Lighthouses of Australia Project - OCTOBER 99 BULLETIN
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Dear Friends
Department of Scrounge
New Pages for Australia
New Links for Australia
New Links for World
Islands in the Strait
Australian News
Thanks To
Text Only eMail
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Dear Friends

Traveling Australia

The Traveling Australia Web site has made the Lighthouses of Australia Web site their feature Australian website and a summary with links appears as their home page for Australia.

The site can be found at <>.

See You at Point Perpendicular

Ed, Deborah and myself will be attending the celebrations of the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse on Saturday 16th October.

Hope to meet some of you there.

Full details of the program in Australian News.

Proposed 2nd South Australian Expedition

The Troubridge Island Lighthouse The Cape Jervis Lighthouse at Lands End Marino Rocks Cape Spencer Lighthouse

A South Australian Expedition is in the planning and the dates of 20th - 28th November shaping up as the most likely dates.

A full intinery wil be published in the November Bulletin and a press release should be posted around mid-to-late October.

Look forward to having opportunities of meeting our supporters in South Australia.

South Neptune Lighthouse Relocated to Port Adelaide Troubridge Hill Lighthouse Tipara Reef Lighthouse West Cape Lighthouse
The Wonga Shoal Lighthouse The Corny Point Lighthouse The Point Malcolm Lighthouse

Department of Scrounge:

If anybody has any of this material on any Australian lighthouses including the ones listed at the Department of Scrounge it would appreciated, especially the high priority ones:

  • Original Colour Photographs
  • Historical Photographs or Postcards
  • History, experiences and anecdotes
  • Technical History

Please eMail <Keeper>

New Pages for Australia:

The Cliffy Island Lighthouse The Cliffy Island LighthouseNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Swan Island LighthouseNew.gif (158 bytes) The Swan Island Lighthouse
Maintenance at the Swan Island Lighthouse Maintenance at the Swan Island LighthouseNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Norah Head LighthouseNew.gif (158 bytes) The Norah Head Lighthouse

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <>

New Links for Australia:

Norah Head Lighthouse C. 1950 Norah Head Lighthouse C. 1950New.gif (158 bytes)
Cape Otway Lighthouse by Brendan BeattieNew.gif (158 bytes) Cape Otway Lighthouse by Brendan Beattie
The Cape Otway Lightstation by Parks Victoria The Cape Otway Lightstation by Parks VictoriaNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve by Parks VictoriaNew.gif (158 bytes) The Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve by Parks Victoria
The Gabo Island Lightstation Reserve by Parks Victoria The Gabo Island Lightstation Reserve by Parks VictoriaNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Split Point Lighthouse by Brendan BeattieNew.gif (158 bytes) The Split Point Lighthouse by Brendan Beattie

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <>

Also, New Links for World:

Lighthouses of Hawaii by Andy Lighthouses of Hawaii by AndyNew.gif (158 bytes)
SVENSKA FYRLÄNKAR by Mats HindyNew.gif (158 bytes) SVENSKA FYRLÄNKAR by Mats Hindy
The Belle Tout lighthouse on Beachy Head The Belle Tout lighthouse on Beachy HeadNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Henry Island Lighthouse Preservation SocietyNew.gif (158 bytes) The Henry Island Lighthouse Preservation Society
CANADIAN LIGHTHOUSES: Information and Links CANADIAN LIGHTHOUSES: Information and LinksNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Currituck Beach LighthouseNew.gif (158 bytes) The Currituck Beach Lighthouse
The Danish Lighthouse Society The Danish Lighthouse SocietyNew.gif (158 bytes)
The Florida Lighthouse PageNew.gif (158 bytes) The Florida Lighthouse Page

If your e-mail does not display in HTML these pages can be accessed from the "New Listing for Month Index" at <>

Feature: Islands in the Strait

Extract from Article Published on the Kent Group (Deal Island Lightstation) in TCT Newsletter in 1991 (Feb/March Edition). Please note that the Swan, Deal and Maatsuyker Lighthouses have all since been demanned. Deal has been extinguished.

