Lighthouses of Australia Project - OCTOBER 02 BULLETIN

VOL 5 No 12
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Farewell Dear Friends


Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 5
Responses to Maatsuyker, An Alternative Point of View
Journey to Gabo

Letters & Notices

Department of Scrounge

New Pages & Links

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

Australian News

Maatsuyker Award Ceremony
Currie Light to Get Funding
The Lightkeeper
WLS - Optic Work Group

Join Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Thanks To

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Past Bulletins



Farewell Dear Friends

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since I announced originally my intention of leaving the Project and the forming a incorporated body to take over. Now 2 years later after much ill health and 5 years of involvement I am moving on.

The future of Lighthouses of Australia is now in your hands.

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 LoA Inc.

There are so many of you that I would like to thank. You know who you are and I could never name all of you so I wouldn't for the fear of offending one of you that maybe left of the list.

But remember this, I have enjoyed the adventures, the friendships and the support of many of you over the last 5 years.

But for me it is time to look out for my own interests and future.

I will remain a member and perhaps from time to time even contribute in some small way, but that is it.

I wish the committee, the members and subscribers all the best.

For those who wish to contact me personally I think it best that you use the email address <> rather than <> as it should pass to the whoever becomes the new secretary.

Also, any material, letters etc should still be send to the <> email address or PO Box 4734, Knox City VIC 3152, Australia.

The future of LoA Inc is in your hands.

Friends' Responses

Hi Malcolm!

I am sorry to hear that you are stepping down but I'm sure the result will be that you will be able to contribute more to the group as an outside advisor.

What you have built up has been quite fantastic and a real credit to you.
Do keep in touch.

Regards and best wishes

John Ibbotson <>

Hello Malcolm

I found your site quite some time ago while tracking information relative to a trip I'd made to Tasmania.

I sent in a photo of Bruny Lighthouse and it still delights me that you used it.

I'm not a lighthouse enthusiast although I'm as intrigued as most are by these amazing facilities.

I've read the Bulletin regularly and while I know you'd defer much to others, I say full credit to you for an eminently readable, absorbing, comprehensive publication and a pleasure to use and navigate.

The foundation you've put together should provide a successful foundation for LoA Inc for many years.

Trusting this time you step away from the helm and get the much needed peace and relaxation that I imagine has eluded you to date.

Wishing you improved health and comfort in future times

Robert Campbell <>


Thanks for passing along my information about the Vermont lights being relit, and thanks for the credits and links. I appreciate it.

And thanks so much for the wonderful job you've done with Lighthouses of Australia. You're an inspiration to me as I continue to research the lighthouses of New England.

I'm sorry to hear you've had health problems. I certainly know what burnout is like. Besides working full time for Lighthouse Digest and maintaining my site, I'm working on several book projects and developing a line of lighthouse merchandise. Hopefully some of this will pay off and my time will be more flexible. I'd really like to do more travelling - I hope I can make it your beautiful country one day.

Thanks again and take care.

Jeremy D'Entremont <>

This Month Features

Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 5Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 5 is the final installment of a young immigrant family's stint on the lights.

Journey to GaboRead some of the varied responses to John Ibbotson's controversial letter about Maatsuyker's future in An Alternative Point of View.

Max Huxley recalls a hairy adventure from his childhood with Journey to Gabo


This Months News

The Maatsuyker awards ceremony honoured the volunteers who have manned our most southerly light as caretakers.

Currie Light to Get FundingIt is good to see King Island's Currie Light get funding for restoration under and Federal grants scheme.

The LightkeeperThe south east of South Australia and west coast of Victoria will have a chance to feel the hardships of lighthouse life with the play "The Lightkeeper".

WLS has established Optic Work Group to register all the Fresnel lens still in existence around the world.

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


Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 5

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

Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 1
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 2
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 3
Corrugated Lighthouses - Pt 4

Ashore Again

The Cape York arrived a few hours after the Tusker departed. Our replacement kerosene refrigerators were unloaded, packed in sturdy wooden crates.

Once removed from the crates, the refrigerators were replaced with the units being sent back to the Port Adelaide workshops for service. A simple enough job, one would think.

