Friends and Members
to the September/October Bulletin full of all the goodies you would
normally expect from Kristie. Where's Kristie you might say. She's a
bit laid up at the moment so Denise, Steve and myself have chipped in
to produce this Bulletin which I hope will be up to her usual standard.
We all look forward to Kristies return and I can assure you that doing
a Bulletin once again has reminded me of the huge effort she puts in.
what do we have for you this month?
once it really seems to be a good news month with lots of lighthouse
celebrations, maintenance of lighthouses being undertaken and a community
interested in securing the future of their local lighthouse.
include several reports on International
Lighthouse Day 2004 events celebrated around Australia. The official
LoA Inc gathering at Queenscliff (Vic), and Ian Clifford again lighting
up the recently restored harbour light at Wollongong (NSW) as well as
an open day at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (WA).
at Queenscliff was International Lighthouse and Lighthship Weekend being
celebrated by the Geelong
Amateur Radio Club who were broadcasting for the second year in
a row from Fort Queenscliff at the Signal Station and the Black Lighthouse.
annual Bloomin' Tulips Festival saw what has become regular event, the
Cape Lighthouse Breakfast, which as usual was well attended.
great Australian news the report that long overdue maintenance is now
being done at South Solitary by Park and Wildlife NSW so that these
magnificent old keeper's cottages will be preserved.
officials were there to help Cape Otway's Telegraph celebrate
its restoration. There was music, re-enactments and of course, the
sending of telegrams in morse code.
MacDonnell was in the news with plans set to be unveiled for a new
maritime museum and a proposal by the Grant Council to take over
Northumberland Lighthouse and reserve for it to be accessable to
in this issue are for Galah
Sessions to be held on a regular basis for members and several times
a year for friends and Bulletin subscribers.
mooted is a long overdue pre-xmas
gathering in South Australia with one in the South East as well
as another at the Port Adelaide Lighthouse.
enquiry after Algernon Spong has dug up some very interesting accounts
from the archives and hopefully will assist one of his descendants to
form a picture of what his family was like on isolated Tasmanian lighthouses.
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
Acting LoA Bulletin Editor
Lighthouse Day 2004
By Denise Shultz
LoA President, Denise Shultz, on the air with GARC
Around 45 members and
their friends gathered at Queenscliff
to celebrate the International
Lighthouse Day. Organised by the Geelong clan- Malcolm, Ed and Pam, this turned
out to be the day to remember.
People came from Melbourne,
Geelong and as far as Colac and Cape Otway to celebrate and talk
to each other. The day started at the Queenscliff Maritime
Museum, where everyone checked in and learned about their next
program. Some people opted to explore the museum, which has quite
a collection of lighthouse paraphernalia, while another group
was taken for a tour of the Queenscliff Fort. We all met, however,
around midday in the adjacent park, where we shared a cold picnic
lunch (unfortunately the barbecue bombed out), glass of wine and
many pleasant conversations. It was time to meet new members as
well as those we only knew from the cyberspace.
The activities continued
after lunch with different people touring either the Fort or Point
Lonsdale Lighthouse. Six members of our group were lucky enough
to meet the Geelong
Amateur Radio Club in the Signal
Station. It was a real pleasure to see how passionate they
could get about talking to people around the world through a crackling
radio. Somehow, we could relate to it!
I got a real kick when
I was allowed to talk to someone in Russia (I think he was in
Yalta), and even though my Russian was not nearly good enough
and he was very hard to hear because of poor reception I felt
I have achieved something truly remarkable.
Around three oclock
most of us met again at the foot of Point Lonsdale Lighthouse.
While only certain number of people could take a lighthouse tour,
the rest of us were treated to an awesome sound of the restored
foghorn, which blasted our ears and, standing inside the compressor
room, our insides as well.
To finish, we all met
again in the Acoustic Garden Café in Queenscliff for the
afternoon tea. Donald Walker, the architect who is involved with
many lighthouse restoration projects around Victoria
shared with us his passion for Australian maritime heritage in
an invigorating speech which left us feeling energised and optimistic
about our future actions.
A truly fitting end
to a very exciting day.
