ANNUAL INSPECTION OF LIGHT HOUSES.
LIGHTING THB ALTHORPES.
[By our Special Reporter.]
Daring the late defence controversy the paint was raised with respsct to portion of our South Australian coast advantages that one of oar greatest sources of safety presented some of our
greaieak puims ui uuu^er, viz., umv uur wen lighted fairways would assist a foreign enemy. There is little doubt that along onr coast somo of the essentials for sife navigation in the shape of lighthouses arc well provided, the avenue to the principal ports being carefully marked and the dangers defined in a way that does us credit. For foes who may avail themselves of these ad vantages, however, we have provided for iu another fashion less welcome. Great improve ments have been made iu connection with our lighthouse system— even recently— and among the most important is the lighting ot tha Altl:orpes, a dangerous group of rorks S. by W. of Cape Sprncor in Investigator's Straits. The ceremcty of lighting tbe Althorpes was per formed on Friday, February 14, by the President and several rci'inbers of the Marine Board, on tlie occasion cf the annual inspection of light houses. The Governor Mu3,jrave, steamer, whirl) has done such excellent service, started from the Semaphore at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12, having ou board Captiin Fergusou, the President of the Marino Board; Captain Tapley, and Mr. Charnock, Wardens; Mr. E. W. llitchin, tLe Anditor-Geaeral ; Mr. Hickson, Engineer of Harbours and Jetties ; Mr. G. De Mole, Secretary to the Miuistcr of Educa tion ; Mr. A. H«r-ly, M P., Mr. Hardy, J.P., Mr. J. D. Woods, aud the representative of tbo Register. We steamed straight away for Capo Borda, and alter a trip which told more or less severely upon the internal economy of a majority of the landsmen, and indeed upon one gallant hero of a hundred voyages himself, arrived off that usually turbulent but at that tiire fortunately comparatively calm old cove — Harvey's Return— early on Thursday morning. There was rolling in a short sea, and, of course, the usual vile jokes about 'a cowardly big swell pitching into a little cove' were per petrated. .This spot appears to bo the best available point for making a short cut over lard to 'Kangaroo Island. It is somewhat picturesque, being a semicircular sandy beach, backed by a huge hill and frowning rocks, flanked by precipitous cliffs running some distance out into deep water. Cowering close up against the big hill, as if afraid of the blustering billows, are two tiny huildingi, used for stores for the lighthouse, and sheering the cliff corner to the rijjht is a tramway, at an anglo littfo short of the perpendicular. This is for drawing up the stores in a trvick, which is wound up like a clockweigbt by means of a windlass at the top turned by a horse, who generally looks as if he wondwed what all this human ' foolishness' meant, but does bis work ltcmestly nevertheless. Up this steep incline the inspecting party clambered at the expense of a new set of muscles, most of their, p.-obably, never calcu lated upon before. Beyond this a bush track Jed through the thick jcrub of Kaagaroo Island, some fonr miles— though it seemed six in the sun and seven in the sand— to the Cape Borda Lighthouse - a neat square white tower 60 feet high, having a revolving light showing brightly CO ciles, and a red light 15 miles at alternate half minutes. The height above the sea level is 510 feet, aud the light Bhows from S.W. by 8. to N.B. by E. across what seems a limitless expanse of ocean with the larger Althorpes looming up N.N.E. $E.2« miles off. The lighthouse and all its appurtenances un derwent careful inspection, and appeared beauti fully clean, glfsses, brawwork, in fact every thing about it, in perfect order. The light is one of the dioptric system of lights, and tbe state of the appliances testifies to the attention paid to the duty of keening in perfect order no effective a guide to mariners as, from its posi tion on the bold headland, it must be. The vicinity of Cape Borda Lighthome pre sents an appearance of life such as the general public, who are wont to consider such an' insti- tution almost inseparable from ' the lonely ~ rock in mid-ocean chafed by the eternal wash of waves,' would hardly realize. There are neat stone cottages for the head keeper, Mr. Main, and his active satellites, a telegraph station, and school— all