[Christian Bell]

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust has been involved in conservation issues in Bass Strait for many years now, sponsoring research into the ecology of the region and campaigning for the reservation of areas of special interest. The Trust has also actively been involved in the campaign to retain lighthouse keepers at Swan Island and Deal Island (also Maatsuyker Island) as they are, or were, in the best position not only to provide a valuable community service in terms of sea-safety, but also to police conservation aims and objectives in isolated island communities. However, in the case of Swan Island we were unsuccessful as the light station was later automated. Although the situation with the Deal light remains tenuous, it is still a possibility that lighthouse staff may be removed (The Light was deactivated in 1992).


The Kent Group of Islands lie half way between the northern tip of Flinders Island and Wilsons Promontory. The Islands are located in a remote part of Bass Strait and are much closer to Victoria than they are to the Tasmanian mainland. Nevertheless they are part of Tasmania, as are most Bass Strait islands, a legacy from the colonial period of the State's history.

The Kent Group from the air with the Deal Island Lighthouse in the foreground. [Photograph: Sandy Scheltema - The Age]
The Kent Group from the air with the Deal Island Lighthouse in the foreground.
[Photograph: Sandy Scheltema - The Age]

The main islands of the group are Deal, Dover and Erith; there are also two other smaller islands, North East and South West. The spectacular Murray Pass separates Deal from Erith and Dover. The Group was discovered by Matthew Flinders in 1798 while en route to Preservation Island to pick up the survivors of the Sydney Cove wreck. The next notable event was the visit of Robert Brown in 1803. Brown, the prolific and notable botanist, was the first to undertake research in the Islands. At one point prior to 1831 a permanent sealers' camp existed on Deal Island, the relics of which have long since vanished. In 1847 the principal European activity on the islands commenced with the construction of the convict built lighthouse at Deal ... however before we go any further we should get back to explaining the Trust's interest in the area.

Why be Involved?

The TCT's Marine Reserves Working Group has a number of proposals for marine reserves around the state, one of which includes the Kent Group. Late last year an opportunity presented itself to organize a field trip to the area, with the availability of Peter Malcolm's and Whizz Gambier's historic ketch Redbill. The main purpose of the trip was to promote the values of the area as a marine reserve and to facilitate further research into the terrestrial and marine environment of the island group. The area's other values including aboriginal pre history and the much more recent colonial era, made a visit to the Kent Group more than worthwhile.

Saturday, December 15th 1990

The Redbill leaves the fishermans' wharf at Bicheno at midday with a party of nine onboard on a tack which takes us up Tasmania's east coast. The overnight journey through lumpy seas does nothing for the wellbeing of most of those onboard; supper is a fairly poorly attended affair.


First light has Swan Island on our port side. [Photograph: Laurie Ford]
First light has Swan Island on our port side.
[Photograph: Laurie Ford]

First light has Swan Island and Flinders Island on our portside and Bass Strait revealed to be in very tranquil mood, its fearsome reputation a long way from the present conditions. Of course it's always a hazardous place to navigate as an entry in Cannon Marcus Brownrigg reveals in his book The Cruise of the Freak (1872):

The Endeavour Reef, and a sunken rock about a mile eastward of Craggy Island, observes Captain Stokes, constitute the chief dangers between Kent Group and Flinders. The extremes are marked to the north and the south by Wright's Rock and Craggy Island, between which no ship should pass, although there is channel close to the south side of the former. It should also be particularly borne in mind, that the tides, which sometimes run two knots, set across the channel S.W. by S. and N.E by N. The north easterly stream beginning a quarter before noon, at the full and change of the moon.

Later in the day, the very tides and currents described are very clearly visible from Redbill's bow.

