|List||Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)|
|Legal Status||Registered (14/05/1991)|
|Place File No||6/02/035/0007|
|Statement of Significance|
Currie Harbour Lighthouse, Store and Original Head Keeper's Quarters and jetty remnants, built in 1880, are significant for their aid in the development of a coastal lighting system and the expansion of commercial activity within the Bass Strait region. The structures are among the oldest remaining buildings on King Island. (Criterion A.4, B.2).
The construction of the lighthouse is significant as a reminder of the many shipping disasters in the area, prior to the light being built. The fact that there has been only one minor wreck since its construction is testimony to the safe passage of marine vessels in the area. (Criterion A.4).
The Lighthouse is significant as a rare example of a late nineteenth century screw pile prefabricated iron lattice tower, and along with the Lighthouse at Macrae, Port Phillip Bay (Vic), is one of only two known examples of this type of design in Australia. The construction and technology demonstrate the influence of local conditions, in particular, the absence of suitable building materials. (Criterion B.2).
The Lighthouse is visible from many points and is significant for its landmark value. The tower and associated buildings are an important aesthetic feature in the landscape of King Island. (Criterion E.1).
|Official Values Not Available|
King Island sits squarely in the western approach to Bass Strait. Its rugged coastline has claimed at least 60 vessels and 800 lives since European settlement, some three quarters of the victims perishing in the wreck of the "Neva" in 1835 and the "Cataraque" in 1845. Despite the tragic loss of life and property, it was not until 1861 that a warning light was erected on the island's northern tip at Cape Wickham. It was another nineteen years before a second light, on the west coast at Currie Harbour, was established. During the intervening years more than twenty vessels foundered.
An Intercolonial Board of Inquiry comprising the Chief Harbour Masters at Melbourne and Hobart and an Admiralty Surveyor recommended the construction of the Currie Light in 1875. It was originally intended to construct the tower from stone, but when no suitable local material could be found the Public Works Department engaged leading British manufacturers Chance Brothers of Birmingham to design and prefabricate an iron structure. Construction was completed between 1877-79 and the light was first exhibited in March 1880.
The lightstation was staffed until 1989. Since then a strong local campaign has been led to have ownership of the lightstation transfered to the local council and thus the community. A lease of the site was signed between the Commonwealth and the King Island Council in about 1994. Negotiations about transfer of ownership are still continuing as at February 2002.
The station complex originally comprised the Lighthouse, Jetty, Oil Store, General Store, Assistant Keepers' Quarters, Head Keeper's Quarters and minor ancilliary buildings. The Assistant Keeper's Quarters has been replaced with a single storey residence, built c.1962. Only the Lighthouse, the Original Head Keeper's Quarters, Stores Building and remnants of the Jetty survive and are among the oldest remaining structures on King Island.
The tower comprises a circular wrought iron lantern supported by six tubular stays set on screw pile foundations. The screw pile system had been used previously in the construction of iron lattice towers at Port Adelaide and Cape Jaffa in South Australia. Neither of these towers survive in their original location. A central tube containing a spiral staircase provides access to the lantern room. The tower stands approximately twenty-one metres high and forty-six metres above sea level. The lighthouse at Macrae, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria is the only other known example of this particular type of tower design in Australia.
The original Head Keeper's Quarters are occupied by the King Island Historical Society as a museum. The building has eight rooms and consists of a main block with a linked service block at the rear. Bricks, brought from Melbourne, were used for construction, and they are rendered in imitation ashlar. A verandah, with paired columns, goes around the main block. The roof is hipped and, originally clad with slate, it has been subsequently reclad with corrugated asbestos cement. There are bluestone thresholds to windows and entrance doors. Internal walls are plastered, and mantelpieces, skirtings and hearths are slate imported from Britain. Windows are twelve-pane double-hung sashes, and there are three tall, corbelled chimneys. The house is larger than those usually built at lightstations in Bass Strait, and the use of brick walling and paired verandah posts indicates an attempt to give this quarters some elevation over those usually constructed along the Strait.
The Store is a single storey rendered masonry structure, with a hipped roof. It contains three rooms. It has timber doors and dougle-hung timber-framed sash windows. Internal walls are of solid brick construction. The roof structure consists of 125 x 50 mm rafters at approximately 950 mm centres, with collar ties and king post struts. The roofing material is corrugated asbestos cement.
The Assistant Keeper's Residence is a single storey house, constructed in 1962 of brick veneer construction and subsequently cement rendered, and painted white. Original roofing has been replaced with Colorbond roof decking. The windows are aluminium-framed. Internal elements consist of tongue and groove floor boards, concrete flooring to the bathroom and patterned (textured) hardboard linings.
The lighthouse is situated on the high point of a ridge extending along the southern side of Currie Harbour and is a prominent local landmark. Despite its name, the lighthouse was originally established as a coastal light, although it served also as a harbour entrance light for small trading vessels using the port.
The lighthouse is highly visible for long distances and from many points and consequently is a major landmark. With its associated buildings, the tower is an important aesthetic feature of King Island.
|History Not Available|
|Condition and Integrity|
|The Currie Harbour Lighthouse was completely recoated in 1983 with a zinc silicate chlorinated paint system replacing the old lead-based oleo-resinous system that had built up over the lighthouse's 100 year history. In 1992 both the steel and paintwork were reported to be in predominantly good condition although in need of maintenance painting. The store, original keeper's quarters and the modern assistant keeper's quarters were said to be in good condition in 1993. By August 2000 the general condition was said to be poor and rundown. (February 2002)|
|Lot 3, Currie Lighthouse Reserve, Lighthouse Street, 0.5km west of Currie.|
Australian Construction Services (1993). Currie Harbour Lightstation, Currie, King Island, Conservation Plan. |
Donald Walker (1981), Beacons of Hope - An Early History of Cape Otway and King Island Lighthouses. Neptune, Belmont, Victoria.
Gott, K.D.,(1984). The Manned Tasmanian Lighthouses. Unpublished
Lightkeepers Log Books 1880-1890, Archives Office of Tasmania
Technical Services Division, Dept of Housing and Construction (Vic/Tas
Region) : Report on Architectural and Historical Merit and Utilisation
Studies, Headkeepers Quarters, Currie, King Island (July 1975)
Lighthouses: Do We Keep the Keepers? (1983). Report from the House of
Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure. AGPS, Canberra.
Lightstation Inquiry. (1983). Department of Transport, Canberra.
Reid, G.,(1988). From Dusk Till Dawn. A History of Australian
Lighthouses. Department of Transport and Communication. MacMillan,
Stanley, K.M.,(1991). Guiding Lights. Tasmania's Lighthouses and
Lighthousemen. St David's Park Publishing, Hobart.
Report Produced Thu Dec 12 09:48:35 2013