No 1/2004 - February 2004

Lighthouses of Australia Inc


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Letter from the Editor

Welcome to 2004, and the February Bulletin, edition 1/04.

The publication of the first Bulletin for 2004 was delayed whilst the editorial team took a well-deserved break. I spent late Jan/early Feb touring around Tasmania, seeing most of the lights on the northern coastline.  In two weeks I saw 16 lighthouses - towers, beacons & relics, both modern & very old. The furthest east lighthouse seen was Eddystone Point near Gladstone in north-eastern Tasmania, and the furthest west was Cape Sorell outside Macquarie Harbour, near Strahan. A report on this trip will be documented later this year.

Grotto Point LighthouseThis Bulletin begins with another episode in my lighthouse travels, this time when I visited Sydney in 2001, and saw most of the harbour lights and a few just north and south of the city. This story will be continued over the next two editions of the Bulletin.Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse

Further explanations for the naming of Maatsuyker Island have come to light following the publication of a letter seeking its definition in December last year. 

Lighthouse keeper at South Neptune IslandThe Beacons By the Sea: Stories of Australian Lighthouses exhibition is on the move again, from Albany to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Crookhaven Heads LighthouseThe Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse is rapidly becoming one of Australia's most endangered lighthouses. The extent of vandalism wreaked on this lighthouse is extreme, and suggestions from readers as to what can be done to ensure its long-term survival are sought.

Gannet chicks on the Margaret Brock Reef PlatformSimilarly, the future of the Cape Jaffa lighthouse platform, also known as the Margaret Brock Reef platform, is unknown, with its demolition planned for April this year. The platform is home to many hundreds of breeding gannets, and the fight is on to save it, not only for the sake of preserving lighthouse history, but for its place in the local ecological habitat.

MV Cape DonThe MV Cape Don lighthouse vessel appears to be in safer hands, with the Saving the MV Cape Don Society growing in numbers, and holding working bees to restore the vessel to its former glory.

Point Lonsdale ForghornRestoration works on the foghorn at Point Lonsdale have been given a boost. The State Government has offered a grant to assist in the renovation of the shed that houses the foghorn and its machinery. Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse

The Wildcare group "Friends of Maatsuyker Island" is holding a working bee in March to assist Parks and Wildlife Service staff with island management tasks. Interested parties need to be a member of Wildcare to participate, but will get the opportunity of visiting the wild and remote island.

Split Point Lighthouse keepers' cottagesSwan Island aerialThere are two auctions coming up involving lighthouses - firstly, two of the lighthouse keepers' cottages at Split Point, Aireys Inlet in Victoria, are being auctioned on 6 March 2004. The whole of Swan Island, just off the north coast of Tasmania, is also being sold on 12 March 2004, although the lighthouse is not included as part of the sale.

Lighthouse miniaturesLighthouses of Australia receives many queries about collectors items - we would like to be able to compile a list of places where readers can purchase Australian lighthouse-themed items. 

Lastly, we have a number of letters from our readers - some advising us of their relative's roles as keepers in times long past, and others seeking information about the same. Another reader is seeking information about an old publication called the Lighthouse Mission - a newspaper prepared in the late 1800s for lighthouse keepers. 

Enjoy reading this Bulletin, and if you are not a member of Lighthouses of Australia, and would like to be involved in preserving, promoting and protecting Australia's lighthouses, join now!

Kristie Eggleston
LoA Bulletin Editor
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NSW Lighthouse trip - Sydney Harbour & environs - Part 1

By Kristie Eggleston, Bulletin Editor

In August 2001, my sister and I visited Sydney and saw most of the lighthouses in Sydney Harbour and environs. Part 1 of the story documents our travels around the Harbour. Parts 2 & 3 of the story will be published in future Bulletins. In the December 2003 Bulletin, I reported on a more recent lighthouse holiday along the NSW South Coast, undertaken in October 2003. 

Whilst this Sydney trip was only taken about 2½ years ago, the amount of lighthouse information available at that time, either in printed material or on websites, was significantly less than now. John Ibbotson had not yet published either of his books, and other reliable information was difficult to come by for the average traveller. For many of the lighthouses, we knew vaguely where they were located, and we often relied on good luck and a good sense of direction to find them. Travellers wishing to visit any of the lights today hopefully have a lot more resources available to them to make their trip easier. 

My sister Jen has been my faithful lighthouse trip companion for many trips - together we have had some great holidays seeing many of the lights in Victoria & South Australia. This was our first NSW trip, in which we saw 11 of the major lights around Sydney. We left Melbourne on 8 August 2001, driving up the Hume Highway, staying at Gundagai the first night, and arriving in the evening of the second day at our aunt's house at Mount Colah, about 30km north of the city.

Bradleys Head Lighthouse from Manly ferry
Bradleys Head Lighthouse

The Bradleys Head Lighthouse with passing ferry.
Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

The next day after a lazy start, we caught the train into Circular Quay, and boarded the ferry for Manly. The ferry travels past some of the harbour lights of Sydney (some more distant than others), including Fort Denison, Robertson's Point, Bradleys Head and the Western & Eastern Channel Pile Lights. With a magnificent sunset reflecting off the windows of the waterfront properties, and the light of the South Head (Hornby) Lighthouse in the distance, we admired the view from the ferry on the return from Manly, and soberly remembered the long train trip home.