With Craggy Island astern of us, the high granite cliffs of Deal Island are within view, the Light just visible as a small bump on top of a lengthy ridgeline. On dusk we enter the Murray Pass from the southern end and are soon flanked on either side by the steep slopes of Deal and Dover. The crew prepares the anchor for release as the Redbill nears the East Cove, which is one of the two safe anchorage's in the Kent Group. The noise of the anchor going out is quite stark in what is a very serene place, where the principle sound is provided by the Little Penguin.


From the jetty at East Cove, a four wheel drive track takes one up to the light station keepers' residences and workshop a collection of buildings, some of which date to the original establishment of the light station back in 1847. After introducing ourselves to the present keepers and their families, we walk over to the old superintendent's cottage, now set up as a museum covering the history of the island group. With me I had an extract from Bishop Nixon's book The Cruise of the Beacon (1857), describing his previous visit to the cottage.

It was startling writes the Bishop, to see the comfort which he [the superintendent] was surrounded. Here on this wild isolated rock, we found a comfortable stone house, a well-appointed homestead, a garden redolent with sweets and singularly beautiful in the varied coloured flowers - an atmosphere of peace and content breathing around the ocean home.

Sliding back the bolt on the door, a now rather dank smell greets the visitor; however behind it is well laid out set of glass cases which includes such items as photos from the 1890 Victorian Field Naturalists' visit to the islands, exhibits from the wrecks of the Karatane and the Bulli, a chest containing signal flags, and, above the mantle piece, a copy of a strange letter to the Colonial Secretary of NSW from the Lieutenant Governor J.C. Latrobe of Victoria (dated 1851) requesting that the Kent Group be used as a penal settlement for convicts from Victoria and New South Wales!

From the Superintendent's Residence we take the track to little Squally Cove, the site of one of Australia's rarest plants, Pratia irrigua, located in a boggy patch of ground alongside the banks of a creek where it had been discovered by Robert Brown (probably from the ship's boat obtaining water) in 1803. Steve Harris, a botanist, who is with us on the trip, obtains a flowering example of it on this visit.


Overnight the wind has changed direction from the south to the north east, forcing us to move from the East Cove to the West Cove on Erith. Greg and Stuart, the divers on board, commence a series of dives as part of a marine algae survey. We decide to take a look at Dover, thickly covered by scrub and by far the wildest island, access to which is only possible via the Swashway end. Dover has only one named feature, Mt Mullet, and has had little visitation, with perhaps fewer than a dozen people having ever visited it. We spend several hours crawling through the mostly Allocasuarina forest some very ancient trees, split through the middle with age and unfired. A rarity indeed for Bass Strait, where the principle sport of many is to torch uninhabited or even inhabited islands.

The diving team has by this stage moved over to examine the wreck of the Bulli, a coalier from Newcastle, wrecked in 1877 on Erith. The wreck is one of Australia's best preserved, having only recently been gazetted under the Commonwealth Historic Ship Wrecks Act (1976). The ship can very often be seen where it lays, with out the need for diving in what are the very clear waters that surround it.


Back at Deal again, we arranged with Max, the assistant keeper, to visit the lighthouse. The road up to it had been constructed by convicts, along with a railway and whim for the transport of the materials used in the construction and later maintenance of the light. The ruins of the upper quarters used by the early keepers were passed near the crest of the hill and from there a short track leads to the foot of the lighthouse, with entry gained via two stout doors at the base. Max takes us through the basic functions and history of the building as we climb the circular cast iron stairs. One could think of Cannon Brownrigg's earlier call, with an extract from his book:

In visiting island he states,"there was one object, which in particular, arrested my attention. It was the Bible placed in the lantern-room for the benefit of the light-keepers. From enquiry I learned that the book was always kept there, and often read. I could not help expressing the hope, that while the watchers were tending the light for guidance of their fellow creatures over the dark and perilous waters beneath, they might, themselves, in the reading of the Bible, be guided by that divine light in safety over the waves of a troublesome world, to the true haven above."

Looking for the Bible, I can not see it. Perhaps, one thinks, it was kept there only for the benefit of visiting clergy!