commodious, clean, snd comfortable. In front is the blue sea, deep down below tlie beetling cliff, and at the back stretches the tangled scrab of Kangaroo bland, through which runs that thin grey mysterious wire which tells so much to the outer world. The light* house and its appurtenances having undergone a thorough overhaul, ths sandy, scrubby back track for Harvey's Return was taken, the descent of the steep incline being u characteristic ot the kangaroo as the dignity of Government officials would allow and the necessity of tbe occasion demanded. A scramble into the boat on the backs of sailors, a rapid back off on the top of a curling breaker, ana a aigh of relief ou reboarding the Musgrave formed the finale. The idlers aboard, it appeared, had been filling up tbe time by catching any amount of fine fi-b, and the A.G.'s slippers having disap peared it was darkly hinted that ihe genial Bear Commodore of tbe R.A.Y.G. had cut them np for bait in his devotion to the gentle pastime of Izaak Walton ; the fact of his catching so many fish known as leather-jackets being a strong corrcboration. A few minutes found us heading under all steam for tho Althorpeg, which Sawtell's Almanac tells us are three In number, tho centre of the southernmost and largest lying 8. by W. 4 1 miles from Cape Spencer, and N.N.E.JE. 26J mile* from Gape Borda. Dry rocks he a quarter of a mile west of tbe south point, and larger ones from its west side. A rock Iks north-west half a mile from the ialand, with nine fathoms between. The Musgrave anchored oppoiito a tno«t peculiar cleft in the immense nek, on the
e stein side, ami prep tuitions were made for lauding. Tliis f-c.-.io :.:airy rock, which is some three-qmrters of a mile long and half a mile across. ria*s simest shrer cut of the sea to the height of over 300 fe- t, and la composed of sandstone of different degrees of hardness on a granite formation, with calcareous limestone on top of the ssml-tone and a limestone crust. It is sharply defined against the sky, and has the appearance of having been the effect of some mighty convulsion of nature in bygone times ; but whether shaped daring the process of tearing out the Gulf by the irresistible rush of waters from an inland sea or forced from its bed by an awful upheaval of land iu the north of the continent, according to Start's theory, it is for geologists to say. The rock and its companions certainly seem to have been torn and riven round base and sides by some fearful force, supplemented by raging storms. Its mighty front is cleft till tha overhanging top seems ready to fall, and round the foot are granitic rocks tossed and torn by the waves into every conceivable position. In a reef nwoing oat from its southern point channels have been cat as straight and clean as if by some Titanic chisel, while on the top of this reef a huge hill of hard sandstone, carved by the waves into fantastic forms, rears its yellow head high out of the water. When it is understood that such a massive monster as the island-rock known at the largest Althorpe stands in deep water, with rocks of lesser magnitude near it such as Emme'a Hock and South-West Bock, sear the track of vessels, the necessity for a lighthouse on its -mrnnrit is sufficiently apparent. The South Australian Government, seeing this requirement, decided to have a lighthouse erected, and failing to receive tenders for the work undertook it themselves. The engineering difficulties were great, but they have been skil fully overcome. The island, as before stated, ri^es over 300 feet sheer out of deep water, and its base is nearly always washed by heavy billows dashed with tremendous force agiinst the rocky foundation. Only in fine weather ran a landing be effected, and then but at two places, and at the greatest risk. Up the face of this precipitous cliff it was necessary to cut a way to the summit before material for the xtrncture, and even stores, could be carried up, the only existing pathway being a loug and Tortuous one, over rocks and on an incline which requires a sure foot to safely scramble up it. In December, 1S77, the designs for the light house and approaches were made by Mr. B. Hicksou, the Engineer of Harbours and Jetties, and the superintendence and carrying out of the work were entrasted to Mr. J. Wright, who has been engaged in similar work in con nection with other lighthouses on the coast, especially