Lighthouses of Australia Project - OCTOBER 02 BULLETIN

VOL 5 No 11
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Dear Friends


Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 4
Maatsuyker, An Alternative Point of View
The Magic of Maatsuyker
Eliza’s Cottage

Letters & Notices

Department of Scrounge

New Pages & Links

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

Australian News

Beacons by the Sea Exhibition
Cape Cleveland Reunion
Troubridge Island Switched Off
South Neptune Off Limits Due Asbestos
US Lights Relit!
Cape Willoughby Lightstation Website
WLS Website

Join Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Thanks To

Text Only eMail

Past Bulletins



Dear Friends

Time for Malcolm to Move On

At the moment it looks like I will be stepping down at the end of December. I started this 5 years ago with the intention of only doing it for 3 years then going overseas. We set up LoA Inc as others wanted to keep it going in my absence. But as you know my health went and I didn't get away.

The main 2 reasons for stepping down are that frankly I feel burned out and my health has probably contributed to this as well and also I find that while I am "in control" of LoA that this is actually a disincentive (actually even intimidating) for others to step up and have a greater involvement.

During the 5 years I will have produced 60 Bulletins (including Dec 2002) and over half (75) of the 150 plus classical Australian lighthouses are now represented on the Net.

I have really appreciate all of you who have helped and hope that if somebody takes over the Bulletin you will be just as bigger help to them.

I hope that the great friendships I have made will continue and still hope to have some involvement as a member of LoA.

I am confident that LoA will survive, especially with the start of the Tas Chapter and hopefully the follow up in other states. Probably SA next with the Troubridge Shoal situation.

The Presidents Response

The Future of Lighthouses of Australia

Dear Members & Subscribers

As we approach the end of 2002 there are some important issues that we as members of LoA Inc need to address.

The project has in its relatively short life achieved much in the way of providing information and resource in respect of the preservation, promotion and protection of Australian lighthouses.

We have had wonderful contributions, reports and feedback from many and varied sources.

This is indeed the lifeblood of our Bulletin, which in essence is the backbone of the Project.

I believe that now we must move on the next phase of our development, or else the project is in danger of perhaps becoming stagnant or passé. By this I mean that we must develop and nurture new blood and contributors to the Project.

I really believe that the establishment of state chapters is crucial to the future of LoA Inc. As was the case with Tasmania, an important issue, (Maatsuyker Island) has prompted the formation of a state chapter.

It is extremely difficult for us to research and collate the information relevant to state and local issues by virtue of geography and access to local media.

If we had state chapters with publicity officers to provide reports and publishable material, the creation of the monthly Bulletins would be much less time-consuming and infinitely easier.

State chapters do not need to be structured by committees and Bureaucracy, but merely a core group that can provide relevant material and copy that we can just paste into the Bulletin.

Considering our current membership, I honestly believe that we should be able to establish Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland without to many problems.

If you can write a Word document and scan a couple of photos or photocopy a news article, they are the only skills that you need.

The structure of our organisation is such that, because it is voluntary, we must have as many active contributors as possible able or prepared to step into key roles when the need arises.

If you are a current member or subscriber, just ask yourself, what can ' I ' do?

Memberships fund costs such as web hosting and production of the Prism, they do not pay for the time and efforts of contributors and people involved in the maintenance of the site or the production of the Bulletin.

These aspects of the project are only achievable by virtue of the efforts of people who are prepared to make the commitment to keeping this Project alive and vibrant.

Ed Kavaliunas <>
Lighthouses of Australia Inc

This Month Features

Corrugated Lighthouses Part 4Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 4 sees the keeper's and seaman's worst nightmare is carried out with the wreck of the supply ship on Neptune Island.

Maatsuyker, is provoking all sorts of reactives, not neccessarily the ones you would expect with An Alternative Point of View.

The Magic of MaatsuykerAnother caretaker shares their experience on Maatsuyker Island with The Magic of Maatsuyker.

Eliza’s CottageAfter their experience on Maatsuyker Island our caretaker now resides on Swan Island and has become fascinated with the history of keepers past with Eliza’s Cottage.

This Months News

Beacons by the Sea ExhibitionThe opening of the Beacons by the Sea Exhibition in Canberra was well attended by the general public as well as LoA members.

Cape Cleveland ReunionThe Cape Cleveland Reunion, organised by LoA members was a success despite not being able to get out to the Cape.

We were shocked to be informed that AMSA had Troubridge Island Switched Off Troubridge Island Switched Offat the very time it was being celebrate by Australia Post with a stamp.

South Neptune Off Limits Due AsbestosParks SA has declared South Neptune Off Limits Due Asbestos found in the keepers' cottages and other buildings.

An interesting turn of events where the Coast Guard is having some US Lights Relit! US Lights Relit!Could this be a fore runner of events to happen here?

Visit Parks SA's new Cape Willoughby Website for the latest information on the lightstation.

The World Lighthouse Society is now on the Web so you can find out more information about it by visiting the WLS Website.