Stan Gray (Last Head Keeper) inside the Lens. [Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]
Stan Gray (Last Head Keeper) inside the Lens.
[Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]

The lights drive gears were kept in meticulous condition by Stan Gray. [Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]
The lights drive gears were kept in meticulous condition by Stan Gray.
[Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]


The Redbill prepares to leave, but before she does, I take the opportunity to visit the Erith Island Mob who have come regularly to their campsite on Erith since the late 1950's. Perhaps the best known enthusiast for the place was the late Stephen Murray Smith, ex broadcaster and Reader of Education at the University of Melbourne. Many have found their own peace and inspiration here, such as the artist Fred Williams.

Surveys done while in the Kent Group include a number on marine debris; a hazard for seals and much other wildlife. The amount of material found in such an isolated area was to me unexpected. Plastic, metals and all sorts of materials were to be found at a number of sites. Much of the gear collected came from the fishing industry, household refuse from stormwater drains and other sources many kilometres away, making an unpleasant cocktail in what should be a pristine area free from this sort of garbage. Sometime in the next year or two the Trust intends to organize a trip to pick it up.

The SV Redbill approaches Judgement Rocks. [Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]
The SV Redbill approaches Judgement Rocks.
[Photograph Courtesy : Christian Bell]

Judgement Rocks, near Southwest Island, is about two hours' sail from Deal and is home to over a thousand seals. We had come here to count and classify them. Counting seal pups and especially blazed individuals, bulls and harems, from amongst the rest proves to be a task proved much more difficult than originally envisaged! This active colony is constantly on the go, with seals entering or leaving the Rocks like so many boxes on a conveyer belt. Curious individuals inspect us, probably with more success. In the end we call off the manual count and circumnavigate the Rocks, photographing the mass of seals for later estimation.

Redbill heads north after five days in the islands via the Hogan Group to Port Welshpool. Our time at the Kent Group has given us just a taste for the special value of the islands. The care we take in maintaining areas such as this and other Bass Strait islands is one that community organisations, individuals and government need to take very seriously.

Christian Bell

Marine Reserve

For the Trust, the Kent Group of Islands represent perhaps one of the most important areas that can be set aside for marine ecosystem protection in Tasmania. The Islands' unique location, situated as they are at the junction of a number of Australia's marine biogeographic provinces, gives the Group a uniquely high faunal diversity. Fish from New South Wales, such as the Maori wrasse (Ophthalmolepis cyanogramma) are found here, probably marking its most southerly range. The feather star (Ptilometra australis), not found anywhere else in Tasmania, is also present. These are just some of the species worthy of mention from previous research on the marine ecology of the islands.

In April 1981, Dr Graham Edgar surveyed the area on behalf of the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service, the purpose of which was to ascertain its suitability as a marine reserve. The project was part of a wider series of surveys being undertaken by him on potential marine reserves for the State. The Kent Group later featured prominently in his published reports. It would probably be fair to say that no other area received as high a recommendation for reservation as this one. Despite this no Tasmanian government has seen fit to declare the area a marine reserve.

Pre history

Aboriginal relics from a time prior to or just after the rise of sea levels in Bass Strait have been found in the Kent Group. The Great Cave of Erith Island was excavated by Jones and Lampert in 1978; amongst other discoveries, it contained the ashes of a camp fire of wombat and wallaby bones, which were radio carbon dated to be between 7000 to 9000 years old. The cave is set well back, high in a cliff overlooking the Murray Pass. Viewing it from a small inflatable boat, it was not hard to imagine aboriginal people trekking their way up from the valley floor after a day's hunting on the now submerged plains.

