[Marguerite & Nick Stephen]
On Sunday morning we headed off to the National Park at Cape Bailey. From the sealed car park we trekked along the tessellated rocks of the cliff tops of Kurnell - great walk and well recommended. After photographing the Cape Bailey Lighthouse we were persistently monitored and escorted off their lighthouse patch by the resident crows. A group of 5 crows consistently flew from shrub to shrub, immediately along side the track, ensuring we departed or hoping for a large meal should we stumble and fall!
Mid Sunday afternoon was spent in park grounds below the cliff top that is the home for Barranjoey Lighthouse. Late afternoon we drove to the Pittwater Council car park immediately at the base of Barranjoey. The car park fee of $9.00 was a little surprising.
To see Barranjoey
Lighthouse, unless one has 4-wheel drive access permission or a helicopter,
one has to undertake a steep uphill hike.
Allow a good 40 minutes to complete the upward journey - with regular rest/breath catching breaks along the way.
On the downwards return trip, that is 'slip-trip and fall', Marguerite fell face down and nearly broke her nose. After returning to Annandale and receiving creature comforts, sympathy, hot bath and a cup of tea, Marguerite was back to her cheerful self. As a punishment to Barranjoey, all photographs of this Lighthouse are to be hung upside down for a period of 7 days.
On Tuesday the 22nd we arrived at the delightful area of Port Stephens. Point Stephens Lighthouse is not easy to locate unless you study 'well detailed' map. We strongly suggest obtaining guidance from the Royal Coast Watch Patrol volunteers and or local fisherman prior to attempting a journey from the Fingal (mainland) to the Spit (land mass surrounding Fingal Bay).
Often there are strong tides and multiple currents associated with waters in this vicinity. It is recommended that correct tidal information be obtained personal safety considerations undertaken and current information obtained from local sources prior to any serious attempt being undertaken to reach the Spit and Fingal Bay. Some people have drowned trying to make this crossing.
Unfortunately we did not reach Fingal Bay. Local commercial hire boat company at Nelson Bay would not hire a vessel to us when the staff were told we wished to reach Fingal Bay. Seems to us that local hire boat company was only interested in hiring boats for small fishing journeys or taking money for dolphin tours. We contacted/telephoned several fishermen at Fingal in order to obtain a boat ride across to the Spit in order to then trek to Port Stephens lighthouse at Fingal Bay. Again no luck as one fisherman was booked and another could not take us out until the following morning.
Wednesday afternoon we departed the beautiful Port Stephen's area and continued our Lighthouse tour to both Smoky Cape and Seals Rocks. At Seals Rocks we met the dedicated Mark Sheriff. Mark loves to paint lighthouses, surrounding cottages, sheds and the like and we believe he should be given an Australian Honour for his substantial efforts - he was even working on the Saturday morning that we chanced to meet him.
On returning to Sydney we located Bradleys Head Lighthouse, situated against the splendid backdrop of the harbour.
Overall, with the exception of the Fingal Bay exercise, the lighthouse trip was both successful and enjoyable.
[Dick O'Neil <email@example.com>]
Two sizeable exercises, which I conducted personally, were in the then Department of Shipping and Transport. The first was a review of Lighthouse Workshops and the second, more or less springing from the first, a review of the Supply function in the Department.
Again these were very interesting, particularly the former. The Central Office of Shipping and Transport including the Director of Lighthouses was located in the old Rialto Building in Collins Street, Melbourne. At that time the lifts in the building were still operated by pulling a steel rope/cable (I had seen them before because Dad had worked in the building during the war). I mention these antiquated lifts because they were fairly symptomatic of the management style of the Lighthouse Service.
I won't go into much detail except to make a few observations. Gordon Laycock, the Director of Lighthouses was a delightful man but very old fashioned and conservative. I can best illustrate this by quoting him after some weeks of exhortation from me:
It was really mandatory to do so.
I might add that this was at the beginning of a process already commenced by the Department to convert manned Lighthouses to Automatic (acetylene, and subsequently, electronic) and of course the Works Department was responsible for all major construction for the Commonwealth Government. I had come to the conclusion fairly early in my review that most of the problem being experienced in the Workshops sprang from a lack of planning. It is interesting to recall that my recommendations in this regard were outside my terms of reference. This often happened in this sort of work and it was always a delicate exercise to decide how to handle it.
Senior people on the administrative side of the Department of Shipping and Transport at that time included Tom Norris and Graham Andrews (who after went to the Albury/Wodonga Development Authority). The Deputy Director of Lighthouses was Les Ault.
