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Lighthouses of Australia Project - FEBRUARY 00 BULLETIN

Dear Friends

Taming an Out of Control Inbox

Folks, there are two boxes, I mean large cardboard fruitboxes in my office.

One, the Outbox, has all the stuff I have processed and finished with for the Project.

The other, fuller box, the Inbox, has all the wonderful stuff that gets sent to me by you, the supporters of this Project. 100s of photographs, books and 100s of photocopied pages of stories and documents.

Well, I used to joke about the fact that the inbox had more than the outbox, but there was just too much good stuff getting lost and forgotten about in that Inbox.

So, January, once holidays and cheer were finished with, it was time to tame this out of control Inbox. Put latest version of OmniPage on the PC. Checked the Photo scanning software and into it.

Already bits of gold have come to the surface and this month has seen the creation of 7 new lighthouse pages. Next month will be a major drive to get to the bottom of that box, and should see similar results.

So for all you people who sent me stuff as long as twelve months ago and are finally seeing it appear thanks for your patience and support.

By the way, please don't stop sending me this stuff. It's great.

Rodney Nicholson 25 Year Exhibition

Ed, Deborah and Malcolm attended the opening of Rodney Nicholson's 25th Anniversary Exhibition, held at the fishermen's pavilion, Queenscliff.

Malcolm and Deborah with Rodney's Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Photograph. [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
Malcolm and Deborah with Rodney's Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Photograph
[Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]

Rodney is extremely well known for his maritime themes and the exhibition included work from the period where he focused strongly on the local lighthouses.

Malcolm and Deborah with Rodney's Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Photograph. [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
One of Rodney's spectacular shots called 'Light the Light'
[Photograph: Rodney Nicholson]

Malcolm and Deborah with Rodney's Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Photograph. [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
Another of Rodney pictures at the show, 'Brushed with Light'
[Photograph: Rodney Nicholson]

The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse in features in particular. Rodney only lives several hundred metres from this light.

More of Rodney's work is featured at CyberGallery at http://www2.ne.com.au/art/rodney/rodney.htm


Notice Board:

Mystery of the Ghost of Point Hicks

Hi there,

I'm doing some family history research, and it appears that Lightkeeper Christofferson is/was my Grandmothers brother.

The version of the story I heard regarding his death was that it was suspected his wife murdered him, but because his body was never found, nothing could be proved. I am given to understand that the official version was that he went rock fishing and was taken by a big wave, but sources in the family suggested foul play was involved. My grandmother was quite certain that "She did him in" If you can give me any more information on the incident, particularly dates, or point me at some sources, I would be most grateful.

My Grandmother was Gretta Maude Hope (nee Christofferson) and was born in Melbourne. As near as I can tell, she had 4 brothers, Jack, James (Jim), Charles (Charlie) and George. (Yack, Yim, Yarlie and Yorge as her father used to say, according to her) Their father Gustav, was a Norwegian by birth, and a former ships carpenter, who jumped ship in Melbourne. I am also curious about the spelling of the surname, as I had understood it was spelt Christopherson. I am descended through her daughter Betty Mae Roberts (nee Hope). Both are now deceased and I am having difficulty with gaps in the family tree.

Thanks for your time.

Kindest Regards Geoff Roberts
<geoffrob@stmarks.pp.catholic.edu.au> or <netcafe@pirie.mtx.net.au>.

The Point Hicks Lighthouse and cottages [Photograph: Grant Maizels]
The Point Hicks Lighthouse and cottages
[Photograph: Grant Maizels]


Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse

Malcom Macdonald
Lighthouse Keeper
Lighthouses of Australia Project
keeper@lighthouses.org.au

Dear Sir

Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse

I read with interest the article by Deborah Taylor in your November 1999 Bulletin on the Expedition to Pt. Perpendicular. In that article the Wollongong Breakwater or Old Wollongong Lighthouse was mentioned and I'd like to clarify a couple of issues.

The NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation has had the control of many lighthouse properties transferred from the Federal Government (AMSA) in 1997. Others were transferred to the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. Generally, operation of these NSW lighthouses are maintained for AMSA by the Waterways of NSW.

Currently the maintenance of some assets in the fishing port of Wollongong is the responsibility of the Minor Ports Program of the DLWC. As the Breakwater Lighthouse stands within the area of this port the Department has been involved by maintaining the old lighthouse.

