Light­house now an empty iron tower

Pilbara News - - News - Peter de Krui­jff

In daylight, the glass panes of the Jar­man Is­land light­house lantern room give off a glare that makes you think its keeper has left the light on.

How­ever, there has been no lens in the tower since 1985 and no keep­ers be­yond 1917 af­ter au­to­ma­tion and the trans­fer of light­house oper­a­tions to the Com­mon­wealth Gov­ern­ment in 1915.

Built to guide pearlers and cargo ships com­ing into Cos­sack’s har­bour, the light­house is now an empty iron tower.

A lease en­com­pass­ing the is­land was in­cluded in a 21-year deal be­tween the State and the City of Kar­ratha (then the Shire of Roe­bourne) over the man­age­ment of Cos­sack, which ex­pires in 2017.

Two years into the lease, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment tried to re­nege, not want­ing to cop the costs in­volved in its up­keep with­out State help be­cause of the lack of in­come brought in by the ghost town.

The lease re­mained, and not much has been done with Jar­man since.

In 2000, the light­house was put on the WA Her­itage List and five years later re­ceived $236,500 to fix the bro­ken win­dows and sand­blast the ex­te­rior.

A decade on, the red band of paint that wraps around the belly of the 15m struc­ture has faded.

The light­house keeper’s quar­ters have be­come un­sta­ble, bar­ing cracks, and caved sec­tions of roof from cy­clones past hav­ing not re­ceived any fund­ing for restora­tion or even to stop the de­cay.

The im­me­di­ate fu­ture of the is­land is tied to a new her­itage strat­egy by the City af­ter the State asked it to man­age more her­itage build­ings in the re­gion.

Mayor Peter Long said an au­dit of the City’s her­itage build­ings would de­ter­mine the most ap­pro­pri­ate uses and man­age­ment op­tions for each one.

“The Jar­man Is­land light­house is in­cluded in the list of her­itage build­ings to be as­sessed,” he said.

“This is the first time coun­cil has con­ducted a holis­tic as­sess­ment of our her­itage as­sets to pri­ori­tise ten­ure is­sues, restora­tion works and tourism po­ten­tial, and we be­lieve this will en­able us to bet­ter fo­cus our re­sources to progress vi­able projects.

“There is cer­tainly po­ten­tial for tourism around Jar­man Is­land, as with many of our her­itage build­ings, and we will con­tinue to as­sess its her­itage value, as well as de­ter­mine whether a pri­vate op­er­a­tor may be able to ac­ti­vate it as an el­e­ment of a tourism busi­ness through the City’s Tourism Ad­vi­sory Group pro­cesses.”

Pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments and or­gan­i­sa­tions have touted de­vel­op­ing Jar­man as a tourist spot and while there was once a tour out to the is­land, it is now mostly un­vis­ited.

The Euro­pean relic is made of iron, a com­mod­ity which has brought great for­tune to the re­gion, but none to pre­serve the is­land’s build­ings, and will stand re­gard­less of ne­glect for many years more.

The keeper’s quar­ters prob­a­bly won’t be so lucky and you never know which com­ing cy­clone might spell their end.


Yind­jibarndi artist Clifton Mack, who has ex­hib­ited all over Aus­tralia and won sev­eral awards, has of­ten painted the Jar­man light­house, which he would pass com­ing home from work as a younger man.

Some­times, the light­houses he paints look like the shape of an an­gel you’d put on your Christ­mas tree, wings seem­ingly drop­ping down on each side of the tower.

Jar­man Light­house is one of the art pieces that was blown up in scale and put on a pil­lar in the re­vamped Kar­ratha Air­port.


The is­land it­self is named af­ter Cap­tain John Jar­man, who sailed the bar­que — a ship with three or more masts — the Tien Tsin, which brought the first Eu-

Li­brary of Western Aus­tralia Pic­ture: State

Jar­man Is­land, when the boat­shed was still stand­ing and the launch rails were in bet­ter con­di­tion.

Pic­tures: Peter de Krui­jff

Jar­man Is­land from Cos­sack in 2015.

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