Completed in 1818, Macquarie Lighthouse was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway for Lachlan Macquarie, the Governor of NSW. Owing to crumbling foundations, it was reconstructed in the 1880s.
The replacement tower was designed by the state’s Colonial Architect, James Barnet, to closely resemble Greenway’s original. Standing at 26 metres tall, Barnet's iteration of Macquarie Lighthouse continues to be source of fascination for visitors.
Planning to visit? For a hassle-free experience, refer to the information below ahead of your trip.
By car: Drive along South Head Road to arrive at Macquarie Lightstation, located opposite Macquarie Road.
By bus: Sydney Buses operate the 324 service, which links Circular Quay to Watsons Bay via Vaucluse, daily. Alight at the bus stop on Old South Head Road near Macquarie Lightstation. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website.
By ferry: Sydney Ferries run between Circular Quay and Watsons Bay daily. Once you disembark at Watsons Bay, either walk 1.5km to Macquarie Lightstation or catch the 324 bus. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website.
By foot: Macquarie Lightstation is a 1.5km walk from Watsons Bay. It is also one of the stops on the popular coastal walk that extends from the Harbour Bridge to inner South Head.
Limited parking is available on the streets surrounding Macquarie Lightstation.
The grounds of Macquarie Lightstation are mostly wheelchair accessible; however, some surfaces are uneven and there are 100 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The nearest public toilets are located at Christison Park.
In the event of an emergency, dial 000 or 112 if mobile reception is poor. Harbour Trust Rangers patrol Macquarie Lightstation approximately once per fortnight. To contact a ranger during an emergency, call 0432 750 714 (7am to 4pm). Alternatively, to contact a security officer, call 0433 631 572 (4pm to 7am).
For your own safety, and to protect this historic site, please observe the following rules, enforceable by our rangers:
Conditions of entry: Keep dogs on a leash; do not Litter, dump rubbish or leave dog waste; do not camp overnight; do not erect gazebos or marquees (without a permit); do not operate remote-controlled vehicles (including drones); do not light fires or use portable barbeques; do not play amplified music (without a permit) or create excessive noise; do not undertake commercial activities (without a permit); do not hold private functions (without a permit); do not climb fences, historic structures or the cliff; do not ride or use skateboards, roller-skates, in line skates or similar equipment on Harbour Trust land. For further information, see: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT) Regulations 2021
Looking for things to do in Sydney? Macquarie Lightstation a must-see landmark for history buffs, lighthouse lovers and outdoor enthusiast.
We've awoken Macquarie Lighthouse as well as the historic Greenway Wall, located nearby... and they’re eager to have a conversation with you! Look out for the blue "Hello" signs, and have your mobile devices ready, to engage in a lively and informative text message conversation.
Feeling ambitious? Embark on the 80km Bondi to Manly Walk, a massive network of public tracks spanning the foreshore between two of Sydney’s most iconic surf beaches. When you reach Vaucluse, take a breather and explore the grounds of Macquarie Lightstation, open to the public daily.
During this 20-minute tour, a knowledgeable volunteer guide will regale you with the lighthouse's storied history. You will also ascend 100 steps to the lantern room and, from there, access a balcony for a breathtaking panoramic view of Sydney Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. We currently don't offer scheduled tours; however, we accept private tour bookings for groups of at least 10 people.
Macquarie Lightstation is located in Birrabirragal Country and its history as a navigational light source spans 200+ years.
Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the burgeoning colony of New South Wales experienced an influx of convicts as well as an increase in shipping activity. Consequently, work commenced on a series of building projects in Sydney. This included Macquarie Lighthouse. The tower and its neighbouring buildings are collectively referred to as Macquarie Lightstation.
[Image credit: Macquarie Lighthouse, 1909 (Hurley Negative Collection) Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia]
Learn more about Macquarie Lightstation, including its fascinating history.