Even though the lighthouse has not operated since March 1974, the Department recognised that the lighthouse had significant heritage, social and cultural values. To determine these values a detailed Conservation Management Plan was carried out by the Heritage Branch of the Department of Public Works and Services. Part of this plan consisted of the compilation of comprehensive history of the lighthouse by a local historian. This history progressed from the early years of Wollongong to 1996.

This process determined that the lighthouse had significant values. Some of these are:

Historically:
The lighthouse was the first prefabricated wrought iron lighthouse constructed in Australia (only two were built the other being at Warden Head, Ulladulla). This was evidence of the level of technical expertise available in NSW in the late 1860's.

Socially:
The image of the lighthouse has become a symbol of the City of Wollongong and is a reminder of the crucial importance the harbour once had for the local economy.

As part of the Conservation Management Plan, the work required to maintain/restore the lighthouse was listed, estimated and given a priority of need. Investigation on the foundations showed that there was some corrosion and works should be done on that section as the highest priority

Funds were allocated in May 1998 towards the maintenance/restoration of the lighthouse foundation. Contracts were prepared for the physical work and a heritage adviser was engaged to document and provide advice on the works as they progressed. Work on site commenced in June 1999 and to date (early December 1999) work has progressed on the following items.

1. removal of internal concrete (a later addition to the original lighthouse).
2. excavation of original holding down bolts to ascertain how much corrosion had occurred (the bolt was reduced by 40% of its size).
3. removal of internal rust scale.
4. installation of 7 new stainless steel holding down bolts to duplicate the strength of the 14 existing holding down bolts.
5. removal of exterior concrete
6. patching of the many holes caused by corrosion around the base.

Each step of the work has been documented and photographed by a qualified heritage consultant, who also has a personal interest in the lighthouse.

Works remaining to be done include:

a) removal of corrosion.
b) reinstatement of exterior iron plates at base.
c) painting.
d) reinstatement of exterior concrete to original form.
e) fixing major water leaks at outer doors.
f) reinstatement of exterior ladder.

These remaining tasks will be completed on the foundation area only, and are due to be completed in early 2000.

As can be imagined this work has been at considerable cost (in excess of $100,000) but it does address the points of major decay in the lighthouse. Funds to complete the works will be sought from other sources. The final result sought is the restoration of the lighthouse to nearly its original condition (the lantern has been removed and its location is unknown). The lighthouse is in a beautiful location and is worth a close inspection.

Referring to your web site history of the lighthouse please note the following corrections (i) the structure is wrought iron (ii) the upgrade to electricity was completed on 22 September 1945 at cost of £40.

All the very best in your future exploits.

Regards

B T Dooley
Manager
Resource Access Works and Services

Historic Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse undergoing a major restoration. [Photograph Courtesy and Copyright Lightstorm Photography, Nowra.]
Historic Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse undergoing a major restoration
[Photograph Courtesy and Copyright Lightstorm Photography, Nowra.]

Feel free to post any request, letters, notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.

<keeper@lighthouses.org.au>


South & North Solitary Islands Trip Report:

Last Month: Point Stephens & Sugarloaf Point

[by Ian Clifford <icliffo@tpgi.com.au>]

The Solitary Islands are a small group of Islands located off the NSW coast between Woologoolga and Coffs Harbour. There are two lighthouses, one, a small fibreglass solar powered beacon established in 1975 operating from Nth Solitary Is and the other first exhibited on the 18th of March 1880 from Sth Solitary Is.

South Solitary Is was one of the major "highway" lights designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet. The lighthouse and keepers cottages are constructed of mass concrete and carry many of Barnet's design hallmarks such as the gunmetal railing and projecting balcony. The tower is 17 metres high and the original optic mechanism was a first order dioptric Chance Bros lens producing a white flash of 205,000 candelas every 30 seconds (current 1934).

The South Solitary Tower. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The South Solitary Tower
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

South Solitary is thought to be the first lighthouse in NSW to use kerosene which had become available in the 1860s. By far the most powerful navigational aid on the coast at the time of its commissioning.

It is this light that I first glimpsed as an 11 year old in 1970 travelling along the Pacific Highway and wondered what Sth Solitary Island was like, who lived there and how it worked. My comparison was Byron Bay where I spent most of my time growing up visiting the lighthouse for the keepers tour at least once each school holidays as you could in those days of manned stations on a Tuesday or Thursday, station duties permitting.

