No 5/2004 - Sept/October 2004

Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Bulletin

PO Box 4734 Knox City VIC 3152 Australia
www.lighthouses.org.au

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Letter from the Editor

Malcolm Macdonald Acting Bulletin Editor [Photo: Steve Merson]
Malcolm Macdonald
Acting Bulletin Editor

Photo:  Steve Merson

Hi Friends and Members

Welcome to the September/October Bulletin full of all the goodies you would normally expect from Kristie. Where's Kristie you might say. She's a bit laid up at the moment so Denise, Steve and myself have chipped in to produce this Bulletin which I hope will be up to her usual standard. We all look forward to Kristies return and I can assure you that doing a Bulletin once again has reminded me of the huge effort she puts in.

So, what do we have for you this month?

For once it really seems to be a good news month with lots of lighthouse celebrations, maintenance of lighthouses being undertaken and a community interested in securing the future of their local lighthouse.

International Lighthouse Day 2004Features include several reports on International Lighthouse Day 2004 events celebrated around Australia. The official LoA Inc gathering at Queenscliff (Vic), and Ian Clifford again lighting up the recently restored harbour light at Wollongong (NSW) as well as an open day at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (WA).

Geelong Amateur Radio Club at QueenscliffAlso at Queenscliff was International Lighthouse and Lighthship Weekend being celebrated by the Geelong Amateur Radio Club who were broadcasting for the second year in a row from Fort Queenscliff at the Signal Station and the Black Lighthouse.


Table Cape Lighthouse BreakfastWynyard's annual Bloomin' Tulips Festival saw what has become regular event, the Table Cape Lighthouse Breakfast, which as usual was well attended.

Maintenance at last on South SolitarySome great Australian news the report that long overdue maintenance is now being done at South Solitary by Park and Wildlife NSW so that these magnificent old keeper's cottages will be preserved.

Cape Otway Telegraph Celebrates RestorationLoA officials were there to help Cape Otway's Telegraph celebrate its restoration. There was music, re-enactments and of course, the sending of telegrams in morse code.

Cape Northumberland to be accessable to the Public?Port MacDonnell was in the news with plans set to be unveiled for a new maritime museum and a proposal by the Grant Council to take over the Cape Northumberland Lighthouse and reserve for it to be accessable to the public.

Galah SessionsNotices in this issue are for Galah Sessions to be held on a regular basis for members and several times a year for friends and Bulletin subscribers.

Pre-Xmas Gathering in South AustraliaAlso, mooted is a long overdue pre-xmas gathering in South Australia with one in the South East as well as another at the Port Adelaide Lighthouse.

Looking for SPONG E N (Nash) and "Sons Maybe"A letter enquiry after Algernon Spong has dug up some very interesting accounts from the archives and hopefully will assist one of his descendants to form a picture of what his family was like on isolated Tasmanian lighthouses.

Enjoy reading this Bulletin, and if you are not a member of Lighthouses of Australia, and would like to be involved in preserving, promoting and protecting Australia's lighthouses, join now!

Malcolm Macdonald
Acting LoA Bulletin Editor

Email Bulletin Editor


Features

International Lighthouse Day 2004


Queenscliff

By Denise Shultz

LoA President, Denise Shultz, on the air with GARC [Photo:  Paul Shultz]
LoA President, Denise Shultz, on the air with GARC

Photo:  Paul Shultz

Around 45 members and their friends gathered at Queenscliff to celebrate the International Lighthouse Day. Organised by the ‘Geelong clan’- Malcolm, Ed and Pam, this turned out to be the day to remember.

People came from Melbourne, Geelong and as far as Colac and Cape Otway to celebrate and talk to each other. The day started at the Queenscliff Maritime Museum, where everyone checked in and learned about their next program. Some people opted to explore the museum, which has quite a collection of lighthouse paraphernalia, while another group was taken for a tour of the Queenscliff Fort. We all met, however, around midday in the adjacent park, where we shared a cold picnic lunch (unfortunately the barbecue bombed out), glass of wine and many pleasant conversations. It was time to meet new members as well as those we only knew from the cyberspace.

Friends and members enjoyed the Pt Lonsdale Lighthouse Tours [Photo: Cyril Curtain]
Friends and members enjoyed the Pt Lonsdale Lighthouse Tours

Photo:  Cyril Curtain

The activities continued after lunch with different people touring either the Fort or Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. Six members of our group were lucky enough to meet the Geelong Amateur Radio Club in the Signal Station. It was a real pleasure to see how passionate they could get about talking to people around the world through a crackling radio. Somehow, we could relate to it!

I got a real kick when I was allowed to talk to someone in Russia (I think he was in Yalta), and even though my Russian was not nearly good enough and he was very hard to hear because of poor reception I felt I have achieved something truly remarkable.

Around three o’clock most of us met again at the foot of Point Lonsdale Lighthouse. While only certain number of people could take a lighthouse tour, the rest of us were treated to an awesome sound of the restored foghorn, which blasted our ears and, standing inside the compressor room, our insides as well.

To finish, we all met again in the Acoustic Garden Café in Queenscliff for the afternoon tea. Donald Walker, the architect who is involved with many lighthouse restoration projects around Victoria shared with us his passion for Australian maritime heritage in an invigorating speech which left us feeling energised and optimistic about our future actions.

A truly fitting end to a very exciting day.

