How the light­house came about

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

THE 60-foot Low Isles light­house is an iconic fea­ture on the World Her­itage co­ral cay and it was the tenth light­house com­mis­sioned by the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment to cre­ate the long­est ship­ping lane in the world.

Lo­cated on the western edge of the main ship­ping chan­nel, Low Isles was first flagged for a light­house in 1879 when it was rec­om­mended by the Chair­man of the Queens­land Marine Board.

Wil­leam Peter Clark, who had con­structed the Bus­tard Head light­house near Bund­aberg, was awarded the con­tract for 3195 pounds, how­ever the fi­nal cost blew out to 4090 pounds for the build­ings and 1389 pounds for the op­ti­cal ap­pa­ra­tus.

The first light­house keeper was Cap­tain Daniel Owen and an un­marked grave be­hind the light­house is be­lieved to be­long to his wife Jane who passed away there in 1880.

In 1876 Daniel joined the Light­house Ser­vice and in 1878 be­came the first su­per­in­ten­dent of Low Isles light­house -which com­menced oper­at­ing in Novem­ber - and held his po­si­tion un­til 1899.

On July 15, 1880 his wife, Jane Ann Owen, passed away at Low Isles from con­ges­tion of the lungs.

Low Isles has been used to col­lect weather data since 1887 and is still used as a weather sta­tion to­day.

It was orig­i­nally pow­ered by whale oil or cab­bage oil but the light­house’s orig­i­nal oil burn­ers were con­verted to kerosene in 1923 which re­sulted in an in­crease from 13,000 can­de­las to 100,000 can­de­las and in 1963 it was up­graded to an elec­tric op­er­a­tion.

Af­ter nearly 120 years of light­house keep­ers, in 1993 a 16 nau­ti­cal-mile self- con­tained bea­con was in­stalled and the sta­tion was de­manned.

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