|In this Issue|
Hi Friends and Members
Wow, a huge report on the Lighthouses of Australia Annual Dinner weekend in Launceston. Hikes, good food, exhibitions, more good food, excursions to Low Head Pilots station, foghorn and lighthouse. More great food.
Not satisfied enough with the Annual Dinner weekend in Launceston, Pauline O'Brien headed off to Sydney to help restore the MV Cape Don.
Forever vigilant we must be for AMSA has earmarked the Cape Jaffa Platform again for demolition. Get involved and get behind this cause so we can win it once and for all.
Members got on-line and had a good old galah session. Come back again in a few weeks for the friends and subscribers one.
Be really quick and get to the pre-xmas bashes at Kingston Se and Port Adelaide for all those in South Australia. At Kingston SE you can get involved and join the Cape Jaffa Platform campaign.
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!
"The Chief Editor would like to apologize to Stuart Buchanan, author of The Lighthouse Keepers, for an inadvertent breach of copyright. Stuart wrote the following passage on Pages 209-210:
"At sunset, it became more than just alive; together with the powerful hiss of the vapour burner, the spinning whirring gear wheels and the soft clunks and thuds made by the weights and chains as they fell slowly to the base of the tower, I could hear its very heartbeat."
While researching for the article we published in the last issue of the Bulletin and Prism, Light the Coast like a Street with Lamps, I found this evocative description of a traditional working lighthouse jotted down on a piece of paper amongst other bits of information and history in a folder of notes. By rights, I should have been more diligent in establishing the provenance of the passage. Permission should have been sought; and if granted, the due acknowledgment given at the end of the article. Thank you Stuart - firstly for the words, and secondly, for your gracious reminder. Steve Merson - Chief Editor"
By Malcolm Macdonald
We arrive at Launceston early Wednesday afternoon and are picked up by Kaye Clark. Kaye and her husband Bob were former rangers at Eddystone Point Lightstation. Back at their farm, Kaye shows us through her large collection of lighthouse material she gathered while at Eddystone and hopes that we can make use of it.
We must return to the airport to meet Pauline O'Brien, but not before a scrumptious dinner prepared by Kaye and Bob. Ah, good old fashioned farm cooking on the 50th anniversary of Swansons first creating and marketing the first frozen TV dinner!
We part with Kaye bidding a short farewell as we will see her on Saturday, get the hire car and meet Pauline. After the embrace of long parted friends we head into Launceston where we are all booked in at the Metro Backpackers. The backpackers is very conveniently located next door to the Royal Oak Hotel where the dinner is being held.
If one is to go to Tasmania, Launceston in particular, you will be amazed at the quality and consistency of food. Thursday morning's breakfast is at one of the many local bakeries, Bakers Dozen. We all enjoy a delightful cooked breakfast with exquisite pastries.
We head back to the backpackers where Steve, Kristie and Jennifer are arriving. Steve and Jennifer came in on the plane where Kristie brought her car over on the ferry which gives us another car to get around in. Steve books into the backpackers while Kristie and Jennifer head north, out of town, to book into a holiday cabin.
Denise joins Pauline who has prearranged to go to the Beaconsfield Primary School, on the west bank of the Tamar, north of Launceston. Those who know Pauline remember that she is is a teacher at the Beaconsfield Primary School in Fremantle in Perth. The purpose of her visit is to give a presentation with the intention of establishing a sister school relationship between the two schools.
Being the adventurers that they are, the decision is made, to cut across from there and head west to Table Cape and the lighthouse which is the feature of the Tulip Festival being held there.
This is no mean feat, but undeterred they travel on rough roads and logging tracks to get to Devonport and back onto the main highway.
Meanwhile Steve and myself undertake their long held ambition to hike up Cataract Gorge. Previously I have done the short walk to the first pond several times but have been frustrated by lack of time. This is also a big undertaking as since my kidney failure I have not walked anywhere near this length of distance over mixed terrain. Like Steve, I also have a bit of trouble with my feet.
We set off from the backpackers meandering past the old Boags brewery, then along the river to the amazing pair of steel bridges and cross over to where the gorge starts. A path is suspended from the walls of the gorge that leads to to a reserve at the first pond that is a haven in a harsh environment.
