Narooma to Sydney
after a quick bite to eat, the drive takes us up through Bodalla
with a short rest break at Batemans
Bay. Next comes Ulladulla,
where we see our first evidence of the devastating
bushfires that razed the bush around Sydney
in December and January. Blackened trunks for mile after mile, twisted
and seared signs, but already regrowth is apparent after only a few
months. The trees have a soft green covering of new leaf growth, evidence
of the recuperative ability of the bush.
Monday is a bit
of a rest day. Malcolm has dialysis in Wollongong, and I have an opportunity
to visit a favourite aunt in Sydney.
Corinne is excited as the beach here is where they film the TV soapy "Home and Away". We have passed Alf's Diner and discover that they are filming today. Corinne is tempted to see if she can be an extra and we jokingly say that this maybe a better option for her than the climb to the lighthouse. If you watch the show, and who doesn't, you will often catch the headland with the tower in the background of scenes.
The fee at the car park is hefty: $5 weekdays, $9 weekends. I wonder whether the Pittwater Council is exploiting the area's notoriety.
I had been to view Barranjoey years ago but am still horrified to realise how abrupt the headland is and am a little anxious about the climb up to the lighthouse.
Trip to Barranjoey
Head from car park
along beach towards the National
Parks and Wildlife Service cottage at the base of the path to the
light. Rough and at times steep the path is made up of large irregularly
take several rests on way up and while pausing the views are worth it.
The approach to
the lightstation is from the back and passes the back of cottages. They
are cut into the ridge and as a result have sunken back gardens. Each
has a series of steps leading down to the gardens and each cottage.
From the top of the ridge we are looking over the roofs of cottages.
The path takes us around the tower and back down the slope and leads to the front of the Headkeeper's cottage where we enter a walled hidden garden. This is on the basement level of the cottage with worn sandstone steps leading up to the living area of the cottages. On the verandah is a stunning view over the garden wall towards the Pittwater.
There are volunteers
working to clean up the garden and help remove weeds and establish compatible
The ruins of a shed in one of the sunken gardens.
points out the verandah railing that is being restored. The pattern
is matched perfectly with the exception of being higher to meet modern
building safety requirements.
state the cottages and garden were in is very much how they were left
by the keepers when they left in the 1930s.
is renown for his attention to details and the little artistic additions
that he makes to his lighthouses. He was featured on ABC
Story" in February 1997 and is also featured in the 'Beacons
of Hope' video about Australian lighthouses.
Mark Watt shows us around the cottage where the rooms are in various stages of renovation. Most have the plaster back on but the timber architraves are yet to come.
The project manager, Mark Watt, explains to
Malcolm the philosophy behind their work.
This has left the
sandstone exposed and it looks so attractive that is tempting not
to re-plaster these areas. The stone bears the original chisel marks
and the ceiling beams still exposed.
are steps from the headkeeper's sunken garden up to oil room that joins
the tower. At the top is a doorway that had been bricked up and had
a toilet installed for the mechanics working on the light. The door
has been reopened and the toilet has been removed.
The oil room is now the generator room. The old Lister generator has been decommissioned due to safety problems with the internal diesel oil tanks.
power has been replaced by a modern battery backup system that has skillfully
been screened from public view and thus preserves the integrity of the
the oil room we proceed to the base of the tower. It is an easy climb
compared to the ones previously encountered on this trip. Like the cottages
the tower is constructed from the local Nepean sandstone, the colour
of which gives a very attractive finish.
The tower is typical Barnett and carries the feature common to other towers he has designed along the New South Wales Coast.
The lantern room though freshly painted is plain without any timber lining.
The lens is a large 2nd order lantern.
Out on the balcony
the view is fabulous. The
Pittwater to the South West; the Hawkesbury
River to the West; Brisbane
Waters to the North; Ocean to East and suburban beaches to the South.
Denise has to get
back to Darling Harbour
to meet our overseas visitors so it is time to say our good-byes and
descend via smugglers track. It is a rough stone staircase through a
tunnel in the undergrowth that leads to the base of headland. It doesn't
have the views but is has great atmosphere.
"I'm coming to Melbourne to talk at a dinner!" was my first email and before I knew it two days allocated to talk about my educational tour of India had extended to 6 days with the bonus of a long weekend for sight seeing with ambitious plans for a lighthouse marathon.
Malcolm and Denise had been giving me weather forecasts in the week leading up to my trip to Melbourne, and as Malcolm predicted the weekend was perfect lighthouse weather - which roughly translates to blowing a gale so that the seas were whipped up into a frenzy crashing on rocks and sending up a spray worthy of anything I had ever seen at my own dear Leeuwin Lighthouse.
