Lighthouses of Australia Project - JANUARY 00 BULLETIN
JUNE 2001

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Dear Friends


Deal Island 1999 - The Snapshot
Restored Roofs at Wilsons Promontory

Letters & Notices

Department of Scrounge

New Pages & Links

New Pages for Australia
New Links for Australia
New Links for World

Australian News

AMSA Outsources Navigational Services
Queensland Lighthouse Service Reunion
Deal Island Diary is a Great Idea!
Deal Islanders Established
Light Properties Transferred

Join Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Thanks To

Text Only eMail

Past Bulletins


Dear Friends

Deal Island Month

Steering the ship towards Judgement Rock with the help of Stuart - The Tasmanian [Photograph: Denise Shultz]Hi folks, this months issue is very much dedicated to Deal Island. First of all we have Denise Shultz recalling her trip in 1999 aboard the Windward Bound with Christian Bell and the crew.

Then in News we find out all the formation of the Deal Islanders and a great new web page called the Deal Island Diary.

Steering the ship towards Judgement Rock with the help of Stuart - The Tasmanian [Photograph: Denise Shultz]Which is all very appropriate as we have the privilege of having Christian Bell speaking at the Lighthouses of Australia Inaugural Dinner on the 16th of June in Melbourne.

If you wish to attend then join up and become a member and register for the Dinner.

Lighthouses of Australia Inc.

The newly established Lighthouses of Australia Inc. has just concluded its first official Committee Meeting which was done quite successfully by eMail.

The interim committee has been confirmed as the official committee and the Officers are:

  • Convener - Malcolm Macdonald
  • President - Ed Kavaliunas
  • Vice-President - vacant
  • Secretary - Stuart Walters
  • Finance Officer - Phillip Walsh
  • ALA Representative - Cyril Curtain
  • Committee - Deborah Kavaliunas
  • Committee - Peter Hatfield
  • Committee - Ian Clifford
  • Committee - Sharon Fielden
  • Committee - Pauline O'Brien
  • Committee - Denise Shultz
  • Committee - Sandra Hand

If you want to join up and get involved there are a few new subcommittees such as:

We are hoping to form a few special interest groups as outlined in the May 2001 Bulletin as well.

Other Feature and News

Geoff Durham [Photograph Courtesy: Cyril Curtain]Another feature in this issue is the article by Geoff Durham about the new track to Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse and the restoration of the roofs on the keeper's cottages.

Other news is that AMSA has selected a tender and is well on the way to completing the outsourcing of the maintenance of navigational services including beacons and search and rescue.

The end of June will see the 86th anniversary of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service and it winding up being marked by a reunion of the Queensland branch.

A report comes from the Australian Lighthouse Association that the transfer of lighthouse properties in Western Australia to the state has been finalised.


Deal Island 1999 - The Snapshot

[Denise Shultz]

Remote, inaccessible, mysterious, and unattainable - Deal Island is a kind of place you read about but never visit. I wanted to visit this island in the Bass Strait for its reported beauty and its lighthouse, perched high on a cliff, the highest placed lighthouse in Australia. I never thought I would make it there.

Deal Island Lighthouse From the Cottages [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Deal Island Lighthouse From the Cottages
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

Enter the Lighthouses of Australia Bulletin January 1999. There it was - Christian Bell from Tasmanian Marine and Coastal Community Network was organising expedition to the Kent Group of Islands, one of its objectives being the restoration of the historical lighthouse superintendent's cottage. I just could not let this opportunity pass me by.

And so it happened that early in the morning on Friday 2nd of April 1999 I was aboard the Devil Cat on my way to Tasmania and one of the best adventures of my life. In around six hours the super fast catamaran disgorged our cars and us in Georgetown on the Right Bank of Tamar River. I was glad I had my little violet car with me, because the next day I was due to sail aboard a brigantine Windward Bound from Beauty Point almost exactly opposite Georgetown on the other side of Port Dalrymple.

Windward Bound Sailing Ship at Inspection Head. Loading the Supplies Before Departure [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Windward Bound Sailing Ship at Inspection Head. Loading the Supplies Before Departure
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

On my way around I had plenty of time to visit Launceston and its spectacular Cataract Gorge. After finding my overnight accommodation in the pub, I decided it would be a good idea to visit the ship and get acquainted with the crew.

When I found them at a wharf called Inspection Head I felt really proud that I would be sailing aboard such a beautiful ship with such friendly, crazy bunch of people. Later we all had dinner in "my" pub and when we met again the next morning it was easy for me to fit right in.

Before we sailed, provisions for 26 people and one dog for 6 days had to be loaded, while there was a TV interview with some of the passengers. All done around midday, and as we motored out of Port Dalrymple we were being introduced to each other and instructed about how to help sailing the ship.

Christian and Mike Talking in Our Dining Room Aboard Windward Bound [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Christian and Mike Talking in Our Dining Room Aboard Windward Bound
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

There were eight crew members and eighteen passengers. Among them was Christian, Quentin the carpenter who was to do the repairs on the door to the cottage, Chris Bell - author and one of the best nature photographers in Australia, Mick and Renate, divers, whose purpose was to film their underwater exploits, Joy and Dennys, a sprightly couple in their seventies, Anna the flight attendant from Queensland, environmentalists Renee and Mark, who's goal was to rid the island of the hated weed sea spurge, Ros, who worked for Tasmanian TV, and Brent from Sydney, who was keen to learn about sailing.