The South Solitary Tower. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The South Solitary Tower
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

South Solitary Island had been on my itinerary since I first started to contribute material to the Lighthouses of Australia project. Arranging a visit to the island is not an easy task. The island is now a nature reserve under the control of The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and cannot be safely accessed by sea. Helicopters being the only practical method of access.

With the co-operation of AMSA, my association with Surf Lifesaving, with a little luck and persistence I was on my way to Coffs Harbour on the "maybe we can squeeze you in on one of the helicopter runs if you lend some assistance with alterations to the Surf Lifesaving radio repeater and carry a few batteries". AMSA were undertaking an annual maintenance run and a five year battery replacement at both South and North Solitary Islands. With only two days to spare, 14 hours travelling, a full day on the Island and a distinct possibility I would not get a seat how could I refuse!

After the drive up, a good rest in a cosy motel, changing a flat tyre just when I thought I had lots of time to spare, I arrived as arranged at the Coffs Harbour airport at 8am to meet Errol Joppich, Allan Whyte and Warren Boorer from AMSA and Wayne Robinson from Countrywide Communications who was carrying out the work for Surf Lifesaving.

From the left, 2 Heliaust staff then Warren Boorer, Alan Whyte, Errol Joppich. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
From the left, two Heliaust staff then Warren Boorer, Alan Whyte, Errol Joppich
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

Errol, Allan and Wayne headed off on the first flight while Warren and I packed the first load of batteries on the pallet to be slung under the aircraft on its return. With the 3 battery runs complete, no passengers are allowed while the aircraft is carrying a sling, our turn was next. We headed off to the North East through the rain squalls and in about 8 minutes we were on the helipad at South Solitary Is.

Approaching South Solitary Island. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
Approaching South Solitary Island
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

South Solitary is actually four separate Islands, Lighthouse or Main Is, Birdie Is, Archie Rock and an unnamed islet to the North East. Archie Rock has a beautiful natural arch on its South side.

The South Solitary Islands are important breeding sites for seabirds although crested turns and silver gulls greatly outnumber shearwaters and muttonbirds. The huge numbers of the crested gulls left me in a nervous sweat when the thought crossed my mind of the potential for helicopter turbine ingestment.

The South Solitary Lightstation from the air. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The South Solitary Lightstation from the air
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

Landing on the helipad right in front of the gleaming white lighthouse which has been recently painted externally in total contrast to the cottages which have been left completely untouched since demanning of the station following automation in 1975, you can easily imagine the complete isolation faced by the keepers particularly in the early years of the stations operation. The only means of communication being flags by day and signal lamp by night with passing ships and the mainland.

The lighthouse is situated at the southern end of the island on the highest point and is connected to the cottages by a path and a wall directly to the two main cottages. The pathway continues past the cottages north to the steel framed jetty, the third to be constructed, built in 1959 it stands 13 metres above sea level and is in imminent danger of collapse due to rust and corrosion. The jetty storehouse, probably the oldest building on the island stands adjacent to the jetty, it to is in poor condition.

The Jetty is literally rusting away. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
The Jetty is literally rusting away
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

As I approach the cottages through the light rain, some sections overgrown by vines, their greyness almost haunted in appearance leaves you in no doubt about the severity of the elements on the Island, often totally covered with salt spray. During construction the first government supervisor arrived at night and when he saw the island the next morning he was so startled that he remained only a fortnight until the next ship arrived.

Twenty five years have passed since the island was staffed and now being inhabited only by birds, the cottages, store and particularly the jetty have little time left if they are to be saved.

An investment of $1,400,000 is required to restore the cottages. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
An investment of $1,400,000 is required to restore the cottages
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

In 1997 NPWS engaged consultants to prepare a Conservation Management and Cultural Tourism Plan for the lighthouses it had acquired. The report estimates the cost for restoration of the tower and cottages at Sth Solitary to a condition were they could be reused for a new function at approximately $1,400,000. No doubt the vexing question facing NPWS is could the investment be recouped. Restoration needs to commence quickly before irreversible deterioration or vandalism as we have witnessed at other stations, eg Point Stephens, Bustard Head, Tasman Island, takes place. Despite the difficult access people do land regularly at these isolated locations, sadly some are mindless vandals.