The recently restored foghorn was fired up for International
Friends and members inspecting lockup at Fort Queenscliff
Stella Merson, the littlest lighthouse enthusiast at
the Maritime Museum
The foghorn sounding as a fond reminder of bygone days
The Fort Queenscliff Gatehouse
Fort Queenscliff, the Black
Lighthouse and Signal
Station from the air
This huge spotlight was one of the interesting artefacts
in Fort Queenscliff
The Fort tour takes friends and members past the Black
Lighthouse and Signal
Restoration Architect, Donald Walker explains the origins
of his passion for lighthouses
Ian and Heather Yarde (foreground) with Cyril and Betty
Curtain at the afternoon tea with new acquaintances
Pat and Cyril Marriner (foreground) with new members,
Jeanette Davis and Dianne Hughes
Pam Colenso, Ed Kavaluinas, Martin Spencer-Hogbin (Capt.)
and Phillip Walsh enjoying the afternoon tea
By Paul Sofilas,
International Lighthouse day was also celebrated at
WA's Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
hrs, Saturday August 21st - Night falls at Cape Leeuwin. Off
in the distance, the lights of a passing ship can be seen, rounding
one of the 'Great Capes' of the world. The lights of the keepers'
cottages are turned on, as in past times when the lighthouse
Lighthouse Day is celebrated at the Cape
Leeuwin Lighthouse precinct for the first time on Sunday
August 22nd, 2004. This event is held at various
places, worldwide, as a means of highlighting the ongoing
operational importance of both lighthouses and lightships to
the maritime industry. Even with the advent of Satellite Navigation
Systems (GPS), lighthouses are important navigational aids.
No technology is infallible. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse continues
to play an important role to passing vessels, as it is a 'Landfall'
lighthouse, often being the first sighting of Australia for
Saturday August 21st - The lighthouse emits a beam of light
that sweeps over the cape, illuminating the raindrops. The wind
is warm, and gusting from the nor' west.
day dawns, the sea is rough and huge waves are breaking all
around the coastline - a spectacular sight and a fantastic backdrop
to the day's activities. Lighthouse weather! What better conditions
to have on a visit to the extreme southwest corner of the continent,
where the two oceans meet? To be at Cape Leeuwin on such days
is to 'experience' the cape!
of the Augusta
community groups are participating in the day's activities,
and by 1000 hrs, a line of vehicles stretches from the car park,
back towards the
waterwheel. As well as the local residents, three coaches
arrive with visitors from Perth and beyond - an estimated 1500
people present on the day.
hrs, Sunday morning - The cottage is ready, the seating arranged
and the displays set up. The only thing left to do is move the
sheep to the back yard of the cottage.
cottage features displays of lighthouse information relevant
to Cape Leeuwin and neighbouring coastal lights, such as the
history of navigational aids, the types of structures, their
operational features, and archival photographs of the lighthouse
and the keepers' families. A highlight of the day is the attendance
of the family of one of the last keepers, Mr Ray Pinnock. Mrs
Pinnock, son Colin, and other family members spend a big part
of the day relating stories to the visiting public about living
at Cape Leeuwin from 1972 to 1998.
are screened of rare footage taken at Cape Leeuwin, Augusta
and Hamelin Bay in the 1960s and 1980s, featuring lighthouses
and lighthouse tender ships.
and Weavers of Augusta arrive and set up on the verandah
with twelve spinning wheels, demonstrating their craft and displays
of their work. The sheep are an appropriate backdrop. The Friends
of the Augusta Hospital cater for the day, setting up in the
kitchen and dining area at the rear of the cottage. The ladies
provide delicious cakes, snacks and refreshments to the grateful
public and hungry tour guides.
noon, squalls with gusts of up to 60 knots blast the cape and
cottage with horizontal rain. Sheltering from the storm, what
better place could one find to sip coffee, eat cake and look
out over the windswept southern ocean? The wild conditions give
the people climbing the lighthouse tower a chance to 'feel the
sway', providing a testament to the skills and abilities of
those who designed and built the tower and cottages - all of
which have withstood the elements since 1896.
days when the winds are blowing 20 knots, visitors ask, "Is
it always this windy?" Guide replies, "What wind?"
wild weather helps to create interest inside the cottage where
the display featuring weather data and information is set up.
The weather has been recorded at Cape Leeuwin every day since
January 1st 1897, until the 1990s. There is now an automatic
weather station on site. Cape Leeuwin is regarded by the Bureau
of Meteorology as one of the five most important sites for
weather recording in Australia. Data gathered here is used as
a reference for monitoring possible climate change in Australia.
Yacht Club holds a fundraising raffle and informs the public
about the club's role in the community. Before events are started
in their regattas, the club will often call the lighthouse for
People ask, "What on earth do you do down there?"