We were split in four groups and each group had to do the chores under the leadership of their assigned crew member The leader of my group was Stuart - "The Tasmanian" - as I called him. He showed us how to climb the rigging, check the bilge, tie the rope and keep the course while steering the ship. We had to keep four hour watches in which all the members of the group were required to participate, the most notorious being the midnight to 4am one. Of course our group had to get this shift on the first day of sailing.

View of the Deck From the Crow's Nest While Sailing Back Towards the Tasmanian Mainland [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
View of the Deck From the Crow's Nest While Sailing Back Towards the Tasmanian Mainland
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

The waves in Bass Strait were only moderate and we all took our tablets so no one from our group got seasick. There was little wind and the engine propelled us all the way. After having a go at the helm I climbed to the crow's nest and watched for the lights.

First I saw the Goose Island Light blinking to the right and then far ahead the light at South East Rock - Deal Island's replacement.

I'll never forget the feeling of friendly welcome and the sense of security emanating from these lights. It was as if we were not alone in the middle of dark and scary seas, not knowing whether we are moving or where we were. (Of course we knew that, because we had a GPS and plotted our course on the map every few minutes, but the feeling was still present when outside.)

When I went back to bed at 4am, the tablet wore off and I felt slightly unwell, but I was up at 6am again to film dawn over Deal Island.

Windward Bound Anchored at West Cove at Erith Island. In The Background is Distinctive Shape Of Deal Island, On The Beach The Remains of a Fishing Wessel Wrecked Around 1945 [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Windward Bound Anchored at West Cove at Erith Island. In The Background is Distinctive Shape Of Deal Island, On The Beach The Remains of a Fishing Vessel Wrecked Around 1945
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

We dropped the anchor at East Cove about two hours later.

All except crew went ashore. Christian and Quentin landed the building materials and started the repair work on the door, while other people went weeding or just walking or snorkelling.

After we met the current volunteer caretakers Jenny, Mike and their baby daughter India, Anna and I decided to walk up to the lighthouse. The tower is about 2.5km distant from the houses and it is a steep climb, especially towards the end.

While walking along the road to the lighthouse we could smell an unpleasant odour and soon discovered its cause. There were decomposing cow carcasses lying everywhere. What a sad sight at such a beautiful place. Later we learned that they were the last ten cattle left from the days when the island occupants kept their own stock on the island. They were shot several months earlier to rid the island of an introduced species. I thought it was a bit too harsh and could think about a few less violent methods of how to eliminate the cows from the island. It was too late for these unfortunate animals.

The lighthouse sits on the island's highest hill, which tops at 305 m above sea level. There used to be a paperbark forest around it but now there were only blackened skeletons of dead trees since the place was ravaged by fire in 1996.

The Lighthouse Surrounded by Burned Trees [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Lighthouse Surrounded by Burned Trees
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

There were also ruins of the former cottages from 1911. Only a few bunches of pink lilies growing wild among the ruins were the reminder that people used to live here cultivating their gardens.

The Native Forest is Destroyed by Fire But the Introduced Species of Pink Lillies Thrive Near The Ruin [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
The Native Forest is Destroyed by Fire But the Introduced Species of Pink Lillies Thrive Near The Ruin
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

The lighthouse itself seemed to be in good shape from the outside. It was freshly painted, all white. We did not have the key to the tower so I looked through the window, set deep inside the thick wall and could see (and I also knew from Christian) that it was not so good from the inside. I hoped I would get in eventually and so I turned my attention to the admirable view.

There are no Trees Immediately Adjacent to the Lighthouse. It Was Sunny and Very Windy at the Top of the Hill [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
There are no Trees Immediately Adjacent to the Lighthouse. It Was Sunny and Very Windy at the Top of the Hill
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

The Island itself was far larger than I have imagined it to be. It is shaped like an amoeba with tentacles of bluffs protruding in every direction. There are several coves, of which only three have beaches. Precipitous cliffs form most of the island's coast. A few other yachts and pleasure craft were anchored at East Cove and opposite at Erith Island's West Cove.

The Kent Group of Islands contains three major islands and a few rocks and islets. The other two islands, Erith and Dover, were just across the narrow and turbulent Murray Pass to the west. They were separated by the so-called Swashway, a rocky neck that is passable on foot only during low tide and gets flooded during the high tide. In the distance we could see Judgement and South West Rocks and 80 km towards the north we could see the misty silhouette of Wilsons Promontory.

Dover (left) and Erith Islands Viewed From Deal Island. The Swashway is in Between [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Dover (left) and Erith Islands Viewed From Deal Island. The Swashway is in Between
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

When we returned back down to the East Cove I had a look at the museum, which was set in the old superintendent's cottage. In the front, there were old photographs of former lighthouse keepers, historical documents and the station as it used to be. Also there were some old books, bottles, shell collection and shipwreck artifacts on display.

More interesting was the derelict rear part of the house. Climbing the dangerously worn out and creaking stairs to the upper floor there was what must have been a women's room, the walls of which were completely plastered with magazine pages so old, that some of them dated back to 1880. Now that was a room worth preserving!

That evening the wind increased and the sea became choppy so we moved across the Murray Pass to a more sheltered West Cove on a much smaller Erith Island. We had an uneventful night and went to sleep while being gently rocked from side to side and lullabied by the waves splashing on the outside of our tiny cabin.

