South Solitary Island lighthouse and keepers residence at midnight.
South Solitary Island lighthouse and keepers residence at midnight.

Councillors vow to light up Jetty Foreshore plan

CONSERVATION experts have delivered a bombshell after they found a historic lighthouse relic should be placed near the ocean.

A push to find a long-term home for the historic South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic continues, with an independent report commissioned by Coffs Harbour City Council finding it should be placed in sight of the ocean.

The optic – the rotating lens that forms the ‘light’ of the lighthouse – was originally installed in the South Solitary Island Lighthouse in 1879 and when the technology became redundant, it was removed and installed in the old museum building in 1980.

It has remained there ever since, after it was deemed too big to fit in the new museum at the heritage listed courthouse and police station.

“The South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic is the most valuable item in our Museum collections,” museum curator Jo Besley said.

“It is a highly significant item, both to the Coffs Harbour community and more broadly within maritime circles.

“It’s important that it is displayed to the public in the most appropriate manner and in a location that celebrates its significance and story.”

The South Solitary Island Lighthouse optic. Photo: Coffs Harbour City Council
The South Solitary Island Lighthouse optic. Photo: Coffs Harbour City Council

Coffs Harbour City Council commissioned International Conservation Services and Story Inc. to undertake consultation with stakeholders, including the local Friends of South Solitary Lighthouse, and develop a management plan.

They estimate it would cost up to $85,000 to dismantle the optic and reassemble it in a new location.

With the NSW Government’s proposal to revitalise the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshore – and include a cultural attraction – it was strongly recommended that the optic be included in discussions by the Jetty Foreshore Project Advisory Steering Committee.

Last week councillors unanimously voted to advocate for the inclusion of the optic in future plans for the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores precinct so it was “readily accessible to both residents of and visitors to the city”.

The renewed push to have the optic included in the Jetty Foreshore plan was met with delight from Rob Tresize, president of the Friends of South Solitary Lighthouse, who said it should be out on display for the everyone’s benefit.

He said with “a bit of imagination” something special could be created at the jetty using one of Coffs Harbours most valuable historic assets.

“If it’s done right and put there it could increase reasons (for tourists) to go to the jetty,” he said.

Mr Tresize was relieved plans to have it placed in the proposed new Cultural and Civic Space had been shelved, noting that having it at the foreshore could “put Coffs Harbour on the map” for tourism.



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