Malcolm Macdonald is the founder and convener of Lighthouses of AustraliaMalcolm Macdonald
Bulletin Editor
[Photograph: Marguerite Stephen]


Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 4

[Margaret Hill <>, Condensed by Steve Merson <>]

Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 1
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 2
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 3


The Yandra aground on North Neptune Island. [Image: Margaret Hill]
The Yandra aground on North Neptune Island.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

"Margaret, wake up! A ship has run aground!" Jim shook me and pulled at the blankets. I wondered if this was another of his practical jokes, or if he was just bored and looking for company. Ships just do not run aground. After all, we were on a light station, equipped with modern, well-serviced equipment. Even so, I sleepily wondered what the implications would be for us if there were a shipwreck whilst Jim was on duty - it was every lighthouse keeper's worst nightmare.

As I drifted back to sleep, Jim became frantic. "Get up. I'm not joking, I'm sure there is a wreck - you will be needed to help." I sat bolt upright and tried to gather my thoughts. Through the window, I could see the pearly, pre-dawn glow of a thick fog outside, and I prayed he had not let the light go out. I grabbed some warm clothes and ran through the dark house to the kitchen.

The very unforgiving coastline that claimed the Yandra. [Image: Margaret Hill]The very unforgiving coastline that claimed the Yandra.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

The fire was almost out. I knew we would need bread, whatever happened. As I fed kindling into the fire to arouse a blaze, I wondered when the supply ship was due, for our supplies were getting low. Where on earth had Jim gone? I waited and worried.

The head keeper's wife burst in, panic-stricken about her husband's reputation as head keeper. As she ranted, I tried to think what we needed to do. Common sense told me that we would need hot drinks, warm blankets, dry clothes and the medical kit if we had to care for survivors of a shipwreck. I lit the fires in the lounge and dining rooms, just in case. Outside, it was still dark and foggy.

The three keepers all came into the kitchen, very worried. The radio was not working; there was a lot of static, possibly weather interference. But they were sure they had heard distress calls from a ship. With no visibility or clear communications, we waited. One man monitored the radio while we looked out into the gloom for flares.

As dawn came, the fog began to lift. Silently I prayed that we would not have a total disaster to cope with. As soon as it was light enough, I climbed the ridge behind the cottages. Visibility was still poor, but I could see several small boats in the bay - fishermen and yachtsmen often anchored there for shelter.

The Breaches Buoy used to escapes from the Yandra. [Image: Margaret Hill]
The Breaches Buoy used to escapes from the Yandra.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

Hearing shouts from the jetty, I saw a group of men who I recognised as crewmen off the Yandra, walking up the track from the beach. Their ship had run aground in thick fog on the ocean side of the other island during the night, and they had abandoned the vessel with only the clothes they were wearing. But they were in good spirits and had suffered no serious injuries.

"We were all thrown out of our bunks when she hit. When we saw there was no hope we went to emergency stations." The second mate, Norm Griffin, in trying to launch the only useable lifeboat, had been bashed against the side of the ship as he hung from a rope. Hit by a huge wave and washed into the pounding surf, he was very bruised. The lifeboat was smashed, so a seaman, Ron Gifford, had leapt over the side with a line to rig up a breeches buoy to the shore. He was hurled against the rocks, injuring his back.

They had spent the night huddled together on the barren North Island, cold, wet and in a state of shock, not daring to move in the fog for fear of slipping on the rocks and injuring themselves further. After daybreak, they were rescued by a yachtsman who landed them at our jetty. As I led the group up to the cottages, I could see our rowing boat and a yacht returning to the North Island to pick up more men, and wondered where we would put them all.

The hierarchical protocol of the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service prevailed - the head keeper's wife swiftly separated the survivors into groups - the ship's captain and officers went into her care, the second keeper got the engineers, and I got the deckhands and cook.

The Yandra Survivors leaving to return to Adelaide. [Image: Margaret Hill]The Yandra Survivors leaving to return to Adelaide.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

We were lucky to have the lowest ranking crew billeted with us. The children already knew Johnny and he played with them and helped with their schoolwork. The cook took over the kitchen and produced an excellent meal from our limited stores, and they all waited on me, hand and foot. Having people to talk to was the best thing of all.

We sat outside, drank tea and talked about the Yandra. They could not fathom how we had not known they were in trouble. They had sent out distress signals, expecting help to arrive during the night. As for us, we could not comprehend how they had managed to hit the island. We knew the fog was thick, but not unusually so - the lighthouse beam could always be seen through it.

Then one of the crew saw goods from Yandra being transferred from one small boat to another in the bay, which told us the ship was being plundered. The men had left all their personal belongings on board: private diaries, watches, signet rings, radios and some expensive camera equipment. Our old friend Johnny, recently married, was particularly upset about his wedding ring on board and a collection tin full of money for the Children's Hospital. But an age-old superstition says that once sailors who abandon a shipwreck risk the very worst kind of bad luck if they return aboard.