The South Neptune Island Lighthouse. [Image: Margaret Hill]The South Neptune Island Lighthouse.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

Jim had a few spare minutes before going on duty, and decided to get our fridge out of the crate and under cover before nightfall. He began removing the screws from the back panel with a large screwdriver.

In an instant, the head keeper was beside him, upset because Jim had not asked his permission to begin the job. He was also concerned that the 'brass' in charge of the ship's working party would see this as a lack of control on his part. Moreover, he had not given Jim instructions as to how the job was to be done.

Jim himself became upset. He was worried about having been on duty when the Yandra went aground, not knowing what had gone wrong, and that there was to be a Marine Inquiry that could find him to blame.

He told the 'head' he was capable of dismantling a crate without instructions, and explained how he would tackle the job: "Remove all the screws from the front and back panels, take off the top, then push the fridge out. Then you only have two sections to replace later. The job will only take half an hour and I will be finished in time to go on duty."

The head keeper became really upset, shouting about "insubordination" and "big headed Poms who thought they knew all the answers". He then gave precise instructions on how he wanted the crate dismantled:

"You will remove each and every screw (there were hundreds) from every piece of timber, uprights and crossbeams. Then you will lay them all out around the base just like the segments of an orange, all nice and tidy. Each screw will be placed into the hole it came out of - that way, none will get lost and there will be no confusion. The top can go over on the tank cover so it is not trodden on. The three of us will lift the fridge out, taking care not to disturb the pattern of the timber. Then we will all lift the other fridge onto the base and you can put the crate together again tomorrow."

Jim's practical mind could not accept this, so he argued. "That will take hours. A complete waste of time. I'll do it my way or not at all." By now, the engineers and deck crew had gathered around. A shouting match developed between Jim and the head keeper, which brought Captain Taylor to investigate. I had gone indoors, disturbed by the shouting and concerned for our future. Through the open window, I heard Jim say he could not work under such a fool.

A few minutes later, Captain Taylor was standing on our porch, looking very formal. My mind was racing … Was this to do with the wreck, or the row over the fridge crate?

"Mrs Hill", the Captain began, "Mr Hill has just verbally resigned, and he has not yet gone on duty. Nothing is official unless I get something in writing. However, I need to know how you feel about lighthouse life. I am aware there is a problem with the water ration, and your husband seems to have a very independent nature, perhaps too independent to take direction easily. I would like you both to have a good talk about your future in the Service. There may still be a place for you, if Hill is prepared to make the appropriate apologies to his superior. You can let me know tomorrow. You both need to understand that should you stay, you will have to complete your term on Neptune, and even if Hill resigns, he will still be formally on duty until he reaches the mainland…"

Jim was just as concerned about our future. He had never suffered fools gladly, but he knew he should not have argued with the head keeper, a man who took himself very seriously, lived by the rulebook, and upheld the military viewpoint: 'If it moves, salute it. If not, paint it'. After a long talk, we decided lighthouse life was not for us. Jim wrote his resignation, giving two months notice so we could organise accommodation on the mainland. It was accepted almost eagerly, and he was told we would be taken off the light station at the discretion of the Service. We had no choice in the matter.

Less than an hour later, the Captain was at our door again. Jim was on duty. He was polite, asking me whether I wanted to go, and what we would do on the mainland. I assured him we would manage. What else could I say … that I liked it here, and would love to stay? What difference would that have made?

A short while later, I was being asked to pack, ready to go in ten hours. Cape York was leaving the next day and we were being taken off the island. My mind reeled. How to pack in such a short time? What on earth was I going to do about the heaps of dirty clothes stored in the laundry? Where would I find boxes to pack the food stores in?

Jim and Margaret Hill's childreb on Neptune Island in 1959. L to R Marilyn, Kevin. [Image: Margaret Hill]Jim and Margaret Hill's children on Neptune Island in 1959. L to R Marilyn, Kevin.
[Image: Margaret Hill]

The Cape York was a work vessel, not designed for passengers - with a full compliment of crew, our family of seven, all our household goods and three boxes of cats, it was crowded. There was always work to do aboard, and every morning Jim had to report for duty. Until we reached the mainland, he was still employed by the Commonwealth Lighthouse Service.