The recently restored foghorn was fired up for International Lighthouse Day [Photo: Steve Merson]
The recently restored foghorn was fired up for International Lighthouse Day

Photo:  Steve Merson
Friends and members inspecting lockup at Fort Queenscliff [Photo: Kristie Eggleston]
Friends and members inspecting lockup at Fort Queenscliff

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston
Stella Merson, the littlest lighthouse enthusiast at the Maritime Museum [Photo: Steve Merson]
Stella Merson, the littlest lighthouse enthusiast at the Maritime Museum

Photo:  Steve Merson

The foghorn sounding as a fond reminder of bygone days [Photo: Steve Merson]
The foghorn sounding as a fond reminder of bygone days

Photo:  Steve Merson

The Fort Queenscliff Gatehouse [Photo: Cyril Curtain]
The Fort Queenscliff Gatehouse

Photo:  Cyril Curtain

Fort Queenscliff, the Black Lighthouse and Signal Station from the air [Photo: Rod Cairns]
Fort Queenscliff, the Black Lighthouse and Signal Station from the air

Photo:  Rod Cairns

This huge spotlight was one of the interesting artefacts in Fort Queenscliff [Photo: Steve Merson]
This huge spotlight was one of the interesting artefacts in Fort Queenscliff

Photo:  Steve Merson

The Fort tour takes friends and members past the Black Lighthouse and Signal Room [Photo: Kristie Eggleston]
The Fort tour takes friends and members past the Black Lighthouse and Signal Station

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

Restoration Architect, Donald Walker explains the originas of his passion for lighthouses [Photo: Steve Merson]
Restoration Architect, Donald Walker explains the origins of his passion for lighthouses

Photo:  Steve Merson

Cyril and Betty Curtain at the afternoon tea with new acquaintances [Photo: Denise Shultz]
Ian and Heather Yarde (foreground) with Cyril and Betty Curtain at the afternoon tea with new acquaintances

Photo:  Denise Shultz

Pat and Cyril Marriner (foreground) with new members, Jeanette Davis and Dianne Hughes [Photo: Denise Shultz]
Pat and Cyril Marriner (foreground) with new members, Jeanette Davis and Dianne Hughes

Photo:  Denise Shultz

Pam Colenso, Ed Kavaluinas, Martin Spencer-Hogbin (Capt.) and Phillip Walsh enjoying the afternoon tea [Photo: Denise Shultz]
Pam Colenso, Ed Kavaluinas, Martin Spencer-Hogbin (Capt.) and Phillip Walsh enjoying the afternoon tea

Photo:  Denise Shultz


Cape Leeuwin

By Paul Sofilas, Lighthouse Supervisor

International Lighthouse day was also celebrated at WA's Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse [Photo: Annette Flotewell]
International Lighthouse day was also celebrated at WA's Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Photo:  Annette Flotwell

1900 hrs, Saturday August 21st - Night falls at Cape Leeuwin. Off in the distance, the lights of a passing ship can be seen, rounding one of the 'Great Capes' of the world. The lights of the keepers' cottages are turned on, as in past times when the lighthouse was manned.

International Lighthouse Day is celebrated at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse precinct for the first time on Sunday August 22nd, 2004. This event is held at various places, worldwide, as a means of highlighting the ongoing operational importance of both lighthouses and lightships to the maritime industry. Even with the advent of Satellite Navigation Systems (GPS), lighthouses are important navigational aids. No technology is infallible. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse continues to play an important role to passing vessels, as it is a 'Landfall' lighthouse, often being the first sighting of Australia for many mariners.

Midnight, Saturday August 21st - The lighthouse emits a beam of light that sweeps over the cape, illuminating the raindrops. The wind is warm, and gusting from the nor' west.

As day dawns, the sea is rough and huge waves are breaking all around the coastline - a spectacular sight and a fantastic backdrop to the day's activities. Lighthouse weather! What better conditions to have on a visit to the extreme southwest corner of the continent, where the two oceans meet? To be at Cape Leeuwin on such days is to 'experience' the cape!

Members of the Augusta community groups are participating in the day's activities, and by 1000 hrs, a line of vehicles stretches from the car park, back towards the waterwheel. As well as the local residents, three coaches arrive with visitors from Perth and beyond - an estimated 1500 people present on the day.

0600 hrs, Sunday morning - The cottage is ready, the seating arranged and the displays set up. The only thing left to do is move the sheep to the back yard of the cottage.

The cottage features displays of lighthouse information relevant to Cape Leeuwin and neighbouring coastal lights, such as the history of navigational aids, the types of structures, their operational features, and archival photographs of the lighthouse and the keepers' families. A highlight of the day is the attendance of the family of one of the last keepers, Mr Ray Pinnock. Mrs Pinnock, son Colin, and other family members spend a big part of the day relating stories to the visiting public about living at Cape Leeuwin from 1972 to 1998.

Videos are screened of rare footage taken at Cape Leeuwin, Augusta and Hamelin Bay in the 1960s and 1980s, featuring lighthouses and lighthouse tender ships.

The Spinners and Weavers of Augusta arrive and set up on the verandah with twelve spinning wheels, demonstrating their craft and displays of their work. The sheep are an appropriate backdrop. The Friends of the Augusta Hospital cater for the day, setting up in the kitchen and dining area at the rear of the cottage. The ladies provide delicious cakes, snacks and refreshments to the grateful public and hungry tour guides.

