AUSTRALIA’s third oldest lighthouse – Hornby Lighthouse on Sydney’s South Head – as been added to the State Heritage Register.

The state government added South Head’s cultural landscape to the heritage register to acknowledge how the historic place helped shape New South Wales.

Port Authority of NSW was involved in the heritage listing process alongside Heritage NSW, as the lighthouse is considered a significant element of the cultural landscape.

Port Authority of NSW CEO Philip Holliday said Hornby Lighthouse, built in 1858, is now formally recognised for its historical and maritime significance.

“Hornby Lighthouse remains to this day an active and important lighthouse that plays a vital role as a navigational aid for ships seeking safe passage into Sydney Harbour,” Mr Holliday said.

“The lighthouse marks a ledge of dangerous submerged reefs at the southern entrance to Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour.”

Mr Holliday said it is the site of one of Australia’s “most tragic maritime disasters”. He said many lives were lost before the lighthouse was built.

“In 1857, the Dunbar was wrecked attempting to enter the harbour during a bad storm with 59 crew and 63 passengers on board,” he said.

“Tragically, 121 people died with only one survivor. Only two months later another 21 lives were lost when the Catherine Adamson went down.

“It is a stark reminder of the dangers of seafaring even today, and the importance of our network of navigational aids, including lighthouses, and the use of marine pilots with detailed local maritime knowledge to avoid these kinds of events occurring in modern shipping.”

NSW minister for heritage James Griffin said heritage listing the wider South Head cultural landscape acknowledges its stories.

“South Head has strong historical and archaeological links to the Birrabirragal people, with evidence of Aboriginal occupation into the middle of the 19th century, including at Camp Cove, which is known to have been the home to Cora Gooseberry, a significant Aboriginal leader,” Mr Griffin said.

“The site tells us stories of thousands of years of continuous Aboriginal occupation, first contact encounters between British and Aboriginal people, Sydney’s history as a working harbour, and South Head’s role in its defence during periods of war.”

Beyond Hornby Lighthouse, the state heritage listing extends to the South Head precincts of Sydney Harbour National Park, Camp Cove Beach and the surrounding rock shelf.