AN INTERESTING TRIP.
(By our Special Reporter.)
Late on Friday evening last a party, con- sisting of the President of the Marine Board (Mr. A. Searcy, the Engineer-in- Chief (Mr.A. B. Moncrieff), Mr. W. Clark- son (chief engineer of the Protector), Hon. R. S. Guthrie, and Mr. F. Pflaum, M.P. and myself took our seats in the launcli which was awaiting us at the Semaphore jetty, and soon we were standing on the deck of the little steamer Governor Mus- grave. The engine-room telegraph tingled merrily under the powerful pressure of Cap- tain P. Weir's hands, and at once the ship started on her expedition. She was bound for a trip to the various lighthouses, the con- struction of which is immediately under the control of the Engineer-in-Chief, while as president of the Marine Board, Mr.A. Searcy, exercises authority over all matters affecting their maintenance and management. In- deed, in this matter the functions of the Marine Board and the Engineer-in-Chief's Department overlap to some extent, and it is well that the present heads have al- ways acted towards each other in such a friendly spirit. Lack of co-operation might in some degree detract from the present satisfactory state of affairs. There is no doubt that the management of the light- houses at the present time is highly efficient, and if this department were taken over by the Federal Government it is doubtful whe- ther any improvement could be effected.
The Governor Musgrave was in first-rate trim, having just recently been overhauled. In fact it was altogether "a capital trip in a capital ship, and in capital company.' Captain P. Weir is in every way an excel- lent commander, and he spared no pains to make his guests comfortable. He is ac- quainted with every inch of the coast, and was constantly pointing out notable land- marks, while his reminiscences are exceed- ingly interesting.
Responsive to her helm, the Governor Musgrave turned her bow towards the south, and passing by the light on the Wonga shoal headed towards Troubridge lighthouse, which stands about two miles outside the picturesque little town of Edithburgh. We "turned in" after watching' the Semaphore lights dis- appear, and when daylight broke I found the little steamer had dropped her anchor about half a mile from the sandbank on which the Troubridge lighthouse is built. The island is nothing but a sandbank and there is no vegetation, except one particu- lar kind of shrub, which does not appear to be affected injuriously by the saline nature of the soil. The lighthouse and the residences of the keepers were originally built on piles, but now apparently the sea does not reach to the foot of the piles. Mr. Searcy is strong in the belief that the island is gradually rising out of the sea. It is at present 600 yards long and 100 ft. wide. There is no jetty, but we effected an unusually easy landing by means of the long boat, and walked over the sandhills to the station. Mr. H. Christie, who is act- ing headkeeper, is a most intelligent officer, and under his guidance we inspected the lighting apparatus. It will be remembered that the earthquake shock caused the lamp to be interfered with to such an extent that the oil spurted out, and the top of the tower became a mass of flames. The effects of the fire were still noticeable in the in- terior of the tower, but the damage to the light has been repaired, and it is now said to be in better order than before. The ap- paratus, however, is old-fashioned, and as the light is an important one, the Marine Board might with advantage replace it with mechanism of more modern design. Even at the present time the apparatus may be truly described as being unstable; in fact, the slightest concussion on the sides of the tower causes the whole mechanism to quiver. Mr. Moncrieff examined the tower very carefully, and could not find that the structure had sustained any material damage from the earthquake shock.
The keepers say the earthquake shock was felt with great intensity on the island. They were both fortunate in being out of the lantern-had they not been they would very probably not have left it alive. The falling of the reflectors would most likely have cut off their exit, and then they would have had the choice either of being roasted to death or taking a header from the top of the tower. One of the keepers sagely remarked-"That earthquake shock has taught us a lesson. Next time anything of the sort happens we will take jolly good
care not to be inside the tower." One of them asserted that he saw the tower sway- ing to and fro like a tree in a gale. The same man is a great believer in the Warooka theory with regard to upheavals, and says he can now see places at Edith- burgh, which were previously invisible to people on the island. The lighthouse is about 80 ft. high, and exhibits a white light, revolving every minute, and this can be seen in clear weather for a distance of 15 miles. The tower is striped red-and-white horizontally, and is scaled by means of a spiral staircase within the structure. At- tached to the lighthouse is a signal station, which is connected with Edithburgh by tele- phone. The head-keeper is assisted by Mr. H. Basten. An attempt had been made to grow a few flowers, and it was pleasing to see geraniums flourishing in pots in this sandy waste. Gardening is conducted under difficulties here, as the soil has to be brought from Edithburgh. A couple of years ago, however, they had a good crop of tomatoes growing in kerosine tins. "A few flowers make the place look more homely," . Mr. Basten remarked, "and you know we do feel very lonely at times." I could quite realise that. From my observa- tions lighthouse-keeping is one of the most unenviable occupations that could be imagined. The head-keeper's quarters are exceedingly comfortable, and both he and his assistant have their families to keep them company. The lighthouse is about 35 miles from Port Adelaide.
