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Montague Island Lighthouse, Narooma, NSW, Australia

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List Commonwealth Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (22/06/2004)
Place ID 105601
Place File No 1/08/271/0006
Summary Statement of Significance
The Montague Island Lighthouse tower, opened in 1881, is significant for its long association with the development and provision of maritime aids along the New South Wales coast, and for its part in the history of Australian shipping over a considerable period. (Criterion A.4) (Themes: 3.8.1 Shipping to and from Australian ports, 3.16.1 Dealing with hazards and disasters)

The granite tower, with tapering walls, outward curving platform and curved balustrade, is a well proportioned structure displaying very fine elements of design and craftsmanship. The tower is also a good example of a late nineteenth century light tower on the NSW coast. (Criteria F.1 and D.2)

The Montague tower is one of only two offshore island lighthouses along the NSW coast. (Criterion B.2)

Additionally significant is the fact that the tower was designed by NSW Colonial Architect James Barnet. Barnet played a seminal role in the development of the colony's architecture over 25 years. (Criterion H.1)

The island and the lightstation are socially significant on account of the large numbers of visitors to Montague, the tower's high visibility from the coast and the incorporation of the tower into local tourism. (Criterion G.1)

The tower's fine design and granite stonework, its landmark status along this part of the coast, the lack of modern visual intrusions, and the tower's contrast with the island's rounded granite slabs and treeless topography are all responsible for the tower having considerable aesthetic qualities. (Criterion E.1)
Official Values
Criterion A Processes
The Montague Island Lighthouse tower, opened in 1881, is significant for its long association with the development and provision of maritime aids along the New South Wales coast, and for its part in the history of Australian shipping over a considerable period.

Attributes
All of the structure's historic fabric, form and siting.
Criterion B Rarity
The Montague tower is one of only two offshore island lighthouses along the NSW coast.

Attributes
All of the place including its landscape setting.
Criterion D Characteristic values
The tower is also a good example of a late nineteenth century light tower on the NSW coast.

Attributes
The granite tower, with tapering walls, outward curving platform and curved balustrade, as well as the quality of design and craftsmanship.
Criterion E Aesthetic characteristics
The tower's fine design and granite stonework, its landmark status along this part of the coast, the lack of modern visual intrusions, and the tower's contrast with the island's rounded granite slabs and treeless topography are all responsible for the tower having considerable aesthetic qualities.

Attributes
The historic form and fabric, its visibility and the lack of modern intrusions, as well as its landscape setting.
Criterion F Technical achievement
The granite tower, with tapering walls, outward curving platform and curved balustrade, is a well proportioned structure displaying very fine elements of design and craftsmanship.

Attributes
The quality of construction and design evident in all elements of the tower, both internally and externally.
Criterion G Social value
The island and the light station are socially significant on account of the large numbers of visitors to Montague, the tower's high visibility from the coast and the incorporation of the tower into local tourism.

Attributes
The tower's visibility and its ongoing accessibility to the public.
Criterion H Significant people
NSW Colonial Architect James Barnet, who played a seminal role in the development of the colony's architecture over 25 years, designed the tower.

Attributes
The tower's historic design and integrity.
Description
HISTORY

In 1873 a recommendation was made that a lighthouse be built on Montague (formerly Montagu) Island. However, it wasn't until 1877 that the New South Wales Government provided the necessary funds. Tenders were called in October 1878. The original contractor, J.Musson, defaulted on the contract and in 1880 a second contractor, W.H.Jennings, took over the project and completed it ahead of schedule. The lightstation, designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, was officially opened on 1 November 1881. Barnet played a leading role in the development of NSW architecture for over 25 years. The light was one of the 'highway' lights around the Australian coast but also was significant for local coastal shipping.

Originally with a flashing light of 45 000 candelas and a fixed light of 75 000 candelas, the light has been upgraded a number of times, in 1910, 1931, and then in 1969 the light was converted from oil to electricity. The lightstation was automated in 1987 and the light converted to solar power. Shortly after, the island, which since 1953 had been a National Trust of Australia (NSW) wildlife sanctuary, became a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service nature reserve. Tours to the island began in 1991 and the island and lighthouse have a high profile both within the region and beyond. The Commonwealth (in the form of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority) retains only the tower. The lightkeepers' residences are occupied by NPWS staff and interpretative displays.

DESCRIPTION

Montague's tower is constructed of granite hewn from the island and it stands on a huge granite slab. With tapering walls, it is about nineteen metres high. The platform curves outward and there is a curved gunmetal balustrade. Well proportioned, the structure displays very fine elements of design and craftsmanship. The tower is divided into three storeys by cast iron floors, rising through which is a spiral, prefabricated cast iron staircase. The lantern was manufactured by Chance Bros of Birmingham. The original lens and pedestal have been removed and are mounted at the Narooma Visitors Centre.

The tower is a landmark feature of the island and is visible from the mainland. Indeed, it is a visual beacon to the whole coastal region. Montague's tower stands in contrast to the island's rounded granite slabs and treeless topography.

The lightkeepers' residences, store rooms, flagstaff, old jetty, graves, boatshed and other buildings are located outside the Commonwealth boundary (see RNE 977)
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The tower is understood to be in generally good condition. The lens and pedestal have been removed to the Narooma Visitors Centre. (April 2002)
Location
Montague Island, 10km south-east of Narooma, comprising the tower on Lot 1 DP 788421.
Bibliography
Anderson, Ingrid, et al, "Designing Lights: Drawings for Colonial Lighthouses 1817-1899". Sydney 1986.

Carleton, H.R., "Lighthouses in New South Wales", in "Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales", vol 38, 1898.

Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd, "NPWS Lighthouses: Draft Conservation Management and Cultural Tourism Plan: Supplementary Information Montague Island Lighthouse". Prepared for NPWS, January 1999.

Reid, Gordon, "From Dusk Till Dawn: A History of Australian Lighthouses", Department of Transport and Communications, and Macmillan, 1988.

Report Produced  Mon Jul 14 01:19:04 2014