Tipara. Judging from the immense difficulties overcome and the appearance of the work the Althorpe Tower is not only a lasting credit to its designer and engineer, bat is the best structure of the kind of which the colony can boast. Moreover, the cost — £11,000 — taken in proportion to the peculiar nature of the work, is most reasonable. The lighthouse consists or a round tower, immensely strong, 40 feet high, surmounted by a cornice, and supporting a first order dioptric light. The tower is 25 feet in diameter at the base, tapering to 2 feet 6 inches at the top below the cornice, and is constructed of solid limestone rock quarried and cat on the island, and fitted with mathematical nicety. The liutels, quoins, and cornice are of hard sauiSaione quarried from the base of, the island. There is a spiral stairrase inside, which is remarkable for the peculiarity and neatness of its construction. It b made of solid blocks of iim!.--:une cat and fitted into the wall, the tread.-, faced with ilint&ro slate. There are foor ii-iors of slate, supported by bars of T iron, which go right through the wall. Ou the top tloor stands the massive machinery for the revolving light, and this Mr. 'Wright has suc uet'dei], by the exercise of great patience and skill, iu getting into perfect working order. Above the machinery iiudr are the blocking plates for supporting the outside glass gallery, which is 13 feet (i inches in ?liameter and 14 feet high, having sixteen sides. Above that is tha dome of copper, and on the top of all the ball and vane. There are three live-roomed cottages for the keeper, his family, ?mil assistants. These buildings are also of limestone, and are of a very superior chtracter — imlecd far beyond lighthouse accommodation in general. Of the difficulties of the work of erect it g a light on the Althorpes and the com plcteui-as of its execution scarcely too much can lie said. The supply of water during the pro ves* of the work alone cost £1,500, as it had all to be brought from Tort Adelaide and hoisted Htt t!ie clitt. The men engaged in cutting the almost perpendicular face of the cliff to the lu i^lit ef 300 tVet had to be suspended in slings ;vl uiost over the water. The tiny beach below tiit-m, even at low tide, afforded very little .pare. Slung against the face of the hard sand ntuue cliff, they had to cut into the grittj rock, i-xpcised to the inclemency of tha weather and the fierceness of the wind for hours with the tine cutting particles of saud perpetually flying in their fares and almost blinding them. At night tlii-y li.ul to lodge at the foot of this vast island rms in teuts,with a furious sea at times thunder* iug ujou the shore, and boulders within a few van'-* of them. It was at such a time that poor Aiiley, their foreman, met his death by a huge tru^ment from the cliff failing upon him as he by in his tent. Every precaHtion has been taken throughout the work to prevent accident iinl render the position of the hands engaged :n comfortable as possible under the circum ?t u.ct's. but at the best the work was cf a most nniiioiis and perilous nature. A narrow cutting, with an average depth of 30 feet 6 inches, having been made up the steep side of the cliff, a strocg iron tramway has been laid down for a truck to run on, the truck being drawn up Mini let down by means of a powerful steam winch at tbe top of the tock. There is a stout wiie stay fixed from the crest of the cliff to its toot, and up this all the materials and store* for the lighthouse had to be pulled by the aid of a horse, who seems to take kindly to his strange oh vated position, and who has rendered good service. At the foot of the cliff a small jetty has been constructed, upon which to land such articles as may be required from time to time. The length of the jetty is 200 feet, and the timber incline, which his been built tartly up the cutting iu the cliff, is 130 feet long. The kind services of Captain Creer, of the Euro, steamer, and O.iptiiu o-borue, of the Emu, who have at different jK-riotis called at the islands tn pas-a.it, are -token of vith gratitude by Mr. Wright and tie men employed on the Althorpes. The «!overuor ftliisgrave, of course, has made periodical visits, and Mr. Hiekson has constantly uivt-n to the work all the attention he - !