The Friends Of South Solitary Island Lighthouse recently visited the Coffs Harbour library with author and photographer John Ibbotson where they presented to Librarian,Roslyn Cousins, a set of John’s Lighthouses Of Australia Books and a copy of John’s most recent book, Sea,Sand and Birds.
John is a driving force, along with the FOSSIL President and former South Solitary Island Lighthouse Keeper, Rob Trezise to establish the Australian National Lighthouse Museum at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores, where the former South Solitary Lighthouse lens can be placed on public display once again.
Rob says that the community of Coffs Harbour have embraced South Solitary Island Lighthouse with great enthusiasm, seeing FOSSIL volunteers engaging in working bees to restore the islands cottages with the help of NPWS.
They also are enthusiastically lobbying to establish a home for the first order lighthouse lens in Coffs Harbour at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores along with other lighthouse lenses and rare heritage items to create a major tourist attraction for the Coffs Coast Region once the Jetty Foreshores planning is completed.
Picture below: Presenting a set of John Ibbotson’s books to Coffs Harbour Librarian, Roslyn Cousins, John Ibbotson and FOSSIL President Rob Trezise.
The First Order Lighthouse lens made by Chance Brothers, was placed into the South Solitary Island Lighthouse when it opened in 1880. It remained in operation until the lighthouse was automated in 1975. It then was a feature in the former Coffs Harbour Regional Museum until it closed in 1996.
The lens is now estimated to be worth over $4 million.
Although no longer on public show, it is awaiting removal and be displayed in the Australian National Lighthouse Museum as proposed by FOSSIL at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores to the Coffs Harbour City Council.
It was officially gifted to the Coffs Harbour City Council in 2017 by AMSA as a goodwill gesture.