Smoky Cape is located to the south east of South West Rocks a seaside resort town situated at the mouth of the Macleay River, 35 kilometres north east of Kempsey and midway between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.South West Rocks has a variety of beaches facing in different directions. East of the township is Lappers Point which extends north east with a west facing beach at its base. South of the point are a number of small protected beaches such as Horseshoe Bay and Little Bay. Gap Beach and North Smoky are long stretches of forest fringed beaches. Trial Bay Gaol, which occupies the headland flanking the main beach, is a prominent tourist attraction dating from the same period as Smoky Cape.SettingThe Precinct encompasses a dramatic headland along a beach strip, with two mountains, Big Smoky and Small Smoky, as a backdrop. These landmarks are flanked by a long beach to the south, with coves and beaches terminating at Laggers Point and enclosing Trial Bay to the North. The lighthouse is hidden from South West Rocks by the mountains but visible from the south west, along the road following the Macleay River.Between Smoky Cape and Korogoro Point, wetlands parallel the dunes, featuring sedges and reed species together with stands of melaleucas. This diversity of habitat supports equally diverse fauna. Proclaimed as a reserve in 1972, Hat Head National Park extends south beyond Smoky Cape, running parallel to the coast to Hat Head and Korogoro Point at the southern end of Smoky Beach.The headland area lies within Hat Head National Park and overlooks a long beach to the south. The Arakoom State Recreation Area borders the National Park and contains Trial Bay Goal. These are managed separately but are connected by some of the major walking tracks in the area.The Lighthouse road, sealed in 1987, leaves the main road and leads 4 kilometres through relatively flat bushland before rising quickly to the level of the carpark at the lighthouse precinct. Natural AttributesThe setting for the Lighthouse includes Hat Head National Park with its spectacular coastline and beaches. The granite rock at Gap Beach shows unusual folding, just north of the Lighthouse.South of the Lighthouse, along the 17 kilometre Smoky Beach, the fragility of coastal ecology is seen where past grazing and burning have left many dunes wholly mobile, moving as much as a metre a year. A wide variety of flora and fauna species are found along the range. Blackbutt woodland occupies the higher slopes with unique cabbage tree palm forest in the gullies. The exposed headlands feature coastal heath plants, which have adapted to the harsh conditions while the sands of the beach join dunal vegetation and stands of littoral rainforest behind the dunes.The Cape provides the backdrop to three significant islands, Green Island, Fish Rock and Black Rock. These provide ample fishing and diving as well as being the most southerly occurrence of coral reef on the coast of NSW. Opposite the lighthouse is a small island, regarded as a choice diving location, largely due to its underwater cave. The Lighthouse precinct provides an ideal platform to observe both coastal processes and the range of marine and landform elements. These range from island, beach, headland, and rock platform through to dune, heath, wetland and forests. Site DescriptionSmoky Cape Lighthouse stands on a dramatic headland 120 metres above high-water, it is the highest light on the NSW coast and with the exception of the Queensland light on Fitzroy Island, it has the longest range of all of the lighthouses on the eastern coast. It is the only man-made feature visible in this locale, emphasising its isolation.The Lighthouse precinct is surrounded by dense natural vegetation. The dam site and Smoky Cape Range are located to the west of the headland and have a former Naval Camp in their vicinity. Captain Cook's Lookout is also located on the headland, north west of the Lighthouse precinct.In World War 2 the lighthouse had a search light battery and light gun emplacement. The remains of a military encampment are evident to the west and together with a concrete slab and several small concrete gun platforms near the lighthouse.The Lighthouse is sited on the top of a bluff, which then falls away to the sea below. The support buildings are set below and behind the lighthouse for more protection from adverse weather. The main cottage and two assistants cottages are sited on level platforms, cut into the steep slopes and stabilised by high concrete retaining walls. The stables are set well below the cottages, near the entry to the precinct. The site rises steeply from the carpark to the Lighthouse and its narrow pathway is known as "Heart Attack Hill".There is little on site carparking. Cars presently can drive up a narrow driveway, but must traverse all the way up the lighthouse forecourt before turning around and descending to the small grassed plot in front of the Head Lighthouse keeper's cottage. In this location immediately adjacent to the main pedestrian pathway more than two cars would be a disruptive visual element.There is no provision for parking in the private yards of the cottages. There is a four car garage located at the base of the precinct.Cottage yards are securely fenced and there is a grade separation to the pedestrian pathway, which rises to access the lighthouse. The two cottages are enclosed with small gardens and both feature views back to the mountain and north and south over the nearby beaches. Access to the southern cottage, from the access road, passes through the garden of the other cottage. Due to the exposed nature of the site there is little cultural planting in the gardens around the cottages.The precinct is serviced by three underground water tanks, located adjacent to the cottages. They are supplemented by a spring fed dam water supply from the adjacent mountain.Buildings and StructuresThe Lighthouse Precinct consists of: Lighthouse and attached engine room Signal House Headkeepers Cottage Two attached Assistant keepers cottages Former Stables buildings Garage Small freestanding office/weather station Small flag room and several former fuel stores.A number of associated sites in the vicinity of the Precinct includes:The dam siteNaval gun emplacement and Captain Cook Lookout.The site is now owned by NPWS but the lighthouse tower and weather station building are leased back to AMSA and remain in use as an operational navigaiton aid. The small office building continues in use as a weather station.The three cottages have