Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse

It was the first light house in the world to beam laser light.

The Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse is located at Point Danger on the Queensland and New South Wales border.

Constructed as a joint project between the Gold Coast City Council, the Tweed Shire Council and Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport in 1970, it was built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the voyage along the east coast of Australia by Captain James Cook on the HMS Endeavour.

Point Danger is one of the places Cook named during the voyage.

The lighthouse was designed as a navigational aid using a helium-neon laser light. As a result, it was the first light house in the world to beam laser light rather than use a more conventional electrical light source. The laser light was invented at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu U.S.A. in 1960.

The seven storey lighthouse, constructed of concrete, was built by Murwillumbah contractors Hanna & Edmed based on an original concept by Gold Coast City architect Les Nyerges.

Consisting of four pillars, the lighthouse includes a capstan made by James Kemp and Co Pty Ltd that was cast from iron ballast reclaimed from Endeavour Reed where it was jettisoned by Cook in 1770.

The estimated cost of the project, including landscaping, was $72,189 and the lighthouse was officially opened on 18 April 1971 by The Hon. J. D. Anthony M.P. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry.

The laser beam was created by Laser Electronics Pty Ltd of Southport, but was found to be insufficient for the safety of shipping and shortly after installation, was replaced with conventional lighting.

In 1989 alterations were made to the base of the lighthouse to provide a radio base and observation post for the Point Danger Air-Sea Rescue organisation.

Sources of information and further reading

  1. Official programme : Captain Cook memorial and lighthouse : 2.30pm Sunday, 18 Apr, 1971.
  2. “First Laser Lighthouse.” The Gold Coaster, [Gold Coast, Qld.] 1988, 29 Oct, p. 92.
  3. “New Role for Cook Memorial.” The Gold Coast Bulletin, (Southport Qld.) 1989, 30 Feb, p. 24.