The ship headed towards Port Lincoln, stopping to service the automatic lights on shoals and tiny islands. They changed acetylene tanks and did repairs, with as little interruption to the wild life as possible. The old seals and sea lions became aggressive if disturbed, so it was wise not to linger. The engineers were doing some repairs at Dangerous Reef when an old bull seal became enraged, and charged at them, roaring his head off. The man at the boat tried to knock the huge creature out of the way with an oar, only making it angrier. As the workers clambered into the small boat, the seal bit the end right off the oar!

Finally, we reached Port Lincoln and were billeted into an old boarding house. Our large rooms were on a cool, covered verandah with an outside door, which was convenient for letting the cats out of the boxes to play on the grass and be fed.

The cook/housekeeper was horrified at my stories of the water situation on Neptune, and came to our rooms to see the bags of dirty washing. They were low on water themselves, but she left the soapy water in the machine for me to wash each day after the house laundry had been done. I was very grateful.

Our cats were seen as a health hazard and they had to go. Jim did not want to pay a fee for the vet to put them down, so he disappeared down to the jetty with a large, heaving bag over his shoulder. Some time later, there was a knock on our door. Several small boys stood outside, each one holding a couple of bedraggled cats. "We saved these for you, Mister, how about a tenner for the trouble?" the ringleader asked, with a cheeky grin. Jim was more inclined to clip his ear than give him money, but I paid them off. After dark, Jim set off again with the cats and we saw no more of them.

When we arrived in Adelaide, we decided to ask Dot to put us up. She had written several glowing letters about the house they were renting in Mitcham, so we took a taxi there from Port Adelaide, only to find that she and her husband were only renting rooms in the house. The house owner was kind enough to let us stay for one night. Dot was very embarrassed and our friendship did not last long after that.

We took a taxi over to Gepps Cross, where Ken was living. Ken and his wife made us welcome and offered us a place to sleep for a few nights, which was all their tenancy agreement would allow. Besides, with only one bedroom and a combined kitchen and living room, they were cramped as it was. We had to sleep on the floor in the kitchen. Ken drove Jim around for two days looking for a place to live, with no luck.

We applied to the South Australian Housing Trust for emergency housing, and spent a whole day talking to officials and explaining our plight, to no avail. In desperation, Jim went to the hostel where we lived before, and begged. The Housing Trust eventually promised to house us within three months, so the hostel agreed to let us have four rooms for a short time. Back to the hostel - what a blow. Well, at least we knew 'the ropes' and had a roof over our heads; and we had cases of tinned food to supplement our diet. Jim was able to look for work at last.

Responses to Maatsuyker, An Alternative Point of View

Last month writer and Lighthouses of Australia member John Ibbotson presented an alternative view which sparked some healthy debate and responses. To continue this debate published here are a selection of the responses.


As a member of LoA Inc I am very interested in the discussions on demanning, particularly as Australia with the US and Canada are divesting themselves of Lighthouses from Government funding.

I am on the Panel for Preservation of Historic Lighthouses within IALA and our last meeting in October brought out the views of the professional lighthouse services which contrast strongly with those of the enthusiasts within the Preservation Societies (LoA, USLS and ALK in UK.)

I think you a right to point out the limited funds now available to sustain the Lighthouse stock and there certainly is a need to decide, particularly in Australia where funds are limited, priorities for Historic Lighthouse Preservation.

The National Parks Service (USA) has a good Website which gives their views on Prioritising and Conservation of Lighthouses and Equipment which could be useful to anyone who may be employed to plan such preservation. in the states, to get state funding each lighthouse is viewed in 10 categories and can get varying funding according to its Historical and Uniqueness. It could also be used to sort out priorities in Australia which I note from the monthly newsletter seem arbitrary considering a very funding actually available from each state.

From an engineering standpoint I think moving the equipment to safety in museums is certainly the best option, particularly for large lenses which can be dismantled into Panels and removed easily.

The pedestals are often old and worn out so removing the clock if there is one and the lantern house can make a good exhibit, with or without a tower.

The lens can be assembled on a new motor driven turntable at reasonable cost if rotation is required - we made a Pedestal for a 1st order at Stone Chance out of 6" Angle with 6" Box section for a lens table rotated by a 1 hp electric motor - picture attached.

I contacted Allan Crossing at AMSA about vandal proofing Maatsuyker and he suggested forget it , as someone will always break or steal lighthouse gear if it is left unattended for months. He concurred that taking the equipment to museums is the best option unless there is a permanent resident able to fund the maintenance ,and keep the vandals at bay long term.

