Once Again, Thanks For Your Support
Again I would like to thank my friends for their support during my ongoing illness, especially Ed and Deb Kavaliunas.
Hopefully, at last, after another spell in hospital and now undertaking regular dialysis, I am on the mend. I do feel much better and that I am well on the way to being my old self again.
Big Changes for AMSA Maintenance
As the way of the world maintenance at AMSA is about to be privatised.
Fortunately the successful tenderer was Australian Marine Systems Pty Ltd, a company formed by group of former AMSA staff. I understand that out of the 70 AMSA staff made redundant, 50 have got jobs with the new company. This is really good news for the lights because the collective knowledge is not being lost, and with their continuing relationship with the lights, the new contractors wont take the shortcuts that other contractors may not be able to resist.
Ian Clifford takes up the cause of change with his piece, "I Have Wrestled With This Thought For Some Time", on the new situation and the future of the lights and how groups such as our must adapt and work towards their preservation.
It's a Great Gag But Please!
Thankyou for all of you who send me the above photo and text. It's a great gag but I get it at least twice a week. Please, give it a rest so I don't stop laughing at it.
Many of you may not be aware that a very major change will take place on the 30th of March, the maintenance of Australia's lighthouses will be taken over by a private company, Australian Marine Systems Pty Ltd (AMS). AMS was formed by a group of Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) staff specifically to bid for the maintenance contract put out by AMSA last year for maintenance of its navigational Aids.
This really is just another in a series of changes that has and will continue to occur in the history of our lighthouses. One of which was the relatively recent demanning and automation of our main lights in the late 1980's and 1990's. Demanning and automation in fact has been occurring since the 1920's as technology progresses. The fact is that lighthouses as a navigational aid to merchant shipping have not been anything more than a confidence aid since the advent of satellite navigation systems that have incredible accuracy and are now so cheap that most people including myself that venture offshore include as essential kit.
The reality is that like it or not we are now part of a global economy and must compete as part of it. This leads to the harsh conclusion that light dues under the rules of a global economy are a thing of the past as are lighthouses as navigational aids to commercial shipping or for that matter small craft users. Try putting a lights fee on small boat users and see the reaction. I have wrestled with this thought for some time. The fact is that the role of the lighthouse and hence the focus has and must change from one of navigational to Historical and preservation. Notice I did not say operational. Those still operational should stay operational as modern technology has the benefit of being operationally cost effective. In many cases the tower maintenance is the major cost factor in maintaining a station and is the reason why we saw the construction of the "Tupperware Towers" to replace the old towers at stations such as Cape Otway, Green Cape and Point Perpendicular in the mid 1990's.
I would like to quote from Malcolm's comments on "What future for the Project Now" in last months bulletin. "I also see a greater and broader role for the new organisation supporting and affecting the protection, preservation and promotion of lighthouses in Australia, a vision which I know many of the closer supporters share. "
This really is the point. The future of lighthouses is preservation as historical structures. Working history is as we all know, far and away the best outcome, and in the case of lighthouses very achievable. Examples of this already exist such as Point Lowly, South Australia which was permanently relit after being deactivated and is now operated by the local council.
Equally, I can example government department mismanagement which has led to the partial or total loss of historically important buildings such as the keepers cottages at Point Stephens, NSW, South Solitary Is, the cottages at Bustard Head and if the situation is not addressed quickly and effectively, please note these two key words, quickly and effectively, Barrenjoey Head lightstation amongst others.
The long term future of our lighthouses depends upon the support of the public. No public support and interest - no future!
This is where I see the Lighthouses of Australia web site as an essential and most importantly, dynamic tool in the promotion, protection and preservation of our lighthouses.
I have been a contributor to the site for a number of years as I firmly believe that it's a way I can contribute to the protection, promotion and preservation of our lighthouses.
I have been heartened by the response to incorporation, something that is essential if the site is to progress to the next level. It is also great to see the contributions of others to the monthly bulletins. This is essential if the bulletin is to remain vibrant and truly informative. The more people that can contribute material to the site the richer and more diverse it will become.
