Lighthouses of Australia Project - JANUARY 01 BULLETIN

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Dear Friends
Deal Island Re-lit as Special Federation Event
The Year The Prom Burned by Keith Banks
WebCam at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Sandy Cape Trip With Denise Shultz
Letters & Notices
Department of Scrounge
Australian News
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Dear Friends

Change of Direction for Malcolm

I have started to get the occasional email from subscribers wondering why I am still here and not on my overseas trip.

I haven't made a big issue of it but I have had a real battle with my health over the last 12 months culminating in being hospitalised last November.

Last year was very intense work wise and with selling my house, getting my youngest through his final year of school on my own and preparing to go to South America unfortunately the kidney trouble I have suffered from all my life has jumped up and kicked me again. Always seems to happen in periods of stress.

I always knew this would happen eventually but hoped and still hope to get away to South America while I was still able.

This last episode has slowed me down so much that if it wasn't for Ed and a few other friends of the Project who have helped the Lighthouse Bulletin would not be coming out at all. I am lucky to have such good friends and have met many more through this project.

Ed and Deb were also wonderful in their support for my two boys. And, it was a great day to be let out of hospital for a day to go their wedding.

Up till now I've always managed to defy the odds. This time I wasn't so sure. In mid-January I found out that I will have to go on dialysis in the next few months.

The house I am buying in Ocean Grove
The house I am buying in Ocean Grove

Friends, I am on the road back to good health with the right treatment. I am starting feel good about the future and the zest for life is returning. I am even buying myself a house in Ocean Grove. And guess what? It has a view of the Point Lonsdale, and the two Queenscliff lighthouses, Cape Schanck in the distance, as well as a bit of lakes, ocean, beach and bay to cheer me up.

The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
The Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

The Queenscliff Black Lighthouse
The Queenscliff Black Lighthouse

The Queenscliff White Lighthouse
The Queenscliff White Lighthouse
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse

I actually consider myself to be a lucky person. Two great boys (nearly all grown up and drive me bats every now then, but still great). Live in a wonderful place. Loyal and supportive friends and family. I've had some great adventures of which the lighthouse project is only one.

I am able to run a part time business that even with only being able to work very limited hours still keeps me in the manner I am accustomed too and again I meet people I really love working with.

I am still desperate to go overseas on my trip and hopefully one day it will still happen.

I love life!

Thanks for the support and feedback that makes working on this Project always worthwhile.

What Future for the Project Now?

So how does this change in direction effect the future of the Project?

It will still involve myself and the couple of friends who have been helping me with the project but hopefully will give more people an opportunity to be involved, spread the load and give a greater sense of ownership to the members.

Even though I will continue to be involved we are still setting up a Lighthouses of Australia Inc to take over running the project as it is getting too big for me to run on my own anyway.

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.

The Rules of Incorporation have finally been drawn up, approved by the steering committee and have been submitted to the Office of Fair Trading for incorporation. Once this is approved and returned to us we are up and running I think the Project will go into its most exciting period.

There has been a steady flow of enquiries to join the new organisation and the move has also increased the amount of people who are already inputting into it's continued success. It still needs all of you to get involved to ensure its ongoing success whether it be contributing simply through financial membership or help with administration or submitting stories, adventures and the materials to the pages and bulletins.

It is important to note that the Monthly Bulletin will still be FREE. It is far too valuable in it contribution to become an exclusive vessel of a select few.

Don't forget, any participation will be most welcome so join and become a member.

This Months Features

This month we see a short report from Christian Bell on the re-lighting of Deal Island as Special Federation Event. He hopes to see it become an annual event.

The Year The Prom Burned is written by Keith Banks and is an account of his own personal experience in the 1951 bush fire that devastated the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation.

Visit the WebCam at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse to see what the view is like from the lighthouse at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.

How far will somebody go to get to a remote lighthouse? Find out with Denise Shultz's Sandy Cape Trip.

Heaps of letters this month which shows that people really are reading the Bulletin. There were so many that the later ones have been held over to the March Bulletin. It's also good to see that responses are coming in for the letters too.

A good number of contributions to News both most positive and some not so positive.

It is good to see more people becoming actively involved and takes a lot of pressure off the producing the Bulletins.

Malcolm Macdonald
Malcolm Macdonald
[Photograph: Deborah Kavaliunas]
eMail Malcolm

Ed "Smithy" Kavaliunas is Taking Over the Editorial of the Monthly Bulletin  [Photograph: Deborah Taylor]
Ed "Smithy" Kavaliunas
[Photograph: Deborah Kavaliunas]

eMail Ed

Deal Island Re-lit as Special Federation Event

[Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]

After much negotiating with State and Commonwealth agencies towards the end of the year 2000. Christian Bell, from the Marine & Coastal Community Network managed to obtain from the authorities concerned, permission to reactivate the Deal Island Light for a one hour period from midnight on New Years Eve 2001.

The Deal Island Tower [Photograph Courstey: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]
The Deal Island Tower
[Photograph Courtesy: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]

There had been some reluctance at an agency level from AMSA to reactivate the Light, as the Deal Island had been a very powerful beacon (over 1000 watts) and is located adjacent to a major shipping lane. Permission was only granted to display the Light at a reduced power level (50 watts only). While this of course represents a much reduced power level relative to its former capacity, it would have still would been a much brighter light than when it operated during the previous whale oil, kerosene or acetylene eras (given that we used a 50 watt halogen bulb). We thought what had been suggested was a good compromise. The light was powered from a car battery.