The crew requested permission to row out to one of the small boat owners and ask them to fetch their belongings for them, but the head keeper said no. So, I took the men to the dangerous rocky channel that separated the islands, where they could get a view of the ship.

Despite efforts to free the Yandra, she was abandoned to the place that had claimed her. [Image: Margaret Hill]Despite efforts to free the Yandra, she was abandoned to the place that had claimed her.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

We could clearly see the Yandra surrounded by several small craft; other boats were sailing away, obviously heavily laden. The men were very eager to jump over the seething channel of water and rush to the ship to prevent their possessions being stolen. While they discussed who would leap across, a huge wave rolled through and swamped the area, followed by several more large waves. Before anyone could attempt the hazardous crossing, an officer arrived and ordered everyone back to the cottage.

The sailors polished floors, washed dishes, chopped wood and cleaned the dunny while I sat in the sun and watched the head keeper's wife run herself ragged trying to impress the officers. With the Yandra out of action, we were concerned about our dwindling supplies and how long we would be expected to house the survivors. We then received a radio message confirming that a tug was steaming out from Port Adelaide to try to pull the Yandra off the rocks. On board was the Deputy Director of Navigation, Captain L.W.D.Taylor, who was to conduct an inquiry into the disaster.

However, the operation was unsuccessful and the tug returned to the mainland with the crew of the supply ship.

From the Adelaide Advertiser - Monday 24th Jan:

The intrastate ship, Yandra (918 tons), ran aground in dense fog on the rocky northern island of the Neptune group, at the entrance to Spencer Gulf, at about 10pm on Saturday. The Neptune group is about sixty miles south of Port Lincoln. The crew of twenty-three men abandoned the ship by breeches buoy and safely reached the island's shore. Heavy seas have thwarted a salvage attempt.

Although the Yandra ran aground about a quarter of a mile from the Neptune Island Lighthouse, she was not sighted until the fog lifted at dawn. Weather conditions affected radio reception throughout the night.

Yachts Aid
Mr Jim Polson's yacht, Ilene, which was taking part in the annual 250-mile Neptune Island race, conducted by the Royal SA Yacht Squadron, answered the distress call and found Yandra. The yacht's crew spent many hours on the tricky rescue job, transferring the marooned seamen to the safety of the southern island.

Tug Rushes
The Port Adelaide tug, Tusker, battled against stiff southerly winds throughout yesterday to reach the stranded vessel, arriving late Sunday night. The Deputy Director of Navigation in South Australia, Captain L.W.D Taylor, was on board to direct the rescue operations.

The sequence of events on Saturday night at the rocky island:

Yandra aground on North Neptune Island in heavy fog. Distress signal sent.
Yandra abandoned by crew.
All crew ashore. Dense fog. Lighthouse keepers on South Neptune Island unaware of the vessel's plight.
The yacht, Ilena, responds to radio message and proceeds with caution to the northern island.
Visibility improves. Yandra is sighted and the stranded seamen are ferried to the southern island.
Yandra crew reported safe and well. The tug, Tusker, is dispatched from Port Adelaide to attempt to salvage the Yandra.

From Air
Advertiser photographer, Mr Brian Taylor, obtained a bird's eye view of the stranded Yandra yesterday afternoon, when he went to the scene in an Anson plane piloted by Mr Andrew Lee. The ship could be seen in the thick foam, being pounded by heavy seas whipped up by strong winds. Tangled ropes hung from the vessel. "Yandra appeared to be lying hard up on the rock face of the island. The vessel looked pathetic, bumping and rolling on a rocky bed, isolated and helpless."

Tuesday 27th Jan.

The Yandra was built in 1928 by Burnside Wain of Copenhagen, for Coast Steamships to operate on the ten-day West Coast run. The vessel became popular with passengers who enjoyed visiting the coastal ports and islands. Capt C. Blewitt, a former Chief Officer of the ship, had been Master for many years. During the war, Yandra played an important role in depth charge operations under the control of the RAN.

Maatsuyker, An Alternative Point of View

Writer and Lighthouses of Australia member John Ibbotson presents an alternative view. Hopefully this will spark some healthy debate and your responses are welcome. To continue this debate I intend to publish a selection of them in the December Bulletin.

Hi Malcolm!

I'm now back in Melbourne after an interesting trip - I had 7 weeks on the 'Southern Supporter".

Sailed from Port Hedland up to Darwin, Torres Strait, Cairns and Mooloolaba.

My aim was to photograph the way-off-shore lights such as Bedoubt Is, Imperieuse Reef, Browse Is, New Year Is, Haul Round Is, Cape Wessel, East Diamond Islet, Lihou Reef, Pith Reef, Rib Reef, Frederick Reef, Saumarez Reef, Swains Reef and the Hydrographers Passage lights. Hopefully they will become the basis for a book on the offshore lights.
But more on that later ...

Since arriving home I have followed with interest the articles on Maatsuyker Island.

