No 6/2004 - Nov/Dec 2004

Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Bulletin

PO Box 4734 Knox City VIC 3152 Australia
www.lighthouses.org.au

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Letter from the Editor

Malcolm Macdonald Acting Bulletin Editor [Photo: Steve Merson]
Malcolm Macdonald
Acting Bulletin Editor

Photo:  Steve Merson

Hi Friends and Members

LoA Annual Dinner WeekendHere I am doing another Bulletin. Please Kristie, get well and come back. I love doing the Bulletin but it's far too much work and I want my life back. I don't know how you do it!

LoA Annual Dinner Weekend <Bulletin/0410/Bulletin%20Oct%2004.htm>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.

MV Cape Don Pauline O'Brien's WeekendNot satisfied enough with the Annual Dinner weekend in Launceston, Pauline O'Brien headed off to Sydney to help restore the MV Cape Don.

AMSA Moves to Demolish Cape Jaffa Again!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 Galah Session ReportMembers got on-line and had a good old galah session. Come back again in a few weeks for the friends and subscribers one.

Pre-Xmas Gathering in South AustraliaBe 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!

Malcolm Macdonald
Acting LoA Bulletin Editor

Email Bulletin Editor

Apology

Steve Merson, LoA Chief Editor
Contact Steve Merson
LoA Chief Editor

"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"

Features

LoA Annual Dinner Weekend

Arriving

By Malcolm Macdonald

The Metro Backpackers backpackers is conveniently located next to the Royal Oak Hotel where the dinner is being held. [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Metro Backpackers backpackers is conveniently located next to the Royal Oak Hotel where the dinner is being held.

Photo:  Steve Merson

Meet Denise at Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine) and board the Virgin Airlines flight. We were on the way to the 2004 Annual Dinner Weekend in Launceston.

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.

Pauline is making a presentation at the Beaconsfield Primary School Photo. [Pauline O'Brien]
Pauline is making a presentation at the Beaconsfield Primary School

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

Pauline is making a presentation at the Beaconsfield Primary School Photo. [Pauline O'Brien]
Denise and Pauline stop along the way at the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

Pauline is making a presentation at the Beaconsfield Primary School Photo. [Pauline O'Brien]
Denise and Paulines' destination, the Table Cape Lighthouse

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

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.

From here stops are made at Mersey Bluff, Round Hill Point with the final one being there destination, Table Cape.

The amazing steel bridges. Note the gorge's gatehouse at the rear of the bridges. [Photo: Steve Merson]
The amazing steel bridges. Note the gorge's gatehouse at the rear of the bridges.

Photo:  Steve Merson

The chair lift challenging Malcolm's anxieties. The reward is the restaurant at the end. [Photo: Steve Merson]
The chair lift challenging Malcolm's anxieties. The reward is the restaurant at the end.

Photo:  Steve Merson

The first pool with the suspension bridge leading to the Ducks Reach Path. [Photo: Steve Merson]
The first pool with the suspension bridge leading to the Ducks Reach Path.

Photo:  Steve Merson

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.

In the middle of this reserve is a the Gorge Restaurant were I order Oysters Atlantic; mmm exquisite, what day this was turning out to be!

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

Email Malcolm Macdonald

Denise, Pauline, Steve, Bob and Kaye arrive at the Eddystone Lighthouse [Photo:  Steve Merson]
Denise, Pauline, Steve, Bob and Kaye arrive at the Eddystone Lighthouse

Photo:  Steve Merson

Eddystone Lightstation, I bit more robust than thought and still loved [Photo:  Pauline O'Brien]
Eddystone Lightstation, a bit more robust than thought and still loved

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

It is an emotional experience, but Bob and Kaye are relieved that things are better than expected [Photo: Steve Merson]
It is an emotional experience, but Bob and Kaye are relieved that things are better than expected

Photo: Steve Merson

John Galloway, the Eddystone lighthouse builder's Grave Photo:  [Steve Merson]
John Galloway, the Eddystone lighthouse builder's Grave

Photo:  Steve Merson

Expedition to Eddystone Point

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.

