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 In 1987 the 113-year old Cape Bowling Green Light was superseded by radar beacon, decommissioned and sold to the Australian National Maritime Museum.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.
The lighthouse tender MV Cape Moreton sitting off Cape Bowling Green 1987, ready to support the dismantle. of the lighthouse. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
Museum staff member being lifted off the deck of MV Cape Moreton, 1987 onto a LARC (amphibious cargo vehicle). All the materials and equipment for the dismantle were transported from the tender to the site using LARCs. Credit: Mike Lorimer.
Lighthouse components numbered and ready for disassembly, 1987. Credit Mike Lorimer (Ove Arup and Partners)
Department of Transport lighthouse service helicopter being used to lift the cast iron walls of the lantern room, 1987. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
Department of Transport workers dismantling the lighthouse, 1987. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
Smaller components were crated for transport, 1987. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
LARC and disassembled lighthouse ready for transportation to the beach staging area, 1987. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
RAN escort maintenance ship HMAS Stalwart and helicopter sitting off Cape Bowling Green ready to receive the dismantled lighthouse and transport it to Sydney, 1987. Credit: Michael Pitcher.
Westland Wessex helicopter lifts a payload of lighthouse cladding for transportation to HMAS Stalwart, 1987. Credit: Jennifer Game.
Department of Transport worker stabilising part of the lighthouse’s timber structure as it is craned onto a LARC (amphibious cargo vehicle) using the HIAB, 1987. Credit: Jennifer Game.
Two LARCs being loaded with lighthouse timbers on the beach at sunrise 1987. Credit: Jennifer Game
LARC loaded with lighthouse timbers makes for HMAS Stalwart, 1987. Credit: Jennifer Game.
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.
— 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.