01 September 2011

To the Lighthouse

Had an extra splendid bonus today – there are big celebrations in November for the sesquicentenary of the Cape Wickham lighthouse, and the organisers were inspecting the site today as part of the planning process. So I went along with Sally. Beautiful warm, sunny weather, lots of wonderful rocks to draw. AND we all climbed up to the top of the lighthouse, which is usually closed to the public as it is still a serious working light. Great photos.

Here we are admiring the view from the top of the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere.

Original plans for the lighthouse were drawn up in 1855. This was for a masonry structure, but there were suggestions a prefabricated cast iron tower would be simpler to erect. W.B. Falconer, an engineer from Launceston, estimated a building cost of 19,507 pounds for the masonry tower as opposed to 23,743 for the prefabricated building, and in the end he was proved correct – following his plan, the project was completed at a cost of 18,533 pounds. 

Granite for the walls, which are eleven feet thick at the base, was quarried locally and brought about a mile overland by tramway; all other materials had to be brought in through the surf and rocks – with great difficulty.

The first entry in the Cape Wickham log book reads:

“Friday November 1st 1861 a.m. to noon, moderate fine weather. Noon to Sunset, Fine. At sunset light exhibited for the first time from this Station. Bright fixed light. Elevation of tower 145 feet and elevated above the sea 280 feet. Wicks require trimming every five hours obscuring the light six and seven minutes. Watch relieved at 10 p.m. Midnight all well”

Ref: Walker, Donald. Beacons of Hope. Athelstone Trust. 1998.

Haven’t decided yet what to do tomorrow, but I’m sure it will be interesting.

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