The front and rear light at Eddystone [Photo:  Pauline O'Brien]
The front and rear light at Eddystone

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

Denise testing out the pump that Bob maintained. Still goes, but water is brown [Photo:  Steve Merson]
Denise testing out the pump that Bob maintained. Still goes, but water is brown

Photo:  Steve Merson

Denise, Steve and Pauline on the Eddystone steps [Photo:  Pauline O'Brien]
Denise, Steve and Pauline on the Eddystone steps

Photo:  Bob Clark

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 head back to Launceston via Ansons Bay, another place that the Clarks remember with fondness. It is is booming with new houses are springing up everywhere.

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.

Email Denise Shultz

The LoA Inc Annual Dinner weekend was planned to coincide with the showing of Beacons by the Sea at the Launceston Queen Victoria Museum [Photo:  Steve Merson]
The LoA Inc Annual Dinner weekend was planned to coincide with the showing of Beacons by the Sea at the Launceston Queen Victoria Museum

Photo:  Steve Merson

The 27 LoA members and friends who meet for the first official function of the weekend, the Beacons by the Sea exhibition [Photo:  Pauline O'Brien]
The 27 LoA members and friends who meet for the first official function of the weekend, the Beacons by the Sea exhibition

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

The annual Dinner Weekend organiser, Christian Bell, remonstrates with LoA Inc founder, Malcolm Macdonald Photo:  [Pauline O'Brien]
The annual Dinner Weekend organiser, Christian Bell, remonstrates with LoA Inc founder, Malcolm Macdonald

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

Beacons by the Sea

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.

Casual observation an vigorous discussion at the Beacons by the Sea exhibition [Photo:  Kristie Eggleston]
Casual observation and vigorous discussion at the Beacons by the Sea exhibition

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

Denise and the enchanted Beacons by the Sea exhibition telephone. [Photo:  Pauline O'Brien]
Denise and the enchanted Beacons by the Sea exhibition telephone.

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

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.

Email Kristie Eggleston

Lighthouses of Australia Annual Dinner

By Denise Shultz

The writing on the side of the Royal Oak Hotel where the dinner was to be held spark a great deal of debate [Photo: Steve Merson]
The writing on the side of the Royal Oak Hotel where the dinner was to be held sparks a great deal of debate

Photo: Steve Merson

Steve Merson captivates Erika and Alan Johnson with one of his yarns [Photo: Christian Bell]
Steve Merson captivates Erika and Alan Johnson with one of his yarns

Photo: Christian Bell

Kaye Clark shares some of her huge collection of Eddystone memorabilia with Ailsa Fergusson, Steve Radford and another guest [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
Kaye Clark shares some of her huge collection of Eddystone memorabilia with Ailsa Fergusson, Steve Radford and another guest

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

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.

Lew Dickson shares some of his memories with Erika Johnson memories inspired by her photo album [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
Lew Dickson shares some of his memories with Erika Johnson inspired by her photo album

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Thought the steaks are really popular, grilled local trout is a clear winner [Photo: Christian Bell]
Though the steaks are really popular, grilled local trout is a clear winner

Photo: Christian Bell

All are enthusiastically paying attention to Steve Radford's videos of documentaries on Tasmanian Lighthouses [Photo: Steve Merson]
All are enthusiastically paying attention to Steve Radford's videos of documentaries on Tasmanian Lighthouses

Photo: Steve Merson

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 O’Malley, 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.

Email Denise Shultz

 

The Low Head Historic Precinct Logo [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Low Head Historic Precinct Logo

Photo: Steve Merson

The Low Head Signal Station [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Low Head Signal Station

Photo: Steve Merson

An interesting flag at Low Head Pilot Station [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
An interesting flag at Low Head Pilot Station

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Member, Lew Dickson recounts memories of Lighthouse Service days [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
Member, Lew Dickson recounts memories of Lighthouse Service days

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

The Low Head flag box Photo: [Pauline O'Brien]
The Low Head flag box

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Tour of Low Head Pilot Station

By Steve Merson

A river navigation light [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
A river navigation light

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Another river navigation light [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
Another river navigation light

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

An acetylene gas flasher unit [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
An acetylene gas flasher unit

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Starboard and port lights Photo: [Pauline O'Brien]
Starboard and port lights

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

Background

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.