The city for-fathers had the vision to create a parkland out of this area in the late 19th century. The women of the town raised funds and installed most of what we take for granted today.
The first pond was the original water supply for early Launceston and the water carters made a handsome profit taking it to town.
We meet Kristie and Jennifer here who had driven to the reserve. I challenge one of my phobias and go on the chair lift across the pond to the other side.
Steve and myself continue up the gorge first crossing a beautiful suspension bridge. The going becomes rougher, but we take it easy having already taken up Kristie's offer to pick us up at the other end.
We never do quite find the second pool that was on the map but we end up at the old Duck Reach Hydro Power Station where there are some beautiful old houses built for the original operators of the power station.
We are glad to be rescued by Kristie and Jennifer as even though we could have done the return journey, it would have been quite dark before we got back the backpackers.
Again a gourmet's paradise, where once Denise and Pauline arrive back, we go to a delightful Kai-zen Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant next door
By Denise Shultz
Early Friday morning Bob and Kaye Clark pick us up from the hostel and take us to Eddystone Point Lightstation, where they spent eight years of their life. Malcolm stays behind to go to dialysis.
The whole day return trip is around 300 km. We stop at Scottsdale to buy breakfast and lunch. Further away, we pass towns with names like Herrick, Pioneer and Gladstone, the last outpost of civilization and the end of sealed road, 37km before Eddystone.
As we get closer, the level of anxiety in the car rises with every kilometre. After what we heard, we expect the worst; broken windows, missing doors and windswept houses - is that what is in store for us? Our heartbeat goes up and we all stop talking in awe when we see the lighthouse for the first time.
Then we are there.
The first signs are encouraging - the historic Works Clerk building is freshly painted orange. Further 50m and there it is. The Eddystone Point Lightstation in all its glory.
Three granite cottages seem to grow out of the short grass. Very, very, slowly, we take in the first impression. The place seems clean, no rubbish being tossed around in the wind. The cottages have new corrugated roofs and there seems to be some recent new fencing around them.
It is quiet and there are no cars parked anywhere but it looks like someone is at home in the Head Keepers, because the light is on and the kitchen window seems to be open. We decide to talk to the inhabitants later and head straight towards the tower. Bob and Kaye are definitely relieved, and so are we, all the rumours painted a much worse picture of the state of the affairs. The mood has improved heaps and we all chat happily about Bob and Kayes' life at the station.
We continue to talk and listen to Bob and Kaye's funny stories about their life at Eddystone while Steve and then Pauline dash off to take some photographs. When it stops drizzling, we decide it is time to talk to whoever is at home at the Head Keeper's cottage. The light is still on, even though it is bright daylight but the kitchen window is now shut. When we knock on the back door, nothing moves inside the house. We try the front door with the same result. In the end we decide that since the houses are all locked and there are no vehicles around, it must be for security reasons that the light is on, and no one is actually around. We discover that the kitchen window that was supposed to be opened at first, was in fact shut all the time, giving the illusion from a distance that it was opened.
In a way, we are sorry that we do not get a chance to talk to someone, whoever it is that is looking after this hauntingly beautiful place. But someone is, and that's important.
We leave Eddystone Point Lightstation realising that though far from perfect, it is not falling into ruins, slowly, there is work being done on the cottages. Deserted and still, Eddystone cottages project an aura of dignity that demands respect, as if assuring us that it would take more than a few vandals and bureaucratic nonchalance to destroy them.
We head off to check the camping ground, where Bob did a lot maintenance as well as public relations when he was a ranger here. There is no one camping here today. Kaye and Bob are marvelling how much the trees have grown since last time they saw them. Even the antique hand pump drawing brown water out of the well still works!
We all arrive tired but happy, the Clarks are not going home to Cressy tonight, they would be staying in a hotel in Launceston for two days. We spent the whole day together and became so close that we now find it hard to say good-bye to each other. But it would be for a short time only, we will see each other again tomorrow and the day after, though it would be in vastly different and not so intimate circumstances. We are already looking forward to it.
An indepth report on Bob and Kayes' visit to Eddystone by Denise Shultz will appear in the next Bulletin.
