[David Hurburgh <email@example.com>]
There are 290 lighthouses around the 24,000 km coastline of Australia. Imagine seeing them all in just 2 months. This is what Winsome Bonham and Lloyd Rogers did earlier this year.
Lloyd's a keen pilot and Winsome loves lighthouses and photography. Together, they achieved the dream of a lifetime, taking photos of all of mainland Australia's lighthouses from the air.
Over the next few issues of the Bulletin, we'll be telling you about this fabulous project.
The Flight Plan
Twelve months of intensive planning went into this project. The first task was to come up with a definitive list and location of the lighthouses.
The office of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in Newcastle had a publication that was 10 years old. They wouldn't vouch for its accuracy. They then heard that the "Admiralty list of Lights and Fog Signals - Volume K " was the most definitive list. The definition of a lighthouse for the trip was a light "with a building". This gave a grand total of 290 lighthouses.
Since they would be flying a single-engine Cessna 172 ( VH - RNL) , safety ruled out visiting lighthouses more than 60 nautical miles off the coast. A special trip to go around Tasmania is planned for early 2002.
To put together a detailed flight plan, the exact location of each light had to be established. The prime navigation and location tool was to be the satellite based Global Positioning System (GPS). Since lighthouses are meant to be seen from sea level, sometimes they can be quite difficult to find from the air. The GPS was to prove an essential device on the trip.
The limit to daily flying was set at 3 1/2 hours. Locating the refuelling and overnight stops was a key factor. The distance (and time) between each light had to be calculated. To meet the objective of photographing with video, digital and film cameras the plan included at least 3 "orbits" around each light.
One of the codes of flying these days is to "fly neighbourly". The flight plans had to avoid sensitive areas like the whale breeding grounds at the head of the Great Australian Bight and near Victoria's Twelve Apostles.
There are also bird breeding grounds all along the Barrier Reef, which had to be avoided.
Rules & Regulations
To take good photographs the plan was to fly lower than 500 feet in the vicinity of the lights. In order to do this you need special permission from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Lloyd had to go to Parkes (NSW) to complete a "low flying course". If you ever want to become an aerial cattle musterer, this is the sort of ticket you need.
Since they would be flying in remote areas up in the Top End, where an emergency landing on a mudflat may put you face-to-face with a croc, they thought it be wise to have a gun on board. Of course, Lloyd had to get a shooter's licence and since there would be ammunition on board, another hurdle was to get a dangerous goods ticket.
The Cessna needed a few modifications for the trip. The back seats were taken out so all the gear could be in the cabin and under the wing. A special lightweight frame was made to hold the luggage. To stop things shifting in turbulence they got a special cargo net made. Good old CASA required a $600 payment to sign-off on the plans for the frame and net!
A special prop had to be made to keep the window of the plane open when taking photographs. The Royal Newcastle Aero Club engineers devised a neat and simple solution to this.
Since there was an element of commerciality in the trip (a TV documentary is in the making) CASA insisted that Lloyd got a Commercial Pilots Licence.
Gear & Equipment
Digital cameras are the way to go these days. Winsome got herself one of the best around, the Fuji FinePix S1 Pro with a Nikkor 80-200 mm lens.
For shooting video, Winsome bought a digital handycam, the Sony DCR-TRV6E MiniDV and for back-up she carried her trusty old 35mm Canon camera. You never know when your batteries in all those electronics may go flat!
For emergency communications,
they rented a satellite phone. You'll read later how it let them down
when they really needed it. They each had normal mobile phones with
them and a notebook computer. The computer with a dial-up connection
(when on the ground) gave Lloyd his morning weather forecast via the
Internet from Air Services.
With all this gear and their differing power requirements, it was a
real job just keeping track of the state of the batteries and each bit
of equipment's unique charger.
The biggest and heaviest piece of gear in the plane was a 16kg life raft. Since they were to be flying over water a lot of the time, they wore life jackets all the time. Just to be sure, they both took a helicopter underwater escape course just in case they had to ditch in the sea. There are no courses like this for fixed wing planes.
