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17 November 1912 Wonga Shoal

17 November 1912    Wonga Shoal

Just after daybreak on 17 November 1912 a young lad noticed that the Wonga Shoal light, nearly two miles off the Semaphore jetty had disappeared. He hurriedly told his father, a local pilot, who took some convincing until he reached the Esplanade and could see for himself. During the night the ship Dimsdale sailing towards the anchorage crashed into the lighthouse, knocking it over and the two keepers were drowned. The lighthouse, completed by July 1901, was an iron structure on screw piles with accommodation for two keepers. The revolving light, weighing 11 tons floating on a bath of mercury weighing 5 tons, was 74 feet above the highwater and was visible for 19 miles. After the destruction of the light a temporary lightship was moored on the spot and was replaced in 1923 by a new structure fitted on to the old screw piles. This served until 1962 when with the erection of a new lighthouse on O’Halloran Hill at Marino Rocks, which covered the Wonga Shoal sector (Wonga being Aboriginal for west or sunset) it was removed.

Captain J. Maitland Thompson, ‘Wonga Shoal’ The First 100 Years of Semaphore 1883-1983, pp.19-20.

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