Bruny Island Lighthouse

2 September 2017, Bruny Island, Tasmania

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

The last time I was in Bruny Island was when I photographed it in 1987 using large format film equipment for the Bicentennial history From Dusk Till Dawn.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

I took a similar photography in 1987, using a tripod but also lying on my back on the floor.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Cape Bruny lighthouse commenced service in 1838, the third lighthouse in Tasmania and the fourth in Australia.  This followed the nearby wreck of the convict ship George III in 1835, which hit an uncharted rock in D’Entrecasteau Channel and 133 died out of 292.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

The light mechanism you see features Chance Brothers turntable and lenses which replaced the original mechanism in 1901 to 1903.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

In 1901-03 the light came from kerosene lamps.  There were replaced with electric lights in 1959.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Trave
The brass vents on the wall under the walkway were to regulate the breeze so that the kerosene lamp operated optimally and did not go out.  The turntable would have been driven by a clockwork mechanism such as at Double Island Point (last image).  A weight would have slowly descended the tower and then needed to be wound back up.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

The original lights in 1838 burned sperm whale oil.  This was expensive and each lamp burned 600ml per hour.  There were fifteen of these lamps and the light was focused with mirrors rather than lenses.

 

Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

The original lamps were very fragile and needed to be replaced every three days.  There are two of the electric bulbs here just to provide a spare.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Far out on the distant horizon and barely visible to the naked eye is Pedra Branca Rock.  This is rock is 250 metres long,  100 metres wide and 60 metres high.  In 2003 a scientific team visited here as part of a program to preserve the endemic Pedra Branca skink and conserve the habitat of birds, especially albatrosses.  The weather deteriorated so that they could not leave the rock and a freak wave washed away a young oceanographer, Hamish Saunders, who was at the time 45 metres above sea level.  His body was never recovered.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Coutts Island, below the lighthouse.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Rocks below the lighthouse, evidently favoured by seabirds.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Looking across D’Entrecasteau Channel to the Tasmanian mainland.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel Beach to the north of the lighthouse, near the cottages.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

A view from the lighthouse balcony showing the cottages, beach and coastline.  Families were permitted after 1878.  There then would have been three cottages for three keepers working eight hour shifts.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

Another view looking up as I leave the lighthouse.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

The original keeper in 1838 had three convict assistants and relations between the keeper and the convicts were very formal.

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Architecture, Australia, Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, Landscape, Lighthouses, Nature, Photography, seascape, Tasmania, Travel

These days radar and GPS has replaced the need for lighthouses except for small vessels such as fishing boats.  The lights are in any case automated and the keepers gone.  The light here was replaced by a smaller one further out on the point and the lighthouse has not been turned on since 1996.

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6 comments on “Bruny Island Lighthouse

  1. petermk says:

    Nice to see these interior photos of the Cape Bruny lighthouse, Murray. I have been there once, in September 2012, and was not allowed to climb the tower at that time — I had to be content with the view from the ground floor. Regarding your comment about mercury float bearings, it’s clear from your photo (the one just below the comment) that the lens is supported on ball bearings. Only a handful of Australian lighthouse lenses are still floating on mercury.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Murray Foote says:

      OK, thank you. I’ve removed that comment. When Io went to Rottnest Island in 1987, I encountered a lighthouse keeper with mercury poisoning due to an earthquake shaking mercury out of the bed at Cape Leveque. He was having a lot of trouble with the State Office and I told him he had a legitimate concern and should talk to the union.

      Like

  2. Robert Hayes says:

    Wow Murray! Until now I thought that only the lighthouse on San Salvador Bahamas’ lighthouse was the only lens floated on mercury. It’s the only active lighthouse I have ever been in and had no previous experience to know about the mercury bearings. Wonderful images.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks Robert. I’ve removed that comment on the advice of PeterMK (above comment). Apparently the mercury here has been replaced with ball bearings. I would think though that at the beginning of the twentieth century all Australian lighthouses with significant prism arrays floated on a bed of mercury. Certainly I got some explicit comments on some I visited in 1987.

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  3. Wow, this lighthouse is amazing. I hope I can climb up there in December too. A side note – I’m hoping to also the Aurora Australis in Tasmania, do you think I can see that during December ? Were you able to spot it during your trip ?

    Liked by 1 person

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