Highly visible to passing tour and cruise craft and given the historical significance of the buildings it is unacceptable to let the them deteriorate to ruins. I appreciate the difficulty faced by the various government departments who have taken over many of the lighthouses, they have the difficulty of appeasing many difficult interest groups whilst managing tight budgets. But there are ways and they must be found before we loose a valuable and irreplaceable part of our national maritime heritage forever.

Barnet expected the construction to be completed by 1879 and 18VR79 is carved in the keystone over the lighthouse entry doorway.

The original lantern and lens were replaced at the time of automation and demanning in 1975 and are now housed in the Coffs Harbour Historical Society Museum. The tower is now unfortunately adorned by a fibreglass and aluminium lantern housing a solar powered beacon.

Lighthouse mechanics, Warren Boorer & Alan Whyte servicing the South Solitary Light. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
Lighthouse mechanics Warren Boorer & Alan Whyte servicing the South Solitary Light
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

As I wind my way up the 3 levels of cast iron stairs to the lantern room I find Allan and Warren carrying out annual maintenance to the lightsource. The view from the balcony is breathtaking. I spend a few moments to appreciate my privilege in being able to visit such a beautiful place.

Looking out over the island I ponder the life history that must have taken place across the 95 years of manned operation.

I then head off with Errol to North Solitary to deliver a replacement lantern and batteries which Allan and Warren will install tomorrow.

Approaching North Solitary Island. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
Approaching North Solitary Island
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

North Solitary Lighthouse is typical of the modern 'Tupperware' lights. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
North Solitary Lighthouse is typical of the modern 'Tupperware' lights
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

The two islands are much further apart than I had imagined, the flight taking about 15 minutes. North Solitary in contrast to Sth Solitary has had little disturbance from humans and is little changed from the time Cook sailed past, except of course for the small fibreglass lighthouse. Our visit is brief, we unload the replacement lantern and batteries and head back to Sth Solitary.

Errol Joppich arrives at North Solitary with replacement lantern. [Photograph: Ian Clifford]
Errol Joppich arrives at North Solitary with replacement lantern
[Photograph: Ian Clifford]

Back on Sth Solitary I have several hours to wander through the lighthouse and cottages taking photos and pondering what has passed and what the future holds for the island.

Sadly I grudgingly accept the offer of a ride on the first flight in as I still have to drive back to Kiama, we arrive at the airport at 4pm. Amazingly the 7 hour drive home passes quickly as I reflect on my visit to the Solitary Islands.

A special thanks to the people who helped facilitate my visit to the island.

Ian Clifford <icliffo@tpgi.com.au> has provided many of the photographs that have been used in the Project [Photograph: Richard Jermyn]
Ian Clifford <icliffo@tpgi.com.au>
[Photograph: Richard Jermyn]


Australian News:

Tribal dispute over lighthouse

[The Geelong Advertiser, Jan 2000]

Aborigines claiming ownership of a multi-million dollar disused lighthouse property were not only battling the (Queensland) state government, but also another Aboriginal tribe, a Brisbane court was told yesterday.

The Double Island Point Lighthouse [Photograph: Ken Gott]
The Double Island Point Lighthouse
[Photograph: Ken Gott]

The Darlungbara and Ngulungbara descendents, are together with the Aboriginal University of Australia, are seeking a Supreme Court injunction to stop the National Parks and Wildlife department selling off the disused lighthouse at Double Island Point, in the World Heritage listed Great Sandy region near Noosa.

The Department has already called for tenders to lease the lighthouse.


Progress at Bustard Head

[Prism, Issue 4, 1999]

In our last issue we raised concerns about the advertising for expressions of interest for ecotourism ventures at Double Island Point, Bustard Head, Cape Capricorn and Booby Island. The proposals were to be submitted by December 17th 1999. Queensland member, Stuart Buchanan has furnished us with more details about the Queensland situation, including an account of the formation of a most credible consortium to tender for tourism at Bustard Head.

First, the bad news from Stuart:

During early September this year (1999), the QPWS Ranger stationed at Double Island Point (for the past seven years he had spent ten days every fortnight there) was withdrawn from the station.

About the same time, the caretakers at Cape Capricorn (who had also been there for seven years) were withdrawn. Since then, the two stations have remained unattended.