Further to the south between Erith and Dover, in an area known as the Swashway, stone tools were also found on the same 1978 trip. Deal Island also has a significant site, that being a midden located by Nigel Brothers. If the midden can be dated from a period after the inundation that formed Bass Strait, it could well be very important, proving that aboriginal people managed to survive for an extended period, in what is very small and remote island region

Australian News:

Update on Works on Deal Island

The TCT/ Marine & Coastal Community Network National Estate maintenance project on the Superintendents Residence on Deal Island is progressing well. Already two technical reports have been produced and two maintenance visits to the Island carried out. The first phase of this work mainly concentrated on the windows, doors and door jams. The Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife replaced the roofing iron. The next job that needs to be done is the floors in the Residence. The TCT is negotiating with a university to provide for the archeological supervision as the floors will have to pulled up to be repaired and returned to their original position. There may also be an archeological dig as some soil will probably have to be removed and an opportunity presents itself to examine the under floor area at the same time.

The Deal Island Lighthouse [Photograph: Kim Shimmin]
The Deal Island Lighthouse
[Photograph: Kim Shimmin]

At present the Australian Bush Heritage Fund still holds the interim lease for Deal Island. The Tasmanian Government has underway a process for allocating leases to its recently (acquired from the Commonwealth) light stations and lands. Tenders were called and the period for tendering has closed. According to the original timeline, the successful tenderer's should have been notified by August 31. This has not yet occurred as far as I am aware. At present there is no information on whether any of the conditions attached to the original expression of interest document have been further developed, modified or varied in any way. The Tasmanian Government expression interest document stated that these former AMSA properties would be suitable for eco tourism ventures.

Christian Bell

Help Celebrate Pt Perpendicular 100th this month


Friday October 15th to Sunday October 17th

Currarong is south of Sydney and East of Canberra. [Map: Microsoft Corporation]
Currarong is south of Sydney and East of Canberra.
[Map: Microsoft Corporation]

To celebrate the Centenary of the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse the Village of Currarong invites you to be part of this special weekend.

Commencing with the Seafarers Ball on Friday 15th, to be held in a marquee on the waterfront, with fresh seafood dinner, an Irish Band, commemorative crystal glass, complimentary drinks & hors d'oeuvres from 7.30pm to 8.00pm. Drinks will then be available from the bar. Tickets are limited and are available for $60 per head & may be booked through Dennis Richardson. Phone: (02) 4448 3500

On Saturday 16th an Art & Photography Competition based on "A CENTURY OF SEAFARING" - Point Perpendicular, Beecroft Headland, Jervis Bay Fauna, Flora & Environs , will be held at the Currarong Tennis Club. Enquiries to Janine Gibson. Phone: (02) 4448 3257.

The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse will celebrate its 100th anniverary. [Photograph: Cyril Curtain]
The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse will celebrate its 100th anniverary.
[Photograph: Cyril Curtain]

On Saturday afternoon, celebrations will be held at the Lighthouse site (entry will be by bus only, bookings are necessary, with a fee of $5 for adults & $2.50 for children - return and may purchased through Robyn Long at Mobil Service Station, Currarong (02) 4448 3235) various activities, food, drinks, etc will be available.

Around dusk the new Lighthouse will be turned off and the original Lighthouse will be re-lit for the first time since it's decommissioning.

Guests will then be transported back to Currarong, where an evening with dinner and a live band has been organised at the Bowling Club. Bookings should be made direct to the Bistro. Phone: (02) 4448 3355.

The lighthouse is in a restricted area and certain difficulties have arisen with the Department of Defence regarding access and celebrations at the site.

One of the restrictions is no private vehicular access. The other major one is that there will be no tours inside the tower. This is extremely disappointing. Ian Clifford, who is charge of turning the old light on and off states that there has been a certain amount of deterioration in the old tower that would a concern to the public at large.

Despite this I am sure the organisers efforts wil be rewarded with a good day being had by all.

Thanks to the Following People for Their Help in September:

Ian Clifford (Information)
Christian Bell (Article & Report)
Laurie Ford (Proof Reading)
Sue Lemmer (Photos etc)
Klaus Huelse (Links)

Thanks to all the people who have put links to the site

Thanks to those who let me use their photos for thumbnails.

Regards until the November 99 Bulletin
Malcolm Macdonald

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The OCTOBER 99 BULLETIN was published on: 4/10/99

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