I also believe that without major public support and serious political lobbying by groups such as The Australian Lighthouse Association and the future Lighthouses of Australia Inc, all but a few major, high profile lighthouses will remain active and maintained. Given that we have so few historical buildings, let alone historical maritime buildings remaining in this country is a national disgrace.
[by Denise Shultz]
I don't like four wheel drives. They are ugly, arrogant, thirsty and destructive to the nature. I never thought that I would have any use for them as an ordinary city dwelling citizen. But sometimes goals justify the means and so it happened that even I found a good use for them and must reluctantly admit, quite enjoyed the experience.
As our first conquest of Double Island Point, planned for the Fraser Island and Sandy Cape trip finished 4 km south of it at the wreck of Cherry Venture, I decided to use other means to see the lighthouse. Walking there was one of the options. It would require a picturesque 13 km hike each way along the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach from the township of the same name. That seemed to be achievable especially after my last year's record beach walk along Port Phillip Bay, when we walked the distance of 25 km. in one day. But we were a little bit pressed for time and so decided for option number two, which was hiring a 4 WD car.
A few days later Paul, his mum and I were again bumping along the Teewah Beach, this time not in the bus but in a hired diesel Toyota Hilux. Trying to remember all the good advice we got from Aubrey, the ranger at Sandy Cape, we had a few scary moments nevertheless. True, we did own a Subaru some years ago but only used the 4wd mode very rarely, usually in the snow. This was something different, altogether. Before we reached our first kilometre, Paul who was the driver misjudged the sand wave on the beach and came on too fast. Before we could say "oops" we were flying through the air like in the 4WD TV advertisement and landed with the thump 3m further. No harm done except to our heads. The ceiling was a bit too low for trampolining. But Paul soon got a grip of it and we had a good run all along the Teewah Beach, stopping again at the Cherry Venture, this time without the buses and the crowds spoiling the scene.
After that it was a new territory. We continued another couple of kilometres north until we could not get any further. The road continued beyond the locked gate but not for ordinary public. Fortunately we did not mind getting off and walking the remaining 1 kilometre or so to the lighthouse.
The trek was steep but wide with a few good lookouts; the lighthouse itself was nowhere to be seen until we nearly reached the top. Before the trek reaches the lighthouse it makes a wide loop around the two lightkeepers cottages with many roads leading towards them. They were all meticulously signposted PRIVATE PROPERTY, KEEP OUT. We wondered why. They looked deserted with no sign of life.
When we finally reached the tower we were not disappointed. It is a cute little lighthouse. Standing 11 metres tall, 96 metres above sea level it is still operational today. It was built in 1884 by W.P. Clark a contractor who also built several other Queensland lighthouses. Originally it had a third order lens at it's top, but today, like the Sandy Cape it houses only the little plastic Nova lens. It has also been automated and is run by solar power. It's light flashes once every 7.5 seconds and can be seen from the distance of 25 nautical miles.
The lighthouse still belongs to AMSA while Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service maintain the 1930's lightkeepers cottages. At the moment their further lease is being decided, but for now, rangers from nearby Rainbow Beach are using them.
It was very windy and slightly overcrowded near the lighthouse. I had difficulties taking a photo of it without any people around. They must have been there for the view, which is, indeed, spectacular. To the south Cooloola and Teewah beaches can be seen with the wreck scarring it's pristine pale yellow sands. In the north stretches the Seventy Five Mile Beach of eastern Fraser Island. Admiring the view you can listen to the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs down below or be spooked by the eerie sound of the wind playing the antenna anchoring wires.
Enough pictures and video footage taken, we set on our way back. Half way down we encountered an odd sight - a guy with a huge surfboard, going up the hill. I asked him whether he intends to surf the lighthouse but he had no such plan. He was going to surf at Rainbow Beach on the other side of the point. I do not know whether he made it, we did not see him, when we too crossed there through the Leisha trek.
Driving along the Rainbow Beach, we stopped to build a multi-coloured sandcastle and had a swim in the frighteningly restless sea. After Paul bravely crossed the nearly flooded rocks near the Rainbow Beach township, our rugged adventure was over. From now on it was only sealed roads and tourist pleasures like cafés, souvenir shops and fresh mangoes picked at the farm near the roadside.