Richard Koch Preparing the Deal Island Tower for it's One Hour of Glory [Photograph Courstey: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]
Richard Koch Preparing the Deal Island Tower for it's One Hour of Glory
[Photograph Courtesy: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]

Our small group managed to coax to life the machinery that had laid dormant for much of the last eight years. The generator was fired up and this allowed the prism to rotate in its customary manner. Earlier in the day we had put as much as six hours into cleaning the prism and the outside panes in order to give our reduced power source a fair go.

At around two minutes to midnight a circuit breaker tripped turning off internal lights in the tower (providing us with a few anxious moments). After a quick trip to the generator shed, light was restored to the tower.

Just before twelve ABC Radio started playing 'Here Comes the Sun" which thought was entirely appropriate given our intended re-lighting of the Light.

With a quick flick of the switch at midnight the prism commenced its much anticipated rotation to the cheers of our small work crew.

The Display of the Deal Island Was Well Received by Nearby Yachties and Campers [Photograph Courstey: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]
The Display of the Deal Island Was Well Received by Nearby Yachties and Campers
[Photograph Courtesy: Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network]

The display of the Light was well received by yachts anchored at Brown's Cove and by the near by Erith Island Mob who much appreciated our efforts.

Certainly I feel that this is an event that is worthy of repeating on another New Years Eve. Our thanks to those who gave us permission to display the Light.

The Year The Prom Burned

Wednesday February 14 1951

Fred Banks and Freda Banks were my parents

My father was the Head keeper at the time that the lighthouse suffered its greatest loss when a bush fire that had been burning for three weeks in the 49,000 ha now Wilsons Promontory National Park. When the fire swept down on the station and its occupants without warning. Destroying three houses a rocket shed the wireless building with all its records Bendix radio's {a total of three} navigational flags telescopes {one six feet long on a tripod} plus hand held telescopes and binoculars maps etc etc complete disaster for the main communication station for Eastern Victoria and Tasmania in 1951 with a call sign of 3GL 3GR {Cliffy Island} 3GS {Deal Island} and 7DO {Swan Island} but let us go back.

My name is Keith Banks I had just returned to the Prom from the trawlers working out of Eden some three months before owing to my father being in ill health. Reg Hodges had just taken the 6am weather report sent it out and returned to his house at the end of his shift. The weather reported clear sky calm sea slight wind 3 knots cloudless sky visibility good a perfect day.

The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation is devastated After the 1951 Fire. [Photograph: The Melbourne Argus]
The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation is devastated After the 1951 Fire.
[Photograph: The Melbourne Argus]

At 6:10 am he banged on the door to say that the station was alight, the fire had travelled a mile and a half down Mt Boulder in ten minutes, you could not see 6ft in front of you for smoke.

At first there was some panic for the women and children, but we managed to get some sort of control at trying to save what we could with a buckets of water and only tank water. The women were marvellous filling the buckets for the men but they couldn't keep up as the tanks were only gravity fed so the fire got right on top of everyone the smoke just chocked us.

At the height of the fire we had three houses a kerosene shed with paints thinners oils etc a rocket shed with fog rockets going everywhere the wireless building lost all this in such a small area, coal used for the house fires burning and everyone crying and worried.

I am as sure I sit here that ever person on that station prayed and thought of taking the easy way out and jumping the 320ft into the sea rather than burn.

I have been in bush fires up here where I live over the years but never like that day at the Prom. When we knew it was hopeless my father gathered everyone between our house and the tower the only place that didn't burn, maybe because its all granite. By this time the you got a feeling that the worst was over and we started to work our way around to the machine shed as some one said that it hadn't been touched.

What happened gave us a heck of a shock. We knew that the station like Gabo Island had Naval personnel there during what we did not know was that when the war finished tossed pretty well everything except files etc over the edge, What we did not know that it also included live ammunition.

So as we were heading for the machine shed live 303 bullets that must have been in the crevices started going off people were literary crawling with this pinging going on over head.

During the time we were in the machine shed my father suffered a heart attack only slight we later found out but terrible at the time because I knew he was not well.

At 8:25am it started to rain only for about 5 minutes but enough to dampen the ground and quell the fire I cannot explain it others have tried some say because of the heat I do not know but I will swear on the good book as others would also do that it was and is true.

At 8:40 the smoke had cleared and all was over.

At 8:50 the weather forecast was Clear Skies No Wind Good Visibility and a Cloudless Sky.

Details of the Damage to the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation After the 1951 Fire. [Photograph: The Melbourne Argus]
Details of the Damage to the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation After the 1951 Fire.
[Photograph: The Melbourne Argus]

The Argus newspaper had a plane fly over taking pictures one of which I have in my keeping, getting rather old and used now, and one the Argus sent us.

My father became very ill and retired soon after. He died in August 1951. My mother and I thought that the fire killed him but the doctor said that while the drama of the fire didn't help

The main reason was an enlarged heart caused by being gassed in the first war.

That was how the Prom burned in 1951.

Keith Banks <> [Photograph: Keith Banks]
Keith Banks <>
[Photograph: Keith Banks]

The Point Lonsdale LighthouseWebCam at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

For those who are interested Vic Channels has installed a WebCam at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse.

There are 4 cameras, each refreshing every few minutes and giving views both across Port Phillip Heads (The Rip), inside the Heads, towards Queenscliff and back towards Barwon Heads.