By Kristie Eggleston
The Beacons by the Sea: Stories of Australian Lighthouses exhibition is a touring exhibition presented by the National Archives of Australia. The exhibition has been travelling around Australia since October 2002, and LoA Inc has followed its progress, documenting each location change in previous editions of the Bulletin.
Melbourne's LoA Inc members have been eagerly awaiting the chance to see it, as the exhibition so far has not reached Victoria. With rumours abound that the exhibition was not going to make it to Victoria as no suitable museum space had been offered, it was very well timed when the LoA Inc Annual Dinner weekend was planned to coincide with the showing at the Launceston Queen Victoria Museum.
The Lighthouses of Australia Inc group was booked to see the exhibition at 1pm on Saturday 2 October. For some LoA Inc members, this was the first time they had met, and whilst waiting for everyone to arrive, it was a good chance to put faces to names and exchange stories. The weather was drizzly and humid, so the crowd assembling in the foyer out of the rain was soon jam-packed.
In all, 27 LoA members and friends arrived, were introduced and handed name tags Thanks must go to Christian Bell for organising the visit, and the Queen Victoria Museum, as free entry to the exhibition was granted to the LoA Inc group. Before entering the exhibition, the group assembled on the magnificent staircase in the museum for a photo - a wonderful reminder of the large turnout of LoA Inc members and friends on the day.
The exhibition itself is a display of the "stories of Australian Lighthouses", and comprises of large screen displays depicting original plans, letters, logbooks, photographs and stories of the life led by lighthouse keepers. The stories described the specialised, sometimes lonely and remote lives of keepers and their families; the duties the keepers were required to do in their important role in maintaining the light, and the compromises and sacrifices the keepers, their wives and families had to make when living at a lighthouse.
The exhibition also focused on lighthouse architecture and design, the role of lighthouses during the war, the contribution of women to the lighthouse service, shipwrecks and changing technology. There were audio recordings of lighthouse keepers describing their lives, and some valuable artifact, including old photos taken with a Box Brownie camera, a Commonwealth Lighthouse Service manual for keepers and a sun valve lamp. Copies of original architectural plans for lighthouses were framed on the walls, but the majority of the exhibition comprised of photographs and stories reproduced in cleverly interwoven layouts on large display boards throughout the room.
Some LoA Inc members were a little disappointed with the display, expecting there to be more original actual photographs and artifacts on show. Nonetheless, the exhibition was very well presented, and an enormous resource of information about lighthouses and lighthouse life, of interest to both the enthusiast and the lay person
The museum shop did a roaring trade as the LoA Inc members left, buying books, postcards and posters. Copies of the Green Cape and Montague Island lighthouse architectural plans were available as posters, and sold out in a short time (copies are available for sale on the NAA Web site at www.naa.gov.au). The LoA Inc members then went their various ways for the afternoon, before meeting again at the Royal Oak Hotel for the Annual Dinner.
Lighthouses of Australia Annual Dinner
By Denise Shultz
Saturday night and a long awaited LoA annual dinner takes place. Pauline, Malcolm, Steve and I put on our best clothes and walk 5 metres next door to the Royal Oak Hotel.
When we enter the pub, the dining room is already buzzing with talk and laughter. Though we are one of the first to come, there are already a few people having a good time trying to decide what to have for dinner.
We are expecting twenty-two but there might be a few surprises. Even though there is no official program on the plan, just socialising, there is already a vibrance about the evening and soon, everyone is here.
There is Kristie Eggleston and her sister Jen, Christian Bell, this time with his wife Lynne and their adorable two-year-old son. Gabie is hard to catch as he zooms around among the crowd on his little tricycle. He is our youngest guest.
On the other side of the scale is no less energetic Lew Dickson who came down all the way from Queensland.
Lin Richards is here, unfortunately without Jen who could not make it.
Bob and Kaye Clark (long time no see) meet their namesakes from Victoria - Anne and Michael Clarke.
Erika and Alan Johnson (ex Swan Island) brought son Chris and Ailsa Fergusson (three cheers for lab assistants, especially those who can drive a bus) came with her friend Ian Mc Kendrick.
Pat and Pam OMalley, who Malcolm had had dinner with while on the Tasmanian Expedition several years ago, had come all the way from Hobart.