been recently painted externally, with a consistent all white with dark blue trims. The two smaller cottages have also been painted internally, while the Head Keeper's Cottage remains with an older paint scheme internally. External fencing has recently been painted white.Most of the early joinery externally and internally remains intact. There has been some repair and replacement work, with new carpentry simply replicating the previous work. The old asbestos roofing to all three cottages has recently been replaced with white custom orb.The two Assistant Keeper's cottages have recently been upgraded internally for use as holiday lettings. The existing external toilets will remain. The two residence are linked by an internal doorway through the party wall. This opening has been blocked but can still be read in the fabric.The Lighthouse TowerThe Lighthouse is octagonal with large single storey entry pavilion. Constructed in mass concrete the tower is 17.4 metres tall and has a Chance Bros. lantern and lens. Cast iron stairs lead up to the gallery level.An early description of the tower refers to two storeys with iron floors and staircases and walls of mass concrete. The gallery round lantern is of granite supported on moulded granite cantilevers with gun metal railing. The tower is entered from an enclosed passage protected by a screen wall which is constructed around the base of the structure. The floors of the storerooms are paved in concrete and cemented.The tower is divided into two storeys with iron floors and staircases. The walls are 920mm thick at the base and taper to 620mm at the top and are constructed of mass concrete using locally mined granite as the aggregate and are cemented externally and internally. The gallery floor of the lantern is formed of granite voussoir blocks supported on molded granite brackets. An ornate metal railing featuring Queen Victoria's mark is used for the handrailing at this level. The tower walls feature a number of openings including a light opening located below the balcony which housed a subsidiary red light to cover Fish Rock. The tower is entered from an enclosed passage which also accesses the two store rooms and are also constructed of mass concrete. A screen wall also of mass concrete is built around the tower.The ground floor rooms were originally used as store and work room.In 1912 the original burner was replaced by an incandescent vaporised kerosene burner. Again in 1962 the light was altered to a mains electric operation with an increased power. The structures has also undergone a number of other fabric alterations including the roofing to the pavilion which was replaced in zincalume in 1990.The Lighthouse is maintained by AMSA and has recently been painted. The original optic remains but the light source has been updated. The light still operates at night and is screened from view towards the settled areas to the south west.Head Lighthouse Keeper's CottageThe Headkeeper's Quarters designed in 1888 is also constructed in concrete with rendered finish. The building was constructed with two bedrooms, sitting room Inspecting Officer's Room, dining room, kitchens and stores. Most of the building was surrounded by verandah with the corner windbreaks at the north and south eastern corners. The building extends from the north western corner and incorporates store and enclosure forming a courtyard which houses one of the underground water tanks. The building also has verandahs on the northern and southern facades which are connected by a central passage. Another verandah is located on the eastern facade of the building and faces a concrete retaining wall.Assistant Keeper's CottagesThe Assistants quarters are two semi-detached cottages originally containing four rooms, with kitchen and store areas. The buildings were also constructed of mass concrete cement rendered externally and plastered internally. The roofs originally clad in galvanised iron.The northern residence has the characteristic corner wind break at the north western corner flanked by two open verandahs on the northern and western facades. A verandah located on the eastern facade of the building was enclosed during the 1970s, however the kitchen and store areas continue to enclose the courtyard space to the east of the building. A concrete retaining wall forms the eastern boundary of the courtyard.All of the ceilings were battened during the 1920s through to the 1940s over either the original lath and plaster or later fibrous plaster. The ceilings to the lobby and kitchen appear to be fibre board with timber battens.The northern residence now has three bedrooms, a door opening was made in the dividing partywall between the two residences and partitions erected to facilitate the use of an extra bedroom. The other, southern residence has two bedrooms in addition to kitchen, bathroom and outside toilets. Enclosed balconies provide additional spaceThe residences generally feature hipped roofs with painted brick chimneys and skillion roof verandahs supported on simply decorated timber posts.Cultural LandscapeWalking tracks down to the nearby beach and further on the South West Rocks all start from the carpark. Formerly established by the NPWS in 1980 the tracks will require further works and maintenance.Captain Cook Lookout is located at the in the Lighthouse reserve and at the foot of the headland. Transferred to the local Council the memorial was dedicated to Captain Cook in 1970 to mark the bicentennial of the sighting of the Cape by Captain Cook.Remains of naval use of the headland remains within the Reserve. Probably an observation post it has remnants of gun emplacements and telephone communications.A dam, constructed at the time of the construction of the lighthouse complex is located on Big Smoky Hill. It appears fresh water continues to supply the dam via gravitation feed and continues to supplement the Lightstation's supply to this day.A car park and sealed access road were added in the 1970s.Other Structures & ElementsThree cement rendered underground water tanks remain the capacity in proportion with each residence. The accompanying pumps however have been removed. A modern steel water tank has been constructed in the courtyard of northern assistant keeper's residence.Paving, fencing, retaining walls and remnant gardens surround the complex.The footings of the flagstaff remain in front of the lighthouse, but the flagstaff has been removed. It was an integral part of the operation of the Lighthouse and can be partly seen in the AMSA brochure on the Lighthouse.