I'm glad you have raised this within LoA Inc and look forward to see what discussion it generates.

Best Regards
Roger Lea <>
LoA Inc - USLS - ALK member

Hi Malcolm

Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before the complex issue of what should or should not be conserved came up again, yes again, its been with us for some time, I've wrestled with the thought so to speak, Solitary Island, Tasman Island and many others.

Personally I think Maatsuyker must be preserved, but in the long term it and others like it will face many challenges, some like Cape Otway face different challenges and I fear for them in the long term.

One thing is for sure unless the public are fully behind conservation of our lighthouses it won't for the most part happen, there will be a few key properties like Montague and Barrenjoey preserved, but for the rest its going to be tough, it may be that private ownership in some instances is the best option.

John raises some excellent points, I don't think relocation is an option here, the real decision is do we remove the valuable bits and leave the rest or preserve the station as a whole.

My view is what little heritage we have in this country all needs to be preserved. There will be a cost but given the little we have its got to be worth it.

The real problem and challenge is to get out of the romantics and bring the real discussion into the public domain, I think that's where we can make a difference.

Knowing the condition of some stations and the lack of funds now made available for maintenance time is running out fast.

My greatest fear is that lighthouses which are popular now with the public will be another passing fad, which in years to come will mostly only exist in books.

Ian Clifford <>

Dear all

I agree with Cyril and Malcolm. It is an interesting point of view and definitely deserves to be published.

Personally I would hate that to happen (to dismantle the lighthouse and relocate it) as I have seen several like that and they look lost and overwhelmed by nearby development.

I would much rather see it leased to private enterprise and ultimately it is probably going to happen.

Denise Shultz <>

Hi All

It's a valid viewpoint and one that applies widely to all heritage sites.

Did you know that the Tas National Trust is considering leasing Entally, one of its flagship properties?

Cyril Curtain <>

Dear Malcolm,

Just about to leave for Deal, on Saturday and have a lot to do to organize the trip so I am not sure if I will really have time to write anything but hear are a few quick points.

1) Abandoning the Light Station would mean you would lose all the services with regard to weather reporting and the safety aspects that the volunteer caretakers provide in relation to the users of the Southwest (the marine industries, the aviation industry and the the search & rescue assistance capacity) The Chapman article clearly identified this as a very important role and that it must be fulfilled.

2) Apart from the protection of the cultural values of Maat that the volunteers presence helps to protect the very important natural values of Maatsuyker Island. You may be able to shift some of the cultural artifacts but you cannot shift the wildlife. If the volunteers were not present the wildlife would be subject to high degree of harassment.

3) Moving cultural heritage from its original site is against the against the principles of Burra Charter for cultural heritage management as the objects are no longer in the place and context that they were intended to be. Only in the most extreme circumstances would such move be considered under the Charter.

4) AMSA signed a binding agreement upon transfer of the island to the Government of Tasmania that a presence would be continued to be kept at Maatsuyker. Failure to abide by this agreement would contravene the legal agreement entered to by the Tasmanian Government with the Commonwealth.

5) Abandonment would appear to contravene Tasmania's own heritage legislation.

Christian Bell <>
Tasmanian Chapter Lighthouses of Australia

John Ibbotson's Original Letter:
Maatsuyker, An Alternative Point of View

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

Journey to Gabo

[Max Huxley]

It was mid-winter school holidays 1941. My brother Doug would have been eleven years old and I was ten.

Dad and mum were then assistant light keepers on Gabo Island. The head keepers George and Muriel Piper, the navy and the air force, made up the rest of the population of the island.

Brice's boat is on the left and standing in it is Mrs. Huxley, Doug and Max, getting ready to undertake the journey back to Eden (much to their dread). The other boat is Eden Cole's 'Shamrock' containing the travellers suitcases. Eden himself is on the right, biting up his long line getting ready to go fishing. [Image: Max Huxley]Brice's boat is on the left and standing in it is Mrs. Huxley, Doug and Max, getting ready to undertake the journey back to Eden (much to their dread). The other boat is Eden Cole's "Shamrock" containing the travellers suitcases. Eden himself is on the right, biting up his long line getting ready to go fishing.
[Image: Max Huxley]

We picked up our suitcases, said "good bye" to our landlady Mrs. Muier and tramped off to meet Brice Southwell, a fisherman who was to take us back to our parents. Brice had the mail run to Gabo at the time, taking turns with Eden Cole.

