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Weathervane from Wilson's Promontory Lighthouse

Date: late 19th century
Overall: 460 x 1370 mm, 10.8 kg
Medium: Copper, galvanised iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Transfer from Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Weathervane
Object No: 00016913

User Terms

    This weathervane is from Wilson's Promontory Lighthouse, which is the southernmost lighthouse on the Australian mainland. Projecting into Bass Strait, it was one of the most important Australian light stations. The weather vane is a standard pattern which was used on lighthouses all around the Australian coast.
    SignificanceThis weathervane is significant in representing the long history of Wilson's Promontory lighthouse protecting shipping through Bass Strait. The weathervane is also a robust symbol of the dangers of wind and weather associated with the locations of lighthouses, and the dangers of navigation.
    HistoryWilson's Promontory, the southern-most point on the Australian mainland, overlooks Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania. The first European sighting of the promontory was by Bass and Flinders in 1798, and it was named in honour of the London merchant Thomas Wilson. The construction of a lighthouse on the promontory was first officially suggested in 1853, and in 1856 the idea was endorsed after a paper was presented to parliament, 'Australian Lighthouses: Papers Relative to the Lighthouses on the Australian Coast' (a copy of which is held in the museum's collection - 00004083). It included a report by New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian commissioners on the subject of lighthouses across the Australian colonies. The New South Wales and Victorian governments agreed to share the cost of the project.

    Using convict labour and locally sourced granite, the 19.5 meter high circular lighthouse tower and keeper's cottages were completed in 1859 at a cost of £15,572. The lighthouse was originally fitted with a catoptric light system with 32 oil lamps and parabolic mirrors from J F Dow & Co, at a cost of over £477. In 1913, the light was replaced by a Chance Brothers vaporised kerosene incandescent mantle. This light was removed in 1975, and replaced with a generator-powered electric lamp, which was in turn converted to solar power in 1993.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Weathervane from Wilson's Promontory Lighthouse, copper tail and pointer with galvanised iron support rod

    Web title: Weathervane from Wilson's Promontory Lighthouse

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