We are all pleasantly surprised when Gill and Keith Chapman, freshly home after three years at Wilsons Promontory, arrive to join us.
The irrepressible Steve Radford, an expert on 19th century telegraph communication would turn out to be a key figure the next day at the Pilot Station.
We already got accustomed to the food being invariably good in Tasmania, so to decide what to have for dinner is not really a problem and thought the steaks are really popular, grilled local trout is a clear winner.
Tasmanian red wine is also hard to beat, and though it faces stiff opposition form other states, we support the local economy.
What is so good about this gathering is that we are not total strangers, many of us met each other before personally, some were good friends already and we also had a chance to get to know each other in the morning during the exhibition.
Everyone talks to everyone else and we are all having an exceedingly good time.
Dinner is not long past when all of a sudden Steve Radford true to style pulls out two videos. One is that of Maatsuyker made in the late 1940s and is a remarkable account of life on the Island at the time. The other is a TV documentary on Tasmanian lights made about a decade or two ago. Steve shew them much to the delight of all present.
Kaye has brought her album of her and Bob's memories at Eddystone as well as a lot of interesting historical material. Another album floating around is that record of Erica and Alan Johnsons's time as caretakers on Swan Island.
The feeling of genuine friendliness and shared enthusiasm prevails and it is no wonder that everyone is reluctant to leave in a hurry.
We wrap it up around midnight, but then again, it is not over yet and we shall meet once more tomorrow for the excursion to Low Head.
A big thank you to Christian for putting all things together and organising this event.
By Steve Merson
The Tamar River is a dangerous estuary with a complicated navigation channel requiring skilled pilotage. The first European settlers to arrive in the Tamar Valley came with Lieutenant Governor William Paterson in November 1804. They landed at Outer Cove (now the site of George Town,) established their settlement at York Town on the West Tamar, and in 1806 moved to Launceston.
Launceston was always a busy port, and ships unloaded at the wharves up river until well into the second half of the 20th century. In more recent years, shipping activity has been mainly located at Bell Bay, near George Town.
The Low Head sea pilots have been operating here since 1805, with the appointment of William House. It is the oldest group of pilot buildings in Australia, and although the Sydney pilot service was the first in Australia, Low Head is the oldest pilot station to operate continuously from its original site.
Other buildings were added over the years - the Coxswain's cottage in 1847, boat crew cottages in 1859, 1860, 1861 and 1962, the schoolhouse in 1866, another cottage for the pilots in 1917, and the octagonal chart room, workshop and boat shed.
Christ Church Anglican church was built in 1874 to serve the spiritual needs of those who were stationed at Low Head.
Christian Bell arranged the tour with Howard Nichol, the newly-appointed manager of the Low Head Historical Precinct. Howard was previously the manager of the highly successful Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum: Warrnambool. Victoria.
On Sunday Oct 3, a merry band of LoA Inc. members and friends set off up the East Tamar Highway from Launceston, in a convoy of bus and cars. En route, Steve Radford, who is a keen photographer, historian and volunteer tour guide at Low Head, explained to the visitors how the communication system evolved between the Tamar River entrance and the town during the 1820s. Steve's local knowledge and enthusiasm gave us a solid appreciation of the inventive signalling system that was used.
On arrival at the pilot station, Howard conducted us through the museum with an engaging and detailed commentary about the historical equipment, artifacts, images and information that has been retained, collected and preserved at the precinct. It is a comprehensive and fascinating display of maritime engineering, technical development and social history, just oozing with authenticity.
Room 1: Details the
history of the Pilot Station.
By Steve Merson
The Low Head lighthouse is the third oldest lightstation in Australia (after Macquarie Light on South Head in Sydney and the Iron Pot Light at the entrance to the Derwent River in Hobart). The present tower was erected in 1888, replacing the one designed by John Lee Archer, which had been built in 1833.
Just before noon, we assembled at the lighthouse to hear the foghorn, which is activated every Sunday. The resounding boom of its dual tones reverberated out across the water, and we all marvelled at the operation of the original Gardiner engine and air chamber that caused such a monumentally mournful moan to emit from the relatively small and humble megaphone mounted on the front of the weatherboard shack on the headland.
