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Lighthouse Museums


The Narooma Lighthouse Museum

Montague Island was originally a fertile hunting ground for the local Aboriginal people.

Since 1881, European visitors have landed here to inspect the Island's renowned granite lighthouse and enjoy a tour of this scenic area which boasts colonies of seals and fairy penguins.

Visiting the Narooma Lighthouse Museum in 1999 [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
Ed Kavaliunas, Malcolm Macdonald and Deborah Taylor
at the Narooma Lighthouse Museum in 1999
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


The lens from Montague Island [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The lens from Montague Island
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The plans for Montague Island [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The plans for Montague Island
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The Light Becomes Redundant

When constructed, the light had an intensity of 45,000 candelas (candle power). It was subsequently increased to 250,000 in 1910, and 357,000 in 1933. The light source was originally oil, then kerosene followed by pressurised kerosene mantle, before conversion to electric power in 1969, with a light intensity of 1,000,000 candelas.

This mechanism was completely removed in 1986, and a battery of solar powered quartz halogen lamps installed in its place, radiating two beams of 120,000 candelas whilst consuming 75 watts of power.

The dismantled original light mechanism was packed, prism by prism in individual cases surrounded by expanding foam sprayed in to protect the contents. This subsequently hardened around the contents. The whole of the mechanism was then stored in Sydney pending a decision on its ultimate destination.

  

Obtaining the Light for the Museum

In October 1986, the Narooma Apex Club wrote to the Department of Transport & Communications asking that the original light he returned to Narooma to be placed on permanent display in the town. This was agreed to, provided the light could be housed in a manner acceptable to the Department. Following consultation with Eurobodalla Shire Council, it was decided to house the light in an extension to be specially built next to and accessible thorough the Narooma Visitors' Centre.

Grants were received from the NSW Tourism Commission, and the Australian Bicentennial Authority. Significant financial contributions also came from Eurobodalla Shire Council, the Narooma Area Tourism Association and Narooma Apex Club.

Apex members also contributed many hundreds of man-hours on construction of the museum extension and tower, aided by many local citizens. Without this effort, construction of the museum would not have been possible.

The first sod of earth for the project was turned on 17 May 1989 by NSW Minister for Tourism, The Honourable Gary West MP.

The restored and operative light mechanism, housed in the completed Lighthouse museum was handed over in an official ceremony on 10 August 1990 by the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Bill Hayden AC.

  

Installation of the Light

The tower was constructed using spray-on cement guns over square mesh steel reinforcement. In order to allow maximum access for viewing the light mechanism, the tower was built with a cutaway section on the inside, with an archway between the tower and the museum roof.

Internal floodlighting is used to highlight the mechanism when necessary, although special sky lighting is usually adequate.


The signal flags at the Museum [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The signal flags at the Museum
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

The tables of flags representing the alphabet and numbers [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The tables of flags representing the alphabet and numbers
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


Operation of the Light

The light mechanism is activated by a coin-operated unit on the wall to the left of the mechanism. There is a relatively low powered light mounted inside the prisms which comes on when the mechanism is operating.

The kerosene preesure pump and burner [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
The kerosene pressure pump and burner
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

A typical river/port light [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
A typical river/port light
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

A typical river/port light (cut away) [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
A typical river/port light (cut away)
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

An early automatic oil burning light [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
An early automatic oil burning light
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


Technical Aspects of the Light

The entire revolving section of the mechanism is floating in a reservoir of mercury. The mechanism itself is finely balanced, the guide wheels that can he seen turning occasionally being of use only to ensure a prefect balance whilst in operation. The rectangular green box mounted on the pedestal base contains the hand-powered winch and cable used on the island to operate the light mechanism which used a clockwork system coupled with counter balances, and hanging down through the lighthouse tower prior to electrification.

Mounted on top of the winch box is the electric motor and gearbox used on the island, in the same position, and driving the light mechanism around through the gearing system originally used. The light mechanism as installed in the museum revolves at the same speed as it did in service.

Once activated, the light revolves for approximately three minutes after a coin is placed in the slot. All monies raised in this manner will be used for improvements and maintenance of the museum.

A collection of lens, burners and sun valves [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
A collection of lens, burners and sun valves
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

A collection of sun valves that automatically turned the light on and off [Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas]
A collection of sun valves that automatically turned the light on and off
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas


Access

The Narooma Lighthouse Museum in attached to the Narooma Visitors' Centre on the Princes Highway near the centre of town. Admission is free.

For further information contact:

Narooma Visitors' Centre
Princes Highway
Narooma NSW 2546
Phone: (02) 4476 2881
Fax: (02) 4476 1690


The Surrounding Area


Special Thanks to:

  • Ed Kavaliunas for Photographs
  • The Lighthouses of Australia Project (LoAP) was sponsored by:

    • Eurobodalla Shire Council
    • NSW Tourism Commission
    • Apex Club of Narooma
    • Narooma Area Tourist Association

Sources:

  • Text from Narooma Visitor's Centre Fact Sheet

Site constructed by: 
Malcolm S Macdonald t/as Lighthouse Computer Training & Development (1997-2001)
& Lighthouses of Australia Inc (2002-2007)

08/06/07
03/12/97