As we climbed down into Brice's little green fishing boat he made room for our cases among crates of vegetables and fruit, cartons of meat, mailbags and newspapers. He was taking all the goods for the keepers, the navy and the air force to Gabo on his fortnightly run to the island.

Soon we motored out into Eden's beautiful harbour, past Boyd's unfinished light tower and into rough open sea. Doug and I started to feel queasy almost immediately. We were both rotten sailors, we were sick even aboard the lighthouse supply steamer "Cape York" and this was much, much worse! Our excitement of going home gave way to fear and dread, not talking about heaving stomachs.

When we were well out to sea, Brice leaned his leg against the tiller and proceeded to bait up his long line. Then he cast it expertly over the stern and began trawling for tuna as he headed even further out to sea.

Some of Brice's catch on the bottom of the boat. The chain lowers the retractable keel when the boat is under sail. The square object in the right foreground is the bilge pump, the round part is the top of the handle. This is the same pump which had Max hanging over the side being horribly sick. [Image: Max Huxley]Some of Brice's catch on the bottom of the boat. The chain lowers the retractable keel when the boat is under sail. The square object in the right foreground is the bilge pump, the round part is the top of the handle. This is the same pump which had Max hanging over the side being horribly sick.
[Image: Max Huxley]

Doug and I were mortified while we chugged on and on. Brice ordered us to move out of the way and he hoisted the sails and cut the motor. Doug and I felt only slightly better, at least, we did not have to put up with the noisy, smelly engine on top of everything else.

We saw flying fish leap out of the water and skim the waves for a few yards before they dove back again. We have never seen the flying fish before and it was a most spectacular sight but Doug and I were too crook to fully appreciate it.

Soon, Brice hauled his long line in and the floor of the boat was turned into a thrashing mass of tuna. They belted into our legs, their bodies as hard as rocks, bleeding and splashing blood and slime all over us.

Again, Brice cast his line into the heaving gray waves. Meanwhile, the wind was getting stronger, the waves bigger and Doug and I sicker.

Doug (left) and Max (right) in front of the water tank of their Gabo Island home. [Image: Max Huxley]Doug (left) and Max (right) in front of the water tank of their Gabo Island home.
[Image: Max Huxley]

Spray was starting to spill into the boat as she lay over in the wind. "Doug, take the tiller and steer, Max - start pumping!" shouted Brice over the wind. I remember thinking it would be much nicer to drown and get it over and done with! Brice hauled down the sails, started the engine and showed Doug in which direction to steer for, even though we could not see any land.

I pulled and pushed the pump handle up and down and having something to do made me feel a little bit better. That is until the water level dropped bellow the floor boards and started to make horrible slurping and sucking sounds and worst of all started to bring up rotten fish guts, blood scales all mixed up with old engine oil. The sounds and the smell had me hanging over the side of the boat again in no time at all.

Gabo Island jetty as it looked in the 1940's. Standing on it are Bernice Huxley, Muriel Piper (obscured) both the lightkeepers wives, Max is hanging from the rail and Jean Brighthope (Mrs. Piper's niece) is keeping an eye on him close by. Cyril Huxley is seen greasing the pulley on top of the crane and three sailors with George Piper (in the hat) are seen at the end of the jetty. [Image: Max Huxley]Gabo Island jetty as it looked in the 1940's. Standing on it are Bernice Huxley, Muriel Piper (obscured) both the lightkeepers wives, Max is hanging from the rail and Jean Brighthope (Mrs. Piper's niece) is keeping an eye on him close by. Cyril Huxley is seen greasing the pulley on top of the crane and three sailors with George Piper (in the hat) are seen at the end of the jetty.
[Image: Max Huxley]

When Brice pulled in another load of flapping fish, he finally coiled up the line, put all the hooks around the basket and then filled the petrol tank from the drum. After fiddling with the noisy, smelly little engine, he managed to make the boat go a little faster.