When we were returning
our battered 4WD a few hours later I felt almost sad, like saying good
bye to a friend. Maybe it's not the 4WD cars that I hate. Maybe it's
some of their drivers.
Aside from the tower and its apparatus, our lightstations often contain many other structures and artefacts of great significance to our heritage. One of our objectives in a recent visit to Tasmania was to explore the Low Head complex, which consists of the lightstation and the nearby Pilot Station. The lightstation is of particular interest because it is the site of a restoration project believed to be unique in the world, that of a Chance Bros. fog signalling apparatus.
The Low Head Lightstation was established shortly after the settlement of the Tamar Estuary at Georgetown during 1804. The original fire beacon was erected at the station to assist mariners to find the entrance to the hazardous river. The present lighthouse was finished in 1880.
During these early years it was found that heavy river and sea fog created a significant hazard to an increasing amount of shipping. It was decided in the 1920's to install a fog alarm at the Low Head Lightstation to warn ships that they were approaching a dangerous shore and to advise them by means of a unique signal that the shore was Low Head. The equipment necessary for the installation was manufactured in Birmingham, England, by Chance Brothers. The same company had made the equipment for the lighthouse and was the leading maker of marine navigation equipment in the world at that time.
Pictured above are the fog signal compressors at Low Head. The unit closest to the window has the electric motor. The air receivers are to the right of the picture and the ladder leads to the loft and the diaphone
The installation was shipped to Tasmania in 1929. The foghorn was commissioned and operated without fail whenever fog was imminent. The installation consisted of two compressors (one at stand-by) powered by two Gardner kerosene motors supplying air to two joined air receivers of 6.5 cu. metres capacity at a pressure of 2 KPa. An air operated timing mechanism controlled operating and sounding valves that supplied air to the diaphone whose unique signal could be hear for nautical miles. In the late 1930's electric power was supplied to the lightstation and one of the kerosene motors was replaced with an electric motor. In 1973, the foghorn was rendered superfluous by advances in electronic navigation technology and it was discontinued. Unlike many similar installations around our coast, it was not sold for scrap but was left undisturbed in its shed.
Inquiries made at Trinity House by the Low Head Progress and Heritage Association and Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife have revealed that this installation is unique in being the only one in the world of its type that could possibly be made operational again. A project to this end under the Association and the Service is well underway.
At the time of our visit this February it appeared that all that was now necessary would be to get Department of Labour and Industry certification for the pressure vessels, since they had been out of service and certification for nearly thirty years. If all goes well, it is planned to operate this unique and precious relic on suitable occasions. It would be a nostalgic occasion for many who grew up near ports or hazardous coast lines and were lulled to sleep on foggy nights by the mournful notes of a fog signal.
The Low Head Lighthouse
The lighthouse itself is a significant structure. It stands on the site of a much earlier tower. This convict built light was erected in 1833 being the third light after Macquarie (1817) and Iron Pot Islet (1832) to be established in the colonies. A committee inquiring into pilotage dues in Launceston recommended on 18 February 1826, that a lighthouse be built at Low Head, the expense of the construction to be defrayed by a tax on vessels entering the Tamar estuary.
By 1888 the original 15 metre stone tower had fallen into disrepair and was replaced by the existing 20.7 metre tower. The white tower acquired its distinctive broad red band in 1926 to make it more readily identifiable during the daytime. The original optical apparatus comprised several panels of tin parabolic reflectors individually fitted with oil wick lamps and mounted on a framework that was rotated at slow speed by a weight driven clockwork mechanism. In 1916 this apparatus was replaced by the existing Chance Bros. lens and a 55 millimetre incandescent kerosene burner, effectively increasing the power of the light from 2,000 to 90,000 candelas. In 1941 the station was converted to electric operation and the kerosene apparatus replaced by a 500 watt electric lamp with a subsequent four fold increase in the light's intensity. At the same time, an electric motor was installed to rotate the lens in place of the clockwork mechanism.
