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Visit Macquarie Lightstation

Perched upon the clifftop of Vaucluse, which is Birrabirragal Country, Macquarie Lightstation is the site of Australia’s original lighthouse, built in 1818.

To the left and right of Macquarie Lighthouse are the head keeper’s residence and assistant keeper’s quarters. Collectively, these buildings are referred to as 'Macquarie Lightstation'.

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Cost
  • The Grounds of Macquarie Lightstation: free Admission
  • Lighthouse Tour: $5 per adult, $3 per child or $13 for a family.
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Hours
  • The Grounds of Macquarie Lightstation are open to the public daily
  • Lighthouse Tours will run selected Sundays.
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Transport
  • Car
  • Bus
  • Ferry
  • Foot
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Location

Old South Head Road (opposite Macquarie Road), Vaucluse, NSW 2030

 

Google Maps 

Plan Ahead

Getting Here arrow

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.

Facilities and accessibility arrow

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. Limited parking is available on the streets surrounding Macquarie Lightstation and the nearest public toilets are located at Christison Park.

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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.

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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 ride bikes, skateboards or scooters on footpaths or walking tracks; and do not climb fences, historic structures or the cliff.

What to Do

Macquarie Lighthouse Tour

During this 20-minute tour, our 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 offer this guided tour every two months on a Sunday.

The Great Coastal Walk

Feeling ambitious? Then why not embark on Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk, a massive 100km pilgrimage from Barrenjoey Lighthouse in the North to Cronulla in the South? When you reach Vaucluse, take a breather and explore the grounds of Macquarie Lightstation, open to the public daily.

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History

Completed in 1818, Macquarie Lighthouse was designed by Francis Greenway, a convict serving a sentence for forgery, and named for Lachlan Macquarie, the NSW Governor who commissioned it. Macquarie was so pleased with ‘his’ lighthouse that he gave a partial pardon to the English-born architect. Crumbling sandstone foundations led to the construction of a replacement lighthouse in 1883. Designed by James Barnet to closely resemble the original, this lighthouse continues to operate, ensuring the safe passage of vessels into Sydney Harbour.

Image credit: Macquarie Lighthouse, 1909 (Hurley Negative Collection) Frank Hurley, National Library of Australia

VR Experience

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Macquarie Lightstation on 30 November 2018, the Harbour Trust partnered with Macquarie University to create bespoke 3D models that capture the grandeur of Australia’s original navigational light source.

Macquarie University, whose name and coat of arms pay tribute to the historic site, used drone and ground footage together with terrestrial laser scanning and Pedestal 3D’s educational software platform, to construct detailed, interactive models of Macquarie Lightstation.

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