The Cape Capricorn Lightstation [Photograph: AMSA]
The Cape Capricorn Lightstation
[Photograph: AMSA]

In both cases, the reason given for this action was that the stations did not meet the requirements of Workplace, Health and Safety standards. Among other things, tests had shown lead in the rainwater. At Cape Capricorn the tramway from the beach to the station was found to be unsafe.

I don't know what the current manning situation is at Booby Island, but I do know that some months ago lead was found in the island's rainwater tanks. So I'd imagine the caretaker was withdrawn from there also.

Of course, Bustard Head, as you may have read in my book Lighthouse of Tragedy, has been unattended since 1986; over the years the buildings have been shockingly vandalised by periodic waves of brain-dead morons, who go under the guise of homo sapiens.

The Bustard Head Light - From Stuart Buchanan's Book [Photograph: Lighthouse of Tragedy]
The Bustard Head Light - From Stuart Buchanan's Book
[Photograph: Lighthouse of Tragedy]

Now the good news about Bustard Head:

Over the past six years Shirley and I have spent the winter months cruising the Queensland coast on our small ketch Pluto. One of the places we've come to know well is the Town of 1770, 12 miles south of Bustard Head. More significantly, we've come to know many of the town's residents. One family in particular, the Mergards, own and operate 1770 Environmental Tours, which runs LARC trips to Bustard Head. In fact, Lighthouse of Tragedy was launched at the Mergard's marina in July this year (1999), and in conjunction with the launch we received permission from AMSA to open Bustard Head lighthouse to the public for three days. During that time over 400 people travelled by LARC to visit the tower.

So, after Expressions of Interest were advertised by QPWS, Shirley and I drove to the Town of 1770, where we chaired a public meeting to discuss the future of Bustard Head. Bustard Head Lightstation Trust was formed and eight people were unanimously elected to form a Working Committee to submit an Expression of Interest for the lightstation to QPWS.

We are fortunate to have some heavyweights on the Committee, including the Mayor of the Shire and others of extremely high profile of the criteria sought by QPWS. We have exceptional community support in the form of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. who have volunteered their services to restore the lightstation buildings to the condition they were in before demanning. As well, we have an extensive number of volunteer consultants, whose reputations in their particular fields are highly acclaimed throughout Australia - geologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, heritage architect, engineer, etc.

It is the Trust's aim to install a full-time Site/Manager in one cottage, and rent the other for short-term holiday accommodation. There will be an interpretive display centre describing the station from its beginnings to the present day. In association with AMSA, we hope to install a museum in the ground floor of the lighthouse. Bustard Head lighthouse is only one of two lighthouses in Queensland recommended for safe opening to the public (the other being Sandy Cape). So, as we did in July (1999), we hope to negotiate with AMSA, that on special occasions, the lantern room and balcony will be opened to visitors.

Of course, it is proposed that all materials required for restoration of the buildings will be transported by LARC from the Town of 1770.

The Trust will be a non-profit organisation.

We have just completed our submission for Expression of Interest. With Christmas approaching, I can't see QPWS making any quick decisions. But one never knows. Rod Welford, the State's Minister for Environment and Heritage seemed to move along following his interview on the ABC's 7.30 Report. Perhaps it was only coincidence. But if it does drag on, we'll certainly be giving a prod here and there.

In regard to your statement about backup plans for caretaking at the four stations if no Expression of Interest is accepted, I think the Workplace, Health and Safety issue mentioned above will explain that. There are some purists within QPWS who would like to see the lightstation buildings demolished. And it is indeed within their power to apply to the Queensland Heritage Council to have this done. We will be watching closely. The management, or should I say mismanagement of Bustard Head has been a cock-up right from the day human presence was withdrawn from the station. What remains is little more than a pile of rubble. However, Bustard Head Lightstation Trust believes that, with an enormous amount of hard work and the continuing enthusiasm of the local community, the station can become the showplace lightstation of Queensland.


Caloundra - Back in Place at Last

[Prism, Issue 4, 1999]

Still in Queensland, we are glad to report that the Caloundra light has been beautifully restored and now occupies pride of place alongside its modern successor. We are grateful to Jervis Sparks of Maleny, QLD for the following account.

The old Caloundra Lighthouse is set to become a shining light in the city's tourism industry. The 102-yearold structure was recently relocated from the Caloundra Powerboat Club to its original home atop Canberra Terrace. Relocation co-ordinator Vic Godley said only the finishing touches inside the lighthouse were yet to be completed. "People are already commenting on how good it looks up there," Mr Godley said. "It's becoming a real focal point, which is exactly what we want."