At noon, squalls with gusts of up to 60 knots blast the cape and cottage with horizontal rain. Sheltering from the storm, what better place could one find to sip coffee, eat cake and look out over the windswept southern ocean? The wild conditions give the people climbing the lighthouse tower a chance to 'feel the sway', providing a testament to the skills and abilities of those who designed and built the tower and cottages - all of which have withstood the elements since 1896.

Some days when the winds are blowing 20 knots, visitors ask, "Is it always this windy?" Guide replies, "What wind?"

The wild weather helps to create interest inside the cottage where the display featuring weather data and information is set up. The weather has been recorded at Cape Leeuwin every day since January 1st 1897, until the 1990s. There is now an automatic weather station on site. Cape Leeuwin is regarded by the Bureau of Meteorology as one of the five most important sites for weather recording in Australia. Data gathered here is used as a reference for monitoring possible climate change in Australia.

The Augusta Yacht Club holds a fundraising raffle and informs the public about the club's role in the community. Before events are started in their regattas, the club will often call the lighthouse for wind readings.

People ask, "What on earth do you do down there?" (Why do some people from the city think that living in the country means living the life of a monk?)

Augusta can be as quiet or busy as you wish it to be. It is a self-reliant community with a rich heritage, and there are many opportunities for celebration or commemoration. There is never a shortage of willing participants.

Many thanks go to the Augusta Yacht Club, the Friends of the Augusta Hospital, Lions Club of Leeuwin, Spinners and Weavers of Augusta, and Jan & Peter Vandertang of Display Techniques (Augusta) for their contribution to the success of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Open Day.

Thanks also to the Tour Guides at Cape Leeuwin - Brenda, Alan, Graham and Mike, for their enthusiasm and wonderful effort.


Wollongong

By Ian Clifford

Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse was lit in NSW for Internationa Lighthouse Day [Photo: Ian Clifford]
Wollongong Harbour Lighthouse was lit in NSW for International Lighthouse Day

Photo:  Ian Clifford

This is the second year we have lit the Breakwater Lighthouse for International Lighthouse Day. We have averaged about two light ups per year since its first light up following restoration in 2001.

The original optic has been fitted with modern 12 volt automatic lamp changers and lamps which are controlled by dual Navmar electronic flashers which have been programmed with the flash sequence that the light operated with at the time of its closure in March 1974. The light exhibits flashing white and red with the red sector from 217 deg through to 180 deg, white 4,000 CD, red 2,000 CD approx. Light 2 Dark 3, Light 2 Dark 3, Light 2 Dark 8.

The light was switched on during the day and allowed to operate automatically from dusk till dawn on Sunday morning. Operation of the light always attracts a number of onlookers and a few keen photographers.

The lighthouse is along with the Belmore Basin Harbour precinct under the care of the NSW Dept of Lands. I would like to thank the department for allowing the light to operate for International Lighthouse Day.

Email Ian Clifford


Geelong Amateur Radio Club at Queenscliff

By Albert Gnaccarini

GARC members relaxing after setting up their gear [Photo: Albert Gnaccarin]
GARC members relaxing after setting up their gear

Photo:  Albert Gnaccarini

GARC members, Alex Cave and David Paterson communicating with other radio operators at lighthouse around the world [Photo: Paul Shultz]
GARC members, Alex Cave and David Paterson communicating with other radio operators at lighthouse around the world

Photo:  Paul Shultz

LoA friends and members interacting withwith GARC members ILLW at Black Lighthouse. L-R: Cindy Pollard, Roger Curtain, Evan Serls, Ken Jewell, Albert Gnaccarini, Denise Shultz, Jan Richards and Lin Richards [Photo: Denise Shultz]
LoA friends and members interacting withwith GARC members ILLW at Black Lighthouse

L-R: Cindy Pollard, Roger Curtain, Evan Serls, Ken Jewell, Albert Gnaccarini, Denise Shultz, Jan Richards and Lin Richards

Photo:  Denise Shultz

The plaque near the Fort (adjacent the car-park near the water tower) reads,

"On May 6 1901, from near the Black Lighthouse an address of welcome to the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York arriving by ship to open the first Federal Parliament was successfully transmitted by H. W. Jenvey, MIEE, Electrical Engineer, Victorian Postal Department, using equipment he designed, built and operated.

This was the first Australian ship-to-shore wireless telegraph communication, except for pre-arranged experiments."

The inscription at the Marconi Memorial at Point Lonsdale (next to the football oval) records,

"From this spot on Twelfth July 1906 the first overseas wireless messages from Australia were sent by Lord Northcote, Governor General, Sir R. Talbot, Governor, Hon. A. Deakin, Prime Minister, Hon. A. Chapman, Postmaster General, Hon. R. A. Crouch, M.P. for Corio.

Equipment supplied and operated by Marconi Wireless Coy. Ltd."

In these two cases, the equipment would have been high powered spark transmitters and crystal detectors or coherers at the receiving end. We need to remember that any such communications between ship and shore in those days were previously limited to line of sight using semaphore, flags or flashing light. Any messages over land were strictly by wire-line and Morse sounder or electric semaphore. The prospect of sending signals through the 'ether' must have been something akin to rocket science for the layman.

International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) 21/22 August 2004

Twelve members of the Geelong Amateur Radio Club established a 24-hour amateur radio station at the historic Signal Station located adjacent to the Black Lighthouse at Fort Queenscliff this year. Operations were maintained well into the Saturday night until radio propagation faded. Activity recommenced at first light the next day and continued to midday on Sunday.