They took a comprehensive first aid course. This is to be recommended for anybody who is going far "off the beaten track".
Since weight was a major limitation on the trip, they kept the clothes they took to a minimum. Instead, they had special flying suits made by Sisley Clothing Co. They are made from fire-retardant material with lots of pockets for all their gear. They each had a Personal Emergency Locator Beacon (ELB) in their pockets at all times.
Their flying suits are almost identical to those used by the Customs Officers "Up North". The government guys's suits are khaki, but Winsome's and Lloyd's are light blue. Whenever they crossed paths with the Customs people, they would compliment each other on their suits!
Cleared For Take-off
Saturday 28 April 2001: After all the planning and preparation, the Cessna C172 (VH - RNL Romeo November Lima) was loaded up with all the gear and they were ready to head south. About 20 friends of Winsome and Lloyd were at the Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Maitland to see them off.
Over the next few months in the Bulletin, we'll bring you their story of Lighthouses from the Air.
[Annette Flotwell <firstname.lastname@example.org> Germany ]
After staying a week in the cool and refreshing Atherton Tablelands, I was quite keen on beginning this years two lighthouse weeks. The Low Isles Lighthouse close to Port Douglas was the one I was aiming at. So I started enquiring about ferries or other means of transport. Rolf an I shared enquiring along the main street, hoping for availability, prices and the weather forecast.
All we got after three hours were 20 different brands of: "we might go close to the island on our next diving trip which is just $200 pp but we can't guarantee you a shot of the lighthouse." And "don't you want to do some diving instead." I could hardly tell them I'd rather swim in the cool tableland rivers again than in hot sea water with sharks and corals. OK.
So we searched for the old Port Douglas Lighthouse instead. Again, none of these clever activities tourist information staff could tell you how to access it. We did, because an old friendly aboriginal man told us. It was simply hidden behind private houses. Had to show them all my Lighthouses of Australia calendar before I could get in.
The heat in Port Douglas is suffocating. We headed south as fast as we could and arrived in Townsville late the next day. There are two lighthouses close to Townsville, so the next morning we started the search following the map and my GPS, a military fence and a maritime academy stood in the way. For one hour, I tried to convince them that there was a track in the map, that I was perfectly able to handle my Toyota Landcruiser for ten kms over rough terrain - in vain. Hire a helicopter if you want to go there was all the answer I got. In a book we had seen the picture of many islands with a small lighthouse in the foreground. It had the title Gloucester Island.
In Bowen, I had already learned my bit about maps and the fact that nobody even knows they exist in Northern QLD, so I tried a different approach. In the council, I asked whether I could see the local topographic map. A young clerk found a map for me and stated he had never heard about a lighthouse on Gloucester Island. Besides, all the beach facing the island was a private resort again and they wouldn't allow anyone to enter.
But, he smiled and said, you know, there is a lighthouse just in our bay and you can see it from that hill over there, pointing it out in the map. It hasn't been used for ages, never since he was born, but they keep painting it.
The next day saw me bringing them $5 for there coffee box, for he was the first to be really helpful.
This is where the Bowen North Reef shots come from. A grumpy barman in the yacht club allowed me to calculate the position from an old nautical map. The night saw us in the shabbiest pub of the town, because we really needed some friendly company, and we got just that.
The merriest people in the pub were the owner and her old father, who was one of the people repainting the lighthouse. the new light on South Reef may be more modern and all that he said, but it's got no soul.
They told me about their many fishing excursions, among the islands where often they found their fishing huts burned because some idiot hat started a bush fire again - to scare off the hippies. That never kept him from erecting new huts, sometimes they lasted ten years.
The daughter had gone to school with the Dent Island lightkeeper's daughter and she had been there when it was still manned.
Malcolm, tell your reader who enquired about the Dent Island keeper to go to the Commercial Hotel in Bowen, I'm sure that's where they could find what they are looking for. It might take some beers to find out, though.
They sent me to Proserpine to enquire about getting to Dent Island, instead of Airlie Beach. I'll spare you the details, but once again it was a council clerk who found out whom the island belonged to, as arranging boat trip proved pointless. (Are you sure you want to go this week?)
