It is with a heavy heart that I must inform all lighthouse enthusiasts that due to a decision taken by the Coffs Harbour City Council on Thursday evening to advance the planning for their new office block in the Coffs Harbour CBD, containing their Council Chambers, Art Gallery and Library, and now with the addition of a new, smaller museum, it appears that they are no longer supporting our Australian National Lighthouse Museum at the Coffs Harbour Jetty.
By Rob Trezise
The fact is this Council now has legal possession of the former First Order Chance Brothers lens along with two other lens of a lesser order, after being gifted them by AMSA. The First Order Chance Brothers lens is irreplaceable and estimated to be worth $5 million.
After being locked away for around ten years, out of public sight, the opportunity to move the lens into something special for all of Australia has been lost due to a stupid planning decision by the Coffs Harbour City Council Planners.
It is believed that they have no experience with lighthouses and how lighthouse heritage should be displayed.
As owners of these lenses, the Council’s Planners are looking to incorporate the first order lens into the foyer of this building, and not in what has been our intention all along; The Australian National Lighthouse Museum..
For this to happen, after the Friends Of South Solitary Island Lighthouse started several years ago to plan and work for what was our belief, that our Council wanted the best lighthouse museum in the Southern Hemisphere, and encouraged us to aim for this, is extremely disappointing to see it dropped.
Despite all of our meetings and support from the community, AMSA, the Federal and State Government MPs, the former Deputy PM, we seemed to have failed, or has this Council never had any intention in the first place to put this historical and heritage listed lens into what was discussed and shown in their Jetty4Shores plans to be located where it belongs as a centre piece of the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores.
This building would have displayed these lighthouse items with other lens and lighthouse equipment added adjacent to the Jetty.
If Council is determined to use these lenses as some pieces of sculpture in their building, it will remove all connection of what these lighthouse lenses represent to our community and heritage.
This Council building is estimated to cost in the vicinity of $75 million.
Do you think it is worth it, and the loss it causes to our lens ?
In light of this setback, I call on ALL lighthouse enthusiasts and residents of the Coffs Coast to express your displeasure at the Council’s lack of foresight by turning their back on the maritime heritage of this region.
You may leave your posts here and write to the Mayor, Cr. Denise Knight and the Coffs Harbour City Council General Manager, at Locked Bag 155, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Outlook Editors note: The above post appeared very recently on the Facebook page of Coffs Harbour’s Australian National Lighthouse Museum site. (Emphasis in bold italics added). See: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1621258708194728/permalink/2116133468707247/
The comments to it – published below – are extremely illuminating indeed. Especially the ones by the State MP for Coffs Harbour, Mr Andrew Fraser, pictured above.