In a Boating Emergency

Cottage & Museum

inner light museum

The Inner Light Museum

The Nelson Bay Unit of Marine Rescue NSW is responsible to the State Government for upkeep of this heritage precinct, through its ‘Nelson Head Lighthouse & Reserve Management Committee’ (which includes a representative of the Port Stephens Historical Society).

Below the Communications Centre, on the ground floor, is a tourist shop operated by the Ladies Auxiliary without whose assistance and support, together with that of the local community, clubs and businesses, the Unit would find it very difficult, if not near impossible, to operate.


Inner Light Museum History

The station was established in 1872 with four kerosene lamps shown from a wooden tower. The light guided ships into Port Stephens. In 1876, the light was installed in an octagonal lantern room attached to the cottage and shown through a 3-metre window. The light was electrified in 1946, and automated in 1984. In 1995 the light was replaced with a solar powered lantern which was attached outside the previous lantern room. In early 2003, the light was deemed unnecessary, and it was shut down.
Cottage & Museum | inner light museum
marine search and rescue vessel and rescue ops

The Unit has two primary rescue craft, both purpose-built, specialised vessels, crewed by highly-motivated and well-trained volunteers who can be called upon at anytime, day or night, to head to the assistance of those who call.

Photo Gallery

Getting Here

The Marine Rescue NSW Port Stephens base is located at the former Inner Light and now Heritage Site at Nelson Head, 32°42.632 S; 152°09.667 E (overlooking Shoal Bay and looking out through the entrance to Port Stephens).

Marine Rescue – Port Stephens
Nelson Head Lighthouse Reserve
Nelson Bay NSW 2315

Visiting Us

open to the public, 7 days a week from 10am to 4pm
Cottage & Museum | inner light museum

Become a Volunteer

The Inner Light Museum is always keen to welcome new volunteers who are keen to share their local knowledge with our visitors as guides or in other ways.