The oldest building on the site is Pilots Row, designed by John Lee Archer, which dates from 1835. It replaced earlier individual buildings that housed the pilots on call at the station.

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.

The Tour

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.

The Museum

Room 1: Details the history of the Pilot Station.
Room 2: Whaling and Sealing.
Room 3: Model of an early pilot boat.
Room 4: Diving suit and air compressor, and a breeches buoy.
Room 5: Navigation instruments.
Room 6: Displays the wheel and telegraph from the steam dredge Ponrabbel, which for many years dredged the channel of the Tamar River.
Room 7: Salvaged items from wrecks of the Asterope and Eden Holme, wrecked on Hebe Reef
Room 8: A collection of bricks, clay pipes, leg irons found on the site during restoration.
Room 9: Signal devices and lights.

Email Steve Merson

Low Head Lighthouse and Foghorn

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.

Bruce Findlay and Terence Terry prepare to fire up the foghorn [Photo: Steve Merson]
Bruce Findlay and Terence Terry prepare to fire up the foghorn

Photo:  Steve Merson

e stairs leading to the top of the Low Head Tower [Photo Courtesy: Howard Nicol]
The stairs leading to the top of the Low Head Tower

PhotoPauline O'Brien

The Low Head foghorn shed [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
The Low Head foghorn shed

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

The Low Head Lightstation [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Low Head Lightstation

Photo:  Steve Merson

The foghorn's huge compression cylinders [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
The foghorn's huge compression cylinders

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

The Low Head Lantern [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
The Low Head Lantern

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

The red sector light mounted the centre of the tower [Photo Courtesy: Howard Nicol]
The red sector light mounted the centre of the tower

PhotoPauline O'Brien

Low Head Lightstation watches diligently over a ship passing out of the Tamar [Photo: Steve Merson]
Low Head Lightstation watches diligently over a ship passing out of the Tamar

Photo:  Steve Merson

Friends and members wander outside oblivious to serious conversation inside [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
Friends and members wander outside oblivious to Bruce Findelays and Chris Johnson having serious conversation inside

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

The foghorn shed belittled by the Low Head Tower [Photo: Kristie Eggleston]
The foghorn shed belittled by the Low Head Tower

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

The Low Head lamp and lens [Photo Courtesy: Howard Nicol]
The Low Head lamp and lens

Photo:  Pauline O'Brien

Email Steve Merson

The original semaphore station where messages were tranlated to flag signals and back [Photo: Steve Merson]
The original semaphore station where messages were translated to flag signals and back

Painting by Charlotte Cleveland -1854

The semaphore on Windmill Hill [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
The semaphore on Windmill Hill

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

The semaphore on Mt George Photo: Steve Merson]
The semaphore on Mt George

Photo: Steve Merson

Tamar Valley Signal Stations

By Steve Merson

Near the lighthouse is a replica of the signal mast that was part of the semaphore relay to Launceston which operated 1835-1857.

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 map showing the layout of the semaphore stations in the Tamar Valley [Photo: Steve Merson]
A map showing the layout of the semaphore stations in the Tamar Valley

Photo: Steve Merson

The view from Mt George back to Low Head [Photo: Steve Merson]
The view from Mt George back to Low Head

Photo: Steve Merson

Kristie, Denise, Pauline and Malcolm looking across the Tamar Valley [Photo: Steve Merson]
Kristie, Denise, Pauline and Malcolm looking across the Tamar Valley

Photo: Steve Merson

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 Tamar Front Lead Light [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Tamar Front Lead Light

Photo: Steve Merson

The Tamar Rear Lead Light [Photo: Pauline O'Brien]
The Tamar Rear Lead Light

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

The Tamar Front Lead Light on the Tamar River (Spot the leprechaun know as Steve overwhelmed by the size of the tower) [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Tamar Front Lead Light on the Tamar River
(Spot the leprechaun know as Steve overwhelmed by the size of the tower)

Photo: Pauline O'Brien

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.