The Black Lighthouse looked so formidable as we approached it by sea.
More faces to match names as I met up with Deb and Ed Kavaliunas at the markets.
Next stop Aireys Inlet Lighthouse, then off down the Great Ocean Road - absolutely beautiful and like the wonderful hospitality I received the whole time I was in Victoria, something that I had heard about but never seen.
A night stop in Apollo Bay and dinner at Buffs, yet another of Malcolm's "There's a wonderful little place in ... called ... where you can get a great meal." The risotto and lemon tart were to die for.
Next morning it's time to see Cape Otway followed by a visit to Cyril Marriner, the president of Friends of Cape Otway Station. To see the lobbying process in action as I watched Denise and Malcolm go into Committee mode; impressive! (Pauline wasn't too bad either! [Malcolm])
There's no doubt that making personal connections works - being able to put voices and personalities to names and photos was just great. Likewise seeing the way people reacted to personal contact when airing their interest in and concern about the future of lighthouses was great.
We are situated here in the middle of Bass Strait, somewhat removed from the beaten track, but still in touch with the outside world through the wonders of radio.
The Top of the World as old lightkeepers used
to call this part of the island. The ruin in the bushes on the left
was burned in the nineteen hundreds. The stone building below the tower
is the paint store and also contained the life saving gear. The Huxleys
were the last family to live in this house until they moved to a newer
one lower down the hill.
The area of this (Deal) island is about 5 square miles, about half of it being cleared. The other half, deep gullies and high hills, is heavily scrubbed and forms quite a sanctuary for birds of all hues and also for the native marsupials.
There are only two families on the island, the other keeper (Cyril Huxley) having his quarters on top of the island over 2 miles away.
On the west side of the island is the landing jetty, situated in a lovely bay that is perfectly sheltered from all easterly weather, a regular haven of refuge for the cray fishing fleet that sometimes gets caught in the easterlies that sweep with such force through Bass Strait.
The brand new house the Huxley family moved
into after living close to the lighthouse at "The Top of the World".
The house was built on a swamp and was demolished years ago.
A beautiful sandy beach shelves somewhat steeply into the water and immediately behind it, the land rises abruptly to a height of 300 feet before flattening out to a slight level. A haulage runs from the jetty up to this level, the grade for the first half being one in one decreasing to one in three about half way.
On this first level we find the head keepers quarters, the wireless mast engine and the wireless sheds. Also the stable for the two station horses, the chaff shed, cart shed etc. Two white picketed graves bear testimony to the Reapers activities, here as elsewhere.
A walk of about 2 miles brings us to the foot of South Bluff. A second haulage not quite so steep as the first one runs from the foot of the bluff to the top. Here are the lighthouse oil store and the other lightkeeper's quarters.
The view from the top of the tower will repay the trouble of climbing here. To the westward are clearly seen the South West Island, The Judgement Rocks, The Devil's Tower, Curtis Group, The Split Rock and further still, Rodondo and Wilsons Promontory.
To the North-West is the Hogan's Group and 18 miles away and close to the Victorian shore in the same direction is Cliffy Island. To the South East, Flinders Island looms up prominently and in very clear weather Prime Seal and Chappel Islands are plainly visible.
The lighthouse is 957 ft above sea level, reputed to be the highest in the Southern Hemisphere. It was established in 1846 and is visible in clear weather at a distance of 60 miles.
Of the events which have occurred on the island within recent years three are outstanding.
The SS Karitane in Squally Cove not long after
running ashore in Dec 1921. The man is the head keeper Hughie Dixon
with his dog Zac, the boy is Doug Huxley.
The first was the wreck of the USS cargo steamer "Karitane" on the South-East point of the island on the morning of December 24th 1921.
Fortunately, no lives were lost, as the captain was able to run her up on the beach in Squally Cove, just below the lighthouse.
This is the the sugar bin that Max Huxley's
father made from the timber retrieved from the Karitane.
There she still rests, her forward decks awash, her after decks submerged and the bridge still standing well out of water.
The wreck is an object of interest to all the visiting yachtsmen who like to fish from the top of the chart room and catch their dinner alive and kicking out of No. 2 hold.
The second event was the landing on the island on the evening of October 17th 1931 of a Gypsy Moth aeroplane.
To us who have not seen much more of these than is provided by the illustrated papers, the landing of a real live aeroplane at our back door was quite a notable occurrence.
