Eddystone Point Lighthouse a gem keeping history alive

Originally published in The Examiner 25 August (Available here)

A potential jewel in Tasmania's ever-growing list of must-see destinations is the underappreciated Eddystone Point Lighthouse and its precinct on our state's most easterly protrusion.

In its prime, its 1000-watt tungsten halogen lamp flashed twice every 15 seconds with an intensity of one million candelas sending out its beam some 26 nautical miles. Steeped in history, situated in sensational scenic surrounds and supported by an active group of local champions Eddystone Point has a lot of potential on offer. The potential is there ready and available. It only needs to be effectively harnessed.

The Break O'Day Council rightly describes the lighthouse as the "jewel in the crown" of the heritage listed structures in its municipal boundaries. Three of the staples that make Tasmanian tourism so unique are our people, our scenery and our heritage. Eddystone Point has all three in abundance.

Friends of Eddystone Light Inc. provide the people (including the last keepers, John and Christine Denmen), the enthusiasm and drive. Their passion is built on their knowledge and understanding of Eddystone's beauty, heritage and significance. The president, Lindsay Dawe, along with his committee is a treasure trove of history and vision.

Deemed a vital piece of infrastructure given the ever-growing number of shipwrecks occasioned by the hazardous coastline together with the ever-growing maritime trade, Eddystone first started operations on May 1, 1889.

But the history of getting there was not easy.

It was an inter-colonial board established to recommend lighthouse sitings which recommended its construction in 1856. Seventeen years later the Conference of Principal Officers of the Marine Department of the Australasian Colonies also recommended its construction. Despite the decision of the body, the name of which would've taken all day to say, building only commenced in 1887 - 31 years after the initial suggestion.

Researching the history is instructive - a couple of inquiries, 31-year delay while ships kept getting wrecked and no town planners, heritage officers or Greens to blame. And for those who may entertain thoughts about infrastructure and cost over runs - nothing was different then either. On an £18,000 project, there was an over run of £3900. The Lighthouse's construction so many years ago without today's mechanical support is a story in itself.

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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