There was also a private code, used to send personal and confidential messages, but the code books have never been found. The existence of such a code was alluded to in 1835 in the Launceston Advertiser, with the paper's announcement that the signal stations were now complete: "The semaphore is however used for other than shipping purposes, and only when flags are hoisted immediately after the use of the telegraph is the information of any interest to the public."

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.

Email Steve Merson

The Tamar Rear Lead and keepers cottage [Photo: Steve Merson]
The Tamar Rear Lead and keepers cottage

Photo: Steve Merson

Denise Pauline, Kristie and Malcolm in front of the Rear Lead's keepers cottage [Photo: Steve Merson]
Denise Pauline, Kristie and Malcolm in front of the Rear Lead's keepers cottage

Photo: Steve Merson

Conclusion of the Low Head Tour

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.

REFERENCES

Brochures and handouts issued by the Low head Historic Precinct and sponsored by Comalco Aluminum (Bell Bay) Limited.

Tea and Farewells

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.

We returned to the Royal Oak Hotel for dinner and Pauline's video [Photo: Steve Merson]
We returned to the Royal Oak Hotel for dinner and Pauline's video

Photo: Steve Merson

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.

Email Malcolm Macdonald


MV Cape Don Pauline O'Brien's Weekend

By Pauline O’Brien

Tangible proof that the Don worked the WA Coast [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Tangible proof that the Don worked the WA Coast

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

The tip of the Cape Don’s 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 Officer’s 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 Warrick’s help such as how a door into another stairwell separated the passenger and crew quarters.

Pauline O'Brien - an amateur but willing volunteer with chipping hammer in action [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Pauline O'Brien - an amateur but willing volunteer with chipping hammer in action

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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.

'She was so pretty! You'd see her yellow funnel coming in and wonder what she was bringing to us.' J. Kaye (nee Bishop a Lighthouse family). Looking forward to the funnel being 'Golden Yellow' again [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
"She was so pretty! You'd see her yellow funnel coming in and wonder what she was bringing to us." J. Kaye (nee Bishop a Lighthouse family). Looking forward to the funnel being "Golden Yellow" again

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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 Don’s work.

Friday night dinner - Getting to know you - No time to be strangers [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Friday night dinner - Getting to know you - No time to be strangers

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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 Peter’s magic in the morning with eggs, bacon and a Bain Marie and Vanessa’s magic at night with a formal dinner.

...and still more rubbish than this was to be piled into the skips and slings ready for removal [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
...and still more rubbish than this was to be piled into the skips and slings ready for removal

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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. It’s 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.

Keith Massey. Pulling up the timber decking to show the rusted but solid deck beneath [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Keith Massey. Pulling up the timber decking to show the rusted but solid deck beneath

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

On my next trip back, I thought I would like to help make the Passenger’s Lounge ready for groups to sit, relax and maybe read a book after a hard day’s work onboard. I hadn’t 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 day’s, a month’s, a year’s 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.

Peter Wynn and Warrick Riddle pouring over engine plans [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Peter Wynn and Warrick Riddle pouring over engine plans

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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? It’s the Cape Don. She’s a grand little ship.”

Tim Elderton and Jim Savage, closest to the camera, enjoying some historic moments during the showing of the Cape Don at Work Video [Photo:  Pauline O’Brien]
Tim Elderton and Jim Savage, closest to the camera, enjoying some historic moments during the showing of the Cape Don at Work Video

Photo:  Pauline O’Brien

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 didn’t 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.

