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Monthly Bulletin
March/April 2005 - Vol 8 No. 2


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Barrenjoey Lighthouse restored to former glory

Barrenjoey Lookout before restoration as viewed from the lighthouse balcony

Photo: Mark Watts, NPWS

Barrenjoey Lookout after restoration

Photo: Mark Watts, NPWS

by Mark Watt, Ranger Northern Beaches Area, National Parks & Wildlife Service, NSW

The National Parks and Wildlife Service's (NPWS) restoration of the historic Barrenjoey Lightstation, situated on one of Sydney's most remarkable headlands, was celebrated on 1 February 2005 at an official opening ceremony.

The Head of the NPWS, Tony Fleming said that the massive upgrade of the iconic Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park destination, which includes a 120-year-old lighthouse, was vital to protect this principal cultural heritage site.

Barrenjoey Lightstation at Pittwater in Sydney's north

Photo: Jervis Sparks

"The site has a special significance for the Pittwater community," he said. "It was once home to the Guringai people, who most likely used the elevated headland as a reference point for fishing trips. The Barrenjoey Lightstation also represents the growth of European settlement, trade and development along the NSW coastline.

This has been a mammoth project. It has spanned some five years and relied on the passion and commitment of the NPWS staff, sponsors, community volunteers and even the armed forces.

Before the restoration works began, the buildings were covered in vegetation, a barbed wire fence surrounded the lighthouse and the retaining wall of the lookout was deteriorating. All of the buildings leaked and mould was rife in the lighthouse lantern room."

Substantial work was required to return the lightstation to a well-maintained site, with thoughtful planning to ensure that the conservation, heritage and archaeological values were preserved. One of the last official lighthouse keepers in Australia helped in making sure the restoration was authentic.

The Barrenjoey Lightstation from the air

Photo: Jervis Sparks

Dr Fleming said, "The first aim of the project was to make the lighthouse and keepers' cottages weather-proof, presentable, safe and open to the public. The NPWS re-roofed every cottage, repainted the lighthouse dome and lantern room, and sealed leaking glass.

We also drilled from the base of the headland to the summit in order to update failing conduits for electricity, telephones, water and waste disposal. We then started on landscaping projects to protect the lightstation from bush fires, make safer paths and viewing points for the public, and to improve the gardens planted by the lighthouse keepers' families."

The track to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse before restoration, as viewed from the lighthouse balcony

Photo: Mark Watts, NPWS

The track to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse after restoration

Photo: Mark Watts, NPWS

This work was generously supported by the Vincent Fairfax Foundation through the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife with a grant of $51,000. The Royal Australian Navy came to the rescue to lift a two-tonne bobcat up to the summit so the landscaping works could be done.

The first stage of the restoration enabled access for the public. Since guided tours began in March 2002, thousands of visitors have climbed the summit each year.

"Our aim now is to continue improving and protecting this area, particularly the road to the summit, which needs a major upgrade to ensure that future generations can take in the glorious views and feel inspired by the history and beauty of Barrenjoey Lightstation."

The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife has documented the landscaping and restoration work done at the Barrenjoey Lightstation in their website newsletters:

This media release was sent to LoA Inc. by:

Mark Watt
Ranger Northern Beaches Area
National Parks & Wildlife Service
PO Box 134
Ph: 02 8977 7023 or 0419 753 794
Fax: 02 9451 7390

Email: mark.watt@npws.nsw.gov.au

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