The next day we had a chance to explore Erith Island. This rugged and windswept granite outcrop where the vegetation is struggling to keep its hold on scarce patches of soil has no walking tracks. It could hardly be called lush but yet it was until recently subject to grazing. Now there are no alien animal species and the island is slowly recovering.

We decided to push ahead along the rocky coast. After some "high impact bushwalking" we finally reached the Swashway and crossed (it was low tide) to Dover Island but soon the sea started to come back, flooding the pass, and we returned through inland to the West Cove. The rusty shipwreck of a fishing boat dating from 1945 which lay exposed on the beach on our way there was now almost completely under water.

Before we embarked on our journey back to the ship I looked around the shack which was built on the beach by the people who used to lease the island for grazing. It was equipped with emergency supplies of food and water also there were beds to rest on and stove for cooking. Nice thought but luckily we were not in such dire need, yet. However I took the opportunity and had a wash under the tap from rainwater tank. It was desperation. Because there were so many people aboard and only limited volume of water we were only allowed to take a one-minute shower and that only every three days. I still do not know how we managed not to smell.

The next morning the wind started to pick up from the wrong direction so Brian the skipper decided to change the anchorage again. We moved to Garden Cove back at Deal Island and I had another opportunity to visit the lighthouse.

This time I was hoping to get the key and check the inside. Garden Cove is about 2km from the houses and right on the opposite side of the island from the lighthouse. We had a decent walk along the bumpy, wallaby ridden airstrip to the headquarters but we did not find anyone home.

After waiting for a while feeding the hungry wallabies with our own lunches, I together with a few other people, decided to go to the lighthouse again in the hope that we'd find the missing caretakers. Everyone was sorry for me when we did not find them there and I started to lose hope that I would ever peek inside this elusive lighthouse.

The following night was restless. The roar of the engine awakened us in the middle of the night when the strong wind and waves caused the ship to drag the anchor and we got perilously close to the rocks. Luckily the members of the crew took turns watching all night to prevent just such a disaster.

The next morning came my last chance to take a look inside the lighthouse. We were the first group to land at Garden Cove beach that day and were in a hurry to reach the houses before the caretakers disappeared again.

Our small group comprised of Brent, my fellow lighthouse trooper Anna, the ship's first mate Guy, and I. This time we were lucky and caught Mike and Jenny at home. It was their second-last day at Deal and they were preparing to leave the next day to let another couple take their five-week turn at the island. How I understood their reluctance to leave. Jenny and Mike were very nice to us and offered us tea and whatever little they had left of their food. We sipped the tea but had to decline anything else for we were in the hurry ourselves.

It was around nine and we had to be back at Garden cove at 11 to set sail back to Tasmania. With the keys from the lighthouse securely in Guy's pocket we rushed towards the light. We made it in a record time, though not as fast as a certain army man who reportedly made the journey to the lighthouse and back in 23 minutes. I was slacking behind the others and was the last one to reach the tower but those people were my true friends. Knowing how much it meant to me to see the inside of the lighthouse they waited for me beside the open door and let me be the first person to enter and climb the stairs to the lantern room.

With Guy Wall - the First Mate - at the Balcony of Deal Island Lighthouse [Photograph: Anna Sawatzki]
With Guy Wall - the First Mate - at the Balcony of Deal Island Lighthouse
[Photograph: Anna Sawatzki]

The Deal Island lighthouse is not operating any longer. It was switched off in 1992 and the nearest automatic light now shines from South West Rock. Before I visited there were reports that the lighthouse was in a state of disrepair on the inside.

The beams and the screws attaching the spiral staircase to the wall were so rusty that there was danger the whole structure could collapse. Now I could see that the reports were true. Also there was need for some housekeeping. The floors were in bad need of sweeping, the brass vents needed polishing, and the beautiful first order Fresnel lens covered with a canvas sheet was covered with a thick layer of dust as well. Pity I did not have time to do anything about it.

We climbed to the balcony and nearly got swept off by the high wind. The lighthouse is the loftiest in Australia; so much so, that it sometimes gets obscured by clouds (one of the arguments held against it right from the beginning).

The tower itself is only 12.3 m to the base of lantern. Deal is one of Australia's oldest lighthouses. It was finished in 1848 like Cape Otway and in fact is very similar in shape and size to the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Like Cape Otway it no longer functions as a navigational aid. I only wished the similarity would not end there. I felt very sad that such a treasure was now rendered obsolete, its future uncertain, perhaps bleak.

As we ran back down the hill to drop off the key and make it back to the ship in time I thought about what I could do to save this lighthouse. Obviously one person can not do a great lot. But there must be a lot of other people who might have the same goal. Some of them were right around me. If we put our ambitions together we might come up with something useful. Perhaps there is hope for old, obsolete lighthouses.

Steering the ship towards Judgement Rock with the help of Stuart - The Tasmanian [Photograph: Denise Shultz]
Steering the ship towards Judgement Rock with the help of Stuart - The Tasmanian
[Photograph: Denise Shultz]

We made it to the beach right on time and half an hour later we were sailing south towards Judgment Rocks to gaze in astonishment at the multitude of Australian fur seals living and breeding on this bare granite rock stained white with countless seal droppings. We continued around South West Rock with its automatic light, then set course towards Port Dalrymple when the night fell on us in Bass Strait for the last time.

Our group had one more midnight till four shift and when we woke up in the morning the wind was blowing in the right direction and for the first time we could set the sails and shut down the engine. I had the privilege to be at the helm while sailing silently gray waters of Bass Strait.