I emotionally agree with the idea to keep the station manned. But even with volunteers it is still an expensive proposition to keep them there and I keep asking myself if this will be the best use of the limited funds that the Government will allocate to lighthouse preservation in Tasmania? And just funding a presence on Maatsuyker does not necessarily cover the major expenditures that are required, over time to preserve the structures.

There is, and will continue to be finite but insufficient funds allocated to be spent on maintaining Maatsuyker and other equally historic lights in Tasmania such as Low Head, Eddystone Point, Cape Wickham, Currie Harbour, Table Cape, Cape Bruny, Cape Sorell etc which are 'easily' accessible as well as other lights that fall into the difficult / inaccessible category. These include Tasman Island (already deserted), Goose Island (already deserted), Deal Island (current status ??), Swan Island (privately owned and run as a B&B but may currently be unmanned). The same applies to funds for the mainland lights and also others throughout the world.

It would seem that the historic lighthouse situation in Tasmania should be looked at as a whole and that a plan be established that covers all these lights and that it is a plan that will give the best return for the funds available. If the funding does continue to be allocated to Maatsuyker where does it come from? Is it at the expense of the other lights? Will their allocation be reduced? Would the money be better spent on a number of the other lights instead of going to one light that very few people ever get to see?

Maybe, for example the best long term solution for Maatsuyker would be to dismantle the tower and re-erect it as part of (say) the Tasmanian Maritime Museum. If not the whole tower then at least the lantern, lens and associated stuff (building a replica tower would probably be the most practical and also quite achievable seeing it is a brick structure). From a liability point of view the houses would need to be demolished after the removal of appropriate artifact. The initial cost of doing this would be high but at least it would not be an ongoing expense.

I realise the above may be controversial but in the long term we have to be realistic about lighthouse preservation funds and it is essential that we make the most use of the money that is, and will be available.

John Ibbotson <>

Related Links:
The Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Removal of Caretakers Threatens Maatsuyker Lighthouse
Why It's Important to Keep Maat's Caretakers
Help Get the LoA and Maat Campaign Moving
Maatsuyker Meeting Seeds LoA Group

The Magic of Maatsuyker

[Erika Johnson <>]

Last month we had "A Caretaker's Day on Maatsuyker" by Keith and Gillian Chapman. This month we hear of the experience of Erika Johnson who with her partner Alan spent three and a half months on Maatsuyker in Autumn 2002 and liked it so much that he moved on to do the same at Swan Island.

The author Erika Johnson and her partner Alan having a 'Sundowner' in front of Quarters 1 on a rare and sunny day. [Image: Erika Johnson]The author Erika Johnson and her partner Alan having a "Sundowner" in front of Quarters 1 on a rare and sunny day.
Erika Johnson]

Over the last few evenings we have been treated to the rare experience of having weather suitable for us to sit outside on the western terrace and watch the sun sink below the horizon.

The absence of wind accentuates the continuous roar of the surf. Every now and again there is a loud thump as the waves hit the rocks over 200 feet below us.

To our south west we can hear the barking of the seals on the Needle Rocks. The cheeky Currawongs chortle at us from their vantage point on the eaves while Green Rosellas shriek 'tussick tussick', swooping below us.

In the thick, entwined branches of the Tea-Tree and Melaleuca, the smaller birds twitter their evening song.

The Shearwater rookery is strangely silent. The adult birds have left on their northern migration to the Bering Sea. Their chicks have to fend for themselves now and look pathetically comical as they stumble along, falling flat on their beaks as they try their wings.

The blue-grey mountains of the South West are sharply etched against a hazy sky of gold and blue.

Erika Johnson and her partner Alan chose to live as volunteer caretakers on this remote and isloted island for three and a half months. [Image: Jeff Jennings]Erika Johnson and her partner Alan chose to live as volunteer caretakers on this remote and isolated island for three and a half months.
Jeff Jennings]

As the sun finally kisses the horizon good-bye, a green flash says farewell to the day. As darkness descends, a myriad of twinkling stars pierce the velvet sky and later, the lights of the Aurora Australis arch across the southern horizon with its pulsating rays beaming up into the heavens.

We feel quite remote from the 'real' world, at one with nature and free from the hustle & bustle of 'civilisation'.

Our role as caretakers is almost over but the magic of Maatsuyker has woven its web.

Eliza’s Cottage

[Erika Johnson <>]

Eliza's Cottage as it is today. The caption on the Swan Island page has been corrected.. [Image: AMSA]Eliza's Cottage as it is today. The caption on the Swan Island page has been corrected..
[Image: AMSA]

I noticed that you have a picture on the web site of Eliza's Cottage on Swan Island labelled "The former Swan Island head keepers cottage built in 1908."

In fact this house was built in 1850 and was the home of Charles Baudinet, the longest serving keeper on the island. Alterations & additions were carried out in 1908.

I think the most authoritative reference I have for dating Eliza’s Cottage is the Australian Construction Services Conservation Plan for Swan Island, published in December 1992.