  • Camera 1 Point Lonsdale Beach and Barwon Heads in Distance
  • Camera 2 The Rip and Pt Nepean
  • Camera 3 South Channel - Rosebud, Dromana in Distance
  • Camera 4 Queenscliff

Sandy Cape Trip With Denise Shultz

"I am going through" decided Noel after assessing the situation and climbed back into his 4wd while Paul, Glenys and myself prepared to watch the action from the rocks. We were standing at North Ngkala Rocks the last major obstacle in our journey to Sandy Cape Lighthouse. North Ngkala Rocks are only one of several treacherous places on the way to the northern tip of Fraser Island.

The Ngkala Rocks are the Main Barrier to Vehicles Travelling to the Northern Part of Fraser Island. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Ngkala Rocks are the Main Barrier to Vehicles Travelling to the Northern Part of Fraser Island.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

If you decide to travel along the eastern beach of Fraser Island by a 4wd the first thing to do is to check up the tides timetable and plan your trip around the low tide. You are advised to travel within the two hours time limit on either side of the low tide and unless you are a local expert or a very experienced four-wheel driver it is a good idea to do so. The condition of the beach also changes after every tide and so the return journey a few hours later can be quite different to what was it like on the way there

Paul and I were lucky enough to be able to take a ride to Sandy Cape with Noel and Glenys Mathison who were going there to relieve the ranger for a few days while he took a short break from work. Noel's family has been associated with the island for two generations.

The Mathisons have made the journey to Sandy Cape uncounted times and in all kinds of conditions so we were not worried at all. When we hit North Ngkala Rocks, it was almost exactly the low tide at 8:30 am but the rocks themselves were still awash. The alternative was to pass close to the shore through a trench not much wider than an average 4WD.which was carved in the soft stone by countless vehicles. The problem was that the trench was also flooded with seawater well above the knee depth and was ended with a very steep rise from the sandy bottom. Now we were all watching Noel waiting patiently for the waves to recede. When it looked like the sea was going to subside for several seconds he stepped on the accelerator and quickly passed around the rocks with just a tail of his car being caught by the next wave. Now there was nothing to stop us from reaching Sandy Cape Lighthouse.

The Double Island Point Lighthouse. [Photograph: Ken Gott]
The Double Island Point Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Ken Gott]

It did not look that way a few days ago. When my family and friends decided to take a holiday on the Sunshine Coast in Noosa, I checked my lighthouse map and determined that in this case the closest lighthouses would be Double Island Point, Caloundra, Cape Moreton and Sandy Cape at Fraser Island, all within a distance that can be reached in one day. I decided that this should be a piece of cake and proceeded to organise all the side trips. I took some advice from the people who have successfully done it before me and started making phone calls.

The Cape Moreton Lightstation. [Photograph: Jean-Marc Doumenc]
The Cape Moreton Lightstation.
[Photograph: Jean-Marc Doumenc]

The Old Caloundra Lighthouse. [Photograph: Roger Todd]
The Old Caloundra Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Roger Todd]

Old Caloundra Lighthouse was not a big problem since I managed to contact Roger Todd, a local lighthouse and history expert and enthusiast who was willing not only to open the old lighthouse for me but also talk to me about its history.

Double Island Point seemed to be reachable during an organised one day tour of Fraser Island, which was, according to the tourist brochure supposed to pass through this peninsula.

The Sandy Cape Lighthouse on the Northern tip of Fraser Island. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Sandy Cape Lighthouse on the Northern tip of Fraser Island.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Sandy Cape proved to be the biggest challenge. I tried to obtain the permission from AMSA to borrow the lighthouse key from the rangers but learned that the rangers do not possess the key any more and that the only way to look inside is to actually join the AMSA crew when they happen to be there doing some maintenance. Not surprisingly, they were not scheduled to do any repairs at the lighthouse during the time I was anywhere near it.

Disappointed I started to make telephone calls to organise our getting there. It seemed to be pretty straightforward. We'll do it the way Grant Maizels and John Ibbotson did it - fly there with Air Fraser. Seemed like a good idea until I learned that they can't get anyone to check the beach for them and therefore can not fly to Sandy Cape. Whether this was the true reason or not I did not investigate, but managed to learn that they could possibly fly us to Orchid Beach. From there it was up to us to get about 40km north around notorious Ngkala Rocks in a hired 4WD which neither myself or Paul have ever driven before.

4WD taxi seemed like a good idea but after investigating this possibility I decided against it because it was expensive. In desperation I turned to boat charters. I talked to some very nice and helpful people but hiring a boat had also its difficulties. Apart from the price there was certain reluctance on the side of my husband to take this kind of transport. Let me put it this way. He would have done it, but he would not enjoy it.

Not until about a week before the departure I had a good sense to call Aubrey Strydom, nowadays the ranger but former lighthouse keeper at Sandy Cape, and asked about his opinion. Luckily he had a solution.

Early in the morning on 16th of January our group of nine people were impatiently sitting on the kerb of the road in front of our beautiful units. We were waiting for the 4WD bus, which would take us along with about 20 other people north to Fraser Island.

The bus was fashionably late but when it arrived it was comfortable and air-conditioned. We took a trip along 64km long Teewah Beach and stopped about 4km south from Double Island Point at the wreck of the cargo ship Cherry Venture. We were told not to climb the rusty graffittied wreck and be back on the bus in 10 minutes. Then I learned that this is as close as we get to the Double Island Point Lighthouse, one of the reasons I chose this blasted trip at the first place. That was not good enough but there was no point complaining and I decided to use other means to get there later.