Robertsons Point Lighthouse
Robertsons Point Lighthouse

The Golden Grove ferry passes the Robertsons Point Lighthouse on its way to Mosman Bay.
Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

The next morning, we drove to Cremorne Point in north Sydney, heading down the steep slope past the Taronga Zoo. The Cremorne Wharf is at the end of the road, and with no parking, we had to find a spot in the street, and walk back down the hill. The walking track to Robertson's Point is accessed via a set of steps up from wharf level, and winds through park and bushland to the point. At the end of the track, the headland is a few metres above the light, and steep steps and a ladder have to be climbed to reach the lighthouse. The walkway linking the light to land is popular with fishermen, and the Mosman Bay ferry passes very close to the light. 

Bradleys Head Lighthouse
Bradleys Head Lighthouse

Photo:  Jen Eggleston

We returned to the car, and drove from Cremorne Point around Mosman Bay to the Bradleys Head lighthouse (map). The Bradleys Head parkland contains many remnants of military fortifications built in the 1830s, 1850s & 1870s to protect Sydney Harbour, but also has plenty of parking, picnic areas, walking tracks and shaded areas. The lighthouse is below the circular sandstone parapet built by convict labourers, and is linked to the headland by a short walkway. 

Parriwi Head Lighthouse
Parriwi Head Lighthouse

The Parriwi Head light with views over Middle Harbour.
Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

After a peaceful lunch on the lawns below the parkland looking towards the Harbour Bridge, we set off north to find the Rosherville (Parriwi Head) lighthouse, near the Spit Bridge. Finding information about this light was next to impossible - whilst Grant Maizels had a photograph of it on his website, we could not find any printed or website information as to its actual location - it was not marked on any map we sourced, and at the time, we did not know it was also known as the Parriwi light.

Parriwi Head Lighthouse
Parriwi Head Lighthouse

Photo:  Jen Eggleston

We took a gamble and turned right into Parriwi Road, the last road before heading north over the Spit Bridge, and pulled over, grumbling at the lack of information. We got out to stretch our legs, looked up the street, only to see the magnificent white tower of the Parriwi Head light only 50 metres up the road. 

The Parriwi Head light is a very elegant, narrow lighthouse, built on a steep hillside with a walkway linking from street-level to halfway up the tower. The light overlooks the beautiful waters of Middle Harbour, and is capped with an unusual sharply pointed turret. A gate blocked access onto the walkway to the tower, and although the light appears to be located in a private garden, there are steps down to the base of the tower. The gardens surrounding the tower are tiered to follow the slope, and appear to be well maintained. Overjoyed at finding the light, we were even more pleased to find comprehensive information about it on a metal plaque hidden in the shrubs back up at street level.

Grotto Point Lighthouse
Grotto Point Lighthouse

The Grotto Point Lighthouse on the northern side of Middle Harbour.
Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

Late afternoon was fast approaching, so we retraced our steps to cross the Spit Bridge, and headed west to Clontarf, hoping to have sufficient time to visit the Grotto Point light (map). 

Grotto Point Lighthouse
Grotto Point Lighthouse in the late afternoon sun

Photo:  Jen Eggleston

The Grotto Point light is located in a densely vegetated section of the Sydney Harbour National Park, an area well-preserved from urbanisation due to its long term use as a army defence land. The walk to the light from the nearest park entrance is about 800 metres, most of it downhill, and on rough dirt tracks not well sign-posted. The roof of the lighthouse can be seen sometime before you reach the light, but once there, it is worth the effort. 

The Grotto Point lighthouse is a cute, quaint, short tower with attached building, fenced on all sides by a picket fence, with one side overhanging the cliff face. The shape of the tower, along with the small rectangular window through which the light shines, gives it the appearance of an old-fashioned red post box. The rectangular window also gives a creepy appearance of being a singular "Cyclops" eye in an expressionless face. The Parriwi Light, (and the Vaucluse Leading Lights, which we did not see during this trip), also have similar small "eye" through which their light shines, and were all designed by the same architect, Maurice Festu, in the early 1910s.

Grotto Point Lighthouse
Grotto Point Lighthouse

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

Views of the light from the front are difficult to obtain, due to the steep terrain and sheer cliff face over which the light looks. A jogger running past us on his daily run smiled at our attempts to get a foothold to see the lighthouse from the front - it was necessary to hang on to the picket fence for support. With dusk fast approaching, we set off back up the hill through the park, satisfied with our day's work in locating four of the land-based harbour lights. be continued in the next Bulletin...

Email Kristie Eggleston

Maatsuyker Island name origins

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Maatsukyer Island Lighthouse

Photo:  Jeff Jennings

In the December 2003 edition of the Bulletin, we had a letter from a reader who enquired as to how Maatsuyker Island got its name.

Whilst Malcolm Macdonald suggested a number of explanations as indicated from a few written sources, LoA has also received a number of letters from other readers with different information:

Maatsuyker Island was named by Abel Tasman, from the smell of the tea-tree or bottle-brush that grows there. What you have to understand is that the fragrance of the flower blossom becomes very strong after you have been at sea a long time. The strong floral perfume would have been overpowering to Abel Tasman as he neared the leeward shore.