(Why do some people from the city think that living in the country
means living the life of a monk?)
can be as quiet or busy as you wish it to be. It is a self-reliant
community with a rich heritage, and there are many opportunities
for celebration or commemoration. There is never a shortage
of willing participants.
thanks go to the Augusta Yacht Club, the Friends of the Augusta
Hospital, Lions Club of Leeuwin, Spinners and Weavers of Augusta,
and Jan & Peter Vandertang of Display Techniques (Augusta)
for their contribution to the success of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
also to the Tour Guides at Cape Leeuwin - Brenda, Alan, Graham
and Mike, for their enthusiasm and wonderful effort.
By Ian Clifford
the second year we have lit the Breakwater
Lighthouse for International Lighthouse Day. We have averaged
about two light ups per year since its first light up following
restoration in 2001.
optic has been fitted with modern 12 volt automatic lamp changers
and lamps which are controlled by dual Navmar electronic flashers
which have been programmed with the flash sequence that the
light operated with at the time of its closure in March 1974.
The light exhibits flashing white and red with the red sector
from 217 deg through to 180 deg, white 4,000 CD, red 2,000
CD approx. Light 2 Dark 3, Light 2 Dark 3, Light 2 Dark 8.
The light was switched on during the day and allowed to operate
automatically from dusk till dawn on Sunday morning. Operation
of the light always attracts a number of onlookers and a few
lighthouse is along with the Belmore Basin Harbour precinct
under the care of the NSW Dept of Lands. I would like to thank
the department for allowing the light to operate for International
Amateur Radio Club at Queenscliff
By Albert Gnaccarini
members relaxing after setting up their gear
members, Alex Cave and David Paterson communicating with other
radio operators at lighthouse around the world
LoA friends and members interacting withwith GARC members ILLW
at Black Lighthouse
L-R: Cindy Pollard,
Roger Curtain, Evan Serls, Ken Jewell, Albert Gnaccarini, Denise
Shultz, Jan Richards and Lin Richards
The plaque near the Fort
(adjacent the car-park near the water tower) reads,
"On May 6 1901, from
near the Black Lighthouse an address of welcome to the Duke
and Duchess of Cornwall and York arriving by ship to open
the first Federal Parliament was successfully transmitted
by H. W. Jenvey, MIEE, Electrical Engineer, Victorian Postal
Department, using equipment he designed, built and operated.
This was the first Australian ship-to-shore wireless telegraph
communication, except for pre-arranged experiments."
The inscription at the
Marconi Memorial at Point Lonsdale (next to the football
"From this spot on Twelfth
July 1906 the first overseas wireless messages from Australia
were sent by Lord Northcote, Governor General, Sir R. Talbot,
Governor, Hon. A. Deakin, Prime Minister, Hon. A. Chapman,
Postmaster General, Hon. R. A. Crouch, M.P. for Corio.
Equipment supplied and operated by Marconi Wireless Coy.
|In these two cases, the equipment
would have been high powered spark transmitters and crystal detectors
or coherers at the receiving end. We need to remember that any such
communications between ship and shore in those days were previously
limited to line of sight using semaphore, flags or flashing light.
Any messages over land were strictly by wire-line and Morse sounder
or electric semaphore. The prospect of sending signals through the
'ether' must have been something akin to rocket science for the
Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) 21/22 August 2004
members of the Geelong
Amateur Radio Club established a 24-hour amateur radio station at
the historic Signal
Station located adjacent to the Black
Lighthouse at Fort Queenscliff this year. Operations were maintained
well into the Saturday night until radio propagation faded. Activity
recommenced at first light the next day and continued to midday on Sunday.
activation of the Black Lighthouse hosted visitors from LoA Inc. including
President Denise Shultz. The LoA members enjoyed the opportunity to
visit the Signal Station and participate in the Club's activity, with
everyone being enthusiastic about the event.
is the second year in which the GARC has participated in the ILLW,
and the members intend to make the activity a permanent feature of the
Club's agenda. GARC is committed to the establishment and operation
of a permanent public signalling display at the Fort's museum, and the
preservation of the signal station at the Fort.
evolution of radio communications is an interesting part of the history
of the Bellarine region. The Signal Station at Fort Queenscliff played
an important role - it is the site of the first shore-to-ship transmissions
made early in the 20th century. The Marconi Memorial at Point Lonsdale
commemorates the first successful radio transmissions to Tasmania, and
GARC has plans in progress to mark this anniversary in 2006. These events
are a testimony to the significant contribution that was made to the
development of radio communications in Australia, and world wide.