Having been at sea all day, Doug and I were cold and wet. Wet from the sea spray splashing over the side of the boat as well as the cold, squally showers that swept over us several times.

Compared to Brice's little boat, the waves looked like huge and threatening gray mountains of wind lashed water. When we looked over the boat's stern we were horrified to see one of these monsters sneaking up behind us, its curling crest beginning to tumble over as it reared even higher.

Just when it seemed that we would surely be engulfed, the little boat suddenly seemed to slide backwards up the menacing slope, then flip over the tumbling crest and slide down the other side into the trough. The gray mountain of water then overtook us, hissing off before us, its seething crest collapsing in a welter of foam. We would sigh with relief only to look around and see the endless procession of those dreaded monsters bearing down upon us.

Brice mucked around with his slippery fish and engine; he coiled the ropes and washed his hands over the side of the boat, quite unconcerned.

Standing near the back door of 'our House' on Gabo are left to right: Head lightkeeper George Piper, his wife Muriel, Bernice Huxley and Max Huxley - assistant keepers. The house, which stands apart from the other two is now being renovated to be used as an accommodation for the tourists just as the other one, closer to the lighthouse. [Image: Max Huxley]Standing near the back door of "our House" on Gabo are left to right: Head lightkeeper George Piper, his wife Muriel, Bernice Huxley and Max Huxley - assistant keepers. The house, which stands apart from the other two is now being renovated to be used as an accommodation for the tourists just as the other one, closer to the lighthouse.
[Image: Max Huxley]

At last we saw the land, when through the mist and rain we spotted the Green Cape. It was beginning to get dark and the unabating waves took on a darker, slatey shade of gray. Eventually, we rounded a rocky piece of land, where a wrecked ship pointed its bow skyward like a black tent. We were finally passing Cape Howe.

It was almost dark and the drizzling rain when we rounded the cape. Suddenly a fantastic sight opened before us. Driving through the mist and drizzle were great long beams of light sweeping around with slow majesty in the rapidly darkening sky. Revolving like the spokes of a huge wheel.

They were the welcoming rays of Gabo Island Lighthouse. My brother and I cheered up immediately; just the sight of those warm looking rays of light seemed to take some of the chill away.

Brice slowed down his motor in the passage between the mainland and the island, waiting for a calm bit of water among the breakers that erratically leaped about in the shallows.

When he saw his chance, he gave the motor full throttle. We bounced and bucked and after scraping the sandy bottom a couple of times, we were through into the calmer waters of Gabo's lee side.

In a while, we entered the island's small harbour and there, standing on a little jetty was our dad as well as some of the navy boys waiting for us. "Fingers", yelled our dad, warning us not to put our hands on the side of the boat where our fingers could be squashed between the boat and the jetty.

The boat rose and dropped with the movement of the water. "Get Ready", called dad, "Doug first." Doug waited for the right moment when the water rose. "Now, jump!" urged dad, and Doug promptly jumped and caught the ladder at the end of the jetty. Doug was big for his age and climbed up the ladder unassisted.

"O.K. Max, get ready." I waited for my chance. "Now!" I leaped for the ladder. As the boat fell away beneath me I grabbed a nearest rung of the ladder with numb hands. I was small and scrawny and with little strength left, I clung to the ladder my sopping wet coat feeling like a heavy weight pulling me back down again. One of the sailors climbed down the ladder and hauled me up onto the decking and safety. He felt strong and warm and my fears disappeared in a flash. I was so relived and excited to be back on solid land, even though it was only a jetty.

The station is on the other side of the island and we still had unsteady sea legs as we staggered along the sandy track towards our home. Penguins waddled along the same track giving us an occasional peck and squawking angrily, when we got in their way. We came over the hill and the view of the station opened before us. There was that magnificent lighthouse again, its flashing light even stronger now that night was fully upon us and the houses with just a faint yellow glow showing through their windows.

Finally, we walked through the gate in the wall surrounding our house, opened the back door and ran into the warm kitchen where our mum was waiting for us with open arms. Hugs, kisses, excitement! The kitchen was full of mum's freshly baked bread; soup was simmering on the stove from which wonderful warmth wafted into the room. Gosh, it was marvelous!