Alterations to Buildings:
Between the 1920s and 1940s the ceilings of most of the spaces in the southern residence were strapped with timber battens over the original lath and plaster. However the laundry space and the entry corridor retain their original lath and plaster ceilings.The garage accommodates four vehicles and is a long rectangular shaped building constructed in concrete block construction. Constructed during the 1980s it also has four roller shutter doors and simple flat profiled steel sheet clad roof. The original roofing, guttering and downpipes have been replaced with zincalume corrugated sheets completed c.1990. As designed the stables building originally consisted of cart shed, two stalls and forage room and also constructed of concrete. The building has undergone substantial alterations including removal of the original windows and ledged and sheeted doors, installation of roller shutters, re-rendering of internal linings and installation of a new concrete floor slab. The stables building is in the poorest condition and has a simple hipped roof clad in corrugated asbestos sheets, at some stage the original fascia, boxed eaves and guttering have been removed. Repair work is needed to replace the asbestos roofing and replace the missing guttering. The workshop building is a asbestos cement clad building probably constructed during the 1940s as a fuel store. It has since been altered during the 1970s and 1980s and has a hipped roof clad in corrugated asbestos and timber framed windows and doors.
There is a long association with the Dunghutti people in this area. It is reported that the area was also the meeting place for the Dungutti and two neighbouring tribes, the Biripai and the Gumbangirr.The area holds a number of mythological associations associated with the formation of the Smoky Range and other inland geographical and topographical has including the Macleay River.A burial and two middens are registered as being located on the Cape. There may be additional sites in the area. There is a large midden in the area to the north west of South West Rocks.
The South West Rocks area was well known for many years because of its prominent coastal geography. A journal entry recorded on Sunday May 13, 1770 by Captain James Cook describes a point 'or a head land, on which we saw fires that produced a great quantity of smoke, bore W. distant four leagues. To this point, I gave the name of Smoky Cape; it is of a considerable height, and over the pitch of the Point, is a round hillock; within it are two others, much higher and larger and within them the land is very low'. Earliest European contact was not until 1816, when the brig, Trial, hijacked by convicts was wrecked at Trial Bay. Subsequently explorer John Oxley visited the area in 1817.Trial Bay was noted early as a valuable haven for passing ships during southerly gales because of its northerly aspect and position midway between Sydney and Brisbane. Shipping was the primary mode of trade and transport for the eastern seaboard communities. The economy of NSW was largely reliant on safe seaborne transport of people goods and supplies.Unfortunately many ships were wrecked and lives lost in the heavy seas in the period to 1866. Approximately 89 vessels and 243 lives were lost during this time. These statistics prompted the Parkes Government in 1866 to agree to build a breakwater at Trial Bay in order to make a safe harbour in all weather.It was decided that the breakwater should be constructed by prison labour and its construction was influenced by two men. EO Moriarty, Engineer in Chief for Harbours and Rivers, wished to see a breakwater constructed from Laggers Point to provide a safe harbour for sailing ships along the eastern seaboard and for those using the Macleay River. Harold Maclean, Sheriff and Acting Inspector of Prisons wished to establish a Public Works Prison of reform.The gaol fulfilled both requirements, it was the first Public Works Prison in Australia with much more lenient conditions than other institutions, the prisoners were thus employed on the public work of constructing the breakwater. The Trial Bay Gaol, now listed on the Register of the National Estate, was commenced in 1877. The first wing was completed and occupied in 1886. The Gaol closed in 1903 after work on the breakwater ceased to be reopened in 1915 to hold German internees and prisoners during World War 1. It now houses a museum. The prospect of a busy port at Trial Bay led to the Government to commission a survey of the town. In 1866 the plans of the Town of Arakoon at Trial Bay were sent to the Surveyor General. The town centre was located at Lagger’s Point with suburban lands at “the south west rocks” named as the granite boulders just off the point were south west of the Point and a convenient marker for ships entering the bay in search of a safe anchorage.The