The activation of the Black Lighthouse hosted visitors from LoA Inc. including President Denise Shultz. The LoA members enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Signal Station and participate in the Club's activity, with everyone being enthusiastic about the event.

This is the second year in which the GARC has participated in the ILLW, and the members intend to make the activity a permanent feature of the Club's agenda. GARC is committed to the establishment and operation of a permanent public signalling display at the Fort's museum, and the preservation of the signal station at the Fort.

The evolution of radio communications is an interesting part of the history of the Bellarine region. The Signal Station at Fort Queenscliff played an important role - it is the site of the first shore-to-ship transmissions made early in the 20th century. The Marconi Memorial at Point Lonsdale commemorates the first successful radio transmissions to Tasmania, and GARC has plans in progress to mark this anniversary in 2006. These events are a testimony to the significant contribution that was made to the development of radio communications in Australia, and world wide.

The Geelong Amateur Radio Club looks forward with great enthusiasm to this year and participating in ILLW next year.

Albert Gnaccarini
Geelong Amateur Radio Club
.

Email Albert Gnaccarini


Table Cape Lighthouse Breakfast

Around 75 people attended the Lighthouse Breakfast at Table Cape Lighthouse [Photo:  Alwyn Friedersdorff]
Around 75 people attended the Lighthouse Breakfast at Table Cape Lighthouse

Photo:  Alwyn Friedersdorff

By Alwyn Friedersdorff

The Table Cape lighthouse is an icon of the Wynyard district on the north coast of Tasmania, so it is the appropriate place to begin our Bloomin' Tulips festival.

Our Breakfast on the Table was an invigorating start to the day - the tables were filled with damper, cold chicken, large platters of smoked ocean trout, local cheeses and fresh fruits. All this was enjoyed with champagne, orange juice and tasty hot coffee from a mobile coffee cart.

The Lighthouse Breakfast marquee at Table Cape Lighthouse [Photo: Alwyn Friedersdorff]
The Lighthouse Breakfast marquee at Table Cape Lighthouse

Photo:  Alwyn Friedersdorff

Tickets to the event featured an early photo of Robert Jackson, Table Cape's first keeper, and his family. In the foreground of the photo was a big, old wooden barrow used for carting firewood. Mrs Betty Holmes, 82-year-old granddaughter of Thomas, still has the wheel from that barrow, so she and her granddaughter proudly joined us for the occasion, and brought the wheel to use as a centrepiece on our breakfast table.

We decorated one wall of the marquee with a banner featuring the lighthouses of Nova Scotia, which was painted by school children at the Canadian Tulip Festival. The seventy attendees enjoyed the sea shanties and other 'watery music' by a lively group called the Original Ferals.

We look forward to including members of Lighthouses of Australia in next year's breakfast.

Click here for more pictures of the Breakfast

Email Alwyn Friedersdorff


Australian News

Maintenance at last on South Solitary

Edited by Steve Merson

Running down fast, the South Solitary Cottages seemed fated to remain in the too hard basket [Photo: Ian Clifford]
Running down fast, the South Solitary Cottages
seemed fated to remain in the too hard basket

Photo:  Ian Clifford

In the long term the effort has it's own rewards [Photo: National Parks & Wildlife NSW]
In the long term the effort has it's own rewards

Photo:  National Parks & Wildlife NSW

The workers have moved in for long overdue stabilisation works [Photo: National Parks & Wildlife NSW]
The workers have moved in for long overdue stabilisation works

Photo:  National Parks & Wildlife NSW

It is major task working in bringing workmen on and off South Solitary Island [Photo: National Parks & Wildlife NSW]
It is major task working in bringing workmen on and off South Solitary Island

Photo:  National Parks & Wildlife NSW

Long overdue stabilisation works have been completed on the historic lighthouse buildings situated on South Solitary Island, off Coffs Harbour in NSW.

Since the Sth Solitary Island Light was automated and the station de-manned in 1975, the tower has been maintained by AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), but the disused cottages and other elements of the lightstation have suffered from the harsh coastal conditions.

Construction of the lighthouse and cottages on Sth Solitary Island was completed in 1880 under the guidance of colonial architect James Barnet. It comprised a tower with stores annex, residential quarters for three lighthouse keepers and families, and a high-level landing jetty, which has since rusted and fallen into the sea.

The estimated maintenance costs of $15,000 a year, over 30 years, was a reference point for the $440,000 that has been spent to halt the decline of the keepers' cottages. The buildings are now weatherproof, secure and better protected from the elements, but not suitable for accommodation. The cost of restoration, the difficult access to the island, and the need to protect nesting sea birds and sensitive vegetation precludes any proposal for public use.

NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) North Coast Region Manager Alan Jeffery said, "The current initiative aims to prevent further deterioration, and provide a basis for their national historic heritage values to be protected and maintained into the future".

This is a good result for the facility, and further evidence of a sound heritage philosophy adopted by the NSW State Government for our historic coastal icons.

See media release at:
http://www3.environment.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/dec_media_210904_stabilisationsolitary

Previous South Solitary Article: South & North Solitary Islands Trip Report

Email Steve Merson


Cape Otway Telegraph Celebrates Restoration

by Denise Shultz / Cyril Marriner

When this photo was taken (circa 1968-9), my family knew it as "Hatters Castle" [Image: Allan Plant]

This is the 'electric telegraph and maritime signal station", as it was called back in 1865. When this photo was taken (circa 1968-9), my family knew it as "Hatters Castle". We were the last family to live there, and I was the only person present when the building inspector climbed down from the roof-space and condemned the place.