Now we knew we had to drive to the Airlie Airfield. There was a fine, elegant women sitting outside the building. that was Kandice, who was very, very helpful and understanding once she knew why I wanted to see her island. She charged us only $200 for a return flight to Hamilton Island and the helicopter trip to Dent Island (that's for both of us) and I hope that was enough to cover the kerosine.
On Hamilton Island (in fact, it must belong to the Japanese) it was like landing in another world. The staff were Australian, but they all spoke Japanese, because all the guests seemed to be that. We were the only European guests and received VIP treatment. It was a white-painted, almost unreal green tropical island. An airline employee offered to take us to their disused Hamilton Island Light, which is now replaced by the airport beams.
After that excursion, our flight to Dent Island was soon due. It was the first helicopter flight in our life, so we enjoyed every second of it. The helicopter had no doors, so I could lean out, grabbing the telescopic lens and get some really decent shots. Even though it was very windy, we landed safely. We could even have 20 minutes to take the pictures, another round over the island ensured that I got it right.
We were not a bit too early on our way back, a large thunderstorm hovered over the Whitsunday when we flew back to Airlie Beach.
Seeking Information About Emanuel Francis
History of Bathurst Point Lighthouse
Looking for Ken J Gilbertson of South Neptune
Arthur Henry Warren of the Low Isles
WW2 Infra-red Detector Between Pt Nepean and Pt Londsdale
Looking for Joseph William Mortley
Looking for James & Archibald MaCalister Aird
Feel free to post any request, letters, notices here regarding research, events etc for any Australian Lighthouse on this notice board.
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[David Hurburgh <email@example.com>].
A major effort has been mounted in the Cape Jaffa-Kingston region of South Australia to prevent the demolition of the 130-year-old platform, which was the base of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse at Margaret Brock Reef, 5 nautical miles off the coast. The light tower itself was relocated to the mainland at Kingston in 1972.
The platform is a magnificent piece of marine engineering. The platform is constructed of the same elaborate wrought iron bracing that forms the outside supports of the main light.
Recently, it has been learnt that the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) have plans to demolish the platform since they consider its current state to be dangerous for their crews when they maintain the solar powered beacon. Evidently AMSA recently offered the platform to the SA National Parks for it is home to a substantial nesting colony of gannet and seals. Preliminary indications are that National Parks are reluctant to take on the perceived liabilities relating to the condition of the Platform.
Local community groups in the Limestone Coast region have been actively lobbying their Federal Member, in order to alert the Minister for Transport (John Anderson) of the conservation, heritage and economic issues involved. This lobbying effort is being energetically co-ordinated by Mrs. Pat Barton of the Cape Jaffa Caravan Park.
The three key arguments for the preservation and restoration of the platform are:
The most persuasive argument that is likely to succeed with the Government is probably economic. Since the structure is so substantial, the cost of its removal will likely exceed the cost of its conservation. If it was removed, the Margaret Brock Reef on which its stands would still have to marked by beacons and other navigational lights.
Engineering reports have apparently been commissioned by AMSA and the local community will be seeking copies of these.
The platform lies offshore Cape Jaffa and the Bernoulli Conservation Park. This park is little promoted by the National Park's people, since significant work is required to bring it up to its standard. The remains of the original lighthouse keeper's cottages serving the Cape Jaffa light are located in this park.
The lobbying effort by the local people is successfully lifting the public's awareness and the profile of both the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse and its platform, together with associated heritage and conservation issues. It could be hoped that if the platform is preserved, related features such as the keepers cottages on the mainland could also be given the attention they deserve.
Updates on the status of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse platform will be provided in future Bulletins.
However local aboriginal leader, Clyde Mansell, has protested to the State Government as he claims that an in principle agreement was arrived at last year where the lighthouse reserve would be returned to the local aboriginal population.
The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania is seeking and injunction (ALCT) to stop the process of leasing out the lighthouse from going ahead.
Chairman of the ALCT, Mr Mansell claims that the Premier, Jim Bacon, and Primary Industries Minister, David Llewellyn, had assured him that the lighthouse and cottages would be removed from the public tender process.