Geelong Amateur Radio Club looks forward with great enthusiasm to this
year and participating in ILLW next year.
Geelong Amateur Radio Club.
Around 75 people attended the Lighthouse Breakfast at Table
By Alwyn Friedersdorff
Cape lighthouse is an icon of the Wynyard
district on the north coast of Tasmania, so it is the appropriate place
to begin our Bloomin'
Our Breakfast on the Table was an invigorating start to the day - the
tables were filled with damper, cold chicken, large platters of smoked
ocean trout, local cheeses and fresh fruits. All this was enjoyed with
champagne, orange juice and tasty hot coffee from a mobile coffee cart.
The Lighthouse Breakfast marquee at Table Cape Lighthouse
Tickets to the event featured an early
photo of Robert Jackson, Table Cape's first keeper, and his family.
In the foreground of the photo was a big, old wooden barrow used for carting
firewood. Mrs Betty Holmes, 82-year-old granddaughter of Thomas, still
has the wheel from that barrow, so she and her granddaughter proudly joined
us for the occasion, and brought the wheel to use as a centrepiece on
our breakfast table.
We decorated one wall of the marquee with a banner featuring the lighthouses
of Nova Scotia, which was painted by school children at the Canadian
Tulip Festival. The seventy attendees enjoyed the sea shanties and
other 'watery music' by a lively group called the Original Ferals.
We look forward to including members of Lighthouses of Australia in next
here for more pictures of the Breakfast
at last on South Solitary
Edited by Steve Merson
Running down fast, the South Solitary Cottages
seemed fated to remain in the too hard basket
In the long term the effort has it's own rewards
National Parks & Wildlife NSW
The workers have moved in for long overdue stabilisation works
Parks & Wildlife NSW
It is major task working in bringing workmen on and off South
Parks & Wildlife NSW
Long overdue stabilisation
works have been completed on the historic lighthouse buildings situated
on South Solitary
Island, off Coffs
Harbour in NSW.
Since the Sth
Solitary Island Light was automated and the station de-manned in 1975,
the tower has been maintained by AMSA (Australian
Maritime Safety Authority), but the disused cottages and other elements
of the lightstation have suffered from the harsh coastal conditions.
Construction of the
lighthouse and cottages on Sth Solitary Island was completed in 1880 under
the guidance of colonial architect James
Barnet. It comprised a tower with stores annex, residential quarters
for three lighthouse keepers and families, and a high-level landing jetty,
which has since rusted and fallen into the sea.
The estimated maintenance
costs of $15,000 a year, over 30 years, was a reference point for the
$440,000 that has been spent to halt the decline of the keepers' cottages.
The buildings are now weatherproof, secure and better protected from the
elements, but not suitable for accommodation. The cost of restoration,
the difficult access to the island, and the need to protect nesting sea
birds and sensitive vegetation precludes any proposal for public use.
(National Parks and Wildlife Service) North Coast Region Manager Alan
Jeffery said, "The current initiative aims to prevent further deterioration,
and provide a basis for their national historic heritage values to be
protected and maintained into the future".
This is a good result
for the facility, and further evidence of a sound heritage philosophy
adopted by the NSW State Government for our historic coastal icons.
See media release
Solitary Article: South
& North Solitary Islands Trip Report
by Denise Shultz / Cyril Marriner
is the 'electric telegraph and maritime signal station",
as it was called back in 1865. When this photo was taken (circa
1968-9), my family knew it as "Hatters Castle".
We were the last family to live there, and I was the only
person present when the building inspector climbed down from
the roof-space and condemned the place.
the architect's drawing, this was the front of the building,
as it faces the sea. To us, it was the back. One point of
interest is that the building has gun turrets on three sides.
It has been said that the purpose of these gun turrets was
to defend against attack from aboriginals. Such stories may
or may not be based on historical fact. As an archaeologist,
I can tell you that there was once a much bigger aboriginal
population on this coast than the historical literature suggests.
more likely that the gun turrets were to do with paranoia
of the Russian invasion that grew out of the Crimean war.
That, after all, was one of the main reasons for building
the telegraph station in the first place.
about all the lighthouse folklore on Cape Otway telegraph
station is accounted for in Donald Walker's "Beacons
of Hope". There is really nothing more to add. Unlike
the other places we lived (Cliffy Island and Wilsons Prom),
I can't even think of any nice anecdotes about "Hatter's
Castle". I remember the place well, but I don't remember
that well of it.