Maatsuyker of course, is a Dutch word meaning something like sweet; sugary and honey-like. Suyker means sugar or sweet. 

In fact, you can make a sweet tasting tea from just dipping the blossom from these trees into a cup of water. I hope this helps you - others might be able to round it out more accurately.

Geoffrey Wilson
Email Geoffrey Wilson

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

I was told as a child that Maatsuyker was a Dutch word for "sugar loaf". When all the tea-tree is in flower during Nov / Dec, the colours and shape of the island represent a Dutch cake called a "sugar loaf".

The island must have been blooming when discovered by a Dutch explorer. 

Bob Barrett

Email Bob Barrett

Beacons by the Sea: Stories of Australian Lighthouses

by Kristie Eggleston, Bulletin Editor, LoA

Lighthouse keeper at South Neptune Island
Lighthouse keeper
South Neptune Island

Photo: National Archives of Australia: A1200, L43685

The Beacons By The Sea: Stories of Australian Lighthouses touring exhibition presented by the National Archives of Australia finished its show at the Western Australian Museum at Albany on 4 February 2004.

The next location is at the Western Australian Museum in Kalgoorlie, where the exhibition will be on show from 13 March 2004 until 6 June 2004.

Structurally unique, romantic and intimately linked with Australia’s maritime heritage, lighthouses have maintained a strong hold over the imagination of many Australians. Designed to guide ships, they have become icons of safety and stability. 

Developed by the National Archives of Australia, this exhibition of photos, architectural drawings, diaries, log books and oral histories documents the stories of lighthouse keepers and their families, and the dramatic events such as shipwrecks and rescues that took place around these majestic structures.

The exhibition dates are reproduced from the National Archives of Australia website below (all dates and locations are subject to review by the NAA):

Opens Closes Location
13 March 2004 6 June 2004 Western Australian Museum, Kalgoorlie
June 2004 July 2004 Port Pirie Regional Art Gallery, Port Pirie
To be confirmed   Tasmanian Museum and Gallery, Hobart
December 2004 January 2005 Burnie Regional Art Gallery, Burnie
February 2005 April 2005 State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
May 2005 June 2005 Eden Killer Whale Museum, Eden
July 2005 August 2005 Lady Denman Heritage Complex, Huskisson
September 2005 October 2005 Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga
November 2005 January 2006 Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
February 2006 March 2006 New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale
March 2006 May 2006 Matthew Flinders Gallery, Bribie Island
June 2006 July 2006 Bundaberg Arts Centre, Bundaberg
August 2006 October 2006 Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Previous Bulletin articles about the Beacons of the Sea Exhibition

Australian News

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse situation

by Mike Boadle

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse
Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse

Photo:  Ed Kavaliunas

The Crookhaven Heads lighthouse (which is approaching its centenary) is one of the oldest buildings in the Culburra/Orient Point area, but over the past thirty years, the building has been allowed to degrade from a classic example of coastal heritage architecture to a vandalised wreck. It is sited on a magnificent north-facing headland with views to the Crookhaven River, Mount Coolangatta, Comerong Island and Seven Mile Beach National Park.

The main problem associated with this lighthouse is vandalism. The lighthouse building is at the end of an overgrown trail, about 300m from a carpark. This distance is close enough to provide vehicular access to a wide range of people, and supervision and protection of the building is difficult. 

The lighthouse was repaired about 6 years ago. A security fence was erected around it but this fence was apparently stolen, and the lighthouse building has since fallen into a terrible state.

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse lantern room
Crookhaven lantern room

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

The other main issue is accountability. Stakeholder groups include:

In spite of all of these groups/communities having an interest, there does not seem to be any one group who is taking responsibility for the lighthouse, or who is willing/able to get some positive action happening. A grant has been mooted for the building's repair, but this is not confirmed.

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse
Crookhaven Lighthouse

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

It is very important that two immediate objectives are achieved:

1. To secure the building so that no further internal damage is allowed to occur.
2. To maintain the building as a working lighthouse.

In the short term, it is very important that the light not be removed from the building. The lighthouse as it stands today is a piece of "working history". The possibility exists that NSW Waterways might take "the easy way out" and put the light on a pole. 

Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse
Crookhaven Heads Lighthouse

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

In the longer term, there are a number of other objectives that must be achieved:

1. To provide some sort of site security
2. To open up the site to make it conducive to family and tourist groups.

All of the above objectives are in line with the Crookhaven Headland Plan of Management published by the Department of Land and Water Conservation in January 2000.

Anybody have any ideas?

At the moment I am concentrating my efforts with the local Bushcare Group in the hope that they might take on a rehab project around the lighthouse some time in the future.

Email Mike Boadle

Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform

Cape Jaffa Platform
Cape Jaffa Platform

The Cape Jaffa Platform on Margaret Brock Reef with a solar-powered beacon as photographed in 2001.
Photo:  David Hurburgh

AMSA is making another move to pull the supposedly dangerous Cape Jaffa Lighthouse platform down in April - the month when thousands of Australasian Gannets will leave their breeding ground atop the historic platform. So, the fight to save the platform is gathering pace once again.