The dread that something was wrong was quickly dispelled when the pilot stepped out of the cockpit and in answer to our enquiries said everything was OK.
He merely wanted to know whether we can accommodate him for the night and expressed the hope, that he had not dropped in too late for tea. Under the circumstances "dropped in" was quite in order.
In 1931 a Gipsy Moth aeroplane landed on Deal
Island. It has a damaged undercarriage and is ready to be taken down
to the jetty via the bottom whim trolley. The ship "Jane Moorhead"
took it away to be repaired.. From the left are: Possibly lightkeeper
Smithen, Cyril Huxley (assistant keeper), Anne Johnson, Jim Burgess
(cray fisherman), Roderick Johnson (head lightkeeper) and an unknown
The third event happened in January 1933. This also was a landing of a plane on the island, but on this occasion the engine had stalled and the landing was a forced one.
The undercarriage was broken but fortunately, neither pilot nor passenger were injured.
Since then however, we got quite used to the sight of the planes flying overhead.
The Hart Aircraft Co. mail service plane Tasman (Melbourne to Launceston via Flinders Island) has been passing here lately twice a week as well as Holymans plane Miss Launceston.
Last Monday, no less than six planes and a flying boat passed overhead within a couple of hours of each other.
The wreck of "St. Nicolas" on Erith
Mr Turner, pilot of the Tasman, never forgets to drop us a bundle of reading matter whenever the weather permits, an act of thoughtfulness that we all greatly appreciate.
So great had been the strides that radio and aviation have made lately that it seems a far cry back to the days when on at least two Tasmanian lights, the carrier pigeon was the only means of communication from one quarterly visit of the store vessel to the next.
As a general rule, the first three that got released on the third week after the boat had left, had some chance of getting to their destination.
They would be in fair flying condition and, provided that the day was clear and the wind favourable, they had a fair sporting chance.
But the last three that were released after twelve weeks of confinement had in the meantime accumulated so much fat, that they became an easy prey to the hawks.
The picture of the Huxley family at Deal Island
at "The Top of the World" taken around 1935. Clockwise from
left to right: Douglas, Cyril, Bernice and little Max looking annoyed
because the birdie he was promised by the photographer did not materialise.
Taking it on the whole, whatever their value converted into vitamins, as carriers of urgent and important messages, they failed to live up to their reputation.
We are so getting used to now to the help of radio for urgent calls and for summoning medical aid in case of illness, that we hardly realise by what a very slender thread fate sometimes kept us dangling.
The carrier pigeon was a very uncertain method of bridging the gap to civilization. With radio we feel security, which greatly conduces to our piece of mind and and certainly to our general welfare.
Judgement Rock - Another Point of View
Still Looking for James O'Brien
Looking for Moreton Island's First Lighthouse Keepers
Looking for Captain Edward Nillsen of Eddystone Lighthouse
The Isaacs, Keepers of Tasmania
Home Sick for a Rich Lighthouse Heritage
Feel free to post any request, letters and notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.
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Barranjoey tower with spruced up lantern. Note ladder against lantern
The access hard but the reward is great. Its a one kilometre climb up a stoney steep track. When you get to the top there are no toilets, kiosk or other trappings that the modern tourist takes for granted. But you will be far from disappointed..
Restoration Program for Barranjoey Lightstation
In the 70 years since the keepers left and time and nature has taken its toll.
of the 600 bags of weeds that were taken out by helicopter.
With the help of NPWS staff and volunteers over 600 bags of weeds weighing tonnes were removed and taken out by helicopter.
This will help protect he sandstone cottages and walls and restore the feel of the terraced gardens. Also opened up is the spectacular views of the beaches to the south, the city, the Pittwater, Broken Bay, the Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Waters to the north.
The biggest effort has been to stabilised the cottages by putting new roof on.
Usually with conservation work every effort is made to retain original materials, but considering the poor condition of the corrugated iron sheets and the long term objectives of the site the decision was made to use heavy duty bond corrugated steel.
A colour was chosen that was sympathetic to viewing the aspect of the Headland from Palm Beach immediately to the south. The headland with it's lighthouse are often the backdrop for the television soapy "Home and Away" and many advertisements.
The Headkeepers Cottages has been the first to be restored. The walls have been stripped back and re-plastered, glazing repaired and doors refitted.
showing the lighthouse while it was manned have been hung on the walls
of the Headkeeper's cottage.