A crowd gathers to celebrate the restoration of the Cape
Otway Telegraph Station
Celebrations began with a rifle volley by the Mount
The re-enactment of the sacking of Captain Lawrence was
played by the Mount Alexander Rifles, acting in aid of the Colonial Police
Visitors were able to send telegrams the old fashioned
way, thanks to the members of the Morse Codian Fraternity
Access by telegran was available through morse code to
anywhere in the world
The Cape Otway Telegraph Station was
built in 1859 by Gibson and Swan of Geelong for the sum of £2459
as the Australian mainland base for the submarine
cable across Bass Strait.
The cable ran from Cape
Otway to King
Island, where it crossed to its east coast to Sea Elephant bay.
Another submarine cable run from there to Three
Hummock Island and continued underwater again to Launceston
via Stanley. The cable lying operation was completed on 12th August
1859. At the time, this cable to Tasmania was the longest such project
attempted anywhere in the world. (The first successful
cable was not laid until 1865.)
The telegraph was a sensational invention,
and one of the major developments of the 19th century, which broke
down the barriers of time, space and distance. But the technology
was not quite ready for such a feat just yet, and within weeks,
the line between Cape Otway and King Island failed. Various sections
were subsequently replaced but the cable kept failing and experiencing
problems until it was finally abandoned in 1861, after only 18 months.
Ten years would pass before another attempt at cable laying would
be made. The Cape Otway Telegraph Station, however, continued to
relay messages from ships and weather observations to Melbourne
Since then, the Cape Otway telegraph
station has also functioned as a post office, a school and a home
for lighthouse staff, as well as military personnel in two world
wars. When the last inhabitants of the house left in late sixties,
the building had gradually fallen into disrepair and acquired a
distinct haunted house appearance.
The Cape Otway Telegraph Station was
an integral part of 19th Century development of rapid worldwide
communication. It is now a part of the Cape Otway Heritage Precinct,
which includes the Cape
Otway lighthouse and keeper's quarters, meteorological station
and radar bunkers.
The restoration on the old Telegraph
and Signal Station commenced in 1999 with the building of a veranda
around the house by the Ballarat
University. This was achieved through Commonwealth funding.
The funding also covered the repairs to the telegraph stations
tower, which had dislodged some if its masonry that punctured a
hole in the asbestos cement sheet roof and was letting in rain water,
rotting the floor below.
Another Commonwealth grant funded
the restoration of the interior, carried out by the then manager
Nick Braden, and completed in August 2003. The building has been
painted inside with bright new colours (reflecting some of the many
shades found in the old paint layers). The preparation of the static
historical display was completed in July 2004, though some of the
rooms are still empty, waiting to be equipped.
While the lessees provided their skills
and labour, the federal government matched the effort with the necessary
funds. As a result of this cooperation, the telegraph station has
been slowly restored.
The restored building was officially
opened for visitors at a ceremony which took place on Sunday 29th
The events started with a rifle
volley by the Mount
after which followed the congratulatory speeches including one by
the local federal MP
Malcolm Brack who was one of the last
people who called the house home also reminisced about his childhood
as a lighthouse kid.
A flute concert by "Howlin'
Wind" then accompanied the visitors on their tour of the
new museum. Inside, the visitors were able to send telegrams anywhere
in the world the old fashioned way, in Morse code, thanks to the
members of the Morse Codian Fraternity.
Donald Walker, whos passion and
involvement in the restoration of this historical building is well
known, could not make the opening, but Lighthouses of Australia
were represented at this event by Max and Doug Huxley, Denise and
Paul Shultz and Cyril and Pat Marriner (who are also the founding
members of FOCOS - Friends of Cape Otway Station), which continues
to help in no small way to save this historical lightstation).
While the invited guests, were treated
to a light refreshment in the head keepers garden, the rest of the
visitors took a chance to see the lighthouse or have coffee in the
recently opened café.
For those visitors who fancied horse
riding, Cyrils horses were saddled and ready to go.
The great commotion followed, when
the re-enactment of the sacking of Captain Lawrence was played by
the Heritage Police. (James Ross Lawrence was the first head keeper
at Cape Otway but was dismissed by the Governor
La Trobe after he apparently failed in his duties).
Even though the weather was not very
kind, It was an afternoon all of us have enjoyed. We went home feeling
that another good deed was done to save our lighthouse heritage.
by Laura Spencer, Border Watch 5/10/04
The proposed plan for the new Port MacDonnell and Districts
The proposal for the
establishment of a new maritime museum at Port
MacDonnell will be launched at tonight's Grant
District Council meeting.
