Breaksea icon undergoes restoration

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on February 13, 2020

ALBANY’S iconic Breaksea Island lighthouse is currently undergoing a $1.9 million maintenance facelift.

The lighthouse, which inspired Albany author Dianne Wolfer’s book Lighthouse Girl, was identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as a priority for refurbishment in 2018.

The Breaksea Island lighthouse, built in 1902, is one of more than 60 heritage listed lighthouses.

It is the same one that was once home to a young Fay Howe, famous for translating soldiers’ messages and passing them on to their families as they departed Albany for World War I.

It was built to replace an earlier pre-fabricated cast-iron lighthouse that was built in 1858.

“Getting our contractors and their materials onto these remote sites is a big part of the logistical challenge of maintaining our lighthouses and our broader aids to the navigation network,” an AMSA spokesperson said.

“It’s a technical and logistical challenge, but both AMSA and our expert contractors are well-equipped to take it on.”

The works include the removal of lead paint internally and externally, repairs to the lantern room and stair corrosion, and external stone work.

AMSA Project Engineer Daniel Atkins said the entire siteworks were expected to be completed within 21 weeks.

“Definitely one of the most challenging parts of this project is the logistics,” he said.

“The majority of our lighthouses are located in logistically challenging places, in harsh marine environments – we had to have 60 loads [of materials] delivered to the site by helicopter.”

Mr Atkins said lighthouses would always be relevant, hence worth maintaining.

“There’s been a lot of technological improvements over time for navigation in vessels, but that still doesn’t outstrip the need for traditional lighthouses,” he said.

“They are an important navigational tool as well as having cultural importance.

“I think everyone is drawn to lighthouses; they hold a special place for many people.”