How to move a lighthouse

Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse prior to dismantling 1987. Credit: Mike Lorimer (Ove Arup and Partners).

Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse prior to dismantling, 1987. Credit: Mike Lorimer (Ove Arup and Partners).

How do you move a building from a remote cape in far north Queensland? In 1987 the 113-year old Cape Bowling Green Light was superseded by radar beacon, decommissioned and sold to the Australian National Maritime Museum. Somehow, the museum had to transport a 22-metre structure from Cape Bowling Green to Darling Harbour, Sydney. So, how does a lighthouse travel over 2000km?

The images below show how museum staff, the lighthouse service, a firm of engineers, two helicopters, two amphibious vehicles, a lighthouse tender and a naval vessel made this possible.  The project took place nearly 30 years ago in September 1987.

Even though we have these fascinating images of the dismantling of the Cape Bowling Green Light, some detail about the process and the people involved is lacking. If you were involved or know someone who was please contact ANMM. We’d love to chat to you.

Cape Bowling Green lighthouse at the museum, 2015. Image: ANMM.

Cape Bowling Green lighthouse at the museum, 2015. Image: ANMM.

— Rebecca Dallwitz, Senior Objects Conservator. 

Look out for our next blog post on the installation of the lighthouse at the museum in 1994.

The museum is carrying out essential conservation on the lighthouse. This work is made possible by a generous donation from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). The lighthouse will be accessible during International Lighthouse Weekend on Sunday 20 August from 1-4pm.  Please contact us for opening hours on other days.

2 thoughts on “How to move a lighthouse

  1. Inter alia… transferred, not sold, from one C’wealth agency (AMSA) to another (ANMM) and moved with collusion of yet another (RAN) leading to Queensland press screaming at the theft of state heritage by socialist Labor Federal governement (see press clippings). Reassembled using work-for-the dole labour (directed of course by professional conservators). BTW, C’wealth lighthouse tender Cape Don (top left in group of photos) last seen moored derelict across Sydney Harbour at Waverton.

    • Hi Jeffrey, thanks for this! I am correct in thinking that you would have been around at the museum during this project? Next time you’re at the museum come by for a chat. I think you might be able to identify some of the museum staff members in the project images, and likely fill in some of our other knowledge gaps? Great news! Rebecca

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