Historic photos, many made available by author of "Tales of Barranjoey" and Lighthouses of Australia member, Jervis Sparks, have been hung on the walls to give visitors a feel of what life was like when Barranjoey was a manned lightstation.Barranjoey Tower Gets Mark Sheriff's Touch of Magic
Although it looks hair-raising Mark Sheriff, who has worked for several years in the specialised field of lighthouses and their upkeep, regularly assures visitors that he is perfectly safe. Using harnesses and other essential safety equipment, Mark has been progressively repainting, waterproofing and repairing the glass and metal dome of the light tower some 13 metres above the ground. He is also improving the access, safety and presentation of the towers interior.
Alan Ginns, the National Parks and Wildlife Service Northern Beaches Area Manager explains:
lens itself is dismantled, repaired and reassembled.
Mark Sheriff feels each lighthouse has its own character and special attractions, and considers Barranjoey Lighthouse's unique location and views as its defining feature:
Marks efforts have been supported university students from the Campus Volunteers Programme, run by Conservation Volunteers Australia, who have been busily undertaking weed control, rubbish removal and other site protection works in and around the historic complex.
Mark is constantly fielding questions from inquisitive visitors about what he is doing and the lighthouses history, construction and operation:
Barranjoey Lightstation Tours Begin
From the Light Towers outer balcony listen to the NPWS guide recount tales of shipwrecks, isolation and hardships while taking in the spectacular views.
Mark Watt, who has coordinated the NPWS lighthouse restoration works and preparations for the tours, feels that visitors will be attracted by the sites history, its scenery, or simply the headlands challenge and location alone.
To celebrate the inaugural tour party going up in late March everyone was presented with a commemorative copy of Jervis Sparks book "Tales From Barranjoey", annotated and signed by Jervis himself, to mark the occasion.
view south back to Sydney from inside the lantern room.
The hour-long guided tours operate Saturdays, Sundays, and public and school holidays, as well as other times for organised groups by appointment. Intending visitors are reminded that the thirty minute climb to the top of the headland is steep and rocky, and there are no toilets or water on the summit. But the NPWS is confident that the challenges of getting there will be forgotten with visitors first breathtaking views from the Light Tower.
Tours costs are $10 for adults and $6 for children and concessions, or $30 for a family package, and must be pre-booked. For tour information and bookings call (02) 9247 5033.
The Pine Islet Lighthouse Preservation Society committee welcomes the move.
Committee member and ex-lightkeeper Ted Myers believes the current location is completely unsuitable and difficult to find.
Although it has been painted, he feels the lighthouse has a look of neglect that conceals its proud past. It is at the mercy of vandals who have smashed some of the glass panes. These have been boarded up or covered with perspex.
The optics and dome are on loan from the government and there is concern they may be removed if there is a risk of damage.
The proposed new site would place the tower closer to the water's edge, a distance of about 100 metres from where it now stands. The tower would have full camera surveillance.
The committee is waiting on their engineer's report regarding the planned method of relocating the tower which involves digging trenches under the tower and lifting it to the new site rather than dismantle the whole tower again. Mr Myers is adamant the lenses will be removed for safekeeping before relocation.
There is also uncertainty as to whether the move is the responsibility of the council or the Mackay Harbour Trust. The developer of near by apartments has also offered assistance but has not committed any details to paper..
I work with Paul Sofalis operating tours at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. At the moment, tours are fully guided with a minimum of nine tours per day
A lot of restoration work has been completed by AMSA, with the lantern area fully de-rusted and restored. The beautiful century old wrought iron catwalks look like they are brand new.
The tower has been painted white.
Plans are being formulated for the future use of the cottages, but it seems unlikely they will be used for accommodation. Personally I think this is good due to the layout of the site and the easy access for visitors, and the historical significance of the Cape and the lighthouse.
Please feel free to pass my email address to anyone interested in updating the Cape's lovely page.
The museum at Cape Schanck is looking for someone to research, document and produce an electronic multimedia presentation for the museum. Interested people with the appropriate skills please contact Tony Sheer at 05 0055 6864. Email: <CHERINGA@bigpond.com>.
The plan is to commence at 1100hrs with a working lunch with a keynote talk by a lighthouse specialist.
This notice is sent to a wide cross section of lighthouse enthusiasts, some individuals some members of lighthouse societies.
My aim is to publicise the event and invite all to attend.
Distance I know will preclude some participants so I invite informal brief submissions.
Further details will be emailed during the next week or so. Lets hope that this is the start of a Society that will move forward to influence international cooperation in lighthouse preservation.
If you know someone that you feel should be invited please contact me.
Peter Williams <email@example.com>
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until the August 2002 Bulletin
The JULY 02 BULLETIN was published on: 14/07/02
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