On returning to the boat we found that the tide had receded, so that we could not reach it without passing through the water. Eventually the whole party were carried pick-a-báck by the brawny sailors and dumped into the boat.
On leaving Troubridge we steamed to- wards Edithburgh, and here the Governor Musgrave found a secure berth alongside the jetty, which is 368 ft. in length. We were shown over the Castle Salt Company's works by the manager, and found much of interest in the processes by which the salt as scraped from the lakes is refined. When it is purified it is equal to the best salt produced in any part of the world. The residents hope that the salt industry will ultimately have the effect of making Edithburgh the third port in South Aus- tralia, and, judging by the general activity which prevailed, there is great reason for them to hope on. The people are now agitating for an extension of the jetty, and there is every prospect that this work will be taken in hand at once. One feature which caught my eye was the man- ner in which the trucks were allowed to run down the steep incline to the jetty. Any mishap to the brake would very likely re- sult in a sad catastrophe, as the trucks would undoubtedly shoot over the edge of the jetty into the sea, and woe betide any- one who chanced to be in the path.
Casting off from the jetty at Edithburgh we took the inside passage through Taylor's Strait, passing the Marion Reefs, where the Iron Duke foundered some 25 years ago. It is to this day a moot question whether the lighthouse should not have been erected on the Marion Reef, rather than on the Trou- bridge shoals. It was rather exciting passing through this strait. Most of the time we were going slow, and Captain Weir kept a careful look-out while the man in the waist of the ship, who was heaving the lead, sang out "half-two" and even "two" -the latter indicating 12 ft. of water-be- ing 1 ft. more than the steamer was draw- ing. Some of those on board, however, said they could feel that she touched the bottom. Even had she "struck" at this point, however, she would probably not have sustained any damage, as the shallow- ness is entirely due to sand banks. At the worst a delay until the tide rose would have been experienced. We reached Althorpe Island the same evening, and the scene here was picturesque in the extreme. There is a stony cliff rising sheer 300 feet above the calm surface of the bay in which our vessel was anchored, and from every nook and cranny in it were peeping the "mutton birds." There is a jetty 230 feet in length, with a depth of 11 ft. at its outer end, on the north-east side of the island. There is a contrivance which at first sight re- sembles the Hongkong tramway to hoist goods from the jetty to the top of the cliff. Formerly a ladder by which the face of the cliff could be scaled was used, but we found this marked "not safe," and therefore de- cided to take the crooked path which leads to the top. The ascent was exceedingly
steep, and the path resembled a goat-track,
but we reached the summit without mis- hap. Half-way up is a cave, on which the name ''Penguin Hotel" is legibly written. We had not to look far for the meaning,
because the whole of the interior was
honey-combed by penguins. At the top the view presented to our gaze was beautiful in the extreme. On the left-hand side were the rocks, over which the rollers were breaking and sending clouds of spray, seve- ral feet in the air. Immediately below, at the foot of the precipitous cliff, the water was calm, and the rocky bottom could be
seen as clearly as if the sea were made of glass, while the men working on the jetty
appeared like dwarfs from the pinnacle on which we were standing.
The cliff stands 310 feet above the level of the sea, and the lighthouse is an addi- tional height of 80 feet. Mr. George An- gus, the head-keeper, showed us over the premises, which were all in first-class order. Everything was as clean as a new pin, de- spite the fact that we were on a surprise visit. There is just enough vegetation on the island to allow a few goats to exist. There are three keepers, the other two be- ing Mr. S. H. Jones and Mr. J. Reed, and a lonely life these men have to lead. Once a month Captain Sheridan's cutter visits them and conveys to them mails and supplies, and once or twice a year the boards pays them an official visit. One man remarked, "I do a lot of fishing here. I get so tired of looking at that lighthouse that I am glad to get away from it." They have an abundance of literature, and many of the keepers are well-read men. We left the station just as darkness was setting in, and it was with difficulty that we could keep to the path. A slip of a few inches, we were well aware, might result in a fall headlong to the bottom of the cliff. Look- ing up we saw huge crags hanging over us, and we were by no means comforted on hearing that when the lighthouse was being built a large rock had become detached from overhead and fell on one of the work-
Getting under way once more the vessel was steered for South Neptune Island, where a lighthouse has recently been erect-