A feasibility study
for the establishment and operation of a maritime interpretive centre
was carried out by Robert Miles Architects about six years ago, outlining
suggested features, location and cost.
The study suggested
a large-scale centre be developed near the town's boat ramp, with a suggested
However, further planning
has been undertaken by members of the Port MacDonnell and Districts Maritime
Museum, who - following talks with the Port MacDonnell Tourist Association
and Council - agreed for a new museum to be established behind the existing
council office on the comer of Charles and MiIstead Streets.
A working party has
also been established and a new concept plan produced.
Port MacDonnell and
Districts Maritime Museum representative Veronica Jenkin and the Port
MacDonnell Tourist Association's Darren Wakefleld and Kerryn Whitebead
will attend the meeting, to outline the museum proposal and concept plan.
They will also announce
the expected cost of all building works, excluding fit-out.
Edited by Malcolm Macdonald
District (Mt Gambier) Council in South Australia is pursuing options
to open the Cape
Northumberland Lighthouse to the public. Council is negotiating with
regarding plans to allow public tours at the Port MacDonnell landmark, and
will fund the required works in accordance with guidelines set by the national
Grant Coucil wants to open Cape Northumberland to tourism
The objectives of having the lighthouse transferred
to Council are to protect, promote, retain the lighthouse into the future
as a tourist related asset.
It is believed that for a while consideration
was given to co-locating the proposed new maritime museum to the lighthouse
precinct, the Council has stated that this is not the case.
Nor will the historic cemetery will be incorporated
into plans for the lighthouse area.
Alterations required to the lighthouse would
be as stipulated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and relative
to the Building Code, but this is not expected to have significant impact
on heritage values of the site.
Is it Grant Council's intention is to seek
funds from State and Federal sources to offset the costs associated with
the requirements of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in relation
to opening the lighthouse up to tourism. It is anticipated that costs
will be in the order of $18,000.
the AGM I raised the issue of having informal chat (Galah)
sessions for members on a regular basis, say one evening six
time a year, and for Bulletin subscribers say one day twice
seemed to be a immense amount of value gained for all involved,
and of course for LoA Inc by having those of you who had not
been in contact with one another before meeting on the Net
in the AGM chat room.
members I see it as vehicle to increase your participation
and to give you back a sense of belonging.
friends and subscribers it is also an opportunity for you
to meet, get to know one another, and increase the chance
of you possibly moving forward to becoming financial members.
members can all gather in the members chat room, at the official
LoA site, on the day and get to know one another. No official
business, just a good old chat.
to schedule sessions of approx three hours duration, every two
months (six events a year).
one will be on Sunday 21st November 2004, late afternoon
or early evening EST (AU). All members will be sent an email with
details on procedure about 10 days before the event.
If you are not a financial member
and wish to participate then you can Join
Lighthouses of Australia Inc
Members session, this will be held in an open chat room, and scheduled
only twice a year for friends and Bulletin subscribers.
For the convenience
of everyone in all international time zones, this chat session
will run over twelve hours on a Sunday.
one will be on Sunday 12th December 2004, all day (10-12
hours) EST (AU). All members will be sent an email with details
on procedure about ten days before the event.
Birds of Cockatoo Island
Rain by Jane Downing
Robert Mock on the Cape
Port Adelaide Lighthouse ablaze
For a long
time many of you from South Australia have been asking if we could
come over to meet you all. I too have been promising too for just
as long as you have been asking.
Now we have
finally got our act together. Denise Shultz, Steve Merson and
myself would like to invite all friends and members to meet with
us at the following two occasions:
3rd Dec 2004 - SE South Australia:
- Friday evening - Tea in Kingston
- Saturday Morning - Possible trip
to Cape Jaffa Platform
4th Dec 2004 - Port Adelaide South Australia:
- Early evening - Tour of Port Adelaide
- Evening - Light up of Port Adelaide
- Evening - Dinner while viewing
Notices will be sent out in the next
two weeks with more details and who to contact if you wish to
for Spong E N (Nash) and
this person while surfing looking for relatives to add to my family
I have a Algernon
Spong married to Henrietta Maria (Hopton) and I would be surprised
if the person on your list is not the same member of my family.
Can you tell me any further. I note that there are other Spongs
shown "Sons Maybe" what lighthouse was his domain and
under what capacity ?
