Let there be light: Power back on at iconic lighthouse

The Byron Bay Lighthouse has been damaged by lightning.
The Byron Bay Lighthouse has been damaged by lightning. Contributed

WEDNESDAY 9am: A TEAM from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority was able to restore the Cape Byron Lighthouse to working order before nightfall last night, a spokeswoman has confirmed this morning.

The AMSA crew will continue to work on the site today to make minor repairs. 


TUESDAY 3.40pm: CRUCIAL electrical components inside the Cape Byron Lighthouse have been severely damaged in a lightning strike last night, with local electrician describing it as the worst damage he's seen in almost 30 years.

The damage threatens to prevent the light from being turned on tonight unless a crew of Australian Maritime Safety Authority personnel can source replacement parts before sundown.

Byron Bay electrician Geoff Bensley was sent up to the lighthouse to inspect the damage earlier today and said the circuit breaker was "obliterated".

"The light switch was completely burnt and cracked," Mr Bensley said. "The conduit was blackened. Two relays were blown apart, and the circuit breaker was just obliterated.

"One of the control boards was completely missing because it just blew out.

"It looked like it was a direct strike to the lighthouse, which has a lightning rod," Mr Bensley said. But it appears the lightning rod failed to do its job, which is to direct the lightning current through a copper conduit to the ground.

"It was (apparently) trying to find a direct path down to the ground and it was jumping as it was trying to get to earth."

Mr Bensley said the nearby guest cottages also lost power in the strike

"It's amazing what lightning can do," he said.

"I don't think it will get up and running before nightfall, they were struggling for parts, they might have to get them from Brisbane."


The electrical fuses, circuit breakers and relays at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.
The electrical fuses, circuit breakers and relays at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Mr Bensley, who has been working on the site since 1989, said lightning strikes happened up there pretty regularly, although this damage was the worst he had seen.

Although he did remember when an old toilet block on the site was hit by lightning and the strike blew bits of concrete out of the walls.

If the light is out tonight, it could cause a headache for ships passing by.

Despite the introduction of GPS, the light is still as important navigational aid.

AMSA has been contacted for comment.

Topics:  byron bay editors picks lighthouse lightning storm weather

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