Lifting the restored lantern room off the truck. [Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]
Lifting the restored lantern room off the truck
[Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]

Mr Godley said an official opening would be held in the next month or two, after which the lighthouse would be opened to the public. "Obviously we'll have to get all of the safety and access issues sorted out - you couldn't have it open all the time and it would have to be chaperoned," he said.

Lantern room is placed back on restored tower.  [Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]
Lantern room is placed back on restored tower
[Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]

Mr Godley said any admission fees would go towards the upkeep of the structure. He said a submission would be made for a State Government grant this month to allow a viewing platform to be built on the ocean side of the lighthouse and barbecues and tables built in the adjacent Lions Park.

Tower restored on the original site.  [Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]
Tower restored on the original site
[Photograph Courtesy: Roger Todd]

While the lighthouse has been restored to its former glory, only months ago it seemed like a much sadder fate awaited it. Volunteers' first attempt to relocate the lighthouse in March ended in disaster when a crane dropped the fragile structure, smashing its internal bracings. Luckily, workers were able to salvage the lighthouse, working tirelessly to ensure the second attempt in June went off without a hitch.


Setting for Historic Williamstown Tower Saved from Development

[Prism, Issue 4, 1999]

It appears that the long saga of the Point Gellibrand Historic Park at Williamstown is over. The new Victorian Government has announced that it has scrapped its predecessor's decision to sell one third of the site for development.

The Point is the site of Victoria's first lighthouse, which was a timber framed structure erected in 1839. The building of a new square bluestone lighthouse tower in 1852, with accompanying timber keepers' quarters, ushered in a period of intense government activities around the lighthouse in the rest of the decade. The tower served as a lighthouse until 1861 when the light was replaced with a timeball apparatus.

The historic Williamstown Timeball Tower and former lighthouse. [Photograph Courtesy: Brian Lord]
The historic Williamstown Timeball Tower and former lighthouse
[Photograph Courtesy: Brian Lord]

The whole of the area will now become an historic park in accordance with the plans drawn up two years ago by a consultative committee which included representatives of Parks Victoria, the City of Hobson's Bay and various residents' groups.

The first Government Astronomical Observatory operated from the vicinity of the tower from 1853, and Williamstown resident Robert Ellery, a former ship's surgeon, was appointed as the first Government Astronomer. Ellery went on to a distinguished scientific career, becoming at one stage President of the Royal Society of Victoria and in 1888 first President of the Australian and New Zealand (then Australasian) Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS). Ellery's duties included the accurate measurement of local time, and the site was chosen for suitable viewing conditions away from the light, dust and smoke of Melbourne.

Accurate local time measurement was essential for navigation and was broadcast to Melbourne and to ships on the bay, by means of the dropping of a time ball.

The first telegraph line in Australia was installed between Melbourne and a station under the flagstaff in 1854. One of its main functions was to transmit the time signal to (and later from) Melbourne more reliably.

The time ball was moved to the tower of the new telegraph office in Morris Street Williamstown from 1855, until the lighthouse was converted to take the apparatus in 1861, where it operated until 1926.

The Tower was extended up to 30m overall height with a round masonry shaft and turned back into a lighthouse in the 1930s, operating as a light until 1986. The extension was subsequently removed. The Time Ball Tower is now the only artefact remaining above ground.

The present time ball apparatus on the Tower is a reconstruction. The only other intact time ball in our part of the world is at Lyttelton Harbour, N.Z.

The announcement that the whole site would become an historic site was made by the Premier, Steve Bracks, at the tower on November 23rd.

The new Premier, Steve Bracks demonstrating reserve is not for sale. [Photograph Courtesy: Cameron Tandy]
The new Premier, Steve Bracks demonstrating reserve is not for sale
[Photograph Courtesy: Cameron Tandy]

In his reply to the announcement the President of the Friends of Point Gellibrand, Dr Robin Grove, remarked that almost everything that had happened in the history of Australia had also taken place at Point Gellibrand.

The Time Ball tower precinct has the potential to provide further scientific investigation through exploration of the archaeological potential of a number of early sites surrounding the Time Ball Tower. Potential sites of interest are the first flagstaff, first observatory, first telegraph station, light-keepers quarters, Lighthouse Battery, convict quarry tramway and railway workshops.