On the architect's drawing, this was the front of the building, as it faces the sea. To us, it was the back. One point of interest is that the building has gun turrets on three sides. It has been said that the purpose of these gun turrets was to defend against attack from aboriginals. Such stories may or may not be based on historical fact. As an archaeologist, I can tell you that there was once a much bigger aboriginal population on this coast than the historical literature suggests.

It's more likely that the gun turrets were to do with paranoia of the Russian invasion that grew out of the Crimean war. That, after all, was one of the main reasons for building the telegraph station in the first place.

Just about all the lighthouse folklore on Cape Otway telegraph station is accounted for in Donald Walker's "Beacons of Hope". There is really nothing more to add. Unlike the other places we lived (Cliffy Island and Wilsons Prom), I can't even think of any nice anecdotes about "Hatter's Castle". I remember the place well, but I don't remember that well of it.

Allan Plant

Email Allan Plant

A crowd gathers to celebrate the restoration of the Cape Otway Telegraph Station [Photo: Paul Shultz]
A crowd gathers to celebrate the restoration of the Cape Otway Telegraph Station

Photo: Paul Shultz

Celebrations began with a musket salvo [Photo: Paul Shultz]
Celebrations began with a rifle volley by the Mount Alexander Rifles

Photo: Paul Shultz

The re-enactment of the sacking of captain Lawrence was played by the Heritage Police Photo: [Paul Shultz]
The re-enactment of the sacking of Captain Lawrence was played by the Mount Alexander Rifles, acting in aid of the Colonial Police

Photo: Paul Shultz

Visitors were able to send telegrams the old fashioned way, thanks to the members of the Morse Codian Fraternity [Photo: Paul Shultz]
Visitors were able to send telegrams the old fashioned way, thanks to the members of the Morse Codian Fraternity

Photo: Paul Shultz

Access by telegran was available through morse code to anywhere in the world [Photo: Paul Shultz]
Access by telegran was available through morse code to anywhere in the world

Photo: Paul Shultz

The Cape Otway Telegraph Station was built in 1859 by Gibson and Swan of Geelong for the sum of £2459 as the Australian mainland base for the submarine cable across Bass Strait.

The cable ran from Cape Otway to King Island, where it crossed to its east coast to Sea Elephant bay. Another submarine cable run from there to Three Hummock Island and continued underwater again to Launceston via Stanley. The cable lying operation was completed on 12th August 1859. At the time, this cable to Tasmania was the longest such project attempted anywhere in the world. (The first successful Transatlantic cable was not laid until 1865.)

The telegraph was a sensational invention, and one of the major developments of the 19th century, which broke down the barriers of time, space and distance. But the technology was not quite ready for such a feat just yet, and within weeks, the line between Cape Otway and King Island failed. Various sections were subsequently replaced but the cable kept failing and experiencing problems until it was finally abandoned in 1861, after only 18 months. Ten years would pass before another attempt at cable laying would be made. The Cape Otway Telegraph Station, however, continued to relay messages from ships and weather observations to Melbourne until 1894.

Since then, the Cape Otway telegraph station has also functioned as a post office, a school and a home for lighthouse staff, as well as military personnel in two world wars. When the last inhabitants of the house left in late sixties, the building had gradually fallen into disrepair and acquired a distinct “haunted house” appearance.

The Cape Otway Telegraph Station was an integral part of 19th Century development of rapid worldwide communication. It is now a part of the Cape Otway Heritage Precinct, which includes the Cape Otway lighthouse and keeper's quarters, meteorological station and radar bunkers.

The restoration on the old Telegraph and Signal Station commenced in 1999 with the building of a veranda around the house by the Ballarat University. This was achieved through Commonwealth funding. The funding also covered the repairs to the telegraph station’s tower, which had dislodged some if its masonry that punctured a hole in the asbestos cement sheet roof and was letting in rain water, rotting the floor below.

Another Commonwealth grant funded the restoration of the interior, carried out by the then manager Nick Braden, and completed in August 2003. The building has been painted inside with bright new colours (reflecting some of the many shades found in the old paint layers). The preparation of the static historical display was completed in July 2004, though some of the rooms are still empty, waiting to be equipped.

While the lessees provided their skills and labour, the federal government matched the effort with the necessary funds. As a result of this cooperation, the telegraph station has been slowly restored.

The restored building was officially opened for visitors at a ceremony which took place on Sunday 29th of August.

The events started with a rifle volley by the Mount Alexander Rifles, after which followed the congratulatory speeches including one by the local federal MP Stewart McArthur.

Malcolm Brack who was one of the last people who called the house home also reminisced about his childhood as a lighthouse kid.

A flute concert by "Howlin' Wind" then accompanied the visitors on their tour of the new museum. Inside, the visitors were able to send telegrams anywhere in the world the old fashioned way, in Morse code, thanks to the members of the Morse Codian Fraternity.

Donald Walker, who’s passion and involvement in the restoration of this historical building is well known, could not make the opening, but Lighthouses of Australia were represented at this event by Max and Doug Huxley, Denise and Paul Shultz and Cyril and Pat Marriner (who are also the founding members of FOCOS - Friends of Cape Otway Station), which continues to help in no small way to save this historical lightstation).