Hope I haven't
asked too much,
the Spongs that served in Tasmania:
E N and sons
SPONG Algernon and
in her book Guiding Lights refers to E N (Nash)
as well as Algernon at King Island (Cape Wickham):
John Durgan, the first Superintendent, had four assistants but one
was withdrawn after five months when the settlement was considered
well established. Durgan resigned after a year but later withdrew
his resignation and served in other areas. His successor was
Edward Nash Spong who held the position for 20 years. Much of
the early history of the station is also the story of the endeavours
of this one man and his staff.
was scarcely a handful of other residents on the whole of King
Island at this time except sealers, fishermen, prospectors and
hunters who had camps in various places which they visited and
occupied spasmodically. Spong set an example in energetic self-sufficiency.
He lost no time in fencing around the houses and encouraging
the keepers to plant vegetable gardens and to keep a cow and
poultry. He himself began at once to cover the area with English
including good stands of grain. The wild animals of the region
began to take advantage of the first-class forage in the gardens.
Kangaroos and wallabies were sometimes found on cold mornings
huddled outside the chimneys of the cottages. The domestic animals
could not be allowed to range freely for cattle, sheep and goats
were inclined to graze at certain seasons on a plant known locally
as coastal pea which caused them to lose condition
rapidly and to die if they could not be rounded up and kept
on the good pasture. Moreover, it was essential to keep the
milking cows close to the houses since there were usually several
small children to be fed. The search for strayed milkers could
take a whole day or even longer. The fences had to be made stronger
with driftwood, wreckage, old staves and the gnarled timber
that the scrub provided - unsightly but effective. Horses and
pigs did well, apparently untroubled by the pea.
Lighthouse inspectors were very favourably impressed by the
pioneering work done by Spong and his staff and, before long,
it was recommended to the Marine Board that, when the horses
were worn out, the station be supplied with bullocks and a light
cart and that replacement animals be purchased from Spong, saving
the cost of having them transported from the mainland and ensuring
that strong and healthy beasts were chosen.
1870 the roofs of the houses were leaking and the surfboat had
been repaired so often that it was becoming too heavy to handle.
False roofs had to be added to the dwellings with a sharper
pitch so that moisture could run off. Spong asked for a fourth
assistant, estimating that Cape Wickham required more work than
any other station. His especial worry was the landing of stores
which had to be brought a considerable distance through the
surf. The rough conditions required six men for the surfboat
and the store vessel could only supply two. Hence the whole
staff, including the Superintendent were needed to complete
the crew. As on other stations, regulations absolutely forbade
all the staff to be off the station at one time. If there should
be a serious accident to the boat, the station would be totally
unmanned. The fourth assistant was allowed on condition that
Spong personally paid half his salary while the Marine Board
paid the other half. Probably he spent half of his time working
privately for Spong on the farm. Later the Marine Board decided
that it would be more satisfactory to send two extra hands with
the stores to assist with the landing.
bands of hunters began trespassing on the lighthouse reserve
and making free use of the comforts the keepers had painstakingly
provided for themselves. Some of them refused to leave when
directed to do so and animosity developed between these and
the families who lived there. One report, in 1873, outlined
are certain lawless men who have taken up their residence on
the island who make a practice of annoying the Superintendent
in every possible way, destroying his cattle, pulling down the
fences and taking his hay and in fact they say they are determined
to make the place too hot for him, and I much fear it will end
in some serious injury to the station or perhaps to the light
men had leave or needed medical attention away from the station,
it was customary for a son of one of the keepers, if available,
to fill the temporary vacancy. If there was no young man belonging
to one of the families available, a local person known to the
Superintendent and approved by him would be appointed. At one
time both Algernon Spong, the Superintendents son, aged
17 and described as a farmer, and Samuel Martin Jnr, the son
of one of the assistants, were temporarily employed. Unfortunately
Martin got some alcohol somewhere, became abusive
and was discharged, to be replaced by another of Spongs
sons. This was a matter of necessity rather than nepotism since
the few locals who might have been available were not the persons
one would choose for the serious responsibility that would be
theirs. Indeed for quite some time the pool of temporary
replacements was so low that at the end of 1873 the Harbour
Master of the Hobart Marine Board, J.H. Babington, had stood
a short stint as Acting Superintendent to allow Spong to take
from this account that both Algernon and Harold were E N's sons.