Perhaps the highlight of this exercise was a trip on one of the two Departmental Lighthouse Vessels, the SS Cape York.
I boarded the ship at Port Melbourne whence we sailed across to Gabo Island and then down the east coast of Tasmania, calling in to all the manned and unmanned lightstations on the way. I left the vessel in Hobart, so missed out on sailing up the rugged western coast.
Included in the crew were a few Lighthouse Mechanics whose job it was to service all unmanned lights and to visit all manned Lightstations to carry out maintenance on the lights, lightkeepers' houses etc. All of this was under the control of the Regional Lighthouse Engineer from the Victorian Office.
At the outset I had determined that I would try to do everything the mechanics did. This, among other things, entailed travelling ashore on the Ship's motor boat and clambering up cliffs to reach the automatic lights. Some of these climbs were quite scary.
I took a lot of black and white pictures of the various locations but didn't write any details on the prints. Some years ago I came across the snaps which I had not identified and had been annotated by Bernadette:"101 photos of nothing by RCO'N."
It was also an education to meet Lighthouse Keepers and their families. I recall being quite surprised to find that they were just normal people! Most of them were ex sailors. The Director of Lighthouses, Gordon Laycock, knew all these people personally and took an avid interest in their welfare. One of the features of the Lighthouse Service was a very strong sense of belonging at all levels.
The visit to Tasman Island off the South East Coast of Tasmania is worth recalling. Although it was a manned station the method of taking stores ashore was by a basket on a line between the coast of the island and a large rock in the sea.
The arrangement was for this bosun's chair to be winched to a small platform half way up a steep cliff face. From the platform a small tramway line ran to the top of a cliff where a 1923 Ronaldson and Tippet Engine made in Ballarat pulled a cable attached to a small flat trolley to the top. Communication was by an old fashioned telephone.
The morning we arrived we went ashore at daybreak, probably by the bosun's chair. By breakfast time the Regional Lighthouse Engineer and his staff had dismantled the bosun's chair for maintenance so that we went back to the ship by motor boat to dine.
The workers ashore (mainly the ships crew) were highly amused when they saw the guy from the Public Service Board stuck with one foot on the motor boat and the other foot on shore. There was quite a heavy swell and it was only the skill of the Mate who was manoeuvring the motor boat that saved me from being crushed.
Later that morning I was back on the platform half way up the cliff when I was asked whether I would like to go up to the top. I agreed and the lighthouse mechanic who was to accompany me and I duly mounted the little trolley to be pulled to the top.
When I say mounted the method of transporting was for the two passengers to lie on their backs with their feet braced against a board. Half way up it became obvious to my companion that I was very nervous. He compounded my nervousness by recounting a couple of instances when the cable had broken, the little trolley on which we were prostrate raced out of control down the cliff, hit the terminus on the platform at full pelt, and then literally flew through the air the remaining twenty metres or so into the ocean.
I was awfully glad and breathed a great sigh of relief when we reached the top safely. It was then I saw that an old engine built in Ballarat by Ronaldson and Tippet in 1923, the year I was born, had provided the power for us to be towed to the top! My companion was highly amused at the whole incident.
Graves on Goose Island
King Island Lighthouse Keepers
Cliffy Island Keepers, Photos and Cousins
Looking for Peter Frank Eckman, Keeper at Barrenjoey
Lighthouse Keepers Gardens
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[Mark Westwood <firstname.lastname@example.org> National Parks & Wildlife Service].
There's been a lighthouse on Montague Island, 9km off the NSW south coast, for nearly 120 years. The keepers were housed in what were described as "lofty and commodious" quarters, high on the granite summit, steadfastly facing east above the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea.
This tight little community existed until the 1960's, when electrification reduced the keepers to two, then one keeper after automation of the light in 1989, and finally de-manning in 1993, with the replacement of keepers by National Parks and Wildlife staff which continues today.
The original three dwellings still stand, comprised of a separate Head Keepers residence of 6 rooms, close to a duplex of two Assistant Keepers residences of four rooms each and sharing a central wall. Each house has separate kitchens, storerooms, and laundry/toilets. There are also several "sheds" nearby.
All the buildings are currently functional in one way or another:
A feature of the National Parks & Wildlife Service Plan of Management for the Island was the decision to fully restore the central Assistant Keepers residence to a close approximation of its 1890 condition, and to develop it into a "Museum in the Making" for tour groups to walk through and experience life as a keeper as though the family had just stepped out. To this end, the National Trust (NSW) have been contracted to purchase authentic furnishings, and to provide reproduction fittings such as blinds and floor coverings, as well as signage to help visitors to understand life as a 19th century keeper and family.
