Lighthouse leading the way
By Taylor Clyne,
September 11, 2019
One of the most iconic lighthouses’ in Tasmania the Eddystone Point Lighthouse has seen a lot over the years, from wild weather, hundreds of shipwrecks and more recently tourists – it’s still a pillar of beauty on the North-East coastline.
In recent months the Friends of Eddystone Light (FOEL) working committee have become an incorporated body in a bid to further progress projects at the site.
President Lindsay Dawe explained that the group were made up of people from all over the North-East including ex lighthouse keepers and those with family connections.
“My wife and I formed this group because of family connections to the area and our love for Eddystone point, Anson’s Bay, Musselroe and Gladstone.
“My family goes back six generations here,” Mr Dawe said.
“A group of likeminded people banded with us to help promote and protect the various cultures around the lighthouse, we’ve done a fair bit over the last eleven years but now we’re looking to progress the reserve with upgrade projects and social events.”
Bob Barrett is one of the committee members, he followed in his father Tom Barrett’s steps and became a keeper when the lighthouse was a three-man station driven by kerosene.
“My dad’s original station was on Tasman Island and then he got transferred to Eddystone in the mid 50s, it was shocking weather at the time, probably the worst it ever was, the jetty got completely washed away,” Mr Barrett remembers.
“The storm was so bad that dad had to provide shelter to stranded sailors and fishing boats but when the jetty got washed away an inquiry was held to shut it down, he referred to the then little regulation book which stated a keepers first duty is to protect those at sea, so he was let off.”
During the 60s Bob remembers that he went home on leave from his job to find out that his holidays had been cancelled and he would begin as an active light keeper.
“That’s how I got the job,” he laughed.
“Back then I provided the 2.30pm weather reports to Melbourne, I used to telex them through. Lighthouse keepers had a good idea on what ships were coming past and what the fisherman were doing. I would light the kerosene light up about twenty minutes before sunset, it was a three-man station and manned the whole time it was a light,” Mr Barrett said.
When the lighthouse turned to a two-man electric station, keepers were not required round the clock anymore however the lighthouse has held its place for users of the sea.
“Even with all the modern age technology, fisherman still like to see the lighthouse, it holds its place,” Mr Barrett said.
Of all the stories over the years Mr Barrett said some of the memories that stick in his head are the stairs to get to the top, all 154 of them.
“It’s a fair windy climb,” he laughed.
“Another time I remember was when my uncle was up in the lighthouse, he spotted a mask sticking up off the Greyhound Rock, the boat happened to hit the rocks and sunk it – the fisherman on board were never seen again.”
Nowadays the lighthouse is shut off to the public with the aim to promote, protect and preserve the reserve and its associated buildings.
“We’re looking to reinstall a notice board at the gate and get information up about the history of the place,” Mr Dawe said.
“Our major project will be upgrading the clerk works office and quarters – its number one on the heritage list it could be put to good use.”
Further down the track the group would also like to apply for a grant and install public toilets for visitors and extend the carpark.
“We’re asking for ideas and welcome anyone who would like to get on board and help.”
Cost of membership is only $10 annually with general meetings every three months, for more information contact email@example.com