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Lighthouses

[media]They sit there, sending their beams of light out into the night. We take them for granted: it is only when something goes wrong that we become aware of their existence. [media]These are Sydney’s lighthouses, and there are 14 of them. They warn and guide shipping travelling along the coast, coming into Port Jackson and travelling around its various major waterways.

[media]There are four lighthouses on the metropolitan Sydney coast – Barrenjoey is at the entrance to Broken Bay to the north; the Hornby Lighthouse sits on South Head at the harbour’s entrance; the Macquarie Lighthouse is located further south; and Cape Bailey lighthouse is on the southern headland of Botany Bay, at Kurnell.

Inside the harbour, there are another ten lighthouses or lighting buoys, to guide shipping around the harbour, highlight channels and warn of hazards. Apart from those for the main shipping lanes – the Eastern Channel and Western Channel lights – these are located at Grotto Point, Bradley's Head, Fort Denison, Robertson's Point, Parriwi Head, Vaucluse Bay (one at the front of the bay and one at the rear) and at Shark Island.

Despite the existence of these aids, maritime accidents have occurred, and still occur. [media]The wrecking of both the Dunbar and the Catherine Adamson off the Heads late in 1857, and the Hereward at Maroubra in May 1898, are among the best known: within the harbour, one of the worst was on 3 November 1927, when the Royal Mail Steamer Tahiti collided with the Watsons Bay-bound ferry Greycliffe off Bradleys Head. Forty people died, whilst dozens more were injured. More recently, in 2007 and 2008, several boating collisions in the harbour have seen over a dozen people die.

References

Lighthouses of Australia Inc website, http://www.lighthouse.net.au/lights/NSW/Index%20NSW.asp, viewed 18 February 2009

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