Burnett Heads Historical Lighthouse


Latitude 24° 45.6' S, Longitude 152° 24.7' E - AU0004

This grand old lighthouse built in 1873 was relocated to the park in the 1971

When Bundaberg Amateur Radio Club sets up a portable station attached to the historical lighthouse at Burnett heads in August each year we join around 500 other lighthouses from 40 countries worldwide celebratrating the Lights, Lightships and the Lightkeepers who served to keep mariners safe.
Radio was essential to the lighthouses and while science and technology have moved on, there are still important lighthouses around the world, keeping shipping safe.

We remember the tradition by setting up trying to contact as many other 'Light' stations as we can throughout the day, and even working into the evening to try for those international groups manning lights on their coastlines. We have a lot of visitors during the day, some are tourists and others are locals out riding their bikes or walking their dogs and many stop by to see our Field-day set-up.

Australia has a rich history of lighthouses from historic lighthouses like Macquarie Light in Sydney which was Australia's first, to rugged lonely sentinels like Cape Leeuwin in WA which stands on the most South Westerly tip of Australia, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.

From our station we generally 'work' Australian and New Zealand lights like East Cape Light the most easterly point on New Zealand's North Island and to Waipapa Point Lighthouse, near Invercargill on the South Island.
The event also brings out Amateurs who want to talk to us, and we don't mind as we have the time to impart a little of the history of the lighthouse at Burnett Heads.

Conditions change, signal strength changes and we change to different frequencies and antennas to try to catch the stations calling 'CQ Lighhouse'.

From Tasmania we've contacted Table Cape Lighthouse near Devonport on the north west coast to Low Head, at the mouth of the Tamar River; To Cape Bruny Lighthouse in Hobart, built in the 1800s by convict labour and on to Pot Boil Channel lighthouse on Flinders Island.

As the signals shift again we find a lighthouse in South Australia at Cape Jaffe, and then in NSW Point Perpendicular, on 75m high cliffs at Jervis Bay, near Nowra and Norah Head Lighthouse, between The Entrance and Budgewoi. This light is one of the last built in the classical James Barnet style when lighthouses were not just about safety but also about architectural excellence.

We reached Crowdy Head, at the mouth of the manning river in an area known as Crowdy Bay National park and Smoky Cape, an unusual octagonal tower near Coffs Harbour.

Victorian lights we reach include those which stand guard around the entrance to Port Philip bay like Split point & Point Lonsdale, on the Geelong side of the entrance near Queenscliff and Eastern Light McCrae, on the Eastern side.

We've also talked to Cape Schanck Lighthouse, built to counter the ongoing coastal shipping disasters between Western Port and Port Phillip Bay in early 1800's. Then it was on to Cape Otway, on Victoria's western coast, where the Southern Ocean meets Bass Strait. And an old favourite, the unusually recycled Williamstown Lighthouse and time-ball, which was first a lighthouse, then a time-ball tower, then a lighthouse again.

Closer to home in Queensland there was the Old Caloundra Lighthouse, the Cape Cleveland in Townsville and the Grassy Hill Lighthouse near Cooktown.

illw02 group tent

History of the Event

It started with Mike Dalrymple GM4SUC (S.K.) and other members of Ayr Amateur Radio Group from Scotland. They wanted to share their enjoyment of Lighthouses and hit upon this goodwill event as a way to preserve and develop them.

It's not really a contest but the Ayr group remains committed to the organizing of the event on behalf of the world-wide radio amateur community each year.

This is the official ILLW website.


The ILLW is always held on the 3rd full weekend in August starting at 0001 UTC (that's 10am Saturday morning Bundaberg time) and finishing at 2359 UTC on Sunday (that's Monday morning in case you're still with us).

The event does seem to touch people in a way that makes them want to remember the past and the intrepid men & women who built and manned the lighthouses.

There is now an International Lighthouse Day - on Sunday 16th August. Organised by the International Association of Lighthouse Keepers the day is recognised by many Government's world-wide in an effort to have lighthouses open to the public on the day.

Why do we do it?

We do it to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, to promote amateur radio, to foster international goodwill and along the way to have fun and enjoy the friendly rivalry with nearby Wide Bay Clubs.

There are no prizes or certificates and participation is free and each station decides how they will operate, how long they'll participate and what modes and frequencies they will use.
There are some rules about 'what is a lighthouse' and how are we attached to it. As many are still in operation the last thing the authorities want is excited amateurs clambering over their lighthouse, so the rules say you can be on, in, or adjacent to the light! That means 'next to' or 'as close as possible to'... but just being able to 'see' a lighthouse doesn't qualify you to be a registered station.

Burnett Heads Progress Association, who preserve and maintain the historical timber light, give us permission each year to open the lighthouse and attach our antenna to the top. It's too small for us to be inside the lighthouse, so we set up a portable station under tarps as near as we can or use the community hall nearby.

Facts about the Burnett Heads Historical Lighthouse:

Built in 1873

Construction: Timber

Manned by keepers from 1873 to 1932

Automated to run on Acetylene Gas in 1932

Decommissioned in 1971 and moved 1km to the park in Burnett Heads

Our participation

As a club we're quite versatile and can set up either dipole or long wire antennas, and even very efficient vertical antennas. We generally operate on 7.1Mhz (40 metre band) during the day, switching to 3.5Mhz (80metre band) as night falls.

We spend our time scanning about, listening for signals propagating in our direction.

It's interesting to watch the signal strength diminish on one band as a cold front moves in, only to get signals booming in from another direction. It's a fun activity if you like to hunt around for radio contacts.

After the event we send out greeting cards, called QSL cards to all the stations we reached, and they respond by sending theirs. The photographs of lighthouses worldwide becomes a walk through time and technology and it's interesting to see some of the harsh conditions our fellow hams had to endure to get to those remote lights and make contact.

Identification Numbers

The ILLW organisers allocate a number to each Light known to be accessible or which has participated in the event in previous years.

The Burnett Heads Historical Lighthouse number is AU0004 and we use this number when we make contact with another lighthouse.
When we get their Light number in return we can check the list of registered entries and can see where they're situated and a little about each one.
This allows us to visualize how far we're transmitting and in what direction.

ILLW Images

Lighthouse weekend through the years

Contact Us

Bundaberg Amateur Radio Club
PO Box 129
Bundaberg Qld 4670
Email: secretary@barc.asn.au

Or use the form below