Crossing over to Rainbow Beach we had a chance to admire all the 75 differently coloured sands (from the bus) and before long we were on the ferry at Inskip Point. The crossing took only about 10 minutes and was uneventful. Some people saw dolphins that reportedly frequent nearby Tin Can Bay. The sand at Hook Point was soft and the going was slow in the beginning.

After about twenty minutes we had to stop for an impromptu repair on the bus that took another half an hour of our precious time. Paul and I climbed the sand dune above the beach and looked into the island's hinterland. It looked dry and desolate. Where are all those tall trees they are talking about? We had a chance to see them about two hours later after we diverted inland at the posh Eurong Resort.

A Dingo at the Eurong Resort [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
A Dingo at the Eurong Resort
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

After a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie ("if you are not back on the bus in 50 minutes we'll leave without you") we had a quick run through Central Station where all the famous kauri and hoop pines and satinay trees can be seen. There might be some bigger and better trees elsewhere but we could only dream about them on the bumpy road back to Eurong Resort. By that time we were starving and were thankful for a lunch included in the tour. Yet we only had half an hour for this and left the dining room in a hurry still chewing the last mouthfuls of our food while being ushered out of by insistent waiters, who had probably other things to do.

Thankfully that was the end of the tour for Paul and I When we waved the rest of our troupe good bye, they continued on their hurried way back to the south towards Noosa. I hope they were not too disappointed. I must say this was the time I felt a real sense of relief and freedom. When everything takes second place to the schedule there can be little enjoyment of the experience.

Paul and I had a little time to kill at the beach waiting for reasonably low tide before we called Nigel the local taxi man. He picked us up from Eurong and after devilishly fast drive north along the beach he deposited us at Yidney Rocks. There we were to spend the night at Jack and Maureen Hedges' "Little Cottage".

What a difference this was to the sterile atmosphere of the resort and the tour. This was the real Fraser Island, the real people whom you could talk to without any rush, real beach where you could frolic for hours or just sit and watch the waves or the anglers trying their luck on the rocks.

Next morning we were up at 5 am getting ready to be picked up by Noel and Glenys. I could see them coming along the beach a long time before they stopped and loaded us with our single backpack on either side of the bread maker on the back seat of their 4WD.

It was impossible not to like them immediately. They were easy to talk to full of knowledge and made us feel welcome. After waiting another 5 minutes for the Mathisons' friends Donna and Brad with their two sons also travelling to Sandy Cape, our little expedition started going north.

Soon we passed the huge rusty wreck of the Maheno a former trans Tasman luxury liner wrecked in 1935 during the cyclone while being towed to Japan to be scrapped. Despite being old and still sinking into the sand it is still impressively huge.

Next we passed the Indian Head the only true rock on Fraser Island named by Captain Cook for the aborigines he sighted there during his exploration of Australian east coast in 1770. We diverted inland from there to past Waddy Point, where there is a ranger station and campground, and emerged back on the beach near the site of former Orchid Beach Resort. The resort was closed down in 1993 and dismantled in 1999 but there are new private houses being built and there is still an airstrip to be landed on.

Our pulses ran high as we were nearing the most notorious of all obstacles the low-lying Ngkala Rocks. Would they be passable or would we have to detour inland?

The inland option was almost as bad as going through the flooded rocks because there was no substantial rain for the past several weeks to compact the sand and to make it easier to drive over.

It was the low tide and the sea was not very rough but the uncertainty remained. When we finally got there it was obvious that however bad the back road could have been, it was the only option. The rocks were completely flooded.

Only on second try did Noel make it up the particularly steep rise in about 50cm deep dry sand. Brad and Donna were not so lucky. Though they had a stronger vehicle Brad was not able to make it up the hill without stalling the car in the deep sand. After several unsuccessful tries Donna and Brad reluctantly decided to return back south. I promised Donna who also likes lighthouses to send her a photograph. Paul and I felt very lucky that we did not have to do it on our own with our inexperience. We would never have made it.

The northern part of Fraser Island is a remote place. Only a few rugged tourists make it as far as Sandy Cape or the lighthouse itself.

The Sandy Cape Lighthouse is the Tallest in Queensland. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Sandy Cape Lighthouse is the Tallest in Queensland.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Overlooking a huge sand dune and perched on a forest covered hill 120 meters above sea level is the tallest lighthouse in Queensland. It is 33m tall and has a diameter at the base of 8m. The lighthouse was built between 1869 and 1870 from the cast iron plates imported from Leeds in England. A 4 meter base made of concrete was built first as a foundation in the sand. The tower was topped with a large lantern room containing a 1st order Chance Brothers lens.

The lighthouse has two entrances. There is a large room at the bottom and through it's windows visitors can see various maritime paraphernalia which include old bottles, photographs and articles, and a 4th order Chance Brothers lens that was used on top of the lighthouse from 1930 till 1995.

The Solar Array That Powers the Sandy Cape Lighthouse. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Solar Array That Powers the Sandy Cape Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

After that it got automated and converted to solar power with a plastic Vega lantern made in NZ, a little uninspiring lamp that I have seen in so many other solar powered lighthouses. If you want to see the top of the lighthouse you have to use the upper entrance, 3m above the ground, and accessible by an outside staircase. But of course the top of the staircase was as far as we got. Not even the ranger has a key.