We witnessed the pilot launch disembarking a pilot from an outbound cargo vessel, and generally enjoyed the natural beauty around us on this fine day. The grounds surrounding the lighthouse and the whole precinct are well maintained and historically authentic. Not much seems to have changed in 200 years.
By Steve Merson
Launceston grew rapidly as a commercial and agricultural centre during the 1820s. The number of vessels sailing up and down the Tamar River created the need for a fast, accurate means of communication between the town and the river entrance some 36 miles (58 kms) away - the townsfolk needed up-to-date information on the ships' arrival times, news, cargo, and the pilots required updates on their progress downstream.
Peter Archer Mulgrave had invented an ingenious semaphore telegraph system that had been used for naval intelligence in the Channel Islands during the Napoleonic War of 1809 - 1815. Mulgrave's system made it possible for the first time to communicate distinctly and clearly over great distances. He was rewarded for his services by being appointed Channel Islands Inspector of Telegraphs.
When the war ended, he entered the Colonial Service and came to Van Diemens Land in 1821 as Superintendent of Schools. When he arrived in Launceston, his expertise made him the driving force behind the development of the semaphore system between George Town and Launceston.
A sketch made in 1823 by Thomas Scott, surveyor, shows the view from Windmill Hill, Launceston, looking down the river, with Tamar Island and Mt Macquarie (Mt Direction) identified, and a signalling device on Mt Macquarie marked. This sketch presumably accompanied the original proposal for the semaphore telegraph system to Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1823.
In 1826, Mulgrave was appointed to a committee of management for the River Tamar by Governor Arthur. But despite his interest and considerable public pressure for a communication system, many years passed before the Tamar Valley semaphore telegraph was completed. Large amounts of money had first to be spent on improvements to the navigation of the Tamar River; a lighthouse was built at Low Head in 1833, and cottages for four pilots were then built there.
It was not until 1 October 1835 that a notice appeared in the Launceston Advertiser stating that the signal stations from George Town to Launceston were finished, and that a message could be sent and received "from Windmill Hill to George Town in very few minutes on a clear day". This notice must have been a welcome sight indeed to the merchants and business people of Launceston after so many years of waiting.
The system originally ran on five stations: Station 1 at the port office in lower St John Street, Station 2 at Windmill Hill, Station 3 at MT Direction, Station 4 at Mount George, and Station 5 at George Town port office.
In 1852 the system was expanded by the erection of a semaphore mast on Low Head, just south of the lighthouse. This became Signal Station 6, which transmitted directly to Mount George, 5 miles (8 kms) away (see map).
Each signal station had a semaphore mast 60 ft (18 metres) high, to which was attached a pair of wooden arms, or fans, with iron counterweights for signalling. One arm carried a cross-piece at the end. The arms measured 16 ft (5 metres) in length by 2 ft (620mm) in width. Slats allowed the wind to pass through. The arms were controlled by chains.
The superintendent at each station was a master mariner or ship's officer, and the men under his control were pass-holders: convicts who were given a ticket of leave. These men were given full naval rations, including flour, salt pork, rice, and soap. The superintendent also received an issue of rum, to supplement their diet. Vegetables were grown in the gardens provided at each station.
A combination of semaphore and flags was used to transmit and display the messages. The port office at George Town would display the message to be transmitted in code flags from its flag staff. This would be observed by the Mount George station, relayed by semaphore 13 miles (21 kms) to Mt Direction, then semaphored another 15 miles (24 km) from MT Direction to Windmill Hill. Here, the message would be converted back to flags and flown from the Windmill Hill flag staff. The message was repeated from another flag staff attached to the port office in lower St John Street. Merchants and ship agents could ascertain the position of the vessels by reading the flags.
The flag code was
published each year in newspapers and almanacs, and was expanded from
time to time as the river traffic increased. By January 1842, the published
code had reached number 215. The semaphore with its two arms could spell
out numbers from one to zero, so the code consisted of numbers or groups
of numbers which signified a name, phrase or instruction - for example
the place or port the vessel was from, its name, its position on the river,
and so on. Such information as whether the vessel was carrying mail, or
brought important news, or had a distinguished passenger on board could
also be signalled.