The Time Ball Tower and precinct is important for its association with technical and scientific achievement and innovation. The Time Ball Tower precinct hosted a number of the colony's first technical installations devoted to accurate measurement of various kinds. It was the site of Melbourne's first astronomical observatory that had an important technical function in establishing accurate local time that was essential for navigational purposes. It was also the site of a station of the first telegraph line in the Colony which was connected to Melbourne and was used to transmit time signals.


Australian Lighthouse Association wants heritage issues to be discussed at IALA2000

[Prism, Issue 4, 1999]

Discussions are still continuing on how to best ensure that heritage issues are discussed at the IALA2000 to be held in Sydney at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre from 10-19 March 2002 and in the following week in Cairns. Readers should note that AMSA has got a Web site for the conference at <http://www.amsa.gov.au/amsa/conference.htm#IALA>.

It has been clear to the ALA for some time that for such a discussion to be fruitful it is most desirable that representatives from bodies other than the official affiliates of IALA-AISM should be involved. A wide range of individuals and organisations are interested in lighthouse (more accurately lightstation) conservation. These include government bodies such as national park services and national heritage commissions. As well as lighthouse associations, non-government bodies include national trusts and voluntary conservation organisations. With the rise of cultural tourism local governments and chambers of commerce often have an interest in local lights as part of their district's attractions. Readers will be interested in the letter to the ALA reproduced below from Egbert Koch, which puts the case very well.

Egbert Koch Stauffenbergstr. 13 22587 Hamburg Allemagne

16.11.1999

Association Internationale de Signalisation Maritime
Att. Secretary General Mr. T. Kruuse
20ter, rue Schnapper
F-78100 St. Germain en Laye

Dear Mr. Kruuse,

Thank you very much for your letter of July 22nd. The information you supplied is very valuable for us. We only know the IALA Constitution dated 1st March 1994. Article 2 says besides others that „Associate membership may be applied for by any other service or erganization that is responsible for marine aids to navigation, or by a scientific agency." Has this paragraph been changed? For example would it be possible for us as private persons to attain the status of an associate member? Or can Lighthouse Societies such as the Australian Lighthouse Association be an associate member of IALA?

We fully agree that the lighthouses described an your „100+" book are still in use and therefore are under the responsibility of the national lighthouse authorities. But we feel that some of those national authorities did not ask for the assistance of lighthouse societies. Speaking of lighthouse societies we imply all lighthouse enthusiasts. Many lighthouse enthusiasts do not know the criteria elaborated by IALA thus they assess historical lighthouses from a different point of view. If you reprint your „100 +" book it might be worth mentioning the criteria by which the lighthouses have been selected.

We learned from Mr. Roger Lea that your book „100+"was part of IALA's initiative to activate Governments worldwide to appreciate the value of historical lighthouses. We lighthouse enthusiasts fully agree with this. There are many lighthouse friends around the world preserving still active lighthouses as well as extinguished ones. The most recent outstanding examples may be the movement of Cape Hatteras in the USA and Belle Tout in England. The National Park Service did quite a lot to preserve Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, however, the Great Banks Lighthouse Society did their part as well. On the other hand Belle Tout was moved by purely private initiative. The preservation of the extinguished old Altenbruch front light at the river Elbe, Germany, was a private initiative of local people. This lighthouse could be lit almost immediately if required. These are only three examples out of many others where the public induced the preservation of still active and extinguished lighthouses. For the future it will be ane of our tasks to inform lighthouse societies, museums, etc. on what is going on in the field of preserving lighthouses. This will also include extinguished lighthouses. We will use Peter William's magazine „LEADING LIGHTS - THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARALOGY, PILOTAGE AND SEAMARKS" to make our information on lighthouse preservation public. We do hope that this will be a supplementary source of information. In no way it will be a competitive source to the IALA Advisory Panel „Preservation of Historical Lighthouses".

Can we send our information on lighthouse societies, museums, etc. to the Advisory Panel? Which facts do you require beside the full address? Regarding the proposed database an a lighthouse bibliography we would be interested to learn which criteria IALA has elaborated. Just to take up the title, author, and year and place of publishing might not be sufficient. Preparing the databases for the year 2002 can only be a first stage. They will have to be updated every year. We take it that the databases are available for the public at a reasonable price!

