4.3.2 Historic lightstations
The Region’s historic lightstations, comprising the lighthouse, accommodation and other infrastructure, are associated with the shipping and navigational history of the Great Barrier Reef. There is a range of lightstations along the Reef on Commonwealth and Queensland islands and along the coast. They include Commonwealth and state heritage-listed lightstations built in the 1800s (Figure 4.2), ‘concrete tower’ aids to navigation dating from between the 1920s and the 1960s, and ‘steel frame’ aids to navigation. The locations and values of the listed lightstations, including the lighthouses and ancillary structures, are generally well recorded.21,22 Four lightstations located within the Region — Low Isles, Dent Island, North Reef and Lady Elliot Island — are listed Commonwealth heritage places (Section 4.6.2). They are important examples of the technically innovative and economically constructed navigational facilities built by Queensland authorities between 1859 and 1901. They are reminders of the early development of Queensland coastal areas after the colony’s separation from New South Wales. Each of these lightstations remains in good and stable condition and is generally well maintained. There are some other aids to navigation originally built in the 1920s and 1930s on islands within the Region. These are maintained as working facilities by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. While not heritage-listed, they demonstrate a phase in the evolution of aids to maritime navigation through the Reef.
Figure 4.2 early lighthouses
Thirteen lighthouses were installed in or adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef before 1900. While some are still in place, others have been removed. Those on Low Isles, Dent Island, North Reef and Lady Elliot Island are within the Region and are on the Commonwealth Heritage List.
Pine Islet lightstation, built in 1885 in the southern Great Barrier Reef, has fallen into major disrepair with some structures collapsing.
Heritage values are well recorded and maintained at heritage-listed lightstations.
While not a lighthouse, the historic navigation beacon on Raine Island, a Queensland island in the northern Great Barrier Reef, is a significant historic structure adjacent to the Region. It is on the Register of the National Estate and the Queensland Heritage Register. Built in 1844 by a party of convicts transported to the island by HMS Bramble and HMS Fly, the beacon is significant as a monument in Queensland’s maritime landscape and assisted the colony’s early economic development. Conservation works on the beacon were carried out in 1988.21
Evolution of the Dent Island lightstation
The Dent Island lightstation is an important example of the historical development of maritime aids to navigation in Australia and was placed on the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004. The lighthouse, erected on the island in 1879, was one of a series of 12 lighthouse towers of a distinctive type, built between 1873 and 1890. These timber-framed towers clad with riveted iron were designed by officers of the Queensland colonial government, to meet the particular needs of the colony, in a form that was not used anywhere else in the world. The lighthouse is now fitted with solar-powered lighting equipment and operates automatically as a part of the national network of navigation aids. Near the lighthouse tower are two houses, a workshop, a derrick crane, a winch house, a trolley way, and a fowl house. All are privately leased. Significant works were carried out on these buildings during 2013–14 to prevent further degradation. A heritage management plan for the lightstation was registered in January 2014.
There was significant maintenance of Dent Island lightstation in 2013–14.