Life felt pretty good with sun shining on me being in control over such a large, spectacular ship, surrounded by my good mates. My dream had come true. Deal Island did not seem so inaccessible and far away any more.

See Also:

Abandoned Deal Island Lighthouse Deteriorating
Deal Island Heritage Project Underway (scroll down)
Islands in the Strait
Update on Works on Deal Island

Restored Roofs at Wilsons Promontory

[PRISM - Winter 2001]

Up until the election of the Bracks Government at the end of 1999, development proposals for the Wilsons Promontory National Park had been the subject of intense debate. The previous government had proposed to permit commercial development in the park. This would have included private management of accommodation at the lighthouse and the provision of private cabins for guided walkers on a new coastal walking trail down to the tip of the Prom. Responding to widespread objections to these plans and to concerns about proposed activities in other parks, the Labor opposition promised that there would be no further commercial developments in our national parks if it gained office. The walking track has been built, but the lighthouse management remains with the Park Service. There are no half-way cabins and instead of commercial guides there is, for a fee, a walk with a ranger naturalist.

Geoff Durham [Photograph Courtesy: Cyril Curtain]
Geoff Durham
[Photograph Courtesy: Cyril Curtain]

Well known conservationist and long-term councillor of the Victorian National Parks Association, Geoff Durham, recently described the walk, without a ranger guide, in the autumn issue of the Association's magazine Parkwatch. Those of you who may be contemplating the walk might be interested to know that Geoff celebrated his 70th birthday early this year at the Prom. The walk was undertaken in November 2000.

"As I panted and sweated up the track from Waterloo Bay on the way to the lighthouse, I should have been thinking about whether the "Hands off the Prom" opposition to the track was justified, but I wasn't. I was thinking - will it never end! It did eventually, at a broad granite slab onto which we collapsed from exhaustion. Adult daughter and I were backpacking the circuit walk at the Prom.

The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation [Photograph Courtesy: Brian Lord]
The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
[Photograph Courtesy: Brian Lord]

We had set off on our four-day walk from the Oberon car park at about 9.00am on Monday. The track to Windy Saddle was in excellent condition, but the downhill section to the Sealers Swamp board-walk had tacky patches. We lunched under the big banksia at the mouth of Sealers Creek and arrived at Refuge Cove in plenty of time to make camp.

Tuesday morning we made Kersop Saddle without too much trouble, dumped our packs and took the short detour to Kersop Peak. In 1962, this was where I had inadvertently left a canister containing an exposed Kodachrome film. My recollection is that the vegetation was then low heath rather than the present scrub. I didn't find the film.

Overlooking the Cottages at Wilsons Promontory [Photograph: Geoff Durham]
Overlooking the Cottages at Wilsons Promontory
Geoff Durham]

We rested at North Waterloo and then went up and over to Little Waterloo and on to Waterloo for lunch. The tide was out and we had firm white sand for the walk along the beach. We could clearly see the alignment of the new track on the slopes ahead. This surprised me as earlier in the year when I had come down the coast by boat and later flown over it in a light plane, I had looked for but failed to pick out the track.

From the beach, it didn't look too arduous. We were deceived. It was a long, hard, steady climb, but the coastal views when we reached the granite slab were magnificent. It was then a delightful walk along the new track to the Lighthouse reserve, but the walk up the steep concrete road to the buildings was torture at the end of a strenuous day. We were shown to our pre-booked accommodation in the first of four residential buildings. The smallest one next door was the home of the Station Managers, partners Mat and Kate. The next along was occupied by workers restoring the fourth, the original lightkeeper's residence closest to the lighthouse. The asbestos roofing was being replaced with slate.

Close up of Roof Restoration at Wilsons Promontory [Photograph: Geoff Durham]
Close up of Roof Restoration at Wilsons Promontory
Geoff Durham]

Our renovated building had three bedrooms, two with two bunks and one with four bunks, a spacious well equipped kitchen, two bathrooms (with no bath but much appreciated showers), a dining area, an enclosed verandah with luxurious couches and a small library. Our beds had been made up and there were towels and soap.

Helicopter Preparing to Land Supplies at Wilsons Promontory [Photograph: Geoff Durham]
Helicopter Preparing to Land Supplies at Wilsons Promontory
Geoff Durham]

On Wednesday morning, Mat showed us over the lighthouse. As it happened to be a helicopter drop day, we had the excitement of watching personnel, materials and supplies being brought in and sealed packages of asbestos and other waste being carried out.

We walked to Telegraph Track (which is a two-wheel drive gravel road) up the new walking track, which has tantalising views of the lighthouse. We then took the walking track rather than the road to Roaring Meg camping area where we dumped the packs and walked to South Point (about an hour each way) where we spent an hour. From Roaring Meg we again took the walking track to Martins Hill where the track met the road at a helipad, which was the base for the drops. Then it was down the road to camp the night at Halfway Hut. Next morning was an easy walk along the road back to the car and lunch.

We were lucky - we had perfect November weather. There were no bush or March flies and few mosquitos. We saw two large snakes that quickly slithered across our path. Most of the walkers we encountered were well-behaved school groups. Proud of our achievement, towards the end of the walk we were overtaken by two athletic men who did in one day what took us four!

