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State Indexes > VIC > Preservation issues for the Split Point Lighthouse

Preservation Issues for the Split Point Lighthouse

Split Point Lighthouse at Airey's Inlet
Photograph: Ed Kavaliunas

Aireys Inlet visitors reach a moment of enlightenment

By Libby Coker, The Geelong Advertiser, 10 January 1998

Once a year Airey's Inlet offers a rare opportunity to glimpse a sweeping rugged coastline from the balcony of the historic Split Point lighthouse.

When the doors opened this week more than 2000 people took the chance to climb the 30 metre staircase to reach the lighthouse's inner sanctum - the lantern room.

From the windows of the lantern room, spectators can overlook Painkalac Creek as it winds its way through inlet and out the sea. Stepping onto the balcony a strong wind prevails. Turning seaward towards the Otways are steep cliffs, sandy beaches and a blue sea.

Back inside, the original British made lens still stands in the lantern room daily guiding mariners as they sail through the rugged waters of Bass Strait towards Port Phillip Bay.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman Adam Flanagan said the lens was built by the Chance Brothers in Birmingham eight years before the lighthouse was, completed in 1891.

Mr Flanagan said the lens was irreplaceable. "The factory in which it was made was bombed in war and all formulas for making the lens crystal were lost," he said. The cost of replacing the lens was estimated to be more than $1 million by a Japanese firm, he said.

In contrast, the original tendered price for the lighthouse complete with head lighthouse keeper's quarters, assistant's quarters, stables and a store room was 8057, 18 shillings and five pence.

Mr Flanagan said the lighthouse has changed little since it was built. The wall were always white with a red dome above the lantern room.

But a rail surrounding the lighthouse was added to improve spectator safety, he said.

Throwing light on a gem

From The Echo, 31 December 1997

Tourists often overlook Airey's Inlet as a holiday destination and miss out on one of the prettiest towns on the Victorian coastline.

The bush and coastal heathland in the area is largely unspoiled and has many wildflowers and birds. The views are also amazing, stretching all the way to Fairhaven in places.

The best known feature of the town is its lighthouse. The Split Point Lighthouse was established in 1891 and in 1919 was converted to automatic operation.

Just 100 metres away is the grave of two early pioneers of the district, Thomas Butson Pearce and his wife.

The town also has a collection of contemporary fine art, tearooms and cafes.



Aireys Inlet Lighthouse to be opened to public

From The Geelong Advertiser, 21 October 1997

Historic Airey's Inlet Lighthouse is expected to be open for extended periods over the summer holidays.

Surf Coast Shire has commissioned Melbourne architectural firm Allom and Lovell to complete a conservation management plan by 10 November, Surf Coast tourism business liaison officer David Curry said yesterday.

Mr Curry admitted the issue had been on the agenda for some time... "Yes, its overdue. Its an icon along the Great Ocean Road," he said.

The report will look at the heritage of the 106-year-old lighthouse and what's important to conserve, Mr Curry said. "I don't think there's any doubt about the demand. Two thousand people wanted to go up it when it opened last year," he said.

He said the project was the first stage of making the lighthouse more accessible to the public. "It's open one day a year and that depends on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority," Mr Curry said. "We're hoping to have it open at weekends and public holidays by Christmas."

Mr Curry said the plan was for two guides to show up to 10 visitors through the lighthouse in half-hour tours. He said the lighthouse was managed by the State Government which had given a $70,000 Community Support Fund grant to the project.

The proposal was for the shire to manage access to the lighthouse, Mr Curry said. Funding was conditional on the changes to the lighthouse complying With the guidelines as laid down in the report, he said.

Improvements will include signage, cycle routes, lighting near the stairs and improving the safety aspect of the balcony plus fire hydrants. The original intention had been to have it opening on weekends and public holidays from this winter a few months ago.

The lighthouse is operated automatically and is not staffed, Mr Curry said. He said the lighthouse steering committee could decide it should be open to the public for extended periods during the summer holidays. Mr Curry said there were originally three lighthouse keepers' cottages and currently two were available for rental and one was a private residence.

Ernest Stern of Ernie's Cantina at Airey's Inlet Lighthouse Restaurant, said the increased public access to the lighthouse would "help everybody on the coast". "It's long overdue but they had to come up with a way to make it work," Mr Stern said.

Special Thanks to:

  • Ed Kavaliunas for photograph

  • Ken Sheppard, The Geelong Advertiser for photograph

  • The Geelong Advertiser for photograph

  • The Echo for photograph


  • The Geelong Advertiser

  • The Echo

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