first land sales were held in march 1868. While it was always a popular place to camp, there were no permanent settlers at South West Rocks until 1886 at which time the population consisted of one family.More than twenty wrecks have occurred in the area of the headland, several of them with losses of life. Three men died when the ketch Woolloomooloo was wrecked in Trial Bay in 1864 and nine died in the wreck of the brig Annie Ogle in 1875. A number of ships have been wrecked in the Bay area with more lost around the headland and immediate coastline.The town developed at Lagger’s Point because of the prison. However with the closure of the Prison the South West Rocks are gained some prominence when the Macleay River Pilot Station was moved there in 1902 from Grassy Head because the river had changed course due to the flood of 1893. Even at this time there were only twenty permanent residents. A minor population explosion occurred when Trial Bay prison was reopened to house the German internees, however when the facility finally closed in 1918, the township once again settled down to a sleepy coastal village for most of the year.A new Pilot Station was planned in 1899 and completed in 1902. The station was run by the pilot, his four boatmen and their families. They took charge of shipping between Smoky Cape and Grassy Head. As coastal shipping declined staffing of the Pilot Station was gradually reduced. The uses of the cottages changed to a Police Station, holiday cottage and one was redeveloped. Cottage No.1. was later restored and in 1996 the others were transferred to the Department of Land and Water Conservation and leased to Kempsey Shire Council for community use.The first action to establish a light at Smoky Cape was taken by Alexander Kethel, member for West Sydney, who in 1886 passed a resolution in the Legislative Assembly stating that, for the benefit of the increasing coast trade and navigation it was necessary to erect a lighthouse at Smoky Cape. A sum of 18,000 pounds was set aside for the construction of the complex.The Colonial Architect, James Barnet, who played an important role in the design and construction of lights at South Solitary Island, Montague Island and Green Cape, selected the site and prepared the necessary documentation. During the design stage major changes in organisation occurred. James Barnet was dismissed in 1890 and the office of the Colonial Architect was replaced with that of Government Architect. The project was then handed to CW Darley, Engineer-in-Chief for Harbours and Rivers. Barnets original design was however used for the Lighthouse. Tenders for the work were called in January 1889 and the offer from Messrs. Oakes and Company was successful. The contract called for the construction of the tower and annex, the head keeper’s residence and semi detached assistant keepers cottages, a coach house and stables. All were to be erected on a 81 acres reserve, 128 metres above sea level.By 1889 construction was well underway and a notice was given to mariner’s informing them of the construction of the lighthouse with full particulars coming at a later date. It was reported the contractor, a Mr Oakes died during the construction of the complex, however it was completed by his heirs within budget.The light was first exhibited on the 15 April 1891. The official ceremony, attended by Darley and members of the Marine Board, taking place on the 29 April 1891.The floor of the lantern room is 9.8 metres above ground level. The overall height of the finished lighthouse measuring 17.4 metres. The inside diameter of the tower is 3.7 metres although the external form of the lighthouse is octagonal.The tower is divided into two storeys with iron floors and staircases. The walls are 920mm at the base and taper to 620mm at the top and are constructed of mass concrete using locally mined granite as the aggregate and are cemented externally and internally. The gallery or the floor of the lantern is formed of granite voussoir blocks supported on molded granite brackets. An ornate metal railing featuring Queen Victoria’s mark is used for the handrailing at this level. The tower walls feature a number of openings including a light opening located below the balcony which housed a subsidiary red light to cover Fish Rock. The tower is entered from an enclosed passage which also access the two store rooms and are also constructed of mass concrete. A screen wall also of mass concrete is built around the tower.The optical apparatus consists of a first order lantern and 920mm lens manufactured by Chance Bros. of Birmingham, England. The lens rotated on rollers and was originally operated by weight driven clockwork mechanism which was operated by the lighthouse keepers. In 1912 the original light source was replaced and in 1962 was changed again to an electric lamp and new thrust bearing pedestal system.