Opinions will differ on whether the Waterloo Bay-Lighthouse track should have been constructed. It impacts on what was a remote and trackless area. If it is to be, it could not be better. It is on the best possible alignment, taking into account unstable ground which necessitates the long haul out of Waterloo Bay. It is sensitively and expertly constructed with natural materials. It provides a spectacular walk, and completes an interesting circuit. For those with knees that tolerate downhill walking, it is recommended that the circuit be walked anti-clockwise - the opposite direction to the one we took.

The walking track between the lighthouse and the end of the road is on a much better alignment than the old eroded track. This track has also been sensitively constructed. A high standard has been set by these new walking tracks.

Helicopter Landing Supplies at Wilsons Promontory [Photograph: Geoff Durham]
Helicopter Landing Supplies at Wilsons Promontory
Geoff Durham]

The obviously well used Telegraph 'Track' (road) is supposed to be for walkers and 'Management Vehicles Only'. It would greatly enhance the Prom experience if it reverted to being solely a walking track.

Parks Victoria offers two levels of accommodation at the lightstation, including a lighthouse tour. The cost is $40.00 per person per night (Saturday $65.00) which was not available to us because contractors were occupying this building, and ours was more expensive at $75.00 per person per night (Saturday $99.00). Food packs are an optional extra. Available until 30 April, guided walks from Tidal River, with meals supplied and accommodation in the restored residence cost $245.00 for two days and $435 for three days."

At the lightstation Geoff took several photographs showing restoration work in progress. Although our heritage consultants have not been able to see yet what is happening at the Prom., it appears from reports that the lightstation is getting the same standard of careful restoration from Parks Victoria as its sister service in South Australia has given to the lightstations on Kangaroo Island.

Management Plan
The Labor Party went into the last State election promising to incorporate the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse into the park; to ensure that commercial developments such as new hostels, roofed accommodation and other major tourist facilities would be outside the park; and to ensure that conservation values would not be eroded by inappropriate tourist developments.

The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation [Photograph Courtesy: Kim Shimmin]
The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
[Photograph Courtesy: Kim Shimmin]

On 13 December, 2000, Minister Garbutt released a Draft Management Plan for Wilsons Promontory, including the islands, Tidal River and the lightstation reserve. The new plan will replace the July 1997 Wilson s Promontory National Park Management Plan and the Tidal River Master Plan.

Some features of the draft plan are:

  • A new Yanakie Gateway entrance facility.
  • New walking tracks from the park entrance to Whisky Bay (with backpacker camping at Darby River); from Squeaky Beach to Lilly Pilly Gully car park; and from Tidal River to Oberon car park.
  • At Tidal River, wet-weather shelters and camping kitchens; and a new works depot and overflow car park in a disturbed area south of the entrance road with removal of the motor cabins, some camp sites and Lorikeet Units to the vacated depot site.
  • Continuation of Parks Victoria ranger guided walks to the lighthouse utilising half the accommodation, the other half being available for independent backpackers.
  • Apiculture to be phased out by 2005.

The plan has none of the contentious roofed accommodation proposals of the previous Kennett Government, although the establishment of a 'Centre of Excellence' is retained. The implications of this are uncertain.

Incremental development remains the insidious danger to the Prom. The park's history is one of periodical political assault, and the Victorian National Parks Association should retain its large 'Hands off the Prom' banner safely in storage.

Letters & Notices

Looking for Information Relating to Deal Island Grave

Hi Keeper

I am wondering if you can help me with some information relating to Deal Island and a grave that is located on the island.

I believe that in Garden Cove there is a grave belonging to George Phillpotts from England who died approximately Dec. 1886.

I would appreciate any information relating to this grave or the ship etc. I have staying with me at present a lady who believes this to be her grandfathers' brother. She is an Aussie and would like to find out as much about her relatives as possible and perhaps even visit them.

If you are unable to help with any of this information do you know of any way that I can find out this information? Thank you for your help.

Trevor Porter <>

Response 1:

Dear Trevor

The original cross for the grave is in the Museum at the Superintendents Residence on Deal Island. Recently someone (one of the recent caretakers?) cleared some of the poa grass from Garden Cove to reveal the grave and put small rocks around the edge of the grave to mark the grave and erected a small cross.

By the way I will be visiting Deal Island next week in a yacht

Christian Bell <>

Response 2:

Dear Malcolm

Trevor Porter from England inquired if a George Phillpotts (the relative of a friend), was buried on Deal Island. The information is as follows.

In 1886-1888 as part of a survey voyage, HMS Myrmidon (Captain R.F Hoskyn) surveys the Kent Group.

At 1.20am on December 20, 1886 'ships boy' George Phillpott dies. Ships carpenters build a coffin and a volley of 60 rounds is fired above the grave as the boy is buried on Erith Island (adjacent to Deal Island) with the site being marked with wooden cross. The crew of HMAS Ardent replaces this cross on March 5, 1988. The original cross is removed and becomes part of the Museum at the Superintendents Residence on Deal Island (pictured).

Photo Christian Bell

Christian Bell
Marine and Coastal Community Network
Phone +61 03 62343665
Fax +61 03 62312491

GPO Box 567
Hobart TAS 7001

Christian Bell <>

Looking For Obadiah Lucas

Hi Malcolm

I was having a look at the QLD lighthouses as I have an ancestor who was recorded in death as a 'retired lighthouse keeper'.

Though to date we have not been able to find much on him except he and his wife and two children came to Australia in 1874 on the "St James".

The family settled in the Maryborough area. He was Obadiah Lucas (died 25 March,1899) and wife Sarah (Nee- Pivott)(died 6 July 1895)the children where supposed to be Jane (only to find it was James and he (an oysterman) died by drowning, around the 7th April, 1890, in the Mary River in his 20's.

