Known as a Wells Screw Pile, the original structure was held secure by being screwed into the reef's rocks.

The Cape Jaffa lighthouse  is  a  South  Australian  icon.  More  than  40  metres tall and including accommodation for two families, the lighthouse stood on Margaret Brock reef near Cape Jaffa for 100 years. Retired to the land by the National Trust of South Australia and now operating as a tourist attraction in Kingston SE, this impressive structure urgently needs major conservation work to counter the effects of corrosion and replace the bolts that keep it together.

The lighthouse, which took three years to build and was opened on 6 January 1872, was originally built approximately 8 km out to sea from Cape Jaffa on the Margaret Brock Reef and was operated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Known as a Wells Screw Pile, the original structure was held secure by being screwed into the reef’s rocks. It was 41 metres high and was designed to suit the local conditions. On its original structure, the lighthouse had eight rooms, enough to accommodate two lighthouse keepers and their families with enough stores to last several weeks. The lighthouse used a Chance Brothers lantern which could be seen for a distance up to 40 km.

There were originally three lighthouse keepers. Two would be at the lighthouse with their families, while a third rested on shore, maintaining the lighthouse cottages and later monitoring the radio.The Federal Government installed an automatic light to the structure in the early 1970s and handed operation to the National Trust. After almost 101 years of use, the lighthouse was deactivated on 1 April 1973 when a new lighthouse at Robe began operation. The lighthouse was moved to its present location in Kingston SE in 1976 where it became a museum.

The structure on which the lighthouse originally stood still stands as of 2014. It currently hosts a breeding colony of Australasian Gannets.


The scope of the work is the replacement of two levels of bolts, identifying the worst affected rusted areas of the structure, and carrying out abrasive methods to remove the rust, corrosion protection of the structure, re-roofing of the accommodation section and repainting. Also attending to the corrosion issues of the steel substructure which holds up the light house, and rubbing down all the paintwork, removing all the rust affected structures, and replacing the rust-affected bolts at the structure junctions, and repainting the whole light house with approved paint to resist the elements. It is important that the right bolts and nuts are used, and these need to be well packed with “Denso” gel to stop future rusting. Each bolt needs to be replaced individually before the next is replaced to prevent the structure ties spreading.

Call to action section

Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Conservation Appeal

Please help conserve the Cape Jaffa lighthouse it is a South Australian icon.

To donate please click here