Historical information

The heavy twin tanks formerly contained vaporised kerosene which was used as a fuel to light the lantern. Kerosene became available in the 1860s as the oil industry in the United States developed, and vaporised kerosene soon became the most common system of illumination. The kerosene vapour lamp was perfected by Chance Bros. for burning the light in their renowned lenses. The system involved vaporising kerosene under pressure and mixing it with air and then burning the vapour to heat an incandescent mantle. The lamp had to be watched throughout the night in case a mantle broke, and the tanks needed to be maintained by hand-pumping each hour or so. Kerosene tanks like these were developed in the early twentieth century, and kerosene as a fuel was phased out by electricity, with the last kerosene system in Australia eventually replaced in 1985. The wick lamp in Gabo Island’s light was altered to a vaporised incandescent kerosene mantle burner in 1909. They would have been in use until 1935, when the light was electrified and the original first-order lens was replaced by a fourth-order lens. The Gabo Island tanks, which are presumed to be those used in the lighthouse between 1909 and 1935, are not attached to the optical apparatus and are no longer in the lighthouse. They are also missing the pressure gauges that were formerly attached to the top of each cylinder. Cape Schanck has a pair of unattached tanks, which are not historically associated with the lighthouse. Point Hicks has an iron stand that formerly supported its lighthouse oil tanks.


Despite their lack of intactness, the Gabo Island tanks have first level contributory significance for their provenance to the lightstation and historic association with the lantern’s original Chance Brothers first order lens, which was removed in 1935

Physical description

Two large green cylinders standing in a metal frame. There is also a pumping mechanism attached to the stand with a wooden handle.