The background on the fight to save the platform from demolition and why can be read at:

The action is lead by seasoned campaigner Robert Mock who, in order to draw attention to the problem, camped overnight on the endangered platform last year. Among others, Robert has been joined by the author John Nicholson and Pat Barton, who was at the forefront of the fight to save the platform a few years ago. 

In the beginning of January, Robert met with John Nicholson to discuss the platform's durability, and the merits of wrought iron that was used in its construction. Together they developed strategies of how to conduct the campaign to save the Cape Jaffa platform. One of the ideas was to produce a regular newsletter (called Fly-Over) that would be emailed to as many as possible people who either care or could help.

Robert also met with the potential contractor who was asked by AMSA to re-submit the price for the demolition job. He had a pragmatic view of the situation, in that he did not want the platform to go, but if its destruction was inevitable... it was a job, and he would do it.

During a trip to Mt. Gambier, Robert spent almost an hour with Rory McEwen, Minister for Local Government and pivotal Independent Minister in State Government. Rory knows the platform well and wishes to "ramp up the effort." He promised to write to Tourism Minister, Fisheries Minister, Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Kingston District Council. He also wrote to AMSA seeking a copy of the "independent" engineers report on which AMSA is relying to justify the platform destruction. Rory has since received the document and has advised Kingston Council to seek funding for an alternative report. Robert, John and other campaign leaders will now also have a chance to read the dooming report. 

Gannet chicks on the Margaret Brock Reef Platform
"300 pairs" of gannet chicks on the Margaret Brock Reef Platform

This photo is available as a poster from Robert Mock - contact details below.
Photo: Robert Mock

Rory alerted Robert to a promising new change in the public risk insurance business. With new legislation just gazetted under the Recreational Services Act and Regulations 2003, the risk of litigation against the owners of the platform can be reduced to almost zero. 

It is a matter of developing a code of practice for users - for instance, the public and birdwatchers may not be able to enter the platform area without written permission from the authorities, and to register that code with both Houses of Parliament through the prescribed channels. Then it is a matter of attaching a specified sign and after paying an initially hefty fee, any injured party who has acted outside the code does not have a case for litigation. This legislation has now been passed in all states and designed for recreational risk including all sports.

Three Beacons at Margaret Brock Reef Platform
The three beacons at the Margaret Brock Reef platform

Photo: Robert Mock

The next stop was ABC Radio where Robert and Glenda received an enthusiastic reception. Robert had an interview with Stan Thompson during which Graham Box from Avenue Range came on to say that, in his opinion, judging from what he saw when he dived at the platform, the wrought iron was in good condition. 

Evan Flint, the Chairman of Kingston District Council also reaffirmed Council's support during the program. ABC Radio gave a spot to the story on the State News at midday. After showing off his photographs, the ABC decided they might be using one of the nesting gannets photos as a background in their News weather forecasts. They are also apparently ready to go for the story if there is enough interest created.

Cape Jaffa Lighthouse on the platform
The Cape Jaffa Lighthouse when it was located on the Margaret Brock Reef Platform

Photo: Chris Browne

On 23 January 2004, Robert attended the Kingston District Council meeting where he spoke about the importance of retaining the historical platform with the emphasis on the benefit to Cape Jaffa and the sale of units in the anchorage/marina. The Council asked well-founded questions and after some discussion moved to write to Robert giving unanimous support to efforts to retain the platform. The Council also moved to take advantage of AMSA's offer to come from Canberra and address Council on the state of the platform. It is becoming clear that a second engineer's report will be needed, perhaps sponsored by an interested party. The council's main concern is that planks may dislodge from the structure in high winds and float into the path of the fishing boats at night. A valid argument for which the best solution may be to replace the planks over time with a durable plastic grating, and recycle the English oak.

John Nicholson & Robert Mock
John Nicholson & Robert Mock

Photo: John Nicholson

Robert has produced posters that will sell for $40 each - with $10 of each sale donated to the Cape Jaffa cause. Polo shirts with the campaign logo are also available at $35. The posters and the polo shirts can be ordered from Robert by emailing him or writing to him at PO Box 475, Bordertown SA 5268.

Email Robert Mock


The Engineers report, in essence, says that the structure should be abandoned, and a new navigation aid built. Consideration should be given to leaving the platform for the gannets. Risk of harm can be minimised by removing low-level framework that makes the platform climbable, and signs forbidding entry can be posted. This would be a good result and yet AMSA are using this same report to condemn the platform.

South East Natural Resources Consultative Committee has written to the Minister involved, and could prove to be a powerful ally. It is interesting to note that the government representative said, "We can't take it on as there is too much public risk." The Recreational Services Act is apparently not known within government. All the more reason for a stay of execution.

The Kingston Council meeting is coming up and there is another meeting on 27th Feb - if AMSA is represented at that meeting, it may be a crucial discussion.

Possible outcomes

1. If enough pressure is applied, AMSA may again try to hand the platform over to the State.
2. If the State will accept the platform, public risk may be nullified.
3. In time, a resolution can be formed about the planks and their repair or replacement.
4. The platform can then retire gracefully, to be appreciated by our children and grandchildren.


