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Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

Admiralty Reference # Decommissioned

1912 - 1967

 

Photo by John O'Brien

Friday Night while others were at the Lighthouse Ball

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

Centenary Celebrations

a wonderful weekend put on by the Exmouth locals.

5 - 7  December, 2012

Read more...

  • The Saturday lightup
  • The Sunday night lightup
  • The lantern parade, the choir, the food, the atmosphere
  • The Big Breakfast on Monday

Photo by Dirk Selderyk

Sunday Night Projection onto the Tower

 

Originally known as the North West Cape Lighthouse on Vlamingh Head, the name of Vlamingh Head Lighthouse was adopted to avoid confusion with the North West Cape Light which took over from it. (Cummins et al)

Interestingly, in the original Chance Bros drawings (see below) the plans are named as Vlaming Head). Likewise you will find Vlamingh spelled in many places with or without an 'h' on the end. GEONOMA (DLI) which is the official source of nomenclature in WA spells it with an h so I have chosen to follow that naming descriptor.

A concrete tower 12.2m high on an elevation of 73.2m above sea level, completed in 1912. It contains a Chance Bros dioptric light illuminated with vapourised kerosene as its fuel. As the light was decommissioned in 1967 before many of the lights were changed to electric and later to solar power, the Vlamingh Light was in the fortunate position of being the only Lighthouse in Australia to still be powered in its traditional way. Likewise, the severity of the impact of Cyclone Vance on the Exmouth area, meant that while it suffered a little damage with blown out panes in the lantern room, the powers that be realised its potential tourism appeal and decided that it was time to fully renovate in association with substantial financial funding from the Cyclone Vance Repair Funds

There is no other lighthouse in Australia which has been restored with the capacity to run a kerosene burning light.

Muddy NW boots during the wet season would need a good scraping here!

The curtains are now kept closed as the lens is stationary inside. When lit occasionally the ocean side curtains remain in place.

Our family was especially privileged to have Ron Campbell (who with Wayne Britton restored the interior of the lighthouse) invite us up to view the lighting of the lamp on October 8, 2003. Ron would light up once during the school holidays (and on the occasion of his birthday - what a great birthday candle to blow out at the end of the night). The event was well publicised in town and the crowds that turned up were even greater than the usual tourists who come to the top of the hill to look for whales or watch the sunset.

Even unlit, the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse offers photographers wonderfully scenic sunset shots.

 

But there is just something magic about seeing a decommissioned light come to life on a night when you are lucky enough to be  there.

 

Photo by Ralph Meakins

 

A daytime view of the lens and lamp from the 1960's

...and from 2003.

...and so to the highlight of our family trip to Exmouth. The re-lighting of the Vlamingh Head Light. There were many preparations involved before the mantle was finally lit at dusk. Including gaining prior permission to do so.

Peeling back the landwards facing curtains.

Ensuring the kerosene was at the correct pressure...

note the 'bike style pump'.

 

 

Preparing the now hard to find elephant sized mantle - and a spare...

winding up the weights which will turn the turntable which floats on a bed of mercury,

 

topping up the burner with liquid fuel to...

 

heat the kerosene in vapour tubes which is then sprayed as vapour into the mantle.

 

Ron, fine tuning the feed onto the mantle, and the result...

 a glowing mantle, its light collected by the hand ground prisms and refracted through the lens to the horizon.

 

A Chance Bros plan drawing NAA: A9568 7/15/7

This enlarged detail shows the layout of a Chance Bros. dioptric lens.

 

 

 

The image above shows the original plans for the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. A stunning large detailed image of this can be found on the National Archives of Australia site by using the Records Search.

There must be an X on the top of the hill to line up the following shots below of the Keepers Quarters. The first taken in 1951.

Photo by Colin Bishop

 

Photo by Ralph Meakins

A view of the Keeper's cottages from the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse c1960's.

 

Photo by John O'Brien

Keepers Cottages taken in 1980 show a new road and what looks like may be the initial development of the

 Lighthouse Camping grounds

 

Photo by John O'Brien

Identical view in 2003 showing the Lighthouse Caravan Park which has been developed around the Keeper's cottages and the NW Cape Communication Towers installation in the background.

Photo by John O'Brien

Again, finding the same point during the Centenary weekend in December, 2012. This time a wider angled lens also showing the new buildings on the hilltop where we stayed for the Centenary weekend. The Grounds were in great condition with everything trim and tidy in readiness for the cyclone season.

 

The Lighthouse Caravan Park owners use the original Keepers Cottages as their private residence. Again we were fortunate to be shown around and to be able to appreciate the post 1999 Cyclone Vance renovations.

The design element of the central breezeway and spacious verandahs all around are a feature of NW Keepers Cottage designs and when visiting the derelict Point Cloates light we were  able to see and recognise the similar design in the ruins of the cottage there.

 

What a glorious way to finish another wonderful holiday in Exmouth, viewing a sunset from a prime position on the balcony of the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse.

Sadly, the Lighthouse is not currently open for Tours. If you are planning a trip, you might like to check with the local Exmouth Shire to see if this situation has changed. shirex@exmouth.wa.gov.au

 

Seeing the relighting of an original vaporised kerosene light - its enough to make you plan a trip up north around the special light up times.

 

Congratulations to all involved in the Centenary Celebrations December, 2012. It was a magnificent gathering of lighthouse lovers from across Australia and for locals who love their 100 year old Lighthouse!