It seems that the codes were destroyed when the semaphore telegraph was discontinued. The system operated for 23 years, until 31 March 1858, when the electric telegraph took over.
Rather than welcome the 'new technology', the business people and merchants of Launceston considered the invention of the electric telegraph to be a step backwards. Although the old system suffered many breakdowns during its years of operation, and disruptions due to winter fogs and summer haze, it was more convenient to be able to read the messages from their office windows instead of being obliged to walk to the post office for the telegraph message.
Low Head was the terminal for the Bass Strait electric telegraph cable, which first connected Tasmania to Victoria in 1859. The pilot station first housed the cable station, but a second telegraph station (c. 1869) can be seen about half way between the pilot station and the lighthouse.
By Steve Merson, additions by Malcolm Macdonald
As we had only had a short tour of the Pilot Station and were then ushered to Low Head to hear the foghorn sound at midday, we returned to the Pilot Station to take our time looking over exhibits and to refresh ourselves at the tea rooms within the precinct grounds.
We set off back to Launceston, stopping at the Tamar River lead light towers and keepers cottages for some photographs. These towers pre-date the current Low Head Lighthouse and they themselves were preceeded by a black obelisk on the shore of the river.
On the way back we also took the opportunity to inspect the reconstructed semaphore. We went up to the Mt George relay station, passed by the Mt Direction Relay Station, and end up at Windmill Hill in town again meeting Kristie and Jennifer there. After getting lost we finally made it back to the backpackers, tired and looking forward to retiring for tea at the Royal Oak Hotel.
The day was a complete success and all of us from the mainland greatly appreciated the effort put in by the locals to show us this wonderfully preserved part of Tasmania's colonial heritage.
Brochures and handouts issued by the Low head Historic Precinct and sponsored by Comalco Aluminum (Bell Bay) Limited.
By Malcolm Macdonald
As though we could not let go of the atmosphere of the weekend many of us, including Steve, Denise, Bob, Kaye, Krisitie, Jennifer, Lew Dickson, and myself again gather at the Royal Oak on the Sunday night for dinner. Again there was much discussion and sharing of stories and collections materials. The fare had been excellent at the Annual Dinner the night before and many dishes that had looked great on other peoples' plates were order and sampled with satisfaction.
But the un-equivical hi-light of the night was when we were all hustled in to the hotels show room, screens were drawn and a TV was wheelled out. Pauline O'Brien then pulled out a video of the MV Cape Don then made in 1969 by West Australia Visual Education (WAVE).
It showed the MV Cape Don doing her tour of duty up the West Australian Coast then over to the Northern Territory Coast and on to the Gulf Country and Far North Queensland. Along the way she called in at various lights, deliverying supplies, changing over keepers and undertaking maintenance.
As we all know video wasn't around in 1969 so a 16mm projector was pieced together using bits from our old Beaconsfield projector and another one from John Curtin College of the Arts. Then Pauline recorded it onto video by screening it onto the wall and using the school's digital video camera to record it on film, then dubbed it onto a video! She say fortunately she had her husband John to help out with all the technicalities of the process. Well, I can assure you the result was far more finished and professional than many other transcription of similar films to video.
The night didn't seem to want to end, but Steve, Denise and myself had a plane to catch, Pauline was off to Canberra then to Sydney to join a MV Cape Don Working bee, and Bob and Kaye were heading back to the farm so we said our farewells and parted.
By Pauline OBrien
The tip of the Cape Dons mast as we approached Waverton was my first sight of her. Then the climb down the various stairs and across the wharf and finally standing below ready to ascend the gangway. Derek showed me to my delightful cabin (the Third Officers no less).
Next I made my acquaintance with the ship and tried to work out where the different stairways led. By the end of the weekend I had finally worked out the layout and tracked down what would have been the passenger cabins for the keepers and their families being transferred between lightstations. I was even able to determine tiny details with Warricks help such as how a door into another stairwell separated the passenger and crew quarters.
Perhaps the biggest impact on me that first afternoon came when in the wheelhouse I saw a piece of equipment with Dymo taped names and call signs of Adele Is, Browse Is, Broome, Geraldton, Koolan and Hedland, all from WA, around its casing.
