Lighthouses of Australia Inc

Lighthouses of Australia Inc.

Lighthouses of Australia Inc. is a non-profit organisation which aims to create a higher profile for Australian lighthouses within Australia and overseas, and thereby preserve, protect and promote their place within our history.

The site includes comprehensive lists of lighthouses in each state, with photos, technical data, history, access details, links to other lighthouse organisations, museums, resources and other information.

PRISM Feature Story - Green Cape

Photo - Gary Searle

After hours of diligent research, worldwide correspondence and lobbying, LoA member Doug Boleyn submitted an application to Engineers Australia for Green Cape lighthouse  (26km SSE of Eden on the South Coast of NSW) to be recognized as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark.

Engineers Australia is the national forum for the advancement of engineering and the professional development of its 80,000+ members.  Engineering Heritage Australia is Engineers Australia’s peak heritage body.

Doug’s application was successful and on 20th July, Engineers Australia had accorded Green Cape Lightstation recognition as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark.

In his letter of acceptance, Bruce Cole Convenor of Heritage Recognition Committee mentions:

“The Heritage Recognition Committee has discussed the nomination. We consider it to be one of the best-produced documents that we have received, and we compliment Doug Boleyn on his comprehensive research and excellent presentation. We are agreed that the Lightstation should be awarded an Engineering Heritage National Landmark.”

Recognition by Engineering Heritage Australia of an engineering work as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark does not come easily. Green Cape lighthouse now becomes the first lighthouse to be awarded this honour and is joining 39 other magnificent works around Australia of such diversity as Sydney Harbour Bridge, Snowy Mountains Scheme, Trans Continental Railway, Coolgardie Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, Waddamatta “A” Power Station in Tasmania, Kuranda Range Railway in Queensland and the Lake Burley Griffin Scheme which have been similarly recognized.

In his 59-page application document Nomination of Green Cape Lightstation for Recognition as a National Engineering Heritage Landmark, Doug states these reasons for nominating his favourite lighthouse.

Green Cape lightstation is of State significance because:

1.   Construction of the Green Cape lighthouse was an integral part of a plan to warn mariners of the more dangerous unlit places of the Australian coastline. The decision arose from a resolution of the Inter-Colonial Conference of 1873 at which the principal marine officers provided the first Australia-wide evaluation of navigational needs.  The collective decision was an early example of the cooperation between the Australian Colonies that led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

2.   At the time of its construction the Green Cape lighthouse was reputed to be the largest mass concrete structure in the Australian colonies and until the time of its decommissioning, remained the tallest lighthouse in NSW

3.   Green Cape light has associations with major and historically important figures like James Barnet, Colonial Architect Department of Public Works NSW, and Francis Hixson, President of the Marine Board of NSW.

4.   During World Wars I and II, Green Cape was strategically important; it is understood that many incidents are buried in wartime records that are still subject to censorship.

5.   Green Cape was the second one (by 3 years) of a pioneering group of mass concrete lighthouses, and although the faceted design made the construction easier, the remoteness of the site, deep foundations combined with the absence of major plant and reliance on local materials made its construction a difficult task.

6.   It is one of the iconic lighthouses of Australia. Green Cape’s distinctive design with its square base merging into an octagonal form was a break from the traditional circular tower of other lightstations. The styling is rare, with the display of accentuated bluestone corbelling which typifies the Victorian Mannerist style, combined with the double curved gunmetal balcony railing employed by Barnet in his design. Green Cape was the first and tallest of only two lighthouses constructed in such way.

7.   As part of a cohesive group of late 19th C and early 20th C lighthouses in NSW, it demonstrates the incremental changes from 1880 to the present in the design and construction of lightstation complexes and in the evolution of lighthouse technology.

8.   The long Aboriginal association with the area and the number of pre-white settlement sites throughout the precinct such as middens and initiation grounds have archaeological and research potential.

9.   Research potential is also apparent examining the logistics involved in servicing such a remote construction and operational sites that were only accessible by sea.

10.   During the 100 years of its manned operation, Green Cape Lightstation was a social and cultural centre for the local community and surrounding properties. Until road transport became practical in the 1930s, unloading of stores, which came by sea via Bittangabee Bay for both the lightstation and the surrounding, settlers became a co-operative and social occasion.

11.  The still visible wreckage of vessels and the nearby cemetery are testament to the rescue and ministering role performed by the light keepers and their families.  This involved not only performing rescues in dangerous conditions, but providing first aid, comfort and shelter to survivors and recovering and burying the dead.

12.  The area was culturally important to the local aboriginal people. The Cape [Bundooro] was a men’s area and was also used for teaching purposes. Bittangabee Bay [Pertangerbee] was both a camp place and teaching ground. The land still continues to have important spiritual and physical significance to the local Tauaira people.

13.  The lightstation has a high degree of integrity. The lighthouse is basically intact with items, or at least photographs (when the real piece was not available) of replaced equipment being displayed on site. Most of the buildings of substance from the 1881- 83 period still remain.  Little different from the day the light was first exhibited, it readily allows the working conditions of the keepers and living conditions of lighthouse families in an isolated environment to be appreciated. The semi-detached Assistants’ quartes have been modified into one smaller and one larger residence.

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