The aboriginal community is not so interested in the buildings but in the cultural heritage value of the land. Mr Mansell said that if their move to stop the leasing is not successful they still might be be interested in leasing the site to prevent it from being commercialised.
They list the following as potential opportunities:
The following are to be noted by the developers:
Apart from the local aboriginal community there is also concern about over development from one of our members from Tasmania, Barry Wilson.
He hopes that they stick to the requirements so the natural beauty of the site remains.
Barry says he will keep us informed of any further developments.
[Bruce Findlay <firstname.lastname@example.org>]
At the Low Head Lightstation, following our successful operation of the Fog Horn after so many years, we have been concentrating on the rehabilitation of the Gardner Model 2 DCR engine which was used as a standby after electricity was supplied in 1939.
We have been able to contact a retired engineer in UK who used to work for Gardner and who has now taken over the Gardner Vintage Engine Register.
He has inherited nearly 3 tons of papers covering Gardner Engine papers and other details covering many years. He was able to supply us with the original Factory Test Certificate for the engine we have here dated January 1929.
This engine had a design life under normal working conditions and maintenance of over 500,000 hrs. without major overhaul. This one according to log book records has operated approx. 1200 hrs. It has a bit of life left in it yet.
The engine has been stripped down, cleaned and reassembled. It is truly in perfect condition. We have just completed the re-plumbing of the cooling system and have almost finished the refurbishment of the second Reavell Quadruplex compressor.
When this work is completed we will have the Low Head Fog Alarm back to what it was. The only Type "G" Diaphone installation which is fully operational in the world.
After reading many articles in the Bulletin about the lack of interest by many authorities in the heritage of lightstations in their areas we must consider ourselves very lucky in having our Government Parks & Wildlife. They, and particularly the senior ranger for the area, Andrew Napier, have been so interested and helpful, both financially and in kind that our successful result would have been impossible without them.
On the 18th August Alan and Susan Brain set up their ham radio rig at the Low Head Station for a night to endeavour to contact other enthusiasts over the world. It was hoped that they would be able to transmit the sound of the Fog Horn at that time.
Unfortunately the weather was so horrific during the ham radio weekend that I did not start the foghorn . Alan & Julie Brain have the foghorn running on their web page <http://www.ozemail.com.au/~vk7jabvk7luv>.
Graham Arriola informs us that the Neptune Island Lighthouse will be celebrating it's 100th anniversary on 1st November 2001. The celebrations will be low key.
The tower used to construct the lighthouse in 1901 was the original Port Adelaide Lighthouse before the Wonga Shoal Lighthouse was built.
This tower was replaced in 1976, dismantled in 1984 then re-erected at Port Adelaide in 1986 after pressure was exerted the locals that their light should be returned to them. It was re-erected at end of Port Road adjacent to the wharf on the river in Port Adelaide where it is now publically accessable rather than at it's first location at the river mouth.
Graham Arriola in conjunction with Rob Lincoln from the South Australian Maritime Musuem with whom Graham used to work, will be lighting the light on as closely as possible to the same time (100 years ago) on the 1st November 2001.
It will be a 1000w globe but rotating using the same clockwork mechanism as was 100 years ago.
Graham said that even though at this stage it will be himself and Rob that he deserves a lot of credit as he is gradually renovating inside as time permits. He also lights the light most Saturday nights for an hour.
The hardest part about lighting the light is removaing and putting back the curtains afterwards. No doubt Graham and Rob will have a toast to the all who served and died at Neptune afterwards somewhere.
Graham Arriola also did not let the 100th anniversary of the establishement of the ill-fated Wonga Shoal Lighthouse go by.
Graham and Rob Lincoln went down on the beach near the Wonga Shoal on the 1st of July and cracked a bottle of red and celebrated Wonga's centenary.
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.
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Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site
Thanks to those who let me use their photos for thumbnails.
until the October 2001 Bulletin
SEPTEMBER 01 BULLETIN was published on: 7/9/01
Lighthouses of Australia Web Site First Published: 3/12/97
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