Captain Malcolm Laing Smith of Flinders Island, on a visit in 1850, reported that work on the superintendent’s “new two-story dwelling” was well advanced.

The description of it as a two-story dwelling probably relates to the fact that it was built with a double-hipped roof with dormer windows.

With the completion of the new house, the original superintendent’s cottage, built in 1845, was turned into “stores & quarters for the men”. Until 1850 the men had been housed in an old weatherboard structure with blankets covering the roof, but some of them lived in the tower itself & the smoke from their fires was obscuring the lens.

Charles Chaulk Baudinet. [Image Source: Erika Johnson]Charles Chaulk Baudinet.
[Image Source: Erika Johnson]

Charles Chaulk Baudinet became head keeper in 1867. He had previously been a light keeper at Deal Island and met his future wife, Eliza, when she was shipwrecked on the island.

It is Eliza for whom the cottage is now named, as she died of dropsy mortification in the front room of the house on 21 February 1882.

Charles is reported to have demolished some shelving in the house to make her coffin and conducted the burial service himself. A grave stone with inscription marks her burial site in the dunes near the house.

Charles Baudinet married a second time and had a total of 25 years service on the island and seemed reluctant to retire.

A drawing in a booklet compiled by Irene Schaffer shows Eliza’s as it was in 1850.

A new Head Keeper’s house was built in 1907/08 and it was during this period that Eliza’s underwent additions and alterations. The plan of the house underwent a radical change and its external appearance is now much more like that of the 1907/08 Head Keeper’s house. However, evidence of the 1850 dormer windows can still be seen if you poke your head up through the man-hole and look into the ceiling space.

Elizas Grave on Swan Island. [Image: Erika Johnson]Eliza's Grave on Swan Island.
[Image: Erika Johnson]

I feel Eliza deserves a more comprehensive story but I hope that can come later. There's far more to tell that the snippets I told you.

I will do a follow-up at a later stage as I feel it deserves greater

Unfortunately I have no photo of Eliza herself

The Baudinet family themselves originally came from France, escaping persecution about 1795.

They settled in Tasmania but became synonymous with lighthouse service, both father and several of the sons serving at Cape Bruny, Deal Island and then Swan Island.

Their story is more comprehensively told in "The Baudinette Story", written by another branch of the family now living in Victoria.

The original 1850 Eliza's Cottage. [Image: 'Swan Island Bass Strait' compiled by Irene Schaffer]The original 1850 Eliza's Cottage.
[Image: 'Swan Island Bass Strait' compiled by Irene Schaffer]

Thank you for the info regarding the local LoA group and Maatsuyker. We certainly need to keep our eye on things down there to make sure the Program is continued.

Thanks for a great web site and also for the Bulletin which I enjoyed reading.

Letters & Notices

Norah Head lighthouse - Harry Fisher

Hi Malcolm

Having just seen the new exhibition at the National Archives, I am writing to probably the most appropriate place to ask about Norah Head lighthouse. My family used to stay at Norah Head during the 1950s and the Keeper Harry Fisher was my sister's god-father.

The Norah Head LighthousePutting the words "Norah Head" into the Archives' records doesn't come up with much more than the Visitor's Book and housing plans for the cottages. Would there be anything more specific already published elsewhere, please ?

Either about the Lighthouse or Uncle Harry Fisher or the village itself.

I also seem to remember four other specific things:

(1) someone selling tea out of a very dubious bus beside the road between the lighthouse and village;
(2) the remnants of a wharf (or at least its pilings) at the beach where the
fishermen drew their boats up.
(3) Uncle Harry had a photo in his lounge room of a shipwreck close by, on this main beach. I was too young to ask details and it didn't have a date on it.
(4) the metal remnants of what seemed to be a commercial flying fox, from a beach between the lighthouse and the main swimming beach, going up to the cliffhead. I seemed to remember someone saying that it had been used (when?) to lift away some sort of beach minerals, in some sort of mining venture.

Hope you can help

Peter Graves <>
Phone (02) 6249 6551

Looking for Priests, Keepers at Port Stephens

Dear Sir

The Point Stephens LighthouseMy ancestors, Edward PRIEST (great great grandfather) and James PRIEST (great grandfather) were rumoured to be lighthouse keepers in the Port Stephens area during the 1800's.

Is there a central reference point or local historical society that you can refer me to so that I can do some research about the lighthouse keepers who manned the lighthouses in the Port Stephens area.

Thank you,

Frank Priest <>

The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter

Dear Malcolm

I am looking for a poem called The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter.

I don't know the author or much about the poem its self.

It is a humorous poem.

Ross Gow <>

Looking for "A Big Country"s Maat Keepers, the Ikins

Hi Malcolm

Many many thanks for your response and list of contacts. That's certainly given me a starting point in my research which involves trying to catch up with people who were in the ABC program "A Big Country" back in the 70s.