Saving the MV Cape Don

by Chris Nicholls, MV Cape Don Society

Cape Don Lighthouse tender

MVCape Don with P&O Liner in the background, C. 1963
Photograph: Fremantle Ports

The MV Cape Don Society has been founded to carry out the refurbishment and conservation of the historic Lighthouse Tender MV Cape Don as a part of the maritime history of Australia, in accordance with maritime heritage guidelines. 

When restoration has been completed, the Society will maintain the MV Cape Don and operate the vessel for fund-raising purposes, for research, community assistance expeditions, and for the benefit of all Society members.

MV Cape Don was built in 1963, one of a unique class of ships purpose-built to service navigational aids (including manned lighthouses) primarily around the West Australian coastline. Crew complement was 39, with accommodation for 12 passengers. Her appointments were stylishly comfortable and she carried technicians, relief lighthouse crews (sometimes whole families) and officials, sometimes for quite prolonged periods. 

MV Cape Don
MV Cape Don today

The Cape Don at Sydney Harbour is to be restored by the " MV Cape Don Society"
Photo:  Chris Nicholls

Cape Don was retired in the 1980s when Australian lighthouses were automated. After various adventures, she now lies at Balls Head in Sydney Harbour, awaiting restoration. Work has already commenced, and the dedicated group is growing in numbers. 

Message to ex-crew members, officers and associated management of the Cape vessels of the CLS:

Can you please send your contact details so that we can prepare a register for a possible reunion in 2004/2005. Many ex-crew have already begun to contact us. We already have some details, but it is important to have an up-to-date list. Frank Alliss (ex-Cape Don) has agreed to maintain this register and will keep you all posted on up-and-coming events and progress of the project.

Please contact Frank Alliss with your name, address, contact telephone number, and email (if you have one).

For all information concerning MV Cape Don Society:

Email: Chris Nicholls
Mailing list:
Beacon contributions (and queries): Sharon

Important dates

Committee Meetings: General Meetings: Work weekends:

16 Feb 2004
1 March 2004
15 March 2004
29 March 2004

18 Feb 2004
15 March 2004

7/8 February 2004
21/22 February 2004
6/7 March 2004
20/21 March 2004
3/4 April 2004

Email Chris Nicholls

Point Lonsdale Fog Horn

by Donald Walker, Architect, Point Lonsdale Friends Group

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

Photo: Ed Kavaliunas

Located at the entrance to Port Philip Bay is an unassuming weatherboard building not much larger than your average 1950s garage. Capped with a roof that somehow evokes the Edwardian era, it is dwarfed by the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse tower it shares the clifftop with.

This humble shed houses a Type F Diaphonic Foghorn. From the late 1920s until 1992, in times of reduced visibility due to sea fog and bushfire smoke, it was heard by the Queenscliff fishermen, yachtsmen, tramp steamers and ocean liners alike, as it sounded a warning of the proximity of the Lonsdale Reef. The length of the horn's blasts and the interval between them corresponded to the character of the lighthouse flash. A considerably less powerful electric horn has operated over the last decade from a converted WW 2 shelter closer to the cliff. 

Point Lonsdale Forghorn
Point Lonsdale Foghorn

Photo:  Steve Merson

Many people missed the old horn's mournful warning on foggy winter nights, although more than one or two visitors to Point Lonsdale who have wandered too close to the lighthouse as the old horn opened up have been thrown sideways by its two-toned assault on their eardrums. This sound, as loud as a jet engine (138 decibels) can carry 15 km or more out to sea in foggy conditions.

These big foghorns were a spin off from the days of the great Wurlitzer organs and pioneered by an English organist Robert Hope Jones at the end of the 19th century. Able to provide a rich bass voice in church and theatre organs the diaphone worked through air being forced through a series of slots in a reciprocating piston and producing a distinctive "grunt" at the end of the blast. 

Les Irving-Dusting and the Point Lonsdale Foghorn engine
Queenscliffe Maritime Museum volunteer Les Irving-Dusting tinkers with the foghorn engine that pressurises the air to fill the reservoirs

Photo: Steve Merson

Volunteers from the Queenscliff Maritime Museum have recently restored the device, the last foghorn of its type in Victoria, to working order for use on ceremonial or community occasions. 

However, the foghorn shed requires extensive maintenance and a new roof. With a grant from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, it will be possible for volunteers to paint and repair the building. A local roofing contractor is due to start on site in late January.

In the second phase of work, after modification, interpretative signage is to be installed in the shed's side annexe. These works will dovetail in with other upgrade works about to get underway at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Reserve. Permits have been obtained from Heritage Victoria for the works while Operational Policies are being framed with the co-operation of the Borough of Queenscliffe and the Port of Melbourne Corporation for its operation. 

LoA members looking at Point Lonsdale Forghorn machinery
LoA members look on as the foghorn generator is fired up

From left: Malcolm Macdonald, Denise Shultz, Dale Checcucci & Kristie Eggleston
Photo:  Steve Merson

A community-based Friends of Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Reserve has been formed and will work with the Dept of Sustainability and Environment on all aspects of the upgrade works - anxious as they are that the Point Lonsdale community become involved in the maintenance of its maritime heritage - in particular those components associated with providing a warning of danger to mariners.