While the invited guests, were treated to a light refreshment in the head keepers garden, the rest of the visitors took a chance to see the lighthouse or have coffee in the recently opened café.

For those visitors who fancied horse riding, Cyril’s horses were saddled and ready to go.

The great commotion followed, when the re-enactment of the sacking of Captain Lawrence was played by the Heritage Police. (James Ross Lawrence was the first head keeper at Cape Otway but was dismissed by the Governor La Trobe after he apparently failed in his duties).

Even though the weather was not very kind, It was an afternoon all of us have enjoyed. We went home feeling that another good deed was done to save our lighthouse heritage.

Email Denise Shultz
Email Cyril Marriner


Port MacDonnell Museum plans set to be unveiled

by Laura Spencer, Border Watch 5/10/04

Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime Museum logo

The proposed plan for the new Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime Museum [Photo: Border Watch ]
The proposed plan for the new Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime Museum

Photo:  Border Watch

The proposal for the establishment of a new maritime museum at Port MacDonnell will be launched at tonight's Grant District Council meeting.

A feasibility study for the establishment and operation of a maritime interpretive centre was carried out by Robert Miles Architects about six years ago, outlining suggested features, location and cost.

The study suggested a large-scale centre be developed near the town's boat ramp, with a suggested $1.2m budget.

However, further planning has been undertaken by members of the Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime Museum, who - following talks with the Port MacDonnell Tourist Association and Council - agreed for a new museum to be established behind the existing council office on the comer of Charles and MiIstead Streets.

A working party has also been established and a new concept plan produced.

Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime Museum representative Veronica Jenkin and the Port MacDonnell Tourist Association's Darren Wakefleld and Kerryn Whitebead will attend the meeting, to outline the museum proposal and concept plan.

They will also announce the expected cost of all building works, excluding fit-out.


Cape Northumberland to be accessible to the Public?

Edited by Malcolm Macdonald

Grant Coucil wants to open Cape Northumberland to tourism [Photo: Adrian Howard]
Grant Coucil wants to open Cape Northumberland to tourism

Photo:  Adrian Howard

Grant District (Mt Gambier) Council in South Australia is pursuing options to open the Cape Northumberland Lighthouse to the public. Council is negotiating with regarding plans to allow public tours at the Port MacDonnell landmark, and will fund the required works in accordance with guidelines set by the national maritime body.

The objectives of having the lighthouse transferred to Council are to protect, promote, retain the lighthouse into the future as a tourist related asset.

It is believed that for a while consideration was given to co-locating the proposed new maritime museum to the lighthouse precinct, the Council has stated that this is not the case.

Nor will the historic cemetery will be incorporated into plans for the lighthouse area.

Alterations required to the lighthouse would be as stipulated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and relative to the Building Code, but this is not expected to have significant impact on heritage values of the site.

Is it Grant Council's intention is to seek funds from State and Federal sources to offset the costs associated with the requirements of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in relation to opening the lighthouse up to tourism. It is anticipated that costs will be in the order of $18,000.

Email Malcolm Macdonald


Notices

Galah Sessions

Galah Session: A period allocated for informal conversation over an outback radio network, allowing regular opportunities for people in remote areas to chat. The galah session is so named because galahs gather together in flocks and have raucous calls. Galah is a borrowing (first recorded 1862) from the Gamilaaraay language of the indigenous Kamilaroi people, northern New South Wales. First recorded 1956.

Background:

At the AGM I raised the issue of having informal chat (Galah) sessions for members on a regular basis, say one evening six time a year, and for Bulletin subscribers say one day twice a year.

There seemed to be a immense amount of value gained for all involved, and of course for LoA Inc by having those of you who had not been in contact with one another before meeting on the Net in the AGM chat room.

For members I see it as vehicle to increase your participation and to give you back a sense of belonging.

For friends and subscribers it is also an opportunity for you to meet, get to know one another, and increase the chance of you possibly moving forward to becoming financial members.

Members Galah Sessions:

All financial members can all gather in the members chat room, at the official LoA site, on the day and get to know one another. No official business, just a good old chat.

We intend to schedule sessions of approx three hours duration, every two months (six events a year).

The first one will be on Sunday 21st November 2004, late afternoon or early evening EST (AU). All members will be sent an email with details on procedure about 10 days before the event.

If you are not a financial member and wish to participate then you can Join Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Subscribers Galah Sessions:

Unlike the Members session, this will be held in an open chat room, and scheduled only twice a year for friends and Bulletin subscribers.

For the convenience of everyone in all international time zones, this chat session will run over twelve hours on a Sunday.

The first one will be on Sunday 12th December 2004, all day (10-12 hours) EST (AU). All members will be sent an email with details on procedure about ten days before the event.

Galah Links:

Galah Session
Galahs
Galah (Cacatua roseicapilla)
The Birds of Cockatoo Island
Galah Rain by Jane Downing


Pre-Xmas Gathering in South Australia

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Robert Mock on the Cape Jaffa Platform

Photo: Robert Mock

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Port Adelaide Lighthouse ablaze

Photo: Garry Searle

For a long time many of you from South Australia have been asking if we could come over to meet you all. I too have been promising too for just as long as you have been asking.