Doug and I took off our filthy, saturated,vomit streaked, fish smelling clothes, washed ourselves and slipped into clean pyjamas and set down to a bowl of hot soup and lovely fresh bread. We ate by the glow of the kerosene lamp. After we have eaten, dad went out to do his watch duty while mum tucked us into bed, kissed us good night and blew out the lamp.

Max's brother Doug, mum Bernice, dad Cyril and Max himself sitting on the verandah of the Gabo Island's Assistants keepers' house. [Image: Max Huxley]Max's brother Doug, mum Bernice, dad Cyril and Max himself sitting on the verandah of the Gabo Island's Assistants keepers' house.
[Image: Max Huxley]

We lay there, feeling the warmth returning back into our bones. The mantle clock chimed a cosy musical sound in the lounge room next door and it seemed so far away through the solid thick wall. A couple of penguins were squabbling under the tank stand at the side of the house. The bed still seemed to roll a little like the boat and we heard the wind trampling across the iron roof and 'woofing' down the chimney to the fireplace beside the bed. We did not care. It could do its worst; we were safe and warm inside the solid old house. We were home.

Letters & Notices

Looking for Daniel Watson of Seal Rocks

Dear Malcolm

I am hoping you, or one of your readers of the Bulletin, can help me locate details of my Great Grandfather, who seems to have been the lighthouse keeper at the Seal Rocks lighthouse , at least between the years of 1883 and 1893 and possibly longer.

The Sugarloaf Point (Seal Rocks) LighthouseThese dates have been recorded on various certificates, but I have no further knowledge of his time there.

If you can assist, I would appreciate it, or even if you can suggest another avenue I might pursue.

His name was Daniel Watson and his wife was Helen. They had at least one of their children at this time, born at Port Stephens in 1880 ( Thomas).

Many thanks for the Bulletin. It is most interesting. It shows the extraordinary dedication of you and your band of helpers!

Helen Cobb <>

Looking for Captain Angus of Cape Willoughby


I am writing to request some information on a person who may have been one of the Cape Willoughby Lighthouse keepers for a time.

The Cape Willoughby LighthouseHis name was Captain Angus (Angas?). I have been researching my family history for quite some time, and a friend of mine was at the lighthouse and remembers seeing a photograph of a Capt Angus at the lighthouse.

I have many Angus family members and if you can please supply me with whatever information is available about this man and his family, it would be much appreciated.

Donald Sobey <>

The photo of George Angus and his family at Cape Willoughby Lightstation. [Image: Daniel Rowley, DEH]
The photo of George Angus and his family at Cape Willoughby Lightstation.
[Image: Daniel Rowley, DEH]

List of Eclipse Island Keepers

The Eclipse Island LightstationDear Sir/Madam

I am attempting to find the names of Eclipse Island lighthouse keepers between 1926-1976 when it became automated. If you have any information please help.

Yours sincerely

Brian Hawkhead <>

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:

Maatsuyker Award Ceremony

[Christian Bell <>]

Jill Thiele & David Abbot (ex Maatsuyker Island caretakers and Dave is our Interim LoA Tas Organiser) in conjunction with the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service organized the Maatsuyker Award Ceremony for volunteer caretakers which was held last Friday, November 15.

The event had a very impressive turn out (probably 60 - 80 people) Jill did a fine job with the displays at the Waterside Workers Pavilion next to Constitution Dock in Hobart, Tasmania.

The caretakers each received a green polar fleece top an a certificate of appreciation for their efforts from Wildcare.

The senior public service government representatives present could not have failed to be impressed by the commitment to Maatsuyker Island that the volunteer caretakers have towards the existing caretaker program. I am sure that this event will reinforce to upper management the value in maintaining the program.

Currie Light to Get Funding

[Christian Bell <>]

The Currie Lighthouse on King Island. [Image: Brian Lord]The Currie Lighthouse on King Island.
[Image: Brian Lord]

Five projects which aim to preserve Tasmania's cultural heritage will share in more than $270,000 of Federal funding under the Cultural Heritage Projects Programme (CHPP).

The lions share, $111,000 dollars, goes to the preservation of the 122 year old Currie Lighthouse on King Island, Quamby Homestead in northern Tasmania gets $90,000 dollars and work at Voss Cottage at Collinsvale will receive $38,000 dollars.

The Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp said the Currie Lighthouse was built in 1880 to support the growth of commercial activities in the Bass Strait.