Donald Walker
Phone: 9379 9220 or 0417 562 622

Email Donald Walker


Point Lonsdale Fog Horn media release

John Thwaites at Point Lonsdale
Acting Premier and Minister for Environment, John Thwaites sounds the foghorn at Point Lonsdale

Photo: Cyril Curtain

Acting Premier and Minister for Environment, John Thwaites, today bought history back to life by sounding the original Pt Lonsdale fog horn - the last of its kind in working order on mainland Australia.

A team of volunteers from the Queenscliff Maritime Museum has restored the mechanical workings of the horn and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has provided $17,000 to renovate the shed that houses the fog horn, to provide visitor access to this historic site.

"This fog horn is about 80 years old, and the lighthouse is over 100 years old - they represent the backbone of this area’s history", said John Thwaites.

John Thwaites at Point Lonsdale
John Thwaites announces funding from the Department of Sustainability and Environment to restore the foghorn shed.

Photo:  Cyril Curtain

"The Queenscliff and Pt Lonsdale communities have a long and active association with maritime history and the effort by volunteers to restore the fog horn to working order is stunning. The Rip is one of the most dangerous stretches of water in Australia and the lighthouse and foghorn are crucial to maritime safety.

Although a new fog horn now operates to ensure the safety of ships in The Rip, the original foghorn has a distinctive sound that has been sadly missed by the local community. Restoration of the horn will mean that for special community events, an important part of local history can come to life again", said the Acting Premier.

Funding from DSE will mean that modifications can be made to the fog horn shed so that the public will have access to a viewing enclosure. A new window will be installed in the internal wall to allow the public to view the mechanics of the fog horn and general building restoration will focus on painting, re-roofing and minor repairs. 

Mr Thwaites went on to say, "Restoration of this historic facility demonstrates the commitment of local community volunteers and the Government to this State’s heritage". 

Source: Media release 2 Jan 2004, Department of Premier & Cabinet.

Friends of Maatsuyker Island Wildcare

By Fiona Taylor, Secretary, Friends of Maatsuyker Island

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Maatsukyer Island Lighthouse

Photo:  Jeff Jennings

Maatsuyker Island is an island of around 180 hectares located approximately 10 kilometres off the remote south west coast of Tasmania. The island has a rugged, steep and rocky coastline and apart from the areas cleared for the lighthouse station is covered by dense, scrubby vegetation. The weather is frequently cold, wet and very windy.

A lighthouse tower, lightkeepers' houses and outbuildings were built on the island in 1891 and operated until 1997 when the original light was decommissioned and replaced with an automatic beacon.

Apart from the heritage values of the lightstation, Maatsuyker Island has significant natural values primarily as a habitat for breeding seabirds and seals. It is also a site of importance to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The island is currently managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS), as part of the Southwest National Park and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. A permanent presence is maintained on the island through a program of PWS appointed volunteer caretakers. The Wildcare group 'Friends of Maatsuyker Island' works in partnership with PWS on some aspects of island management.

Access to the island has traditionally been only by boat but today helicopters have almost totally taken over this role. All visitors, including PWS staff and volunteers, must be equipped to be self sufficient for the duration of their stay in this remote area, with limited facilities and where weather dictates much of the day to day activities, including helicopter flights to and from the island.

About the Program

The Maatsuyker Island Working Bee (Adobe PDF 180KB) provides an opportunity for Wildcare members to work alongside Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff in a part of the Southwest National Park and World Heritage Area that is rarely accessible.

Email Fiona Taylor


Aireys Inlet Lighthouse keepers' cottages for sale

Split Point Lighthouse keepers' cottages
Split Point Lighthouse & cottages

Photo: Kristie Eggleston

by Kristie Eggleston, Bulletin Editor

Two of the three lighthouse keepers' cottages adjacent to the Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet are to be auctioned on 6 March 2004 at 2.30pm by Lorne Real Estate.

The cottages were built in 1891 to house the two Assistant Lighthouse Keepers. The Head Lighthouse Keeper's cottage next door (currently privately owned), along with the assistants' cottages, were sold in 1935, and the two now for sale have remained in the same family.

Split Point Lighthouse keepers' cottages
Split Point cottages

Photo: Lorne Real Estate

The larger cottage is a three bedroom house and has been extended to allow for extra living area. The second is a two bedroom cottage, which is in more original condition and contains a small library. Both cottages have been available for holiday rentals for the last 20 years.

Split Point Lighthouse keepers' cottages
Split Point Lighthouse & cottages from the air

Photo: Lorne Real Estate

The cottages share a party wall, but each has their own title, and are to be sold separately.

They are protected by a Surfcoast Shire heritage overlay, and are expected to be sold for more than $700,000 each.

More photos and a floorplan are available at the estate agent's website at:

Email Kristie Eggleston

Swan Island for sale

by Erika Johnson, Manager Swan Island & Michael Brown, Elders Real Estate

Swan Island Lighthouse
Swan Island Lighthouse

Photo: Jeff Jennings

Swan Island in Bass Strait, off the coast of Tasmania, is coming up for auction. Swan Island has an operating lighthouse that was built in 1845. It is still owned & operated by the Commonwealth and will not be included in the sale. 

However, the remaining 240 hectares of the island, which has been privately owned since 1987, will come under the hammer on 12 March 2004 at the Launceston International Hotel. This property is expected to sell for $1.5 to $1.7 million.

