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Annual Report on Harbours and Lighthouses.
FROM the annual report of Captain Heath, portmaster, on the harbours and rivers of the colony, we extract the following references to ports as far north as Rockhampton :—
The changes which I tat year reported as having taken place in the banks and channels at the entrance to this port are still gradually going on in the same direction, the Middle Channel deteriorating and the Venus Spit still working northward. The tendency of the East Banks continues also to work to the westward, the North or Howe Channel retaining its depth, and if anything improving. The value of the North-west Channel along the shore of Bribie Island has been shown by the fact that in thick dirty weather H.M.S. Nelson, drawing 27ft, entered by it in safety without a pilot, though I think not entirely without risk, as none of the officers bad seen the channel or the adjacent land before. The apparatus for lighting up tbe North Channel, by placing a light at Tangaluma or the Ship Patch, which in line with Cowan Cowan will give a leading line in from sea, has been received from Messrs. Chance Bros., and the buildings, which have been framed in Brisbane, are now on the ground. The light will stand at an elevation of 380 ft., the plant being taken to the top of the hill by a tramway. The south entrance still remains quite useless, except for small craft in very fine weather. The Pile Lighthouse, after considerable delay through boisterous weather, was brought into actual use on 31st May, and was con nected by telegraph with Brisbane on Bth August. The whole structure, which from the foundation to the cowl is about 100 ft. in height, and the various apparatus used in con nection with it, have proved extremely satis factory, and are, I believe, greatly appreciated by masters of vessels trading to the port. The self-registering tide gauge also afford * a con stant and valuable record of the movements of the tidal wave in the port, while the connection with Brisbane by telegraph has alreudy been of considerable service to vessels lyinj* in the Roads. The new apparatus for the back leading light on the second Fisherman's Island is in position. and is a perfect specimen of mathematical ana optical •kill. The difference in height of these
two lights is not, however, sufficient by some 10ft., a result caused by tho nothornraost or red light being raised 10ft. higher than was first intended—the deckhouse and bridge of a large steamer being higher than the red light as originally proposed, which would thus have obacurod the light to another vessel further off in the cutting. I propose, therefore, to bodily raise the back tower and light 10ft., so that the two lights may show clear and dis tinct from one another, instead of being blended into one, as at present. The cuttings in the Brisbane River have stood well during the year, and when the widening of tho channel through the Upper Plats is completed, the wont difficultiss, so far as navigation is concerned, will be at an end; while the inconvenience so long felt from the want of wharfage accommodation will, to a great extent, be removed when the wharves now in course of construction at South Bris bane are completed and the reach of the river below the bridge deepened The time of the contract for the construction of the pilot steamer for the Heads expired in July last, so that this vessel, as well as that for the pilot service at Maryborough, ought soon to arrive in the colony. The contract for the lighthouse and cottages for the lightkeepers at Double Island Point haa been very satisfactorily carried out by Mr. W. P. Clark, who has successfully erected a number of our other coast lighthouses. The apparatus is of the third order revolving, giving a flash at intervals of half a-minute, the light being of sufficient elevation and power to be visible to a vessel at a distance of twenty-four miles. Though the headland is somewhat diffi cult to get at, being fifteen miles from Inskip Point, and the landing seldom good, yet it well repays a visit. The oil not having arrived, I left the lighthouse on the morning of the 9th September, having seen everything in good order and properly adjusted. The lamp wai permanently lit on tho evening of the 11th September. The light is obtained from a powerful petroleum burner, and I believe will be found very efficient. At Inskip Point I found the new cotta^ nearly finished. Here the Pippo, which had I'ust. completed the work in connection with re leaconing the Btrait and the Mary River, was waiting, and I thence availed myself of her services to visit the various ports and light houses along the coast. At Stewart's Island flats we passed through the old channel close to Stewart's Inland, which was the passage always need in crossing the flats some years ago. Pro bably when any attempt is made to deepen the Great Sandy Island Strait this old channel will be the one that will be dredged, the course being straightor, the work to be done less, and the bottom more permanent than the one now in use. Near the Southern White Cliffs a new and deeper channel has opened out, a descrip tion of which I have published in a Notice to Mariners, dated 13th September. The whole of Great Sandy Island Strait has now been marked with large beacon*, and also the Mary River. The channel from the River Heads to Maryborough has now been deepened so as to allow a vessel drawing 17ft to reach the town; but there is a want of a suitable tug in the port to enable large vessels to take full advantage of tho depth of water available. At the south bank of the river, abreast the wharves at Maryborough. I am putting down some dol phins, which will be of assistance to vessels in hauling off into the stream when leaving the wharves. At the Heads on my way down the river I fixed the sites for the lightkeepers' cot tages and the leading lights which are to lead through the cutting Tußt outside tho Heads. I visited Sandy Cape and Lady Elliott's Island, where I found everything in good order. Communication with the former place by telegraph is urgently required, and since my visit the necessity has been still further shown by the loss of the Chang Chow near Breaksea Spit Thence I went to the Burnett River. At the Heads the new cottages appeared to be satis factory. I brought with me a more powerful lamp for this lighthouse, which, when the necessary fittings are completed, will con siderably improve the power of the apparatus. There appears to be a want of care in deposit ing the silt from the dredge in the Burnett, some being dropped in parts of the channel that are used by sailing vessels beating up and down the river, and some so deposited that it is washed down again into the navigable channel. Leading lights have been placed for marking at night the three cuttings which are now open for navigation, in addition to those for crossing the outer bar; while two lights are also exhibited for leading through the deepest part of the channel in Rocky Reach. At Bustard Head I have made arrangements for the use in bad weather of a more powerful burner. The house accommodation for two of the lightkeepers who have large families is quite insufficient, and it will be necessary to have another room added to each of the cottages. The question of lighting the entrance to Port Curtis has been dealt with in a separate letter. The apparent light is efficient within certain known limits, and where so extensive a coastline as ours has to be dealt with has the advantage of costing annually nothing beyond the oil consumed in the holophote on shore by which it is illuminated. The southern entrance can be lit for navigation at night by three lights on shore at a cost of some £6000, and an annual cost of £500. The work of the department in the Fiteroy River and Keppel Bay, and the attending to the lighthouses at North Reef and Cape Capri corn, quite occupies the time of the staff, so that the towage duties which were undertaken by the department while the money received for towago in the river was insufficient to re munerate a private tug-owner, are now more than we can manage without neglecting legiti mate and necessary work. The towage in the port has now so increased as to be remunera tive ; unfortunately, however, there are a num ber of small steamers there which are all com peting for the work, and which, though not powerful or heavy enough to tow the larger class of vessels visiting the port, yet by taking the small craft obtain a considerable propor tion of the amount to be earned by towage, thus making the profits of a really powerful tug more precarious. The Fitzroy, however, burn in sr a large quantity of coal, and being now only employed as a tug for the heavy towages, is an expensive boat for the Government to keep ; and, moreover, she is not suited for the monthly passages to and from North Reef. If her paddle-engines and boiler were replaced by screw she would be an efficient boat for sea service, or even at a port whero coal was cheap she would be more suitable than at Rockhamp ton, where coal ia 30*. a ton. Being a power-
ful tug she would be useful for tho dredge plant, and might be replaced at Rockhampton by a boat fulfilling the requirements caused by the changed conditions of the port.