The 1888 tower is of double brick construction, surmounted by a 10'9" diameter lantern manufactured by Chance Bros. of Birmingham, England. It is circular in plan and tapers towards its top, where it has a suspended, bracketed iron walkway. It has several slit windows set back deep into the thick walls. The optical apparatus consists of a Chance Bros. 3rd order 375 millimetre focal radius, revolving lens on a mercury float, rotating pedestal driven by an electric motor. The original clockwork mechanism is retained as an emergency drive should the electric power fail. The light source is a 120 volt 1000 watt tungsten halogen lamp. The apparatus gives a character of group flashing 3 every 30 seconds with an intensity of 1,000,000 candelas resulting in a nominal visible range of 26 nautical miles. A red auxiliary light shown from 20 feet below the main light marks the danger of Hebe Reef westward from the entrance to the estuary. In spite of the number of upgrades the optical apparatus is remarkably intact and, along with the fog signal, adds to the site's significance.
Accommodation consists of four keepers quarters. The No. 1 Quarters, built during the 1940s, houses the relief keeper. The Edwardian style No. 2 Quarters, built C.1920, housed the head keeper. The No. 3 quarters, built in 1891, and the original spare quarters, built in 1833, are currently used for storage purposes. Part of the reserve, encompassing No. 3 Quarters, was declared surplus to the Department of Transport requirements, resulting in part of the site being subdivided. The site is now managed by the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service with local planning controls being applied to the subdivision. Externally, the whole complex, including the excised part, appears to be in excellent condition. The tower is leased back to AMSA and its maintenance is their responsibility.
The Tamar River Leading Lights at Low Head
Further down the road from the lightstation in the Low Head village and on the Tamar River are the Northern and Southern Leading Lights. The later has two semi-detached cottages that, along with the lights are significant for their association with the early settlement and development of the surrounding region and the expansion of the shipping trade along the coast of Tasmania.
The cottages are a good example of Georgian architecture and along with the tapering stone light towers, form part of the fine vernacular tradition of lightstation buildings. The cottages were probably built in the early 19th century. Constructed of painted rubblestone with brick quoins at corners and openings, they have hipped iron roofs and close eaves. The twelve-pane windows are double hung. The verandah is a later addition.
The lighthouses are circular in plan, tapering toward the top, and is built of rubble with brick surrounds to openings.
The Low Head Pilot Station
Colonial architect, John Lee Archer, who designed the lighthouse at Low Head also commissioned convicts to build the terrace building for the pilots stationed there. The station was commenced in 1833 and has been operated since that date. Convicts collected stones from the beach to build the rubble walls and the shingles were carved from huon pine.
Other buildings followed, up until 1962, but were all respectful of John Archer's original design. The complex is basically intact on an outstanding site on the Tamar River. They are an outstanding group of uniform buildings (mostly stone) that set the character of Low Head and provide a unique and valuable townscape and landscape. The cottages are located around a central open space, resembling a village green. Some are semi-detached, and most have rubble walls hipped roofs and twelve pane windows. Others are of weatherboard construction but all are painted white with red roofs and have a nautical flavour.
The Low Head Signal Station
Also close by to this precinct is a semaphore tower. As you can see, the semaphore is contrasted with modern microwave communication equipment. It is interesting to reflect that both old and new require line-of-sight between stages.
Georgetown and Low Head are worth visiting for at least two days to explore all their historical associations. Excellent accommodation at reasonable rates is available at the Pilot Station, which is still active and run by the Port of Launceston.
Looking for History of Wilsons Promontory
Keep the Light Burning!
Response to Search for Name Macquarie
Looking for Charles Aloysius Arnall and Cape Capricorn Photos
Congratulations On A Fantastic Website
Looking for "Wild" Sarah Perry's Lighthouse
This Day To Night - Eclipse Island
Looking for McGowan Plaque on Great Ocean Road
Looking for Horace Parker, Kangaroo Island Lightkeeper
Feel free to post any request, letters, notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.