People can be assured that repairs and renovations are only carried out following detailed research and within the conventions of the "Burra Charter", a national agreement for managing historic sites. The external features of the buildings are thus faithful to the late 19th century, while in the two "occupied" buildings the interiors are modernised to allow for all the creature comforts.
Key architectural features of the buildings, originally designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, include:
The buildings have all been substantially altered over the many years, and there are stories concerning certain keepers being "in trouble" for the work they did without permission, including the knocking through walls for doorways.
By 1987, when the National Parks & Wildlife Service assumed management of the Island, some of the buildings were in a poor state and extensive preservation works had to be undertaken to deal with leaking roofs, as well as internal drainage and dampness issues. Much of the internal rendering had "failed", exposing the old bricks underneath.
To date, renovations to all buildings have included:
With up to 6,500 visitors per year, profits from Montague Island tours make a notable contribution towards these projects, in particular the "museum in the making" which means every paying visitor helps out in some way to keeping the spirit of the keepers alive for future generations to share.
Come see for yourself. Fully guided, three to four hour tours run daily depending on minimum numbers and the weather. Book through Narooma Visitors Centre (02) 4476 2881 or Narooma National Parks & Wildlife Service (02) 4476 2888.
Things are changing around Cape Liptrap Lighthouse as I could witness during my recent visit to the area.
The lighthouse is situated about 180km south east of Melbourne on a narrow promontory jutting south into the Bass Strait. The lighthouse has been built on cliffs that are so geologically interesting that many geologists, gem fossickers as well as casual visitors brave the steep, ill-defined path down to the sea level. After defying the slippery soil and unstable, wobbly stones, the lucky observer is rewarded with a close up view of many layers of sedimental mudstone (turbidite) twisted and folded into tortured shapes by geological forces. Walk along the wave cut rock platforms will reveal the lighthouse from a very unusual perspective.
The lighthouse is relatively new, dating from 1951 when it replaced the steel structure erected in 1913. It stands on a concrete platform surrounded by flat rocks giving way to bushes towards the inland. The car park at the end of a gravel road is only about 30m from the lighthouse.
Up until the end of last year the place was just left in its natural state with soil erosion and plant destruction around the lighthouse going on unchecked. The signs marking the access to the lighthouse were so small that it was very hard to find.
Well, no more!
With the number of visitors increasing, Parks Victoria decided to do something about it. The signs marking the access to the lighthouse are now prominently displayed, the road is well maintained and the car park has been resurfaced with gravel. Area adjacent to the lighthouse has been completely landscaped. The tower as well as the car park is now fenced off to protect the coastal bushes around it. There are bays equipped with picnic tables. The area behind the fence is being rehabilitated for vegetation.
To conclude, the place now looks much more civilised and "touristy" than it was a year ago but the changes fit the landscape very well and should actually prevent further destruction of this spot so cherished by geologists as well as lighthouse lovers.
You may remember we have mentioned in previous Bulletins that Marion Borchart, the lady from Queensland, is organising the reunion at Double Island Point for past lightkeepers, their families and descendants.
Cyril Curtain of the ALA (Australian Lighthouse Association) has received a letter from Marion telling us it's on Sept 5th.
She is working on a history of Double Island Point and Inskip Point and would welcome any contact with families associated with these lights. She would both like to receive and share info.
She has school records dating from the 1880s and would be pleased to help with anyone seeking their family history in the Great Sandy Region.
Marion can be contacted at:
Only a titbit, but Marion also informs us that the Double Island Point Lighthouse has been leased out to the Noosa Parks Association. One can only assume that they are a conservation based organisation. Week will try to get further information for a future issue.
[ABC News On-Line - © 2001 Australian Broadcasting Corporation]
The Australian Heritage Commission has recognised a Torres Strait lighthouse that has been guiding ships to safety for more than 100 years.
The beacon on Goods Island, west of Thursday Island, has been entered onto the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate.
It was built in 1877, after the State Government recognised the area's importance to pearl farmers.
Commission chairman Peter King says the lighthouse is the only one of its kind in the state.
Mr King says the lighthouse formed part of the country's defences against invasion in World War II.
He says it was strategically placed in 1886 to spot any potential enemy attack through the Torres Strait, while fulfiling its basic role of guiding ships through stormy waters.
He says the lighthouse has served Australia's north well.
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until the September 2001 Bulletin
AUGUST 01 BULLETIN was published on: 8/8/01
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