The Maatsuyker LIghthouseBecause of all the contact details you gave me previously, I have had lots of success in tracking people down.

However there was a Bob & Deirdre Ikin plus their children on, I think, Maatsuyker at the time of the program.

Had a good chat with John Cook who knew them but but doesn't know their current whereabouts. So if you have any way of finding them, that would be a great help.

Thank you so much for all your help.

Best wishes

Suzie Moore

Suzie Moore <>
ABC TV, Hobart
Ph (03) 6235 3535

Looking for William Henry Stevens of Williamstown

Dear Sir/ Madam.

The Point Gellibrand Pile LightI have been looking for a Lighthouse that may have been in operation somewhere near Williamstown.

My cousins (in their late 60s) remember their great grandfather taking them to a lighthouse near Williamstown.

Their recollections are very sketchy.

The man I have been researching is William Henry Stevens.

The Williamstown LighthouseI think he may have been born in Portland (1850) which of course may have been at the light house there

My cousins are certain that he was a keeper.

Please where can I obtain a list of keepers for the Victorian waters.

Thank you in advance.

Kind Regards

Doris Robson <>

Looking for Richardsons, Keepers of Low Head

Hi Malcolm

I am trying to trace some of my family who I think may have been involved in some way with the Low Head lighthouse in Tasmania around the year 19l3.

The family name was Richardson the wife Mavis and a daughter Marjorie and son John.

The Low Head LighthouseMavis was my grandmother and was widowed and moved to Australia with her two children, Marjorie and John (my father).

I don't know their fathers name but think it might have been either John or Percival.

An old friend of my aunt seems to recollect her speaking of living in a lighthouse at Low Head as a small child before they moved to Sydney my grandmother later married a James Hannan in Sydney.

I think Mavis might have been born around 1846. She may have worked in a hospital.

My grandfather may have died of pneumonia and Mavis may have had a brother named Cyril who may have died at an early age.

I know there are or were relatives in Launceston as some cousins visited when I was a small child.

A few years ago while dining at a Sydney restaurant a unusual woman with an equally unusual young man came up and wanted to know if I was a "Richardson " from Launceston and was not at all surprised to hear of my connections.

I had never seen her before in my life. She gave me a card and asked me to visit her.

She was obviously very well off but not being a very adventurous person "not then anyway" I never followed it up but wish now I had.

Can't think of anything more at the moment.

Thanks again and now I Am going to read everything I can about your lighthouses.

Cheers Sherlee Richardson <

Feel free to post any request, letters and 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:

Volunteers needed to research and write up text for New Pages for Australia

New Links for Australia:

Volunteer needed to help with Links for Australia

Also, New Links for World:

Volunteer needed to help with Links for World

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

Australian News:

Beacons by the Sea Exhibition

[Ian Clifford <>]

On the 30th of October a small group of LoA members met in Canberra to attend the opening of the Beacons by the Sea exhibition at the National Archives of Australia.

I must admit to having no idea what to expect, in fact no expectations of the opening or the exhibition.

Two ladies who were playing Grace Darling and were dressed inperiod costume welcomed everyone and set the atmosphere. [Image: Kevin Mulcahy]Two ladies who were playing Grace Darling and were dressed in period costume welcomed everyone and set the atmosphere.
[Image: Kevin Mulcahy]

Upon arrival I was amazed at the number of people attending, and the formality but in a short time Brian and Jeanne Rogers, Averil Legg, Winsome Bowman, Richard Jermyn and myself had found one another and were busily looking out for any other members who had made the pilgrimage.

Ian Kiernan, AO, opened the exhibition with a yachtsman's perspective of lighthouses and a little touch of reality about how navigation has changed with the widespread use of the GPS system.

Iain Kiernan of 'Cleanup Australia' and yachting fame opened the exhibition. [Image: Kevin Mulcahy]Iain Kiernan of 'Cleanup Australia' and yachting fame opened the exhibition.
[Image: Kevin Mulcahy]

Don Mickelborough and Dick Hammond who between them have sailed in 86 Sydney to Hobarts also provided reminiscences. But I don't think I have ever heard a mariner not remark on the comfort of seeing the reassuring flash of a lighthouse, and again this was echoed in their presentations.

The exhibition is as much about the human presence as the lighthouses themselves and to many is what makes lighthouses so special.

Beacons by the Sea features log books, letters, original plans, photographs, film and artifact from many lighthouses.

As David Gray from AMSA remarked to us the exhibition contains but a fraction of the preserved material available.

Walking around the exhibition you get a sense of the human presence and the social history attached to so many of our lighthouses, something that in reality is gone probably forever. You come to realise that keepers and their families led a unique lifestyle, especially in the early days, a very difficult life, which is reflected in the tragedy associated with some stations.

One of the documents on display. Plans for the Montague Island Lighthouse. [Image: National Archives of Australia 4957044]
One of the documents on display. Plans for the Montague Island Lighthouse.
[Image: National Archives of Australia 4957044]

The exhibition is contained to one section of the archives, to my surprise after an hour and a half we all felt we would have to come back before the exhibition leaves to visit major towns and cities around Australia next year, something we will keep you posted on.