His brother William Pivott Lucas (my Great Grandfather) was also involved in the rivers up there - starting as an oysterman on a camp at South Heads Mary River. He was a Govt., Lamp Trimmer (South Heads, Mary River) at 33 yrs - around time of marriage to wife Francis Ruth (Nee: Hargreaves) 9th August 1902.

Then he shows up on his son James William's Marriage Certificate (19th October, 1927) as being in the Pilot Service (No certificate found as yet). Then the only other thing found is his death registration in Maryborough stating he was a retired Lighthouse keeper (passed away on the 10th August 1952 - age 83yrs). They had lived Gympie Road, Tinana.

One of his grandsons recall he possible worked in the lighthouse on Frazer Island (would this be Sandy Cape?)

If there is any way you could help me with my ellusive Obadiah I would be grateful. Any assistance to confirm this or photos etc. would be greatly appreciated. ( any costs incurred will happily be replaced)

Regards Michelle Stephenson <>

Hello From a Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

Dear Malcolm.

So good to read the web page on Otway Lighthouse.

I lived on the station with my parents and brother and sister from 1957 till late 1959 - my father's name being Fred Nash. Dad was second keeper to Reg Hodges for the duration of his stay at that light. We had previously been on Wilsons Prom.

It appears that Dad's name is not listed on the "board" of keepers at the station, which is very disappointing to our family. Hope one day this oversight will be corrected.

I would love to hear back from you on the current happenings on the station.

Best wishes Gail Barber (nee Nash) <>

From Cape Nelson to Gabo Island

Dear Malcolm

I've visited all of Victoria's lighthouses, from Cape Nelson to Gabo Island (bar Wilsons Prom.). The info contained at is invaluable. I've used it for 18 months now and it's great. I hope you enjoy doing it, 'coz I've certainly enjoyed using it. I'm very hesitant about subscribing to Net mail, but you do a great job. Thanks!

Anna Thierry-Higgins <>

Looking for Henry Knighton Toll Lightkeeper of Breaksea Island

Hi Malcolm

We have just returned from WA after spending a month there over Christmas. We set out to investigate the travels of my husband's great grandfather (or possibly great uncle, not sure.) We have only a newspaper cutting about him, from the local newspaper in Bere Alston, Devon, where the family came from.

We knew that he worked for P&O, then became the area health officer for the Port of Albany and also settled a sheep farm (unsuccessfully) on the other side of the Stirling Range, where the Toll peak was named after him. However, we didn't know until we spent some time in the Albany museum, that he also became a lighthouse keeper at Breaksea Island.

His name was Henry Knighton Toll. A relative of my husband's in Devon has a wonderful painting of him and he looks just like Mike!

Can you suggest any way that we might find out more about his life in Albany and at Breaksea? We have no idea if he ever married or had a family - if he did, then he is probably Mike's great grandfather. If not, an uncle.

We are hoping to move to WA to live at the end of the year, so it would be good to find out more. We don't know a lot about him but hope the above is helpful to you.

Barry Bernice <>

Second Letter:

Thanks for your interest, Malcolm.

I had some success in finding out a bit more about Henry K Toll. I managed to find some graveyard records for an area North of Albany with reference to several Tolls, including a Henry Knighton Toll and a Knighton Henry Toll - although both lived and died too late to be the man himself. It does look as though he had some family though (Mike had always thought he must have remained single, because of the adventurous life he led!) because I can't imagine someone calling their child Henry Knighton just as a coincidence!

Yes please, it would be great if you could put my letter into your newsletter. You never know.

We are currently pursuing our application for a 4 year visa and hope to move out to WA in mid -October. All is going well and we don't think there will be any hitches. Once we are there, we'll be able to visit Albany and try to find out a bit more about HK.

No, the newspaper cutting does not mention the lighthouse. We found that out while we were visiting Albany over Christmas, in a book in the museum there. There was even a description of him, that sounded exactly like Mike. It seems that he was quite a character and well-known in the town.

The newspaper cutting was from a tiny village in Devon, England, called Bere Alston. It's where his family came from and where he was born. It just tells us that his farm failed (they blame it on his Chinese workers, for some reason.) We did find the farm, on the other side of the Stirling Range as well as the mountain named after him as an early settler - the Tolls Peak.

We also know that, after being a captain with the P&O line for some years, he was the first Port Health Officer in Albany - must have been only about 20 years after the port was first founded by the prison ship, judging by the dates that he started the farm. He then went over the Stirlings, settled the sheep farm and failed, then came back to Albany as the lighthouse keeper. We would love to know if he was alone or had a wife and children, also where he was buried.

Anyway, we hope to visit the lighthouse on Breaksea one day, if possible, and also to find out more - he certainly must have been quite a daring and unusual person.

Keep in touch and let us know if you hear anything.

Best wishes Barry Bernice <>

Looking for Lightkeeper Le Nepveu

Hi Malcolm

Hi I am trying to trace my family tree and would like to know were I could get the information from.

My great grandfather was a seaman and worked on Kangaroo Island in 1856-1886. He also was a lighthouse keeper.

Did they keep records of the lighthouse

keepers as well as the seaman.

I have his date of birth and what he did though Flinders Island but can't seem to find where he was born. He was French but that doesn't help me. His name was Le Nepveu.