Email Pauline O’Brien

 


Australian News

AMSA Moves to Demolish Cape Jaffa Platform Again!

by Robert Mock

Robert Mock calls us to arms again to save the Cape Jaffa Platform [Photo:  John Nicholson]
Robert Mock calls us to arms again to save the Cape Jaffa Platform

Photo:  John Nicholson

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 working with Mark Parnell from the Environment Defenders Office on the idea of getting ownership of the Platform to a third party, as SA Government were not responding.

The Cape Jaffa Platform with other navigational aids [Photo:  Robert Mock]
The Cape Jaffa Platform with other navigational aids

Photo:  Robert Mock

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.


Members Galah Session Report

Screen dump of members galah Session in progress
Screen dump of members galah Session in progress

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.

Email Malcolm Macdonald


Notices

Subscribers Galah Session

Galah Session: A period allocated for informal conversation over an outback radio network, allowing regular opportunities for people in remote areas to chat. The galah session is so named because galahs gather together in flocks and have raucous calls. Galah is a borrowing (first recorded 1862) from the Gamilaaraay language of the indigenous Kamilaroi people, northern New South Wales. First recorded 1956.
Background:

At 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 a year.

There 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.

For members I see it as vehicle to increase your participation and to give you back a sense of belonging.

For 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.

After very successful Members Galah Session we look forward to the Friends and Subscribers Galah Session. We anticipate around 10 times the number of people involved, from different time zones, from all over the world.

You do not need to be a financial member if you wish to participate.

Subscribers Galah Sessions:

Unlike the 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.

The first one will be on Sunday 12th December 2004, all day (10-12 hours) EST (AU). All subscribers will be sent an email with details on procedure about ten days before the event.

Galah Links:

Galah Session
Galahs
Galah (Cacatua roseicapilla)
The Birds of Cockatoo Island
Galah Rain by Jane Downing
Galah Desktop @1024px


Pre-Xmas Gathering in South Australia

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Robert Mock on the Cape Jaffa Platform

Photo: Robert Mock

Maatsuyker Island Lighthouse
Port Adelaide Lighthouse ablaze

Photo: Garry Searle

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:

Friday 3rd DEC 2004 - SE South Australia: 

  • Friday evening - Tea in Kingston
  • Saturday Morning - Possible trip to Cape Jaffa Platform, or
  • Tour of the relocated Cape Jaffa Lighthouse

We will need numbers for each of the BBQ, boat trip and lighthouse so indicate you intentions of coming

Email Malcolm Macdonald
Phone Malcolm (03) 5256 2939

Saturday 4th DEC 2004 - Port Adelaide South Australia: 

  • Early evening - Tour of Port Adelaide Lighthouse
  • Evening - Light up of Port Adelaide Light
  • Evening - Dinner while viewing the light

We will need numbers for both the lighthouse tour and dinner so indicate you intentions of coming

Email Garry Searle
Phone Malcolm (03) 5256 2939


Site Managers for Bustard Head

Bustard Head Lightstation from the Air [Photo: Stuart Buchanan ]
Bustard Head Lightstation from the Air

Photo: Stuart Buchanan

The Bustard Head Lighthouse Association is calling for expressions of interest from couples interested in being relieving Site Managers for 1 to 2 month periods.

Please reply with your relevant background details to:

The Secretary
Bustard Head Lighthouse Association
C/- PO Box 282
Agnes Waters Q467


Letters

Goose Island drowning - Thomas Dickinson

Dear Sir

The Goose Island Lightstation [Photo:  AMSA]
The Goose Island Lightstation

Photo:  AMSA

My wife & I are researching her family history.

From family anecdotal information, her Great Grandmother Mary Maria Louisa Dickinson related the passing of her first husband Thomas Dickinson by drowning in 1922 while collecting the mail for the Goose Island Lighthouse.

The information on your website relates this incident & indicates that the deceased were buried on the Island. We were hoping you would have some more detailed information to verify the names & dates of this incident. Also we are looking for any reference to the birth dates of their children Thomas & Zita June (could be Zeta).

Thanks for any assistance you are able to provide.