The Lens in the Sandy Cape Lighthouse. [Photograph: John Ibbotson]
The Lens in the Sandy Cape Lighthouse.
[Photograph: John Ibbotson]

While we were busy getting the omnipresent sand out of our shoes and socks, Aub the lighthouse keeper turned ranger arrived in his 4WD Ute. I recognised his face straight away from the documentary program called Beacons of Hope that I recently saw on television.

Aub, Noel and Myself Chatting in Front of the Cottages. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Aub, Noel and Myself Chatting in Front of the Cottages.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Bearded with rectangular glasses his head covered with a cap he looked like a cross between the bushman and a professor. Aub was the last lightkeeper at Sandy Cape before it was fully automated in 1997.

These days he works as a ranger and looks after a weather station. He has to send reports to the Bureau of Meteorology every three hours. In the meanwhile he has to keep an eye on the odd reckless tourist who insists on driving over fragile sand dunes, issue permits to fishermen and campers, check up on the numbers of nesting green and loggerhead turtles, pied oystercatchers and other birds, while at the same time maintaining the light station grounds and buildings. Doing that requires a lot of driving through a treacherous terrain and there is plenty of it on Fraser Island.

A Sad Sight, a Turtle Dying After a Shark Attack [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
A Sad Sight, a Turtle Dying After a Shark Attack
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Paul and I had just about two hours before we had to get ready for the journey back. We managed to have a cup of tea with Glenys, Noel and Aub and it was the best cuppa I had for a long time. We tasted Aub's honey and Glenys' date cake (both delicious) and just had enough time to go for a walk to see the grave of the first Headlightkeeper, John Simpson, who accidentally shot himself while hunting wallaby. One of his daughters, Edith (he and his wife Jane had 11 children) is also buried there.

In the Cemetery, the Grave of John Simpson's Daughter Edith. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
In the Cemetery, the Grave of John Simpson's Daughter Edith.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

There are also ruins of a radar station used during WW2. It's a pity we did not at first take the right turn and finished on the dune a long way from all of these historical sights. When we realised our mistake, we were running out of time to return and had to run cross country through the bush in tropical heat, sweating, hearts pounding and feeling like we were going to drop dead at any moment.

We did not have much time to say goodbye before we had to leave. Aub was leaving at 11. am and we had to catch our tour by 14:00. We squeezed into Aubrey's car and braced ourselves. The journey back was hair-raising. It took only 2.5 hours including a quick visit of Rooney Point where we could see the island's western beach and also another more recent beached boat.

Aub Loads a Dead Turtle to Take Back for an Autopsy. [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Aub Loads a Dead Turtle to Take Back for an Autopsy.
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Turning back Aub managed to get through the toughest terrain with admirable ease and bravura at the same time counting (and writing down) the number of pied oystercatchers, issuing a fishing permit, picking up a large dead turtle from the beach (to take it back to Eurong for an autopsy), cleaning up some rubbish from the beach and answering all my questions.

We made it back to Eurong with plenty of time left to rejoin the tour we interrupted the day before. While sitting in front of the shop and enjoying the icecream, we saw Aub leaving Eurong in the direction of the West Coast at 14.30 with half an hour to spare to catch his ferry to the mainland. I have no doubt that he made it in time.

Denise Shultz [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Denise Shultz <>
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Letters & Notices:

Looking for the History of the Lightship Carpentaria

Dear Malcolm

Kate Walker here. Remember me, the lady writing the Lighthouse book for children? After a number of delays the project is now under way. I've been in touch with several people on the email list you sent me. Many thanks.

The South Channel Pile LightRegarding your South Channel Pile Light Web Page and I'm finding it almost impossible to get further information on this rare timber pile light. Believed to be the only structure of its kind still intact in Australia, and so beautiful too, I really want to feature it in the book. I thought some of your supporters might be able to help me.

The Carpentaria Lighthship Moored at the National Maritime MuseumAnother one I'd like to get a few more details on is the Carpentaria Lightship. My researches uncovered the fact this it was torn from its moorings about 9th January 1979 by cyclone Greta, drifted for 24 hours and finally grounded on a beach between Crab Island and Vrilya Point on the Cape York Peninsula. It was too badly damaged to be saved. What could be salvaged from it, was salvaged and the rest scuttled. Do you know any more details, such as how it was scuttled (Editors Note: The Carpentaria Lightship is restored and now moored at the Australian National Maritime Museum)? And would there be photographs anywhere of the lightship actually beached?

The Carpentaria Lighthship Moored at the National Maritime MuseumA small item, do you know how the lightship was actually moored on Merkara Shoal where it was normally stationed?

No one thinks to provide these basic facts and they're the sort of questions child want answered. I also found out that once it finished its days as a lightship in the Gulf, the Carpentaria was used as a traffic separator in the Bass Straight oil fields, and almost sunk by a container ship. I'd loved to have a more details on this incident - the name of the ship and the damaged caused - and track down photos if possible.

The project has changed a little since I originally contacted you. This is usual. You start with an idea in mind, but once you start your research, the information gathered begins to dictate how the project will go.

Outlined below is the way we see the book at the moment.

I've amassed a goodly amount on info on my chosen lighthouses. If it's of any use to you I can send you a copy of what I've unearthed.