Here as a
later extract from the above book:
Spong had won respect throughout his administration and had
contributed extensively to the well-being not only of the station
staff and those whom the fury of the elements threw upon his
charge but also of the early settlement of King Island in general,
he had some unpleasant experiences. There was the continuing
animosity of the itinerant hunters and fishermen who thought
themselves entitled to appropriate anything that appealed to
them. Spong was prepared for this. But it must have been a shock
when members of his own staff made complaints against him. When
confronted by Spong they withdrew their allegations and left
the station. Fortunately they were replaced by thoroughly loyal
and dependable men - Nilsson, Taylor and Howard. Taylor became
assistant at the Currie Harbour light on its inauguration.
was about the same time that it was discovered that the wooden
handrail on the balcony outside the lantern had partially rotted
away. To find oneself 44 metres (145 feet) above the ground
in a thick fog or a howling gale with only the wall of the tower
on one side and a rotting handrail on the other would be a supreme
test of equanimity. His request for an iron railing was not
in his tenure Spong had to report that one of his assistants
had been arrested for plundering and stealing from the wreck
of the Arrow. When the man was to leave for his trial in Melbourne,
he was found to be so intoxicated that he had to be carried
aboard the vessel. His furniture and other effects had to be
successor, in 1882, Superintendent Garroway, must have wondered
at the non-appearance of his newly appointed assistant, George
Johnston, who had the reputation of being reliable.
Here are a
few more extracts from an AMSA document drawn from the following
- C. Sullivan
Lighthouse Logbooks - Archives Tasmania
King Island Story - R. Hooper
After one year Capt. Duigan's place was taken by Capt. Edward
Nash Spong, who with his wife Mary from Bruny Island, lived
there for twenty years from 1862-1882. They had two children
when they arrived, a daughter Edith was born in 1866 and a son
Edgar in 1868 ...
William Hickmott, together with others on the island helped
the survivors of many shipwrecks. When the news of the "Netherby"
was brought to Cape Wickham by Parry, the midshipman and nine
other men, William Hickmott walked back to the wreck. He left
Wickham at 10 p.m. and arrived at the wreck, near Currie Harbour,
at 2 p.m. the next day. He later said that it was the blackest
night he had ever known. He then led 117 men back to Wickham
where they were accommodated in the keepers' quarters, the telegraph
house and the church. Mrs Spong's baby daughter Edith, was just
one month old at that time.
Headstones like this are a reminder of some of the wrecks
the Spongs had to deal with
Photo: Ed Kavaluinas
was not always well ordered at the lighthouse station, there
were still groups of-itinerants on the islands Who were a law
unto themselves. Mr. Spong reported that he was often in fear
for his life. Food and goods from shipwrecks were stolen sometimes
even when they were being salvaged ...
Another major shipwreck at Cape Wickham was that of the "Loch
Leven", 1439 tons,with the first cargo of wool for England
from Geelong in 1871.
it went aground on Harbinger reef on a morning of thick fog
all the crew of 32 and Capt. William Branscombe came safely
ashore at Victoria Cove. They were taken to the lighthouse station
for breakfast, then Capt. Branscombe decided to go back to the
ship for the ship's papers.
spite of Capt. Spong's advice that it would be dangerous to
do so because of a "high and irregular surf", they.set
out. Disaster occurred when the boat was swamped by a ten foot
wave which overturned the boat throwing them into the water.
They were all knocked about by the oars and tossed against the
boat. It is probable that Capt. Branscombe was stunned at this
time as the second Officer's attempts to help him were unsuccessful.
His death was a needless tragedy but mercifully all the others
reached the shore safely.
coffin was made of spare boat planks and the body buried the
next day in the church enclosure, Capt. Spong reading the burial
service. The stone marking his grave can be seen together with
that of George Hickmott, William Hickmott's uncle, who died
on Dec. 4th 1880. These graves were reconstructed by three concerned
residents in 1961 ...
on the King's Island Lighthouses, presented to the Board by the
Master Warden July 2, 1880:
The Superintendent has a considerable number of cattle and pigs
running in the neighbourhood, which seemed to be doing well. It
is curious that whilst cattle thrive at King's Island neither
sheep nor goats succeed, but after two or three years die off
from what is called the "coast disease." Horses also,
Mr. Spong informed me, have to be kept stabled during a certain
time of the year to prevent them from eating a wild pea which
induces a species of madness. The soil in the neighbourbood of
Cape Wickham is good, and in places rich, and all sorts of grain
and vegetables are easily grown. In the Superintendent's store
we saw fine potatoes and onions; and in the garden, which is of
considerable extent, there were carrots, turnips, and marigolds
growing to a large size.
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