Sincerely
Simon & Sue Bamford
Email Simon & Sue Bamford

The tragic Goose Island Cemetery [Photo:  AMSA]
The tragic Goose Island Cemetery

Photo:  AMSA

Hi Simon & Sue

We do have a reference (death certificate) to a Arthur Frederick Chilcott who may have been the other man in the dinghy, but no references to Thomas Dickinson.

Extracts from the log of Headkeeper Creese, Goose Island:

Afternoon on March 22, 1922. Lightkeepers Chilcott, aged 36 and Dickenson aged 29 years left Goose Island in Lighthouse boat to deliver and receive mails from SS Colliboi, Captain Neagle, Launceston to Flinders Island. Boat failed to return and it is feared the two men have been drowned.

Regards Malcolm Macdonald
Email Malcolm Macdonald

Mother of Millions reaches Point Perpendicular

Mother of Millions, Resurrection Plant (Bryophyllum delagoense, B. pinnatum, B. daigremontianum x tubiflorum, B. roliferum) [Photo: Bushland Friendly Nursery Scheme]
Mother of Millions, Resurrection Plant (Bryophyllum delagoense, B. pinnatum, B. daigremontianum x tubiflorum, B. roliferum)

Photo:  Bushland Friendly Nursery Scheme

Greetings

On a visit to inspect the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse last week, I was impressed with the structure and surrounds. The place however looked a bit deserted and the fine old residences appeared to be abandoned. I would have expected to see someone in residence, even if to safeguard this heritage from vandalism.

However the purpose of my letter is to draw your attention to the presence near the lighthouse, of a ferocious weed called Mother of Millions. This weed has a phenomenal capacity to spread ( as I know from experience here at Pheasants Nest). It would be of no surprise to me if the weed did spread all over the peninsular. On a short walk down a path near the parking area, I noticed it again, indicating that it is on the march as expected. To get an indication of its capacity to spread and to recognise its appearance, I suggest you do a search on the Web. There is quite a bit of information to be found there on Mother of Millions .

The weed has quite an attractive orange flower which entices people to take away samples-- later to discover to their horror , its capacity to multiply. As far as I can gather the plant originates from Madagascar and is listed as a noxious weed in Queensland.

Yours sincerely Louis Doyle

Email Louis Doyle

Looking for John Trewhella, Tasmanian Lighthouse Keeper

Hi

My name in Karen Copas I am trying to find out if my great grandfather was one of the lighthouse keepers.

His name was John Trewhella and I think he would have been a keeper around the 1890 to the 1900.

We were told that he could have been on King Island but we are not sure. I was hoping that you may be able to help me. If you can find out any information about him would you please let me know. Thankyou.

Email Mrs Karen A Copas

Hi Karen

Yes, if you check out our Tasmanian Keepers page you will find a "TREWHELLA John".

Unfortunately as the list for individual lights are still incomplete we has no entry against a particular light.

Regards Malcolm Macdonald

Email Malcolm Macdonald

Looking for Charles Quail, gazetted as the pilot at Lakes Entrance

Hi,

I was delighted to find your newsletter on the Internet. I have been researching my family history, my GG Grandfather was Charles Quail, he was gazetted as the pilot at Lakes Entrance in 1887, family stories tell us that he was also the lighthouse keeper.

It has been difficult to find information about him after 1853 when he was a captain on the ship 'Eureka'. It would be wonderful if you could tell me where I could find information about the Lakes Entrance harbour and lighthouse.

Thanks and congratulations on the good work.

Regards Gloria Turner


Email Gloria Turner

Hi Gloria

The modern Mount Barkly Light, Lakes Entrance [Photo: Kristie Eggleston]
The modern Mount Barkly Light, Lakes Entrance

Photo:  Kristie Eggleston

We would have very little about the Mt Barkly light at Lakes entrance but this extract:

39. Mount Barkly Light, Lakes Entrance

In latitude 37o 52.5' south, longitude 147o 59.2' east, marking the entrance channel into the Gippsland Lakes at Lakes Entrance in eastern Victoria, stands a nine metre metal framework tower holding the Mount Barkly Light, which was built in 1923.