"It has a unique structural characteristic, it's screw pile, pre-fabricated iron lattice tower design and there aren't many of those left. It's one of only two known examples," DR Kemp said.

CHPP funding has been used for Tasmanian Conservation Trust projects on Deal Island in the past but this year's project guidelines stated that projects that related to government owned buildings were ineligible. Maybe this did not apply to local government! King Island's Currie Light is operated by the King
Island Council
and is one of the few lights ever to be reactivated in Australia after being decommissioned.

The play's author, Verity Laughton. [Image: Mainstreet Theatre]The Lightkeeper

The play's author, Verity Laughton.
[Image: Mainstreet Theatre]

"You're up so high. And it's just you. And the wind's out there. And it's a noble thing to guard a light. So perhaps you'd feel like - a commander, perhaps a commander of space and light."

Verity Laughton's new play, The Lightkeeper, premieres along the coasts of South Australia's South East and Victoria's Great Ocean Road January 2003.

Be a guest of Jack's memories, the weather, sea shanties, shipwreck stories, loves and frustrations as you are invited into his life during his shift one night, keeping the light.

The play's co-author, Ian Scott. [Image: Mainstreet Theatre]The play's co-author, Ian Scott.
[Image: Mainstreet Theatre]

When Jack Power or "Black Jack" as he was fondly known met Agnes Mary Taylor and her 6 year old son, Henry he had met his match.

Chancing upon her one stormy night while they were both stranded in the South East of South Australia in the RAG AND FAMISH pub, he proposed immediately.

Laid up from the sea life because of love and a broken leg. Jack takes Agnes and Henry to the light as he takes up his new position as Assistant Keeper on a remote lighthouse off the South Australian coast.

Mainstreet Theatre Company


The Lightkeeper

written by Verity Laughton
with Ian Scott
directed by Teresa Bell
sound design by David Franzke
lighting design by Natasha Marich
designed by Steve Jankowicz

a reading

January 5 - A reading will take place at Port MacDonnell's Bayside Festival

the tour

January 9-12 - Port Adelaide
January 14 & 15- Granite Island, Victor Harbor
January 16 - Kingston
January 17 - Robe
January 18 - Beachport
January 19 - Port MacDonnell
January 21 - Cape Nelson Lighthouse, Portland
January 22 - Port Fairy
January 23 - Warrnambool
January 24 - Port Campbell
January 25 - Cape Otway
January 26 - Apollo Bay
January 28& 29 - Lorne
January 30 & 31 - Torquay
February 1 - Point Lonsdale
February 2 - Queenscliff


Adults $20 Concession $15 Under 18's $10

Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) $50

For further information and interviews contact

Mainstreet Theatre Company on (08) 8723 1163

Or visit our web page

WLS - Optic Work Group

[Egbert Koch <>, World Lighthouse Society]

WLS has established an Optic Work Group (OWG) about Fresnel lenses. The aim of the work group is to list "classical" Fresnel lenses world wide still in use on lighthouses or displayed in museums etc.

At the very first step we do not want to include buoy lenses etc. We want to describe the Fresnel lenses as detailed as possible, i.e. name of the manufacturer, year built, order of the lens, exact focal distance, number of prisms, diameter of the bulls eye, height of the lens, etc. etc.

So far Al and Helen Gademsky, Mike Vogel and Thomas A. Tag from the US, Peter Williams, publisher of LEADING LIGHTS, and myself joined the Work Group. Esbjörn from Sweden is not sure whether he can join us because of time problems, but he offered his help regarding Swedish lighthouses.

I am ready to act as a Coordinating Officer at the start. Once the work group has been established we may decide who is going to be the Coordinating Officer.

Anybody interested in Fresnel lenses please let me know. I think that the OWG needs assistance from Australia, South East Asia, Africa, and South America .

Best wishes and keep 'em shining.

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The DECEMBER 02 BULLETIN was published on: 15/12/02

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

Photographs & Contributions:

Brian Lord for Photograph
Christian Bell for Reports
Christine Haynes for Keywords
Daniel Rowley, DEH for Info and Photographs
Egbert Koch, WLS for News
Linc Castles for Photograph
Mainstreet Theatre for News and Photographs
Margaret Hill for Story and Photographs
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