Dr. Curtain suggested some time ago that the IALA Conference to be held at Sydney in 2002 should have a satellite conference on historical lighthouses which is open to non-IALAS members such as National and State Heritage Commissions. The purpose is bringing together the organisations interested in preserving lighthouses and IALA as the international body of National Lighthouse Authorities. He proposed the National Maritime Museum at Sydney as a Conference site, which is close to the IALA Conference place, So far he received some favourable replies. But it turned out that an official approach would have to come from IALA.

We do hope that the XV' IALA Conference will lead to a closer co-operation between National Lighthouse Authorities, National Heritage Organisations, and people interested in lighthouses.

Yours sincerely,

Egbert Koch
On behalf of

Egbert Koch Stauffenbergstr. 13 22587 Hamburg Germany
LEADING LIGHTS Peter Williams Associates Milford Marina, Milford Haven Pembrokeshire SA73 3AF Great Britain
Australian Lighthouse Association Dr. Cyril Curtain 12 Esplanade Williamstown VIC 3016 Australia
U.S. Lighthouse Society Mr. Wayne Wheeler 244 Kearny Street, 5th Floor San Francisco, CA 94108 U.S.A.

Peter Williams has written to Egbert Koch proposing that he organise an International Federation of Lighthouse Societies. He likes the idea and would be willing to be the Secretariat, if funding were available just to cover out of pocket expenses.

The aim is to make it an organisation that does not itself promote national lighthouse heritage preservation, but acts as a conference and base for input of best ideas, supports newly formed associations and generally meets with IALA in the International context. Your ideas and support would be very welcome.

Peter Williams has started a database of the world's lighthouse societies with contact names and addresses. The ALA has forwarded those details we have for Australia, including a list of all the local Web sites. It is very difficult, however, to keep up with the local bodies that may be dedicated to preserving a particular light. Some may be sub-committees of a local chamber of commerce, tourism body, service club or National Trust Branch to name a few possibilities.

This is where ALA members spread around Australia can help with the project by alerting us to the existence of such groups and forwarding details of any contacts.

(Editor's Note: The Lighthouses of Australia Project supports the proposal put in the above article and would make a similar invitation to all our readers to get behind and support this proposal)

If you know of any news or event effecting an Australian Lighthouse please forward it to us so we can publish in the Monthly Bulletin.


New Pages for Australia:

The Cape Capricorn Lighthouse
The Cape Capricorn Lighthouse
The North Reef Lighthouse
The North Reef Lighthouse
The Pine Islet Lighthouse
The Pine Islet Lighthouse
The Warden Head Lighthouse at Ulladulla
The Warden Head Lighthouse at Ulladulla
The South Channel Pile Light
The South Channel Pile Light
The Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse
The Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse
The Narooma Lighthouse Museum
The Narooma Lighthouse Museum
   

New Links for Australia:

John and Heather Mc Neil's Cape Nelson Lightstation
John and Heather Mc Neil's Cape Nelson Lightstation
MaxM3's Gabo Island Lighthouse
MaxM3's Gabo Island Lighthouse
The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse on Jervis Bay
The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse on Jervis Bay
Mark Higgins' Macquarie Lighthouse
Mark Higgins' Macquarie Lighthouse
Mark Higgins' Split Point Lighthouse
Mark Higgins' Split Point Lighthouse
Mark Higgins' Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Mark Higgins' Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse

New Links for World:

Nancy Alison's Lighthouse and Great Lakes Links
Nancy Alison's Lighthouse and Great Lakes Links
The Lighthouse Stamp Society Page
The Lighthouse Stamp Society Page
The Lighthouse on Prince Edward's Rock
The Lighthouse on Prince Edward's Rock
Joakim Söderberg's Lighthouses In Sweden Page
Joakim Söderberg's Lighthouses In Sweden Page
La route des phares et balises
La route des phares et balises
Jim Monomoy's Lighthouse Hunter's Guide to the Interverse
Jim Monomoy's Lighthouse Hunter's Guide to the Interverse

Thanks:

Thanks to the following people for their help in January:

Photographs & Contributions:

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site. Thanks to those who let me use their photos for thumbnails.

Regards Malcolm Macdonald


Past Bulletins:

Past Monthly News, Preservation or Access Bulletins can be accessed from the "Bulletins Index" at <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/Issues/Index%20Issues.htm>

To Get Your Monthly Bulletin Free: <http://www.lighthouses.org.au/lights/default3.htm#Subscribe>


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