One of the highlights of the weekend was being able to look at where we had been working and seeing the difference we had made, was when our young Midshipman Douglas took me up inside the funnel to climb out on top so that we could see the smoke from the generator that was being tested. Whilst climbing up in the dark, we were lucky enough to see the reflections of the rippling surface of the water outside on one of the chimneys inside the funnel it was being projected in the form of a Camera Obscura via a tiny hole in the side of the funnel. I had always thought until then that a funnel was open at the top it was quite a revelation to see it covered with a very sturdy top and three smaller flapped openings for the different generators and one huge one for the main engine.
Another highlight was meeting the people involved. Emails via the discussion group will mean even more as I can identify the character and personality to go with a name. The breadth of experience and the connections with the Cape Don are so varied. She has a special magic, which pulls you in and leaves you wanting to not only work towards her restoration but also to protect her. Chris White who has been communicating with our Year 5 class at Beaconsfield wrote a heartfelt message to them including the following:
"While it is good to see the Cape Don is being restored, the real story of the ship lies in the people that served on her and the lighthouse families it supported. Without the people, it is just another ship. Given that the Cape Don only ceased duty in 1990 there are many ex crew and lighthouse keepers with quite fresh memories of what it was really like to live and work on board as well as live on lighthouses, and that is where you will find the real meaning of the Cape Dons work.
I believe that the restoration of the Cape Don is still very much as Chris has indicated "about the people" both in her past and now in her present and future roles."
There were so many technical terms overheard in discussions while on the boat most of which meant nothing to me originally, but some that now mean something. Learning about the difference in AC and DC current was the first crucial lesson and yes I could recharge my camera battery up on the bridge.
Others included understanding that the engine has an air start, which means that the generators must first be run to develop the air pressure needed (just like the foghorn at Low Head in Tasmania). Yet another was working out that if the emergency gathering point was on midship just where was midship?
Downsides? Well, there have been many fun comments to the Yahoo list about just what it was like when the gang first started coming down, and that the conditions now are "sheer luxury ". It will meet the true luxury rating for me when the toilets are commissioned.
However this was easily balanced out by the wonderful catering arrangements which with Derek and Peters magic in the morning with eggs, bacon and a Bain Marie and Vanessas magic at night with a formal dinner.
Yet another highlight was being able to show the video of the Cape Don at work off WA. There were shouts of laughter at different stages and calls to pause the video when a close up of her propeller was shown while she was being slipped at Fremantle. Its a great film, both for the memories it stirs for those who have sailed on her and also for those willing volunteers who get to see her in pristine working condition when she was only 6 years old.
On my next trip back, I thought I would like to help make the Passengers Lounge ready for groups to sit, relax and maybe read a book after a hard days work onboard. I hadnt even discovered it until Sunday morning! Where she is currently berthed at Waverton, you have a lovely view out over the water.
Also, I would love to be involved with painting the funnel back to her original golden yellow colour. Derek has been given due notice that I want to know when the funnel work is planned to happen! See how she gets under your skin? Why else would people continually travel to Sydney to tend to her merest needs and whims? It's the challenge and the resulting reward when you can look back over a days, a months, a years work and say, Look how far we have come now.
As a true lighthouse fan, you want to pay your respects to just one of the lighthouse tenders which cared for our lighthouses and the people who manned them, you would be doing yourself a favour to go down to the Waverton Wharf in Sydney and say hello to the old girl Yes she looks pretty rusty still, and there is certainly a moment where you think This is a wonderful dream, but will it ever come true?
Go a step further, join the ship, learn a little more about her and give a little of yourself to her by means of a few hours of volunteer work, or even better, take your working clothes with you, sleep on board and give up a couple of days there is nothing quite like being rocked to sleep with the slap of water against the hull from the passage of the tide.
There are many ways in which you can help and not all of it has to be physical such as chipping rust and cleaning out rooms, but also from your desk at home or via your telephone or PC, by further promoting the work that is being done by an increasing band of volunteers, canvassing for her heritage listing, gathering stories from those who have worked on her and passing them on for inclusion in what one day will be a wonderful museum or simply alerting others to the cause through general conversation, Have you heard about the Lighthouse Tender that is being restored in Sydney? Its the Cape Don. Shes a grand little ship.