Details of the auction can be seen on

Swan Island aerial
Swan Island from the air

Photo: Elders Real Estate

Land area - 237.8 ha Freehold Title to high water mark.

History - Swan Island was visited and named by Matthew Flinders in 1798 during a salvage mission of the wreck Sydney Cove. The lighthouse was built in 1845 and the keepers lived on Swan Island for 141 years until the lighthouse was automated.

Swan Island beach
Swan Island beach

Photo: Elders Real Estate

Island Life - Swan Island has been operating as a Bureau of Meteorology Weather Station and the present managers who hold that contract are remunerated approximately $1600 per month. As the weather stations on the Australian coast become automated, it is probable that this situation will not last long into the future. 

Opportunities - While the island has been used as a private island getaway-style of tourist accommodation, this use has not been fully exploited - very little promotion or advertising has been done.

Swan Island cottage & lighthouse
Swan Island Lighthouse and cottage

Photo: Elders Real Estate

Restrictions - When the Commonwealth Government sold the island, restrictive covenants were put in place for the protection of the lighthouse:

  • Any new owner must allow lighthouse staff access to the island by light aircraft or by sea.

  • No buildings or trees are to be constructed or planted that will interfere with the arc of the lighthouse beam.

The Scottsdale Municipality has a non-specified zoning for Swan Island, which allows for development as long as the environment is not endangered and any heritage values are protected. 

Swan Island cottage
Swan Island cottage

Photo: Elders Real Estate

Access - Light aircraft from Launceston (flying time 40 minutes) or Bridport (flying time 20 minutes). There is a mail service by light aircraft every fortnight, which delivers mail supplies and carries passengers. Charter flights are available:

* Sinclair Aviation (02 6359 3641) can fly to the island from Bridport at 4.30pm, following their normal day routine. This allows for up to 5 passengers two or three hours on the island before dark. Sinclair - Bridport - Swan Island from $408 
* Launceston Flying Services (contact Peter Hay 02 6391 8477) Launceston - Swan Island from $275 

Swan Island map
Swan Island map showing area for sale

Map: Elders Real Estate

The airstrip is 300 metres in length, which limits the type of aircraft and or payload. Check with the island managers - Alan & Erika Johnson (03 6357 2211) to assess landing capability of your aircraft. 

There is a small boat that can deliver light cargo from Musselroe Bay on mainland Tasmania (three 3km away.) Southern Shipping has a roll-on/roll-off shipping service from Bridport that services the Bass Strait islands and further to Port Welshpool, Victoria. These vessels can be chartered on a daily hire rate.

Email Erika Johnson

Attention collectors of lighthouse images and icons

by Steve Merson, Chief Editor & Kristie Eggleston, Bulletin Editor, LoA

Lighthouse collectables
Lighthouse collectables

Photo: Kristie Eggleston

Lighthouses of Australia Inc receives numerous enquiries from overseas and around, asking where photos, postcards, miniatures, etc, of Australian lighthouses can be obtained.

Such collectors items are not easily located. If there is a visitors' centre, shop or kiosk onsite at a lighthouse, most of the time they will have some collectable items for sale relating to that lighthouse. Tourist and information centres in the town nearest to a lighthouse occasionally have a small selection of items for sale, but often not specifically relating to the local lighthouse. Maritime museums are always a good source of collectors' items.

Lighthouse miniatures
Lighthouse miniatures

Photo: Kristie Eggleston

Miniatures are not readily available, and not in all states - so far the only ones collected by the author have been in Victoria and New South Wales. Postcards are usually available, but only as single items, rarely in collectors packs, and occasionally it is possible to purchase other people's photographs, sold as greeting cards. Lighthouse jewellery is very difficult to purchase, and is never specific to Australian lighthouses.

Those who are interested in lighthouse stamps, currency and other philatelic-related items should visit, a comprehensive website produced by Dalene Thomas from Colorado USA. There are items from Australia in most of the categories on this website, including stamps, money and phone cards, although the items are not listed as being for sale.

If there are any thematic collectors' groups or retailers who specialise in nautical themes who wish to forward their contact details to us, we will keep your details on file to inform interested buyers of such paraphernalia.

Email Steve Merson, Chief Editor


William Wood, Head Lighthouse Keeper at Cape Northumberland

Dear LoA,

I write to you from England to tell you that my great uncle William Osborne WOOD was Head Keeper in 1924 at Cape Northumberland - this can be substantiated from information I obtained from log books. 

Your sincerely, 

April Ashton (nee WOOD)
Email April Ashton

Cape Northumberland Lighthouse

Photo:  Ed Kavaliunas

Hi April,

I suggest you contact Marilyn Norman at the Port MacDonnell & District Maritime Museum where Cape Northumberland Lighthouse is located.

Also, you can contact Graham Arriola who has done a lot of research into lighthouse keepers in South Australia.

We would be pleased if you would forward any meaningful responses to your request so we can update our records.


Malcolm Macdonald
Email Malcolm Macdonald

Herbert Freeman, keeper at Babbage Island Lighthouse

Babbage Island Lighthouse

Photo: John Ibbotson

Dear LoA,

Back in the early 1940s to early 1950s, my grandfather Herbert William Thomas Freeman was lighthouse keeper at Babbage Island in Carnavon, Western Australia.