As you would expect we were the last to leave with our farewells said to the security guard we headed off for a late meal at Sammy's restaurant in Civic where lively discussion continued as all six of us are in different ways "hands on" when it comes to lighthouses.

The exhibition is a must see if you have any interest in lighthouses, if you have the opportunity to visit the National Archives do so, the address is Queen Victoria Terrace, Canberra.

The touring schedule for later next year is currently being planed.

Cape Cleveland Reunion

[Sharon Fielden <>]

Back row:Sharon Fielden, Barry Laver, Margot Laver, PatMcManus, Iris Woodhead, Roy Woodhead, Bob Mann, Jeanette Mann.

Front row: Margaret McManus, Irene Wedel, Ruth Gillingham, Bill Carter, Joan McGorrey, Annette Thorogood, Peter Braid. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Back row:Sharon Fielden, Barry Laver, Margot Laver, Pat McManus, Iris Woodhead, Roy Woodhead, Bob Mann, Jeanette Mann.

Front row: Margaret McManus, Irene Wedel, Ruth Gillingham, Bill Carter, Joan McGorrey, Annette Thorogood, Peter Braid.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

Lighthouses of Australia members Peter Braid and Sharon Fielden (nee Braid) held a display of photographs and memorabilia at the Townsville Maritime Museum on the 26th October.

The main focus was on Cape Cleveland Lighthouse although other lightstations were also featured.

Maritime Museum Townsville, North Queensland. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Maritime Museum Townsville, North Queensland.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

The event was attended by ex lightkeepers Dave McKeown, Barry Laver and his wife Margot, Pat McManus and his wife Margaret , by the children and relatives of lightkeepers and people with a general interest in Cape Cleveland such as Bob and Jeanette Mann who have visited the Cape with the Amateur Radio club and Scout groups.

Peter Braid in front of the Ligthhouse Display. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Peter Braid in front of the Lighthouse Display.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

The Carter family were on a variety of stations and lived at Cape Cleveland from 1938 to 1943. Four of the seven children attended the reunion, Ruth Gillingham from Townsville, Bill Carter from the Sunshine Coast, and Irene Wedel and Joan McGorrery from Brisbane. They brought photos and a wealth of information on Cape Cleveland 60 years ago.

Margot Laver,Barry Laver and Roy Woodhead. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Margot Laver,Barry Laver and Roy Woodhead.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

Roy and Iris Woodhead's uncle Charlie Woodhead was a well known lightkeeper and their family have a strong maritime history in the area.

John and Ken Sweet's father died in the service in the 60's.

Former Lighthouse Keeper, Dave McKeown. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Former Lighthouse Keeper, Dave McKeown.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

Cape Cleveland is now in the care of National Parks and we're disappointed their representative did not attend as we are all interested in the future of this and other lightstations. A boat trip to the Cape could not be organized so we hope to achieve that at a later date.

Participants in the reunion inspect the the Bay Rock Lighthouse now located at the Museum. [Image: Sharon Fielden]Participants in the reunion inspect the the Bay Rock Lighthouse now located at the Museum.
[Image: Sharon Fielden]

The curator of the Maritime Museum has received a grant to open the Bay Rock Lighthouse and exhibit photos and information inside the tower. We were able to look inside the tiny lighthouse and most wanted to see if it held the wonderful smell of a lighthouse, something which can't be replicated with the structures that are replacing such a rich part of our history.

Troubridge Island Switched Off

[Colin Lemke <>]

For some years now, my family and I have been privileged to be able to spend the October long-weekend (plus a few days either side) on Troubridge Island, staying in the cottage managed by Chris and Judy Johnson.

We have been returning each year since 1994, love the place, and find its history fascinating.

The Troubridge Shoal Lighthouse keepers Cottages. [Image: Marguerite Stephen]The Troubridge Shoal Lighthouse keepers Cottages.
[Image: Marguerite Stephen]

During our last stay, I was appalled to find that the light has actually been turned off as an economy measure (even though it is solar powered), and that the lighthouse itself is unlikely to receive any further maintenance (for the same reason apparently - no longer required, and nobody interested).

No government department appears to be prepared to accept responsibility for its upkeep. So, despite having lit the way for seafarers since 1856, and being a unique lighthouse (one of two of its type), it looks like being left to slowly rust away.

Troubridge Shoal was featured on one of 4 lighthouse stamps at the very time it was being turned off!. [Image: Australia Post]Troubridge Shoal was featured on one of 4 lighthouse stamps at the very time it was being turned off!.
[Image: Australia Post]

I intend writing to the newspapers about it, but am sufficiently pessimistic to believe that this is not likely to make any difference to the situation.

I find the whole situation totally unbelievable. It appears that whichever department is responsible is quite satisfied to surrender the facility to the elements.