Sounds like a great time? It was! What did I do for the 2 ½ days I was there? Well it seemed like I was busy all the time during each day either as part of the chipping and painting crew or as part of the clean up crew. Sadly I didnt get to see the whole of the port aft deck cleared of all the rubbish we had gathered and reorganised into piles that was being picked up during the week, but it was great to see a white expanse of metal which before had been pocked with rust and hefting beams and other waste felt good for both the body and the soul. I certainly slept well at night as a result.
The restoration of the Cape Don is an adventure enjoyed by all who come on board. My dream is that one day, she will sail into Fremantle again fully dressed in her colours. There will be a call put out by the local papers for all those who were involved with her at any time in her past to come on down and welcome her in style no doubt with Frank Alliss leading the crowd.
The story of how Pauline's school is involved with the MV Cape Don will appear in the next Bulletin.
by Robert Mock
Yes I am still here, and so is the platform, but not for long! The word is that AMSA are preparing to have the platform removed in April. Yes it is disappointing that we still do not have a solution, but plans are afoot.
During the Federal election campaign, I was able to give our 3 local politicians an info pack and an earful, but now the Liberals are back in Federally, so no change in tactics on the campaign
Then a call from a friend in Canberra to notify me that AMSA were making moves again to demolish the platform!
I have started on
a constitution for "The Friends of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform
Incorporated". We need friends and members of Lighthouses
of Australia to get behind this and contact me and join (here, here
- Malcolm Macdonald)>.
Speaking of Malcolm Macdonald, Lighthouses of Australia friends and members are coming to our shack at Kingston for a BBQ and slide night on Friday evening, December 3rd, and on the Saturday morning we hope to get a good sea to go out to the platform to check on the gannets. If any recipient of the Lighthouses of Australia friends and members would like to come for drinks, eats, slides or the boat trip please let me know, and I will tell you how you can help as well. Love to have some locals there.
This will also be a great opportunity to find out more about "The Friends of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform Incorporated" and hopefully have you join
We are trying to set a date for a Summit meeting for the December sitting of the South Australian Parliament where we can put the proposal to AMSA to hand over the platform to the "Friends of the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse Platform Incorporated".
This will be dependant on a private Members Bill to eliminate any risk to a future owner of the platform going through the South Australian Parliament.
by Malcolm Macdonald
At 6pm we were off and running. Some members had got curious and had already been in the meeting room in the days leading up to the Galah Session.
About 15 participate in all and at first it was a bit like a group of teenagers at their first dance, but as the session progressed and others joined us the conversation struck up, especially over a booklet produced on Big Woody Island by Lesley Bradley who was present.
Another book yet to be published that lead to some questions were directed at author John Ibbotson, also present.
The question was raised as to whether Pauline from Perth was cooking one of her famous pastas. We worked out with the time difference we could all make it to the plane and get to her place in the The West in time for tea. Alas, we had to cancel the taxis and order a pizza. John & Pauline were halfway through renovating their kitchen and there was going to be no past a tonight!
Other discussions included the status of some peoples research on lights while others shared their reason for being interested in Australian lighthouses.
We are now all looking forward to the Subscribers Galah Session on Sunday 12th December 2004 which should be a lot larger due to the fact that we have about 6 times the amount of subscribers.
It 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 the site.
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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.
What you can help with is:
Location and correct names of lighthouses in Australia (currently have 115 on our research list and we believe the figure should be around 200)
Good quality recent B&W or colour photos
A bit of the background of these lights
Technical history or operational data (such as how many flashes, etc.)
Interesting historical stories or anecdotes
Details of keepers
Details of lighthouse graves
Old photos or postcards
Conservation and preservation issues
Errors or omissions
Other pages on Australian lighthouses not listed here
For more information about how you can help LoA, visit the How You Can Help page.
Thanks to the following people for their help with this edition of the Bulletin:
Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site, and those who let LoA use their photos.
Past Bulletins: Past Monthly News, Preservation or Access Bulletins can be accessed from the Bulletin Index.
Contact Lighthouses of Australia Inc: Contact details for various queries to Lighthouses of Australia Inc (LoA Inc).
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