If anybody has any of this material on any Australian lighthouses including the ones listed at the Department of Scrounge it would appreciated, especially the high priority ones:
Please eMail <Keeper>
The Melbourne Herald-Sun of Monday 12 April 2001 reports that the Federal Government is introducing legislation to the parliament to abolish the Australian Heritage Commission and hence the Register of the National Estate.
In addition the government intends to change the guidelines for listing heritage building for preservation so that only major buildings such as the Sydney Opera House will be listed.
This will effectively remove over half the 12,000 places and buildings listed.
This proposal is of concern to the Lighthouses of Australia Project as many lighthouses are listed on the Register and delisting may open them up for inappropriate use and development and may also disqualify them for grants and assistance in preservation. The two lighthouse keepers' cottages at Troubridge Shoal, built in 1856, could easily come into this category.
Imagine flying around the Australian coastline, photographing all our lighthouses. This is the dream of one Australian couple, 60 year old investor, Winsome Bonham and 57 year old accountant, Lloyd Rogers
Setting out on the 28th of April they will circumnavigate Australia in a Cessna 172 and photograph the lighthouses around our coast and islands out to sixty nautical miles.
The adventure will take 64 days (weather permitting) returning to the starting point, the Royal Newcastle Aero Club, Maitland, NSW on the 30th June.
In brief they will be in each of the following states on the following dates:
Note that 7 days slack has been allowed for the weather.
It is hoped that the progress of the trip will be monitored by the ABC website with daily updates.
We will publish any news and updates as they come to hand. Lloyd may be contacted at email@example.com with any suggestions or comments from subscribers.
Watch out next month as we hope to do a full feature of Lloyd and Winsome's proposed adventure in the April Bulletin.
Jervis Sparks <firstname.lastname@example.org> informs us that a committee between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW) and Pittwater Council has been convened to try and work out what to do with the Barranjoey Lighthouse cottages. His name has been brought up as a possible consultant. However, he will be out of reach, as he has to return to Vietnam for a six month period.
[Kevin Mulcahy <email@example.com>]
The annual International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend (ILLW) is to be held on 18-19 August. Last year, amateur radio operators around the world transmitted from over 200 lighthouses in 40 countries. The objective of the event is to create an awareness of lighthouses, their protection and restoration while at the same time enhancing fellowship around the world.
What is the connection between ham radio and lighthouses? This is a frequent question and answered by saying there is a very close link between the two. In a word, "communication". A lot of ham operators are ex-Service people who were in signals, worked in maritime coast stations, were radio operators in the Merchant Navy or had something in their life to do with safety at sea. Last year the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society was founded and there are now over 250 members. The ILLW has been in operation for some years now and is growing in popularity each year. The public is also involved if they happen to be visiting an "active" lighthouse over this weekend. Some are even invited to talk on the radio to other countries.
Quite a few of the operators have web sites devoted to lighthouses and some of them belong to the Amateur Radio Lighthouse web ring, such as the Danish Lighthouse Society and others like the Lighthouse Society of Great Britain.
If you are visiting a lighthouse on 18-19 August and you see some radio activity there, make yourself known and learn something about ham radio. There are several in Australia that will be on the air, Green Cape, Cape Otway, Eddystone Point, Low Head, Point Danger have entered to date.
More information about the event, a list of this and last year's entrants and links to other lighthouse web site can be found on www.vk2ce.com
Anyone with any articles or stories effecting Australian Lighthouse are welcome to contribute them.
In August I announced my intention of leaving the Project and the intention of forming a incorporated body to take over. The response so far has been quite positive with interest from people with all sorts of backgrounds and skills.
There is a little bit of "red tape" to go though with a period of 3-4 weeks to actually form the body. Once this is done we can officially receive the new members and start to function as a group.
There is still time to throw your hat into the ring, whether it just be a financial member or direct involvement on the committee, web pages, the bulletin or some other aspect that could enrich the site.
The suggested memberships and costs are as follows:
To join, visit the Membership page.
Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site
Thanks to those who let us use their photos for thumbnails.
the Apr 2001 Bulletin
|The MARCH 01 BULLETIN was published on: 15/03/01
Lighthouses of Australia Web Site First Published: 3/12/97
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