Its white light, occulting once every four seconds, is 70 metres above the sea and is visible for 17 nautical miles.

The entrance channel which it marks was opened up by manual excavation in 1889, replacing a shallower and crookeder natural channel a short distance to the east which has since silted up.

The light stands in Jemmy's Point Reserve, atop Mount Barkly whose name it takes, and which was named after a popular Governor of Victoria: Sir Henry Barkly (Governor 1856-1863).

[The Lighthouses of Victoria, Dacre Smyth, 1980, ISBN 0727001116]

Regards Malcolm Macdonald

Email Malcolm Macdonald

Tragedy of Charles Alfred Myers of Cliffy Is

Greetings

Cliffy Island circa 1930 [Photo Courtesy:  Jenny Mountstephen]
Cliffy Island circa 1930

Photo Courtesy:  Jenny Mountstephen

In case you're missing the years 1929, 1930 and 1931, I will send the small amount of information I have. On 16 April 1931, Charles Alfred Myers was Head Light Keeper at Cliffy Island. He had been there 2 years and 2 weeks.

The usual stint was 2 yrs, and he had applied to move, but had been refused. Charles died on this day - he mistakenly drank Lysol, mistaking it for wine, when he had toothache.

He had a wife and 2 children living there. Clarence William Young was also a light house keeper there at the time.

I have located 2 pictures of the Cliffy Island Lighthouse - one with children in foreground - am assuming they are the Myer children and perhaps the children of keeper Young.The other (picture) is plainer, but with 3 women on the steps - I can't tell you who they were. Do you happen to know how many 'lighthouse' families would have lived on Cliffy Island at the one time? It seems that the Youngs and Myers were there together.

Hope that's of some help.

Jenny Mountstephen ( Came across this info doing a family history)

Email Jenny Mountstephen

Hi Jenny

Thanks, your information actually compliments and gives dates and detail to the following account from A LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S CHILD by Mary Lees:

What is believed to be the Myers and Young children at Cliffy Island circas 1930 [Photo Courtesy:  Jenny Mountstephen]
What is believed to be the Myers and Young children at Cliffy Island circas 1930

Photo Courtesy:  Jenny Mountstephen

There was a lighthouse keeper called Mr Myers at Cliffey (sic) Island and the loneliness must have got to him a bit because I believe he used to go for the metho. But one time he sent away for his stores, and ordered Lysol, which was the antiseptic in those days until it became iodine, and he also sent away for a bottle of rum. The stores came and he was unpacking and didn't bother to light the kerosene light, so he went into his bedroom with what he thought was his bottle of rum but it was the bottle of Lysol.

That created a lot of effort on Dad's part because he was next in charge. He sent off a message "lighthouse keeper very ill" and eventually a ship answered and said "got your message". The Lady Lock was called in and wouldn't you know, it had the inspector on: everything happened when the inspector was coming. He prompted the signalman to Morse back and say "how is the head keeper now?" and my Dad replied "dead". So more Morsing went on: "well I'll go to Wilsons Promontory and shelter for the night and come back and embalm the body and take it back to Melbourne".

Dad Morsed back and said "well instead of doing that I think you had better come here because I'm not sure whether he is dead or not". The inspector said "bring a lamp down to the landing and take me up and we'll check". And yes he was dead. That was pretty rough.

Before that Myers' wife had become very ill and Dad was doing some Morsing again to Wilsons Promontory advising them of the fact and back came a message to say 'give her an opium pill'; every lighthouse had its own medicine chest. But that didn't do any good and so the next thing a doctor and sister came from Port Albert and she was really very, very ill. The lid of our pianola made a stretcher for that lady to be taken down to the landing, hoisted up on the crane and put on the ship. The doctor said, "She won't live till we get to shore." But she did, and she recovered in time to see her husband die.

I will use your email and this response in the Bulletin to give and idea of the hardships suffered.

Regards Malcolm Macdonald

Email Malcolm Macdonald



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