Many thanks,
Kate Walker <>

A non-fiction book for children, 10 - 14 years, on Australian lighthouses, focussing on the following lighthouses for their historical significance and diversity:

  • Macquarie
  • Iron Pot / Derwent River Light
  • Goose Island
  • Cape Otway
  • Rottnest
  • South Channel
  • North Reef
  • South Solitary
  • Booby Island
  • Carpentaria Lightship

Each of these will have a double page spread. I'll use about 600 words of text per lighthouse, along with 3 to 6 photographs, or photographs and sketches depending on what is available. The purpose of the book is to present the basic facts of each lighthouse, a potted history, and some intriguing anecdotes or tales. I want to hook the young readers' interest in lighthouses and at the same time provide a model of how a project on any topic can be presented both text-wise and visually.

I also intend to include a double page spread on 'People' related to Australian lighthouses, such as Barnett and Hixton. Also a double page spread on the 'Technology' of lighthouse development.

As you can see, my co-author and I have taken on a big project but ultimately we'll reduce it down to a book that is simple to read and will wet the appetite of budding lighthouse enthusiasts.

Help Plan Montague Island 120th Birthday

Hi There

I'm one of the tour guides to Montague Island.

The Montague Island Lighthouse2001 is the 120th year of the light out there. we are beginning planning for some form of celebration in November 2001 when the light was officially commissioned. Anyone with ideas for celebrations could contact me, as we are open to suggestions.

Regards Mark Westwood <>

Looking for Alice Valentine Frank & August Daniel Frank

Hi Malcolm

My great grandmother was born and lived on Althorpes Island.

The Althorpes LighthouseHer name was Alice Valentine Frank born 14/2/1883 died 22/5/1956

Her father was a lighthouse keeper on the island. His name was August Daniel Frank born about1858 died 10/12/1940. His wife Mary Jane.

Frank (maiden name unknown) born approx.1861 and died 14/2/1932.

I am trying to find out more info myself, I hope this info is useful to you. Can you tell me more about the history, the people that lived on it.

Thank you Kym Clasby <>

Looking for George Johnston

Dear Malcolm

George and Jessie Johnston at the Bruny Island Lighthouse on their 50th wedding anniversary (1926)I am researching the history of my Great Grandfather George Johnston who I am informed was the lighthouse keeper at Cape Wickham on King Island in the 1880s and 1890's.

My Grand Mother Jessie Johnston was born at Cape Wickham in October 1892.

Can you suggest any reference material which I may refer to, or provide any insights into his term as lighthouse keeper at Cape Wickham.

I am informed he was subsequently the Lighthouse keeper on Bruny Island, but I do not know which Lighthouse.

I would also like to of any information available on his career.

The attached photo was taken about 1926 of George and Jessie Johnston in the cottage garden at the Bruny Island Lighthouse on occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.

Bob Wotherspoon <

Byron Bay Lighthouse Keeping in the 1950s

Hi Malcolm

The Cape Byron LighthouseI love your coverage of the Byron lighthouse.

I am basing a film, set in the 1950's, at the lighthouse cottages. It is a 77 year old woman in the present day, looking back on memories from the 50's of her family.

In the story, she lived (and still lives) at the lighthouse cottages (her husband was the lighthouse keeper in the 50's) and I was just
wondering if you could tell me where I might find out who was the lighthouse keeper in 1950 and what life might have been like living in the lighthouse cottage at that time...

  • Were the cottages even there?
  • Is that where they lived?
  • Were they paid much as a lighthouse keeper?
  • What kind of car might they have had?
  • Would the whole family have lived in the cottages?
  • Did other people live up there as well as the lighthouse keeper's family?
  • Did lighthouse keepers have respect in the community?
  • Would he have been involved in or opposed to whaling?

These are the kind of questions that I want to ask and if you could point me in the right direction, that would be great.

If you could e me back as soon as you find a moment, that would be much appreciated.

Congrats again on the site.

Tristan Banck <>

Revisiting the haunts of Ernest Gustof Fritz Johansson

Hi Malcolm

Sillohuette of the lighthouses at Port Philip HeadsI just thought I'd drop you a few lines to tell you that I have enjoyed looking at the information on the Otways. Yesterday I arrived home from Victoria and am able to say the lighthouses were the highlight of me and my mums holiday.

My uncle's father ran the lighthouses in that region for quite sometime in 1927 (Otway). He was the head keeper there until 1932, and then again between 1936 until 1938.

Other places he was headlightkeeper to: Queenscliff 7-2-1912 until16-4-1912, Cliffy Island 17-4-1912 until 1-1-1915, Point Lonsdale 14-4-1915 until 2-5-1918, Gabo Island 3-5-1919 until 10-5-1919, Point Hicks (Cape Everard) 22-9-1924 until 30-5-1927, Gabo Island 1-11-1932 until 2-12-1936, Wilsons Promontory 16-11-1938 until 13-5-1943, and last of all Cape Schanck 11-6-1943 until 24-5-1945 from where he retired gracefully at the age of 65 (23-6-1945. Ernest Gustof Fritz Johansson retired.)

Karyn Bradley <>

Looking for Lighthouse Keepers With Macquarie in Their Middle Name

Hi Malcolm

The Macquarie LighthouseI was just wondering if there is anyway way of going back in history, to find out about early lighthouse keepers at the Macquarie Lighthouse.

I am trying to find out about my ancestors and I remember my Grandmother always speaking about the lighthouse.

Most of my relatives on her side have Macquarie as their middle name.

Thankyou Margaret Kelly <>

Descended From Walter "Wattie" Henry Weir

Dear Lighthouse People!

