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Monthly Bulletin
January/February 2005 - Vol 8 No. 1


Feature

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Never give up searching

by Malcolm Macdonald, Lighthouses of Australia Inc founder

One of our members, Donald Walker, an architect, and a powerhouse at keeping lighthouse preservation issues alive, spoke at a gathering of members and friends at Queenscliff on International Lighthouse Day 2004. On the subject of research, he emphasized the point, "Never stop looking". He spoke of log books and documents that have turned up recently, after everyone had given up hope and called them 'lost'.

Soon after hearing this, LoA received a remarkable email from Warwick Jones, who lives near Cape Byron, about some glass stereo plates acquired by his father at an auction. Following an exchange of information, Warwick sent another message and a CD in the post. The whole story is intriguing.


Warwick Jones
Warwick Jones
Photo: Warwick Jones
George Jones
Warwick Jones' father, George Jones
Photo: Warwick Jones

The first email:

My name is Warwick Jones and I live on the Far North Coast of NSW where I am a macadamia farmer and mobile library operator. Many years ago, my father purchased a small cedar box at a clearing sale and it came into my possession after his death.

Recently I opened it and found inside fourteen 17cm X 8cm stereoscopic black & white glass negatives of lighthouses. These negatives are in fair to poor condition but I cleaned them, photographed the best side of each stereo photograph on a light box with a digital camera, then inverted and enhanced them in Photoshop.

They portray at least three, maybe four different lighthouses from the late 1800s or early 1900s. A feature of these images is the number which show the lighthouses in various stages of construction. This leads me to think that they are a photographic record of the work of a specialist in lighthouse engineering and/or construction.

I am of course curious to know where these lighthouses are, something of the history of their construction, and the identity of the photographer.

If you are interested and would like me to send you images of these three lighthouses, please contact me at the above email address. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you to solve this fascinating mystery from the past.

Cheerio for now....

Warwick


The second email:

Cedar plate box
The cedar plate box Warwick Jones inherited from his father, who bought it at an auction
Photo: Warwick Jones

The cedar plate box containing 13 invaluable lighthouse stereoscopic glass slides
Photo: Warwick Jones

Hi there Malcolm,

Thanks for getting back to me. Sorry, but despite living within sight of Australia's most powerful lighthouse beam, I know almost nothing about them. I hope these are Australian lights and I hope you can identify them for me.

I attach 13 thumbnail images (half a meg in total) and will be waiting with baited breath to hear your opinion.

Cheers for now...

Kindest Regards
Warwick


In reply to his email attachments I identified the plates as:

1. Gabo Island, Victoria
2. Could be Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
7. Could be Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
8. Wilsons Promontory, Victoria

10. Could be Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
11.
Currie Harbour, King Island, Bass Strait
13. Wilsons Promontory, Victoria

Eastern Lighthouse McRae, Victoria. Interesting to note earlier or temporary wooden light in background.
3. Eastern Lighthouse McCrae, Victoria under construction. Interesting to note earlier or temporary wooden light in background.
Could be Cape Schanck, Victoria. Note picket fence in foreground.. Tower looks right but not terrian.
4. Could be Cape Schanck, Victoria. Note picket fence in foreground. Tower looks right but not terrain.
Could be Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
5. Could be Cliffy Island, Bass Strait. Appears to be stone working equipment at centre.
Curry Harbour, King Island, Bass Strait
6. Currie Harbour, King Island, Bass Strait

 Certain is Wilsons Prom, Victoria
9. Certain is Wilsons Promontory, Victoria

Gabo Island, Victoria
12. Gabo Island, Victoria


Finally as requested, the CD came with this letter:

NEWRYBAR
NSW 2479

G'day Malcolm

Thanks heaps for your ID of the lighthouses. It was fascinating. Inspired by your replay to me, I fashioned a special holder to enable me to put the glass negatives through my film scanner. This has allowed me to scan at 800dpi and produce at least double the resolution of my digital camera and also to deliver you, raw scans of these stereo images, warts and all.

These images have filenames as you described them in your email. I have also included the original camera images which I have cropped and adjusted for best display to save you the trouble of fiddling around to send to others. Images of my dad and I are also included, along with pictures of the box of glass negatives.

My dad was retired in Albury when he acquired this box, so I can only suppose the sale was in the Albury are. George was a radio officer on the MV "Limerick" during WWII and was torpedoed 30 miles east of Cape Byron. He loved the sea and these images would have fascinated him, which I think is why he bought them. I would love to have a copy of any publication of these images are used in ... do I have to join ... in fact, how do I join?? Must go, have fun.

Warwick Jones

The stereo versions of the images above from the CD:

The original stereo plate of the Eastern Lighthouse McRae, Victoria. Interesting to note earlier or temporary wooden light in background.
3. The original stereo plate of the Eastern Lighthouse McCrae, Victoria
The original stereo plate of the Cape Schanck, Victoria.
4. The original stereo plate of the Cape Schanck, Victoria.
The original stereo plate of the Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
5. The original stereo plate of the Cliffy Island, Bass Strait
The original stereo plate of the Currie Harbour, King Island, Bass Strait
6. The original stereo plate of the Curry Harbour, King Island, Bass Strait

The original stereo plate of the Wilsons Prom, Victoria
9. The original stereo plate of the Wilsons Promontory, Victoria

The original stereo plate of the Gabo Island, Victoria
12. The original stereo plate of the Gabo Island, Victoria

And what is really significant about some of these plates is that they show stages of construction and keepers at everyday activities. Here is an archive that has been recovered and returned to us so we can gain an insight into what life was like in the early days of our 150-plus years of lighthouse history.

Malcolm Macdonald
Email Malcolm

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