2019 Tas Ringing Bells and A Thousand Roaring Elephants

Sat 11 Jan 2020 22:01

Dear Readers, as we are moored up in Bathurst Harbour at the moment waiting out a hefty blow and 7 metre sea outside, and there is no telephone connection here for internet, I will have to send the photo albums to these blogs at a later time


Ringing Bells and A Thousand Roaring Elephants

 On Christmas Eve at Low Head Lighthouse


A Welcome Wine-tasting

Between 1986 and 1996 Emily and I lived in Lymington, Hampshire on a ‘farmer’s field estate’ out to the west of the town. When there was a change in temperature caused by a new weather system or the prevailing SW winds were blowing up the channel a few miles away they sometimes brought fog with them. I remember lying in bed at night listening to the powerful moan of the Needles Lighthouse fog horn with its sexy little ‘grumph’ as the final note guiding mariners safely past the deadly Shingles Bank and up the Needles Channel into the Solent, the stretch of water between the Hampshire south coast and the Isle of Wight. So I remember what they sound like. The Needles fog horn is now an electric horn.

To be more technical it was a diaphone type fog horn, so you can imagine how delighted this curious mariner was to find exactly the same type of fog horn in operational order here at Low Head lighthouse on the north coast of Tasmania and locally described as the ‘Roar of a Thousand Elephants’.

I will let you read and enjoy the exact details if they interest you.

My attention had already been drawn to the lighthouse (built in 1888) from a distance as we approached and I thought it looked familiar, similar to Portland Lighthouse, the magnificent high tower at the end of Portland Bill in Dorset that warns mariners of the Race where an ebbing spring tide can run at more than 6 knots over the submarine ledge and safe passage can be made within touching distance of the rock or five miles off, but not in between. Have a look at the photos; while Portland is a taller structure the similarities of coloured red band, shape, construct, dome, circular walkway are all the same. Stretch Low Head another few metres upward and you’d elongate the curve of the walls. What is more, in Reeds Almanac 2015 Portland Lighthouse is still a diaphone, (hope they kept copies of the manual) and the flash interval of Portland lighthouse is Fl(4) every 20 seconds and Low Head Fl(3) every 30 seconds.

What I want to know now is was Portland a Stevenson design and did the designer of Low Head copy Portland directly or by the shared designer of both?

Here in Bathurst Harbour, the wilderness of south-west Tasmania, as we shelter from 50 knots of wind and a 7 metre sea-state outside, we have no means to ask Mr Google. But I will!

The other photos tell the personal and humorous tales of life around Low Head over the years, including the little blue penguin looking out at us from its burrows beneath the bushes around the lighthouse, and such a fascinating and reminiscent morning could only be balanced by an equally indulgent afternoon of sipping wine at the Pipers Brook Vineyard followed by a fresh fruit ice cream at Bridport with its lovely views over Anderson Bay and Waterhouse Beach.

With such common re-use of Dorset and Devon place names here it is even more likely some-one, or persons from the homeland, migrated here and had a say in the construction of the Lighthouse and its sound signal, don’t you think?