CHEERS Irene Doyle <>

Great Grandfather, My Grandfather, and Three Uncles Were all Lighthouse Keepers

Dear Malcolm

I love this site!! It was the first thing I bookmarked for my father when he recently got a computer (He's 72!)

Dad was born at Byron Bay when his father was a keeper there, and is named Byron.

Keepers are practically a tradition in our family, with my Great Grandfather, my Grandfather, and three uncles all serving up and down the NSW coastline from the early days in the 1910's up until the early 1970's.

I have many memories of happy days spent at Norah Head when we were younger. My Grandfather was the Head Keeper there just before retirement in the late 1960's, and would often let us climb to the top of the light with him. We even have a newspaper clipping of him receiving a congratulatory message from the Queen.

Even now, whenever we get the chance - we love going for a hike out to the Outer Light at Point Stephens (you just have to keep an eye on the tides!!)

Keep up the good work ( and I'll see if I can get some old photo's for you, if possible)

Julie Reynolds <>

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>

New Pages & Links

New Pages for Australia:

No new pages for Australia this month

New Links for Australia:

Greencape Light House by Kevin Mulcahy Greencape Light House by Kevin MulcahyNew.gif (158 bytes)
Gabo Island Lighthouse by Kevin Mulcahy New.gif (158 bytes) Gabo Island Lighthouse by Kevin Mulcahy

Also, New Links for World:

Rich's Beacons of Light Page Notable National Sea Sentinels by Debbie DolphinNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Lighthouses Of Cape CodNew.gif (158 bytes) The Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <>

Australian News:

AMSA Outsources Navigational Services

[PRISM - Winter 2001]

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has let a major contract for the provision and maintenance of its aids to navigation and search and rescue equipment.

The contract, worth more than $20m over three years, has been awarded to Australian Maritime Systems Limited (AMS), a Brisbane-based company, after an extensive five-month tender process.

The initial contract duration is three years for maintenance of navigational aids and two years for search and rescue (SAR) equipment, with options to extend in subsequent years.

Some 17 companies responded when expressions of interest in the tender were called last August and eight were selected for the final tender process.

The contract covers the construction and maintenance of AMSA's aids to navigation network around the Australian coastline. This includes over 400 sites comprising traditional light beacons and buoys, radar transponders, differential global positioning system stations and ship reporting radar systems.

It also involves maintenance and logistic support of search and rescue air-droppable equipment including life rafts, pumps, VHF radios', survival equipment and on-site training support.

The Australian Maritime Authority's Vessel, The Cape Grafton [Photograph: AMSA]
The Australian Maritime Authority's Vessel, The Cape Grafton
[Photograph: AMSA]

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Clive Davidson said the issue of a tender for this work had followed a review last year to consider the most effective means of delivering these services and followed the sale of the Authority's vessel Cape Grafton.

AMS will engage a high percentage of AMSA employees and former AMSA employees to work with the company in delivering these services.

Queensland Lighthouse Service Reunion

Memories of The Queensland Lighthouse Service [Photographs: Stuart Buchanan]Former employees, their families and descendants are invited to a reunion to be held on the 30th June 2001 to celebrate the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service's 86th birthday.

Bob Todkill, one of the organisers said this is a particularly important one as it marks the end of an era with all the maintenance of lights now being privatised.

He said "We hope to get as many of the people who were associated with the Service back together as possible. It has been hard work as many have moved on to other occupations, retired and gone travelling an we have lost contact. Others have passed on and we have lost track of their children, many who were born and raised in the stations. At the moment we have about 120 coming."

He also said that if anyone has any memorabilia that can be made available for display he would be appreciative if they could have a loan of it.

The venue will the Brisbane 18 Foot Sailing Club in Bulimba, Brisbane.

If you have a connection with the service and would like to attend contact Bob Todkill, (07) 3399 6922 Mob 0427 646 337, or Jack Duvoisin, (07) 3396 8559, before the 16th June 2001 or write to :
Bob Todkill
166 Brisbane Street
Bulimba 4171

or eMail:
Bob Todkill <>


Deal Island Diary is a Great Idea!

The new caretakers of Deal Island, Ahmet Bektas and Melinda Lambourne <> have started a web page detailing their experiences as the caretakers on the island.

Ahmet Bektas [Photograph: Deal Island Diary]
Ahmet Bektas
[Photograph: Deal Island Diary]
Melinda Lambourne [Photograph: Deal Island Diary]
Melinda Lambourne
[Photograph: Deal Island Diary]

They intend to periodically update though as Ahmet says:

"Our site is really a bit of a creative experiment for us. We will feed it as limited time and power supply allow. Also we have some annoying speed restriction coming off the Island."

The site is located at <> but Ahmet said he would like to find a more permanent home for it.

Island Lighthouse Photo Gallery [Photograph: Deal Island Diary]
Island Lighthouse Photo Gallery
[Photograph: Deal Island Diary]

There is a comprehensive photo gallery containing pictures of the Island's flora and fauna as well as the lighthouse.

It is worth visiting and it looks like it might develop into something even better than it already is.

Deal Islanders Established

Christian Bell has kept us informed on events at Deal over the years and has now informed us of the formation of a new organization called the Deal Islanders to conserve the island.

The People Who Have Been Involved With Deal Island Over The Years [Photograph: Deal Island Diary]As a result of a well attended meeting held on Saturday, April 28 held in Buckland, Tasmania (hosted by Helen Gee and Bob Graham), a group has been formed with regard to the Deal Island Conservation Area.