South Neptune Off Limits Due Asbestos

The South Neptune Lighthouse. [Image: Brian Lord]The South Neptune Lighthouse.
[Image: Brian Lord]

Parks SA has declared the South Neptune Island Lightstation a "Prohibited Area" as a result of a recent asbestos audit.

The audit found that all the cottages roofs had a high concentration of asbestos and some of the other buildings had asbestos too.

Ross Allen, from the Port Lincoln Office of Parks SA , says a maintenance inspection had revealed that asbestos products were now showing early signs of degrading or failure and may present a potential health and safety risk to visitors.

"Asbestos is now well-known to be a risk to human health and it is paramount that we protect people from potential exposure to asbestos", Mr. Allen said.

The declaration was made in the interest of public safety. Known users of the island have been notified in writing and and signage is in the process of being erected.

A permit is now required to land on the island and Steve Clarke of AMS informs me that this even applies the them when they wish to do maintenance on the light.

The island, 70 kilometres south of Port Lincoln, is a conservation park proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act to conserve a breeding colony of New Zealand fur-seals.

The island also houses a former lighthouse keeper's cottage and associated buildings which were constructed in the 1900's including the use of asbestos in the building materials.

Access is poor as the jetty is no longer there and the sea needs to be very quiet to make a beach landing.

The South Neptune Lighthouse keepers Cottages. [Image: Winsome Bonham]
The South Neptune Lighthouse keepers Cottages
[Image: Winsome Bonham]

Ross Allen informed me that it is their long term intention to clean the site up and once again lease the property out so there is the vital human presence to ensure upkeep the site and keep vandals at bay.

This however will be subject to an assessment of the work needed to rectify the problem and the availability of funding.

US Lights Relit!

[New England Lighthouse News for October 2002 <>]

For those who had had their lights turned off do not despair. In the United States, as a result of the Federal National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, lighthouses, whether privately or publicly owned may be in for a lease of new life with a program to re-lit some lights that have been extinguished as far ago as 1933.

It will be interesting to see is and how long it takes for the turn around to happen in Australia.

Windmill Point And Isle La Motte Lights (Vt) Relit

All of Vermont¹s Lake Champlain lighthouses were deactivated years ago, and some were replaced by modern automatic lights. But the Coast Guard has been working closely with the private owners of some of these historic properties, and now two of the Green Mountain State¹s beacons are shining again.

The Windmill Point Lighthouse and keepers Cottage. [Image: Jeremy D'Entremont]The Windmill Point Lighthouse and keepers Cottage.
[Image: Jeremy D'Entremont]

A lighthouse at Windmill Point in Alburg, Vermont, may have been established as early as 1830. A steel skeleton tower replaced the present 1858 limestone lighthouse in 1931. The present cast-iron lighthouse at Isle La Motte, about five miles south of Windmill Point, was built in 1880, and it was replaced by a skeleton tower with an automatic beacon in 1933. Once painted orange, the Isle la Motte Lighthouse long ago faded to a distinctive pinkish hue.

The Isle la Motte Lighthouse and keepers Cottage. [Image: Jeremy D'Entremont]The Isle la Motte Lighthouse and keepers Cottage.
[Image: Jeremy D'Entremont]

Isle La Motte Light has been owned by the Clark family since 1949, and the same family has owned Windmill Point Light since 1963. In 2001 the Clarks were approached by the Coast Guard about the possibility of relighting their two lighthouses

On August 7, 2002, National Lighthouse Day, people gathered to see the light turned on at Windmill Point. For the first time in almost seven decades, Lake Champlain had a working lighthouse. Two months later, on the evening of October 5, 2002, the Isle La Motte Lighthouse returned to service at dusk, marking another historic day for the Clarks and the lighthouses of Lake Champlain. Attendance at the ceremony was estimated at more than 300.

The Coast Guard is now working with the owners in preparation for the relighting of three lighthouses on the New York side of the lake: Cumberland Head, Split Rock and Bluff Point (Valcour Island). My congratulations to the Coast Guard, and to Lockwood 'Lucky' Clarke, his son Rob, and everyone else responsible for this bright new day for Lake Champlain lighthouses. A more extensive story on these relightings will be in Lighthouse Digest magazine soon.

For more information:

Windmill Point Light:
Isle La Motte Light:

Cape Willoughby Lightstation Website

[Daniel Rowley <>]

Parks SA now has a website for the Cape Willoughby Lightstation located at:>.

WLS Website

[Rosalie Davis Gibb <>]

The recently established World Lighthouses Society (WLS) now has it's own web site:

The site was created by well known British lighthouse enthusiast, Ken Trethewey.

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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The NOVEMBER 02 BULLETIN was published on: 24/11/02

The Bulletin is prepared in Dreamweaver 4 and tested on Netscape Messenger 4, Outlook Express (IE 5) and Eudora 5.

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

Photographs & Contributions:

Allan Fisher for Story Lead
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