Historical information

The two semaphore flags were used as a pair for visual signaling by hand. The semaphore system is an alphabet signaling system based on the waving of a pair of handheld flags in a particular pattern to compose words to be communicated to passing ships. The system was introduced by the Royal Navy in 1880 and was later adopted in Australia, with the first School of Signaling opening in Williamstown in 1890. The system was superseded in the 1970s by more sophisticated methods of communication. Information on the Cape Nelson flags indicates that they were made by Evan Evans P/L, Flag makers, 690 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Evan Evans (d.1927) started a tent‐making business in 1877 and by 1920 Evan Evans P/L maker of canvas goods, was located at 680 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. In 1924 it acquired land at 632 Bourke Street and built a new factory. His son Ivor continued the business after 1927 and in 1938 opened a bulk store in Carlton.271 In 2016 the firm was located at 673 Spencer Street, Melbourne. Another pair of white semaphore flags made by Evan & Evans is held at Gabo Island, and Wilsons Promontory also has a pair.


Cape Nelson’s white semaphore flags have second level contributory significance. They have historical importance as flags formerly used at the lightstation for visual signaling, a system that is now rarely used in navigation, and contribute to the importance of the lightstation’s large collection of flags.

Physical description

A pair of white flags made of white canvas/heavy cotton, the square flags are attached to dowel poles with staples.