-? ;W spare from bis other important duties. The undertaking which is to prove so beuelkial in itd results is now happily completed, and the he nl keeper of the lighthouse (Mr. A. Webling), with his family and assistant keepers, reside ou the island under is comfortable circumitances :i- the character of their oxupition will permit. S.ime of the workmen remain to put a few hiiU'ifrg touches, but their task will sooa hi tloue. ntsd Althorpe Island, which was once the lii-sokte homo of the seabird and seal, is now inhabited by haann beings whose duH- it is to make it a sonroe of safe guidance to the seamiu ii stead of a dismal terror a* heretofore. The lijsht on the Akhorpes i» of the first order, ?tiniiUr to that at the Semaphore, viz., dioptri-, nud it is eqntlly brilliant in its effect. It con sists of a system of powerful lenses so arranged is to collect all the rays of the strong light to a tocus. thereby dashing out a far-away warning. The leases are fixed in an immense maul fnime, which by means of machinery revolves round a stationary lamp, and on the lamp being focussed a powerful flash is sent out, so ?v-. to be plainly visible at a distance ? »t thirty miles. The light i3 so arranged »s to show a white flash every fifteen seconds. Tbe coljtir of the light is white, except between the bearing* frooi the lighthouse of N. 25a W. iitd N. OP W., where a red arc of light leading lult -i mile to the eastward of Emme's Reef ?vi 1 r.«^rly half a mile southward of tha South W-.-t R.x-k is shown. This light is 350 feet a!-ov.' rhf spa level, and the question is whether the liiht has not been placed too high, the only ti-.ilr ^- far to find with it. Tile steamer Earn mi her way on Sunday night from Wallaroa to 1' rt Adelaide sighted the AUVorpe Light across the I.mJ, at a distance of twenty-one miles, wl-.eu two miles to the east of Roys ton Head, I- ily Head then bearini: SJ5. by B., five milts oi. and the light bearing S. k E. It could be seen right across Cape Spencer. This i- a serious matter, and it may be a question worth considering whether the li^ht cannot be so -l;nt oif as no: to be visible acro3s the land. Mr. Wright, however, informs nv* that if the local p:a!« of the light were not 350 feet above flu- ss-3 level it would be lost to vessels approach h'Z the island after they had run into danger v. he a coming from the east, wat, or south. If vvsels approaching from the northward have :u.y .lotiot as to their position they can run the r: it .»; i ror down until they sight the island. Emmas Reef, which the light helps to guard :^ai: st. lies W. by S. J S^ 31 miies from Cape Srm.-rr; and the South-West Rock lies N. by W .'. Vt ., 3J miles from the centre of the largest A ' ti:t-r ]-e. The main advantage of the Althorpe I.ieht will be felt by traders between the two i. n!fs. On Friday, February 14. the President of ths
Marine Board ond party ascended the cliff for the purpose of setting the light. The pathway up to the bland top was found particularly difficult and not a little dangerous. Bight under a vast cltft in the perpendicular wall of sandstone wa3 four.d a mde grave, with a weather-beaten headboard, bearing the follow ing inscription cut in it : — TO THE MtilORT OP t. peterson. aged 18 ie. oct. 8, 1338. This marked the grave of some poor fellow whose tragic fate no doubt some old colonist will remember. The very waves seem to have respected his last testing-place, for although the tide marks are on the shattered faces of the rocks within a few feet of it, no rude billow has broken the repose of the dead, even while the spray has worn away the face of the wood and half obliterated the letters during the flight of forty years. The visitors to the lighthouse viewed every part of the structure, and the light having been kindled the machinery was set in motion. Everything worked to the entire satisfaction of the inspectors, and each part was in admirable order. After sunset the Musgraye steamed rapidly away from the island, cruising about so that the light could be viewed from various points. Seen from their respective bearings both the white and the red light could be dis tinguished with the utmost readiness, and the Althorpe Light was pronounced a complete suc cess. The highest praise is due to Mr. Hiekson and to Mr. Wright for the manner in which they have carried out their undertaking, and the men engaged under them have done their duty well. During the interval,.while the testing of the Althorpe Light was going on, a couple of enthu siastic amateur fishers