Now we have finally got our act together. Denise Shultz, Steve Merson and myself would like to invite all friends and members to meet with us at the following two occasions:

Friday 3rd Dec 2004 - SE South Australia: 

  • Friday evening - Tea in Kingston
  • Saturday Morning - Possible trip to Cape Jaffa Platform

Saturday 4th Dec 2004 - Port Adelaide South Australia: 

  • Early evening - Tour of Port Adelaide Lighthouse
  • Evening - Light up of Port Adelaide Light
  • Evening - Dinner while viewing the light

Notices will be sent out in the next two weeks with more details and who to contact if you wish to attend.


Letters

Looking for Spong E N (Nash) and "Sons Maybe"
Stumbled upon this person while surfing looking for relatives to add to my family tree.

I have a Algernon Spong married to Henrietta Maria (Hopton) and I would be surprised if the person on your list is not the same member of my family. Can you tell me any further. I note that there are other Spongs shown "Sons Maybe" what lighthouse was his domain and under what capacity ?

Hope I haven't asked too much,

Regards,

Malcolm Mathisen
Email Malcolm Mathisen

Hi Mal

These are the Spongs that served in Tasmania:

SPONG E N and sons
SPONG Algernon and
SPONG Harold

Kath Stanley in her book “Guiding Lights” refers to E N (Nash) as well as Algernon at King Island (Cape Wickham):

Cape Wickham Lighthouse where Nash Spong and his sons were stationed [Photo: Brian Lord]
Cape Wickham Lighthouse where Nash Spong and his sons were stationed

Photo: Brian Lord

John Durgan, the first Superintendent, had four assistants but one was withdrawn after five months when the settlement was considered well established. Durgan resigned after a year but later withdrew his resignation and served in other areas. His successor was Edward Nash Spong who held the position for 20 years. Much of the early history of the station is also the story of the endeavours of this one man and his staff.

There was scarcely a handful of other residents on the whole of King Island at this time except sealers, fishermen, prospectors and hunters who had camps in various places which they visited and occupied spasmodically. Spong set an example in energetic self-sufficiency. He lost no time in fencing around the houses and encouraging the keepers to plant vegetable gardens and to keep a cow and poultry. He himself began at once to cover the area with English including good stands of grain. The wild animals of the region began to take advantage of the first-class forage in the gardens. Kangaroos and wallabies were sometimes found on cold mornings huddled outside the chimneys of the cottages. The domestic animals could not be allowed to range freely for cattle, sheep and goats were inclined to graze at certain seasons on a plant known locally as ‘coastal pea’ which caused them to lose condition rapidly and to die if they could not be rounded up and kept on the good pasture. Moreover, it was essential to keep the milking cows close to the houses since there were usually several small children to be fed. The search for strayed milkers could take a whole day or even longer. The fences had to be made stronger with driftwood, wreckage, old staves and the gnarled timber that the scrub provided - unsightly but effective. Horses and pigs did well, apparently untroubled by the ‘pea’. Lighthouse inspectors were very favourably impressed by the pioneering work done by Spong and his staff and, before long, it was recommended to the Marine Board that, when the horses were worn out, the station be supplied with bullocks and a light cart and that replacement animals be purchased from Spong, saving the cost of having them transported from the mainland and ensuring that strong and healthy beasts were chosen.

By 1870 the roofs of the houses were leaking and the surfboat had been repaired so often that it was becoming too heavy to handle. False roofs had to be added to the dwellings with a sharper pitch so that moisture could run off. Spong asked for a fourth assistant, estimating that Cape Wickham required more work than any other station. His especial worry was the landing of stores which had to be brought a considerable distance through the surf. The rough conditions required six men for the surfboat and the store vessel could only supply two. Hence the whole staff, including the Superintendent were needed to complete the crew. As on other stations, regulations absolutely forbade all the staff to be off the station at one time. If there should be a serious accident to the boat, the station would be totally unmanned. The fourth assistant was allowed on condition that Spong personally paid half his salary while the Marine Board paid the other half. Probably he spent half of his time working privately for Spong on the farm. Later the Marine Board decided that it would be more satisfactory to send two extra hands with the stores to assist with the landing.

Roving bands of hunters began trespassing on the lighthouse reserve and making free use of the comforts the keepers had painstakingly provided for themselves. Some of them refused to leave when directed to do so and animosity developed between these and the families who lived there. One report, in 1873, outlined the difficulties:

There are certain lawless men who have taken up their residence on the island who make a practice of annoying the Superintendent in every possible way, destroying his cattle, pulling down the fences and taking his hay and in fact they say they are determined to make the place too hot for him, and I much fear it will end in some serious injury to the station or perhaps to the light itself.

When men had leave or needed medical attention away from the station, it was customary for a son of one of the keepers, if available, to fill the temporary vacancy. If there was no young man belonging to one of the families available, a local person known to the Superintendent and approved by him would be appointed. At one time both Algernon Spong, the Superintendent’s son, aged 17 and described as a farmer, and Samuel Martin Jnr, the son of one of the assistants, were temporarily employed. Unfortunately Martin ‘got some alcohol somewhere’, became abusive and was discharged, to be replaced by another of Spong’s sons. This was a matter of necessity rather than nepotism since the few locals who might have been available were not the persons one would choose for the serious responsibility that would be theirs. Indeed for quite some time the ‘pool’ of temporary replacements was so low that at the end of 1873 the Harbour Master of the Hobart Marine Board, J.H. Babington, had stood a short stint as Acting Superintendent to allow Spong to take leave.

It appears from this account that both Algernon and Harold were E N's sons.