To date we have been unable to find any official record of him having held this position. My grandmother talked quite a bit about the time they lived there, as did my father. I know a book was written a few years ago about the lighthouse but no mention was made of my grandfather. 

Can anyone provide some information in regard to this matter?

Yours hopefully,

Adrianne Freeman
Email Adrianne Freeman

Day family links to South Australian lighthouses

Cape Borda Lighthouse
Cape Borda Lighthouse

Photo:  Peter Coombs

Dear LoA,

I was in Melbourne recently endeavouring to trying to find some family links of my late mother's first husband, Sydney George Thomas Day, born 29 Apr 1887 at Cape Borda, Kangaroo Island SA. He was the son of Albert Sydney Day and Lillias or Lillian (nee Wells). 

I cannot find any records of Albert Sydney being a lighthouse keeper but marriage and birth records place him at Port Augusta in 1886, Cape Borda 1887, Althorpe Island 1888, and he died at Cape Jervis in 1915. 

Lillias was the daughter of Thomas Wells, known to have been a lighthouse keeper at Cape Borda (a son of Thomas Wells was buried there in 1873). Thomas was also born on Kangaroo Island. During research I discovered his parents had lived at Cape Jervis, Althorpe Island, and Cape Borda so I felt sure they were linked in some way to the lights. I am hoping I can discover more about them or the lives they lived. 

The Day family seem to have lived in South Australia for many years, but in spite of that have proven very elusive to trace. I am hoping to contact descendants who may have some information about my mother's husband who went missing in WW1.

Would be grateful for anything you can suggest, many thanks.


Frances Meroiti
P.O. Box 7105
Te Ngae Post Shop
Rotorua 3230
New Zealand
Ph: 00 64-07-345 4609

Edwin Green - Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse Keeper

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Maatsukyer Island Lighthouse

Photo:  Jeff Jennings


I have just visited your website and noticed that you are seeking information about lighthouse keepers. 

My father, Tasman Green, told me that his father, Edwin Green was a keeper at Maatsuyker Island after WW1. Dad's mother was Daisy Robinson, a descendent of Alfred Bungley Robinson, a member of a family of mariners who originated in Massachusetts, USA. 

One of Dad's older brothers, either George or Wilfred Green was supposed to have been born on the island. I don't have the actual dates, but hope that this information is of use. 


Heather Jatan 
Principal Education Review Officer 
Office for Educational Review 
Department of Education
116 Bathurst Street
Hobart TAS 7000 
Phone 03 6233 5185 
Fax 03 6233 7299

Email Heather Jatan

Hi Heather, 

Unfortunately, there are no Greens on our list. This does not mean that your grandfather was not a keeper, as the records are incomplete and often assistant keepers were not listed.

It is likely that your grandfather was on Tasman Island, as well as Maatsuyker - a common practice amongst keepers was to name their newborn children after the island they were stationed on at the time. 

Malcolm Macdonald

Email Malcolm Macdonald

"The Lighthouse Mission" - 1890s lighthouse newspaper
Dear LoA,

Have readers heard or come across a publication called the 'Lighthouse Mission'.

While searching through my local newspapers in the mid-1890's period, I came across an extract of a newspaper called the 'Lighthouse Mission'

It was a religious paper which was printed and distributed to the lighthouses around the Australian and possibly the New Zealand coasts. From this extract it looks as if it was published annually and began around the mid-1880's. 

I suspect could have been compiled by the Anglican Church or it's forerunners.

Does anyone know if it has survived and if any editions are held in a library or a Historical Society somewhere around the country.

Craig Gordon
Email Craig Gordon

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If you have or know of material that Lighthouses of Australia (LoA) could use, we would love to hear from you.  Contact LoA with the details, or send us some feedback.

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New Pages & Links

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Thanks to

Thanks to the following people for their help with this edition of the Bulletin:

  • Bob Barrett ( information)
  • Mike Boadle ( information)
  • Chris Browne (photo)
  • Peter Coombs (photo)
  • Cyril Curtain ( photos)
  • Jen Eggleston (photos)
  • David Hurburgh (photo)
  • John Ibbotson (photo)
  • Jeff Jennings (photos)
  • Erika Johnson (information)
  • Ed Kavaliunas ( photos)
  • Steve Merson ( photos)
  • Robert Mock (information & photos)
  • Chris Nicholls, MV Cape Don Society ( information & photo)
  • John Nicholson (photo)
  • Fiona Taylor, Friends of Maatsuyker Island ( information)
  • Donald Walker, Point Lonsdale Friends Group ( information)
  • Geoffrey Wilson ( information)
  • Elders Real Estate (information & photos)
  • Fremantle Ports (photo)
  • Lorne Real Estate ( photos)
  • National Archives of Australia (information & photo)

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site, and those who let LoA use their photos.


Got any news, experiences
or queries about lighthouses?
Steve Merson, News Editor
Contact Steve Merson

LoA News/Story Manager
Photograph: Lynda Merson

Got any comments
or questions about this Bulletin?

Kristie Eggleston, Bulletin Editor
Contact Kristie Eggleston

LoA Bulletin Editor
Photograph: Jen Eggleston

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