scrambled across the horrible reef of rocks hard by, upon which the unfortunate Young St. George cutter was dashed to pieces, and there found remnants of the craft. The furious way the rollers churned among the hard painted rocks proved pretty conclusively that little mercy is ever shown any vessel within their influence, for her timbers must be torn to fragments with scant ceremony. It is under these rocks that the brilliant-coloured but soft, flabby, fish known as the rock cod love to linger, and foolishly allow themselves to be beguiled by the most barefaced bait and hook. The fishers caught some beauties, and reached the safer shore just in time to avoid being surrounded by the tide and imprisoned on a heap of boulders by a cordon of tumbling breakers. The number of fish to be found in the water round the island — not to mention the ' bold shark'— makes the life of the lighthouse keepers there less irksome, as the hands off duty can, while getting good sport, furnish the table with fresh food in a very short time. Mutton birds make their 'holey' habitations on all sides of the Althorpes ; seals sport in secluded spots ; swift seagulls and solemn shags make the welkin (whatever instrument that is) ring consumedly ; penguins, like little lads in white pinafores, inhabit tbe nooks and crannies of the rocks, and seem always to be moulting when they are not fishing, probably because they have nothing else to do, and moulting is a lazy occupation. Sharks, sometimes of enormous size, may often be seen meandering softly round the ocean streets, looking for clients, and when they find one they ' take him in,*1 sharp sea lawyers as they are. For all these novelties to tbe landsman, the larger Althorpe is by no means an abode of bliss, for it is bare and bleak ; the vegetation is nothing but scrubby bushes a few inches high, which seem afraid to grow any bigger lest they be blown off ; and the flat summit of the now inhabited island rock is swept by the wild winds that chase the rollers into foam on the rocks beneath. The Governor Musgrave having finished the work in tbe locality of the Althorpes laid her course for Tipara, a well-constructed lighthouse on screwpiles in the midst of a watery waste in Spencer's Gulf. The passage was not without incidents, for i; blew hard in tbe night, causing a nasty sea, and the Musgrave, good seaboat as she is. instituted 3 series of oceauicantics which would wake the envy of a bush buckjumper. The passengers did some involuntary buck jumpine too, for as she rolled there were as many ups and downs in bed as there are is a crosscut saw. The Auditor-General, in trying to shift his quarters from his eccentric coach to the no less variable floor, was thrown somewhat severely against a portion of the cabin furniture by a roll of the vessel, hurting his head aud back. Remedies were applied to his bruises till the pain partly passed away, and be thought little of his unship, although con siderably shaken. The beautifully kept lighthouse at Tipara having been duly examiued, the Musgrave made for Moonta, aud ran alongside the jetty on Saturday morning, February 15, to aw.iit the lady Diana, aud left in the afternoon to pursue her voyage. Moonta. Jetty is now l,S20 feet long, having lately been extended 500 feet into 12 feet (j inches of water. Solidly made approaches of stone have been also extended 150 feet by 150, under the snperiutendeuce of Mr. J. 'Wight, the District Engineer. Something like £0.000 has been spent on this jetty, which is a very solid structure and an important part of Moonta Bay facilities, although it is thought by some authorities to be in the wrong place — not the bay, but the jetty. The Emu came in on Sunday morning and unfortunately took the ground a short distance off the head of the jetty, thereby delaying her departure two or three hours. This was rough on every one except myself, but I profited by it. as I should have missed the steamer but for the mishap. The trip round to Pert Adelaide was most pleasant, the Emu being a first-rate craft, her saloon handsome, her table excellent, and her captain genial to a degree, having a pleasant word for everybody fore and aft, and an active eye to his passengers'1 comfort. She hal on board a good number of passengers, and among them Captain E. Trevett, on his way to take the command of that new intercolonial trader, the Ridge Park, now lying at Port Adelaide.