Here as a later extract from the above book:

Though Spong had won respect throughout his administration and had contributed extensively to the well-being not only of the station staff and those whom the fury of the elements threw upon his charge but also of the early settlement of King Island in general, he had some unpleasant experiences. There was the continuing animosity of the itinerant hunters and fishermen who thought themselves entitled to appropriate anything that appealed to them. Spong was prepared for this. But it must have been a shock when members of his own staff made complaints against him. When confronted by Spong they withdrew their allegations and left the station. Fortunately they were replaced by thoroughly loyal and dependable men - Nilsson, Taylor and Howard. Taylor became assistant at the Currie Harbour light on its inauguration.

It was about the same time that it was discovered that the wooden handrail on the balcony outside the lantern had partially rotted away. To find oneself 44 metres (145 feet) above the ground in a thick fog or a howling gale with only the wall of the tower on one side and a rotting handrail on the other would be a supreme test of equanimity. His request for an iron railing was not considered unreasonable.

Earlier in his tenure Spong had to report that one of his assistants had been arrested for plundering and stealing from the wreck of the Arrow. When the man was to leave for his trial in Melbourne, he was found to be so intoxicated that he had to be carried aboard the vessel. His furniture and other effects had to be left behind.

Spong's successor, in 1882, Superintendent Garroway, must have wondered at the non-appearance of his newly appointed assistant, George Johnston, who had the reputation of being reliable.

Here are a few more extracts from an AMSA document drawn from the following references:

King Island - C. Sullivan
Lighthouse Logbooks - Archives Tasmania
King Island Story - R. Hooper

... After one year Capt. Duigan's place was taken by Capt. Edward Nash Spong, who with his wife Mary from Bruny Island, lived there for twenty years from 1862-1882. They had two children when they arrived, a daughter Edith was born in 1866 and a son Edgar in 1868 ...

... William Hickmott, together with others on the island helped the survivors of many shipwrecks. When the news of the "Netherby" was brought to Cape Wickham by Parry, the midshipman and nine other men, William Hickmott walked back to the wreck. He left Wickham at 10 p.m. and arrived at the wreck, near Currie Harbour, at 2 p.m. the next day. He later said that it was the blackest night he had ever known. He then led 117 men back to Wickham where they were accommodated in the keepers' quarters, the telegraph house and the church. Mrs Spong's baby daughter Edith, was just one month old at that time.

Headstones like this are a reminder of some of the wrecks the Spongs had to deal with [Photo: Ed Kavaluinas]
Headstones like this are a reminder of some of the wrecks the Spongs had to deal with

Photo: Ed Kavaluinas

Life was not always well ordered at the lighthouse station, there were still groups of-itinerants on the islands Who were a law unto themselves. Mr. Spong reported that he was often in fear for his life. Food and goods from shipwrecks were stolen sometimes even when they were being salvaged ...

... Another major shipwreck at Cape Wickham was that of the "Loch Leven", 1439 tons,with the first cargo of wool for England from Geelong in 1871.

When it went aground on Harbinger reef on a morning of thick fog all the crew of 32 and Capt. William Branscombe came safely ashore at Victoria Cove. They were taken to the lighthouse station for breakfast, then Capt. Branscombe decided to go back to the ship for the ship's papers.

In spite of Capt. Spong's advice that it would be dangerous to do so because of a "high and irregular surf", they.set out. Disaster occurred when the boat was swamped by a ten foot wave which overturned the boat throwing them into the water. They were all knocked about by the oars and tossed against the boat. It is probable that Capt. Branscombe was stunned at this time as the second Officer's attempts to help him were unsuccessful. His death was a needless tragedy but mercifully all the others reached the shore safely.

A coffin was made of spare boat planks and the body buried the next day in the church enclosure, Capt. Spong reading the burial service. The stone marking his grave can be seen together with that of George Hickmott, William Hickmott's uncle, who died on Dec. 4th 1880. These graves were reconstructed by three concerned residents in 1961 ...

REPORT on the King's Island Lighthouses, presented to the Board by the Master Warden July 2, 1880:

... The Superintendent has a considerable number of cattle and pigs running in the neighbourhood, which seemed to be doing well. It is curious that whilst cattle thrive at King's Island neither sheep nor goats succeed, but after two or three years die off from what is called the "coast disease." Horses also, Mr. Spong informed me, have to be kept stabled during a certain time of the year to prevent them from eating a wild pea which induces a species of madness. The soil in the neighbourbood of Cape Wickham is good, and in places rich, and all sorts of grain and vegetables are easily grown. In the Superintendent's store we saw fine potatoes and onions; and in the garden, which is of considerable extent, there were carrots, turnips, and marigolds growing to a large size.

Regards

Malcolm Macdonald
Email Malcolm Macdonald


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Thanks to

Thanks to the following people for their help with this edition of the Bulletin:

  • Denise Shultz (Stories & Photos)
  • Paul Shultz (Photos)
  • Steve Merson (Story & Photos)
  • Cyril Curtain (Photos)
  • Paul Sofilas (Story)
  • Rod Cairns (Photo)
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  • Teaching Treasures Publications (Image)
  • Alwyn Friedersdorff (Report & Photos)
  • National Parks & Wildlife NSW (Press Release & Photos)
  • Cyril Marriner (Report)
  • Allan Plant (Story & Photo)
  • Laura Spencer, Border Watch (Story & Plan)
  • Adrian Howard (Photo)
  • Robert Mock (Photo)
  • Garry Searle (Photo)

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site, and those who let LoA use their photos.


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