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Wadjemup Lighthouse

Wadjemup Lighthouse has seen a lot in its lifetime

An integral part of Wadjemup’s maritime history, the Wadjemup Lighthouse was constructed in 1896 at the highest point on the island, as a safeguard against nautical disasters that were, at the time, all too common. 

Built to replace the original stone lighthouse that stood in its place, at an impressive 38 metres tall it’s the fourth tallest lighthouse of its kind in Australia.

This taller, more advanced lighthouse ushered in a new age of technology to the island. Featuring a new holophotal revolving light that flashed every 20 seconds, it provided better navigation for passing ships, and helped to reduce the number of vessels that ran aground on the coral shores.

It was connected to electricity in 1936, but it wasn’t until 1990 that it became fully automatic. 

With a newer, brighter light, and a range of 26 nautical miles, Wadjemup Lighthouse is still a crucial beacon that helps vessels safely navigate their way towards Fremantle port.

 

Keep an eye out for

The inner workings that make this lighthouse tick

The highest point on Wadjemup

360-degree views over the island

Insights into the island’s maritime history

Where to find Bathurst Lighthouse

Located at the centre of the island, you can reach the Wadjemup Lighthouse on two wheels. It's just a 15-minute ride from the main settlement. It’s also accessible by bus tour and even by foot, as a key stop on the Gabbi Karniny Bidi or the Wardan Nara Bidi

Wadjemup Lighthouse across the lakes
Wadjemup Lighthouse across the lakes

Climb Wadjemup Lighthouse and experience the inner workings for yourself

Visitors to Rottnest Island have the unique chance to take a guided tour inside Wadjemup Lighthouse. 

Climb the tight spiralling staircase, up 155 stairs, as your guide from the Rottnest Island Voluntary Guides Association teaches you about what goes on inside a real working lighthouse. The tour takes you all the way to the top, where you can experience 360-degree views out over the island. Stand at the highest point on Wadjemup; experience the winds whipping across the viewing platform, and gaze in awe at the Indian Ocean that sprawls in every direction.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—one that’s not for the faint-hearted. 

Learn more about Rottnest Volunteer Guides

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, both lighthouses are operational, and serve an important purpose helping ships safely navigate the waters around Wadjemup. When the sun goes down, you can watch as the lights flash out from each location.

Bathurst Lighthouse isn’t open to visitors, but visitors can explore Wadjemup Lighthouse on a guided tour. Here you can discover what goes on within the walls of a real working lighthouse. Climb the stairs, making your way to the top to experience breathtaking 360-degree views.

Please note that Wadjemup Lighthouse is currently closed for maintenance.

Disabled access is available to get up close to both lighthouses, however no accessible facilities are available inside.

Before Wadjemup Lighthouse

The current Wadjemup Lighthouse isn’t the first structure to stand where it is now. Constructed on the island in 1842 and completed in 1851, the original lighthouse was a much smaller building. Recognised as the first stone lighthouse constructed and lit in Western Australia, it stood 16 metres tall — half the size of the current lighthouse.

It was built to help the burgeoning Swan River Colony, providing safe passage for vessels travelling past Rottnest Island and into Fremantle Port.

But despite its guiding light, seven ships were wrecked on the reefs around the island between 1878 and 1891 — a clear sign that a taller, more visible lighthouse was needed.

A small square building at the base of Wadjemup Lighthouse is all that remains of the original structure. It provides remembrance not just for the lives lost at sea, but also of the burden carried by the Noongar prisoners incarcerated on the island who were used as labour to build the new structure.

Now, Wadjemup Lighthouse provides a dramatic backdrop to stop and reconnect with the other stories of the island, and a stark reminder of Wadjemup’s chequered past.
Learn more about Wadjemup's history