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Grassy Hill - The Lighthouse

Cooktown was established in 1873, but no beacon guided ships through the reef until the lighthouse was built in 1886. It was supplied by Chance Brothers Ltd, England, and for years was one of only four along the Queensland coast. Small lighthouses were staffed by a lone keeper who announced the arrival of ships by raising a flag. At midday a time ball was dropped from the signal staff.
Grassy Hill - The Lighthouse

Grassy Hill Lighthouse circa 1914

Cooktown’s Last Lighthouse Family

Harry Geater was the last employed light keeper at Grassy Hill lighthouse, serving from 1922-1927. In 1927, the Office of Lightkeeper was abolished when the lighthouse was fully automated with the original apparatus replaced by an open flame acetylene gas burner. Harry, his wife, Florence, and four daughters enjoyed their happy mainland life. The older girls had attended school with their long walk each day carefully watched over by Harry and his lighthouse telescope and a megaphone to hurry them along! 

Florence enjoyed the social life and services that a town provided. With their newly born daughter, the Geater family left their only town posting and moved to Goods Island (Palilag) in the Torres Strait. 

Our Lighthouse in the Limelight

After shining its beam across the reefs for a hundred years, the threat of the losing the lighthouse galvanised the Cooktown community in 1987. Faced with the Government's plan to decommission the facility, a group of residents believing the Lighthouse to be of great  local, national and international significance campaigned for nearly a year to save the Lighthouse for the community and visitors into the future. Receiving substantial media attention, support came from all over Australia. The power of a united voice prevailed and in 1988 the Lighthouse and the area around it, was “sold” to the Cooktown people for $100.