailed for Troubridge Island with the second and third keeper on board.
The Troubridge Island lighthouse was lit permanently for the first time on the 1st day of January 1856.
The South Australian Register, Sat 15th March 1856 stated:-
"A bright flashing light, 90 feet above high-water mark, visible from the deck of a moderate sized vessel at a distance of sixteen (16) miles will be exhibited on and after the evening of the 1st of February, 1856...........The Lighthouse is composed of iron, painted stone-colour, and is placed on the centre of the Troubridge Island...."
Above:- Article from the South Australian Register, Sat 15 Mar 1856. c/o Trove.
When Captain Matthew Flinders first reached the area in 1802, Troubridge Island consisted of a sandbar on a limestone reef. By 1838 it had developed into a small islet, 600 metres long by 300 metres wide. Between 1856 and 1885, this was further stabilised by the lighthouse keepers who had brought vegetation to the island to plant their gardens and also to protect the lighthouse keeper's cottages from the elements.
In February 1856, just one month after the lighthouse had become operational, The Trinity Board received complaints that due to the lighthouse being painted in light stone colour, 'its advantages to the mariner were diminished'.
It was not until January 1857 that the lighthouse was painted on the outside.
A number of years later the lighthouse was repainted with red and white stripes of 20 feet width starting from the top which would remain white.
The Troubridge Island lighthouse was maintained by three resident lighthouse keepers. In the first three years the island was not large enough to construct any accomodation, so the lighthouse keepers lived in the tower itself. The bottom section was a kitchen. The middle section was the accomodation and a workshop/storage area was located at the top.
The lighthouse keepers could not go out unless the tide was out. When the tide was in they were confined to the inside of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse keepers would get their stores from Adelaide every six weeks. In those days the town of Edithburgh did not exist. The town and district of Edithburgh was not surveyed until 1869.
It was not until the cottages were constructed that they could bring their families out. The first cottages built on the island were washed away. About 18 months later a house was brought out from England, designed that the lighthouse keepers and their families could live in the one house. A second house was subsequently built.
During a visit to Troubridge Island in May 1856, the Trinity Board found that the Head lighthouse keeper, Mr. Jamieson was very unwell. The Adelaide Times, Mon 9th June 1856 reported:
"The Board regretted to find that the head keeper, Mr Jamieson is still labouring under the effects of severe disposition, and requested that officer to accept a sufficient leave of absence to enable him to return to Adelaide, and re-establish his health. Mr. Jamieson unwisely, in the opinion of the Board, declined leaving the Island for that purpose".
In June 1856, Jamieson resigned from his position as Head lighthouse keeper and waas replaced by Mr. W. Carter.
After three months in operation, life was still harsh for the lighthouse keepers. They had no stoves or cupboards in their cottages.
In June 1857, Mr. Tapley the Second keeper applied for the position of Head keeper at Cape Borda.
In March 1867 Mr. John Omond, the Head keeper at Troubridge Island and Mr. Tapley, the second keeper left Troubridge Island in their small boat. They were headed to Salt Creek about 12 km from the Lighthouse to meet the schooner 'Omeo' to collect their wives, family and luggage. Their wives had been visiting family and friends and undertaken some shopping. On their return to the lighthouse the boat got into difficulty. As a result, Thomas Omond and his wife Elizabeth as well as William Tapley, his wife, and child drowned.
Above:- part of an article from The South Australian Advertiser, Sat 23 Mar 1867. c/o Trove.
Fortunately there were no other significant tragedies involving the Troubridge Island lighthouse keepers and their families.
Above:- c. 1910. Three men working with spades and a wheelbarrow outside Troubridge Island lighthouse, South Australia. Image c/o State Library South Australia.
Above:- c. 1911. Members of the South Australian Marine Board visiting the lighthouse at Troubridge Island; the group includes Captain Patrick Weir, Master of the Customs Department vessel the 'Governor Musgrave', Captain J.H. Gibbon, Warden, and Arthur Searcy, President. Image c/o State Library South Australia.
Above:- c. 1912. Troubridge Island lighthouse. Image c/o State Library South Australia.
In 1882 the light was upgraded to a holophotal reflector apparatus and lantern. It was at this time that a telegraph cable was laid from Edithburgh on the mainland to Troubridge Island to enhance communications.
Above:- part of an article from the South Australian Register, Sat 28 Oct 1882. c/o Trove.
In 1889 a fixed re light was added to the platform of the lighthouse.
In 1899, tragedy almost struck two of the lighthouse keepers when they were caught in bad weather whilst making their way from the Island to Edithburgh.
Above:- article from the Evening Journal, Tu 28 Mar 1899. c/o Trove
On the 19th day of September 1902 an earthquake shook the area and this resulted in a fire at the lighthouse which destroyed the lantern room and damaged the lighthouse foundations. The earthquake registered magnitude of 6 on the Richter Scale.
Above:- Parts of an article from the Yorke Peninsula Advertiser, Fri 26 Sep 1902. c/o Trove
Above:- headline from The Express and Telegraph, Adelaide, Sat 20 Sep 1902. c/o Trove.
An article in the Burra Record in October 1909 stated:
"The tower itself stands as an unblemished monument on the island, and greater care and attention could not be paid to it even if its workings were as intricate as a watch, which requires the removal of every particle of dust in it to ensure smooth and regular movements. In their cleanliness the keepers are consistent in all other branches of their duties-there is a place for everything, and everything is kept in its place".
Above:- c. 1910. Three men painting the tower of Troubridge Island lighthouse, they stand on a frail platform suspended from the light's lookout platform. Image c/o State Library SA
In 1910 it was reported in The Age, Fri 22nd July 1904, that the Head Kepper at the lighthouse reported that a portion of the island had been 'washed away'.
Above:- article from The Age, Fri 22nd Jul 1904. c/o Trove.
Between 1925 and 1931, a 2nd order Deville lamp and a Chance Brothers Lantern were installed and the operation was electrified.
Despite the existence of the lighthouse, a number of tragedies occurred around southern Yorke Peninsula, including around the Troubridge Shoals.
In 1956 the light was again upgraded and this increased the range from the original 10 miles to 25 miles.
In 1980 the light was automated and the Department of Transport sold the island to the Environment Department for $40,000, and it was turned into a Conservation Park.
The lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1981 and decommissioned in 2001. The light was extinguished in 2002, the same year that Australia Post honoured the Troubridge Island lighthouse with a postage stamp.
Its role as a navigational aid was taken over progressively from 1980 by the Troubridge Hill lighthouse located on Troubridge Hill on the mainland.
Above:- Troubridge Hill lighthouse. Image c/o Yorke Peninsula Visitor Information
Above:- Article from the Australian Women's Weekly, Wed 4 Feb 1981. c/o Trove
The following piece of poetry appeared in the Kangaroo Island Courier on Saturday 6th March 1909.......
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