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Goods Island Lighthouse, Thursday Island Town, QLD, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (24/09/2002)
Place ID 101518
Place File No 4/06/271/0007
Statement of Significance
A signalling station has existed on Goods Island (Palilag), in Torres Strait, since 1877. The present lighthouse was constructed at the highest point on the island in 1886. It is believed to be the only lighthouse in Queensland to have been constructed entirely by government labour. The lighthouse has been a key element of the maritime history of Torres Strait, ensuring the safety of vessels in Prince of Wales Passage and Normanby Sound for over 110 years. It played an important role in the days of World War 2, when Torres Strait was a vital location in Australia's defence against invasion by Japan. The light still operates, having been transferred to automatic function in 1973. (Criteria A.4, B.2. Historic Themes 3.8 Moving goods and people; 7.7.2 Preparing to face invasion).

With the exception of its automatic light, the Goods Island lighthouse demonstrates the principal characteristics of a late 19th Century Queensland lighthouse. The associated lightstation complex, including the lighthouse, the keepers quarters, the rear lead light contribute to this by illustrating important aspects of lightstation design concepts of the 1880s. (Criterion D.2).
Official Values Not Available
The Goods Island lightstation is situated on the highest point of the island, at a height of 115 metres. It has clear views over Prince of Wales Channel to the north and Normanby Sound to the south, as well as Hammond, Friday, Prince of Wales and Thursday Islands.

The lighthouse is a five metre high timber framed cylindrical lighthouse with a white iron-clad body and a red zinc cupola roof. It is accessed via concrete steps to the rear. A lead light exists on the rock platform below. The original light source was a manually operated dioptric light of the fourth order, but this was converted to automatic operation in 1973, and solar powered from 1988.

Buildings associated with the lighthouse include the lightstation complex, featuring a timber storage shed and the lighthouse keeper's quarters. The keeper's quarters, originally a timber, iron-roofed house, now appears to be clad in fibro-cement. Both auxiliary buildings are white with green-painted galvanised iron roofs.
Goods Island is also known by its Indigenous name of Palilag. When Matthew Flinders sighted the island in 1802, he named it Goods Island for Peter Good, the botanical gardener aboard his vessel, the "Investigator". It is also known as Goode or Goodes Island.

Goods Island/Palilag contains archaeological evidence, in the form of fish traps, of having been used by the Indigenous people of Torres Strait. It is part of the traditional estate of the Kaurareg people, who were based on Prince of Wales Island prior to European colonisation.

The first Europeans to inhabit Goods Island were E. Powell, the signalman, and his family. A signal station and quarters were established there in 1877. Powell used a flash lamp and flags to signal ships approaching Prince of Wales Channel or Normanby Sound, and then signal the Police Magistrate on Thursday Island. Shortly afterwards, a pilot station and associated living quarters were also established, on the eastern side of the island. Also at this time, Hockings, one of the Strait's most prominent pearling businesses, established a pearling station there.

In 1882 Torres Strait pearl fishers requested that the Queensland government install a light at the western entrance of the strait. The request was strongly endorsed by George Heath, chairman of the Queensland Marine Board, who directed that it be constructed on Goods Island, to point out the entrance to Normanby Sound. A temporary light was at first installed on the verandah of the signalman's quarters. This was followed in 1886 by the construction of a proper lighthouse.

The lighthouse was a small iron clad, timber framed building, with a white, cylindrical body and red cupola roof. It was installed with a dioptric light of the Fourth Order, with a totally reflecting glass mirror. Although it only stood around five metres high, it was located at the highest point on the island, reaching a height of 115 metres. The site was selected by Heath in 1886, and the lighthouse was constructed that year, using government labour. The Goods Island lighthouse was probably the only lighthouse in Queensland to have been constructed by government workers instead of private contractors.

Telegraphic communication with Thursday Island was provided for the Lightstation in 1894. Goods Island, along with all State owned lighthouses, was transferred to the control of the Commonwealth shortly after Federation.

During World War 2, Torres Strait assumed great strategic importance in protecting Australia from a northerly invasion. Goods Island lighthouse was taken over by the Royal Australian navy at this time. The island's civilian inhabitants were evacuated to the mainland, while defensive batteries and facilities were constructed at strategic points around the island.

The Goods Island lighthouse was transferred to automatic control in 1973, then solar power in 1988, but remains in use today, as it has been for over 110 years.

Condition and Integrity
The lighthouse structure is in sound condition. The light source and associated equipment were altered when the operation of the facility was varied from manned to automatic.
Located on Goods Island, 7km west-north-west of Thursday Island.
Information on Good's Island. From the Bulletin of the Torres Strait Historical Society.

Historical Information supplied by the Australian Maritime Safety Austhority.

Documents and photographs from the National Archives, Canberra.

Winston-Gregson, J. 1988. Lighthouse type Profile. Report prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission.

Reid, G. 1988. From dusk till dawn : a history of Australian lighthouses. Melbourne, Macmillan.

Report Produced  Wed Oct 1 06:41:06 2014