Historical information

Gabo Island sits off the coast of East Gippsland in Victoria, with cliffs of granite in a relatively unique red/pink colour.

Early attempts to build a lighthouse on the island were abandoned due to poor foundations, but when a ship ran aground on the nearby Tullaberga Island in 1853 and led to the death of 37 people, efforts were reignited. Construction of a new lighthouse was completed by 1858, using Gabo Island granite. The lighthouse is Australia's second tallest in Australia and continues to play an important role in guiding boats around the coast as they journey between Melbourne and Sydney. The distinct pink colour from the granite means the lighthouse continues to be a defining feature of the island.

Gabo Island granite was also used to construct the Treasury Building at 117 Macquarie Street in Sydney, now the Intercontinental Hotel.


This specimen is part of larger collection of significant geological specimens in the Burke Museum that was collected from around the world between 1868-1880. A large percentage of these specimens were collection as part of the Geological Survey of Victoria 1852-1974. The Geological Survey of Victoria was an organisation founded in response to the Victorian gold rush to explore the geological and mineral resources and to record a detailed map of the state. It was headed by British geologist, Alfred Richard Cecil Selwyn (1824-1902), who was responsible for issuing over 60 geological maps during his 17 years as director. These maps were all hand-drawn and coloured and became the benchmark for accuracy for geological mapping. Collecting geological specimens was an important part of mapping and understanding the scientific makeup of the earth. Many of these specimens were sent to research and collecting organisations across Australia, including the Burke Museum, to educate and encourage further study.

Granite in the pink colour of this specimen is relatively rare. The connection to the lighthouse on Gabo Island also gives the specimen historic significance and social significance regarding the maritime history of Victoria.

Physical description

A solid palm-sized mineral, coloured by flecks of pink, red, and grey.

Granite is formed by the slow crystallisation of magma below the earth's surface. It is typically composed of a mix of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals, though syenitic granite like this sample has a smaller amount of quartz than typical granite. This different mineral composition leads to the more distinct pink and red colouring.

Inscriptions & markings

First sticker:
[torn]logical survey /
R........ S........ /
Loc Gabo Island /
1/4 Sheet /

Second Sticker:

Third Sticker:
Syenitic Granite