The Point Moore LighthouseA friend forwarded to me your January Bulletin of the Lighthouses of Australia project.

My partner, Stephen Ray, is very interested in lighthouses and, being a wrought iron artist, has made several sculptures of the Point Moore Lighthouse of Geraldton, WA.

One of his sculptures is a miniature of this lighthouse (about 2 metres tall) which is also very functional - serves as a beach shower near the Separation Point Caravan Park (just south of Point Moore). It is a shame the recent photographic tour missed this one!

The Cape Leeuwin LighthouseHowever, I have lighthouses in my heritage too - my great grandfather, Walter Henry Weir, was a stonemason and he actually built the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and also the one on Rottnest Island. I would be interested to know if you have any record of this. To my knowledge his name is never mentioned because he was a subcontractor, and so the contractor's name gets the glory! However, I do know that it was my great grandfather who built these two lighthouses.

The Main Rottnest Lighthouse"Wattie" Weir (as he was known) came from Victoria to build the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, then was sub-contracted to build the Rottnest Island Lighthouse. He decided to stay in Western Australia (and arranged for his family to join him) as there was plenty of work available. He built many of the original buildings in Perth, including the facade of the GPO in Forrest Place in the city. I have photographs of him on various building sites but unfortunately none of the lighthouse construction.

I hope this is of some interest to you.


Margi Weir <>

PO Box 32,
WA 6519

Looking for Job Symonds Formerly of Breaksea Island

Hi there

The Breaksea Island LighthouseMy name is Scott Player. I am from Chicago, Illinois. I am doing some
genealogy research on my great grandparents.

My great grandpas name was Job Symonds. I believe that he was the lighthouse keeper at Breaksea Island in 1887.

Do you know where I could locate any additional information on him.


Scott Player <>

Feel free to post any request, letters, notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.


Department of Scrounge:

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:

  • Original Colour Photographs
  • Historical Photographs or Postcards
  • History, experiences and anecdotes
  • Technical History

Please eMail <Keeper>

Australian News:

Stage One Renovations Finished at Wollongong Breakwater

The Commerative Ceremony is Held at the Foot of the Newly Restored Lighthouse. [Photograph: Kim Stephenson]
The Commemorative Ceremony is Held at the Foot of the Newly Restored Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Kim Stephenson]

A commemorative ceremony was held at the Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse on the 25th of January attended by Colin Markham member for Wollongong, George Harrison Lord Mayor of Wollongong and Brian Dooley Acting Regional Director South Coast Region Dept of Land and Water Conservation to mark the completion of the first stage of the $300,000 restoration of the lighthouse.

A Commerative Stamp is Given to All School Children at the Ceremony. [Photograph: Kim Stephenson]
A Commemorative Stamp is Given to All School Children at the Ceremony.
[Photograph: Kim Stephenson]

In 1999/2000 funding of $300,000 was approved for restoration of the lighthouse under the project management of the Dept of Land and Water Conservation. The restoration work was undertaken by local contractors Tolco and Steamit. Wollongong lighthouse, the 7th oldest in NSW, was constructed in 1872.

The Warden Head Lighthouse at Ulladulla.One of two similar wrought iron lighthouses, the other is at Warden Head Ulladulla having being moved in 1892 from the Ulladulla Breakwater to its present location where it continues to operate as a navigational aid.

Wollongong Harbour was at the time the principal port for the Illawarra. With the development of Port Kembla and the establishment of the Wollongong Head Lighthouse in 1937 the importance of the harbour diminished and the lighthouse was downgraded from a 4th order Chance Bros optic to a 6th order lens and eventually closed in 1974.

The Restored Lantern Room is Returned to the Lighthouse. [Photograph: Kim Stephenson]
The Restored Lantern Room is Returned to the Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Kim Stephenson]

The building was classified by the National Trust in 1977 and major repairs and repainting were undertaken prior to Wollongong Council taking control under license in 1978 opening the lighthouse as a tourist attraction until the structure again fell into disrepair making it unsafe for public access in the mid 1980's.

The Restored Lantern Room is Lifted towards the Top of the Lighthouse Tower. [Photograph: Kim Stephenson]
The Restored Lantern Room is Lifted towards the Top of the Lighthouse Tower.
[Photograph: Kim Stephenson]

Stage 2 of the restoration work will involve restoration of the interior.
Wollongong Breakwater lighthouse has survived despite calls for it to be demolished by the then Maritime Services Board due to public outcry at the suggestion and continues to be a much loved icon of the Wollongong area. Its continuing restoration work is warmly welcomed by the Wollongong community.

The Restored Lantern Room is Placed in its Original Position Atop the Lighthouse. [Photograph: Kim Stephenson]
The Restored Lantern Room is Placed in its Original Position Atop the Lighthouse.
[Photograph: Kim Stephenson]

Barranjoey Finally Vacant

[Jervis Sparks, PRISM Extract - Autumn 2001]

The Barranjoey Lighthouse and Cottages. [Photograph: Grant Maizels]
The Barranjoey Lighthouse and Cottages
[Photograph: Grant Maizels]

Jervis Sparks reports that the last tenant of the Barranjoey cottages has died. Thus, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will soon have possession of the full site. It appears that their plan of management is still vague.

Tourism Awards

The Smoky Cape LighthouseThe Montague Island LIghthouse[PRISM Extract - Autumn 2001]

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Annual Report 1999-2000 is now out.