It is called the 'Deal Islanders' and it aims to promote better management outcomes with regard to the island and wishes to undertake practical projects concerning both the cultural heritage (of the Light Station) and natural heritage of Deal Island Conservation Area. The organization comprises people who have mostly been caretakers (more than twenty-five people have been volunteer caretakers on the Island since 1999). The group however is not confined to former caretakers and has other members with a strong interest in the management of Deal Island.

Currently the most pressing concern to members of the group is the proposed lease of the island to a tourism operator. It is the Tasmanian Governments position to lease the island for tourism (whether this is some or the entire island is still not yet clear).

The organization has written to the Tasmanian Minister, David Llewellyn (as he is the minister for the Parks and Wildlife Service and has responsibility for the island) stating that we wish to have input into the form of any lease that may occur between the Government and any leaseholder with relation to Deal Island.

We see the island as an important community asset to be protected and conserved. For many years now Deal has attracted a broad range of visitors both from Tasmania and Victoria, visitors who have a keen interest in both the natural and cultural environment of Deal Island.

We would be extremely concerned if the Tasmanian Government was to enter into a lease arrangement with a leaseholder that would restrict the publics' ability to visit, or enter into agreements that would inhibit the community being able to engage in conservation works with regard to either the built heritage or natural environment of the island.

As yet our group may not have a problem with some part of the island being leased. But we do wish to have some say into the scope and nature of the agreement with any potential leaseholder. The best approach to take in regard to Deal would be for a management plan to be done for the island before any agreement is signed so that any lease would fit into a proper management framework. The island is to an important a place not to do otherwise.

If you are interested in the joining the Deal Islanders we are looking for additional members, our group will be using eMail extensively to organize projects and input. We would particularly like to hear from Victorians (as the island is much closer to the Victorian coastline than it is from the Tasmanian mainland). Most visitors are from Victoria and are quite often quite surprised to find that they are visiting a Tasmanian Island. It certainly a lot easier to visit Deal from the Victorian side of the Strait than it is for most of us Tasmanians, so if you would like to contribute to some projects please get in touch with us.

If you wish to become involved you can either eMail or contact David Reynolds on (03) 6229 4076.

Light Properties Transferred

[PRISM - Winter 2001]

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority transferred 26 lightstation properties, many with heritage-listed buildings, to the West Australian Government late last year.

Among the properties, which mostly adjoin national parks and reserves, are some of the best known lighthouses on the Western Australian coastline.

Transfer properties include Cape Leeuwin, 15.55 ha., three houses, outbuildings and Cape Naturaliste, 8 ha., three houses, outbuildings in the Margaret River area; Rottnest Island, 0.91ha, one house, outbuildings and Eclipse Island, 99.15ha., with outbuildings.

Cape Leeuwin
Cape Leeuwin
Cape Naturaliste
Cape Naturaliste
Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island

The following transfers are 'land only' in hectares:

  • Bathurst Point 0.08, Bessieres Island 54,
  • Adele Island 217, Escape Island 27,
  • Lesueur Island 57, North Sandy Island 20,
  • Tanner Island 1, Degerando Island 1,
  • Lacrosse Island 1, Breaksea Island 1,
  • Shoal Point 0.03, Bedout Island 0.41,
  • Cape Inscription 1.61, Cape Leveque 0.79,
  • D'Entrecasteaux Point 0.04, Foul Bay 0.04,
  • Great Sandy Island 0.41, Point Cloates 0.14,
  • Quobba Point 0.81, Gantheaume Point 0.63,
  • Moore Point 0.15 and Legendre Island 259.
Cape Inscription
Cape Inscription
Moore Point
Moore Point
Point Quobba
Point Quobba

Under the transfer agreement, natural archaeological and aboriginal aspects are taken into account through conservation management plans.

The navigational aids (light beacons) at each location will continue to be owned and operated by AMSA.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer, Clive Davidson, said the lights were all fully automated - mostly solar-powered but some mains power.

He said that under the transfer agreement AMSA had road and/or helicopter access to the navigational aids and the public would still have access to selected light towers.

"The 26 properties are part of a package of transfers by the Commonwealth (AMSA) of over 100 lightstations in each Australian State with the main condition that their historic buildings are opened up to the public, maintained and their heritage and conservation values protected, " he said.

If you know of any news or event effecting an Australian Lighthouse please forward it to us so we can publish in the Monthly Bulletin.

Join Lighthouses of Australia Inc.

It is up to those of you who believe in the Preservation, Protection and Promotion of Australia's lighthouse heritage 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.

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Thanks to the Following People for Their Help in May:

Susan Brain (Photos and Info)
Carol Herben (Info)
Dave Williams (Photos and Info)
Joan Abrams (Info)
Karyn Bradley (Photos)
Kevin Mulcahy (Photo)
Peter Braid & Bob Todkill (Info)
Steve Dawson (Links)
Mark Westwood (Access)

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

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

Regards until the July 2001 Bulletin
Malcolm Macdonald

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The JUNE 01 BULLETIN was published on: 8/6/01

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

Photographs & Contributions:

AMSA for Photograph
Anna Sawatzki for Photograph
Brian Lord for Photograph
Christian Bell for News
Cyril Curtain for Photograph and Arranging Story
Deal Island Diary for Photographs
Denise Shultz for Story and Photographs
Geoff Durham for Photographs
Kim Shimmin for Photograph
PRISM for Story and News
Stuart Buchanan for Photographs

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