It mentions that The Smoky Cape Lighthouse Complex in Hat Head National Park and the Montague Island Nature Reserve have scooped major tourism awards.

It is available for $16.50 from:

National Parks & Wildlife Service
PO Box N429
Grosvenor Place
NSW 1220.

Silver Spoons at Deal Island

[PRISM Extract - Autumn 2001]

Max Huxley of Rosebud, Vic, writes that he read with interest the article in "Prism" that there was to be an archaeological dig when the floor boards are removed from the house on Deal Island. This item originally appeared in the Lighthouses of Australia on-line bulletin.

The Old Head Superintendents Cottage. [Photograph Courtesy: Christian Bell]
The Old Head Superintendents Cottage.
[Photograph Courtesy: Christian Bell]

Max went on, "It made remember my dear mother was mystified as to where her small apostle teaspoons and knives, forks and tablespoons that her brother had rescued from the SS Karitane kept disappearing to. Eventually, she caught my brother, then about four years old) pushing the cutlery between the floorboards. My father pulled up a couple of boards and found the missing items. This, however, was not the house with the attic. It was the weather board house near the tower.

I am writing to suggest that if might be worthwhile having a dig where this house used to stand. We were the last family to live there before moving into a new home part way down the island. The old house was condemned"

Ruins of the Original Oil Room and Keepers Quarters on Deal Island. [Photograph: Kim Shimmin]
Ruins of the Original Oil Room and Keepers Quarters on Deal Island
[Photograph: Kim Shimmin]

He adds a postscript. "My mother's grandfather was Robert Jackson. He lived in the house with the attic. His wife's name was Mary. Their baby daughter is buried in the yard, unmarked except for a patch of jonquils. My mother's brother was employed to help with the dismantling of the SS Karitane. We lived at Deal from about 1932 to 1937".

Point King Lighthouse To Undergo Emergency Repairs

[Edited Sam Calder, Source: Albany Advertiser, 12 & 14 Dec 2000]

WA's second oldest lighthouse, and the first to show a light on WA's southern coast, will undergo emergency repairs in January 2001 following damage from vandalism as well as strong winds and rough seas over many years.

Albany City Council will spend $20,000 on stabilising the Point King Lighthouse keeper's cottage, with the focus on the deteriorating southern wall.

The Second Tower Was Built on Breaksea Island. [Photograph: Brian Lord]
The Second Tower Was Built on Breaksea Island.
[Photograph: Brian Lord]

The Point King Lighthouse was built in 1858 as one of a pair, the second being on Breaksea Island, the smaller of the two islands in King George Sound.

The Point King structure has been closely associated with the development of 19th Century coastal navigational aids in WA waters. In its heyday it shone as a guiding light over Princess Royal Harbour to direct the ever-increasing number of ships reaching Albany's port.

The building's light burnt constantly until 1911 when a second tower with an automatic light was built. The Lighthouse was converted into an observation bunker and used for the duration of WW2. The keeper's cottage housed several families until its closure in 1950.

SHAKY FOUNDATIONS: Albany historian Les Johnson at the ruins of the Point King Lighthouse keeper's cottage which need emergency repairs. [Photograph Courtesy: Albany Advertiser]
SHAKY FOUNDATIONS: Albany historian Les Johnson at the ruins of the Point King Lighthouse keeper's cottage which need emergency repairs.
[Photograph Courtesy: Albany Advertiser]

The ruins of the house (located just off the scenic walk below Marine Drive) are now to be stabilised.

Following a conservation report compiled in 1995 (which advised urgent action to stop the loss of the surviving buildings) structural engineers, appointed by heritage architect David Heaver, have completed a report on the required work.

Suitably qualified heritage builders and materials similar to those of the original building will be used and Mr Heaver will supervise the works.

Anyone with any articles or stories effecting Australian Lighthouse are welcome to contribute them.

Join Proposed Lighthouses of Australia Inc.

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.

A charter has been developed and can be found on-line at <../../About/Charter.htm>.

A constitution has been developed and can be found on-line at <../../About/Constitution.htm>.

The suggested memberships and costs are as follows:

  • Individual Membership (12 months) $25 AUD

    Other groups/bodies with in interest in Lighthouses:

    • Non-Profit Organisation or Group Membership (12 months) $50 AUD
    • Small Business Membership (12 months) $100 AUD
    • Large Corporate, Government Department & Statutory Authority Memberships and Sponsorship by negotiation.

To join, visit the Membership page.

Thanks to the Following People for Their Help in January:

Jacob Bax (Photos)
Trevor Bucknell (Info)

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site

Thanks to those who let us use their photos for thumbnails.

Regards until the Mar 2001 Bulletin
Malcolm Macdonald & Ed

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Lighthouses of Australia Web Site First Published: 3/12/97

Photographs & Contributions:

Christian Bell, Marine & Coastal Community Network for Story and Photographs
Cyril Curtain for Research
Deborah Kavaliunas for Photographs
Denise Shultz for Story and Photographs
Ed Kavaliunas for Research
Grant Maizels for Photograph
Guyett Real Estate for Photograph
Jean-Marc Doumenc for Photograph
John Ibbotson for Story and Photographs
Keith Banks for Story and Photographs
Kim Shimmin for Photograph
Kim Stephenson for Photographs
Ian Clifford for Story
Peter Braid for Research
PRISM - Australian Lighthouse Association for stories
Roger Todd for Photograph
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