Access to icon push
As the Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association gears up to open the Point Moore Lighthouse to the public again this year, association chairman Howard Gray has raised the possibility of using the Geraldton landmark as a tourist attraction all-year-round.
The lighthouse was opened to 1100 eager visitors last year for the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, and an attempt at the world’s biggest lighthouse hug around the base of the red and white-striped steel tower.
Although only the base was opened for public access, this was the first time in decades any public access had been granted to the 1878 heritage-listed building.
Plans are being set down to repeat the open day during ILLW celebrations this year on Sunday, August 21, with the Geraldton Marine Rescue Group and Amateur Radio Operators Club readying public appearances.
BCMHA is also discussing plans to improve the grounds and tourism facilities of the lighthouse.
Project leader Gary Simmons said the group was seeking approval from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to perform a risk assessment and feasibility study on the building so it could begin making the necessary modifications for public access.
“The bigger picture is to see what we might be able to do as a community to get greater access to the lighthouse and ultimately have a situation where the public go into the lighthouse, have it as a tourist attraction and let people do the climb,” he said.
“That lighthouse is the iconic image that everyone puts on their stationery or what-have-you, and it’s pretty much what people think of when they think of Geraldton and the Mid West.
Mr Simmons compared the lighthouse to the popular Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse near Augusta, which attracts thousands of tourists a year. “They have volunteer guides who take people to the top of the lighthouse and give a commentary and things like that,” he said.
Mr Gray said if tourists spent a couple of extra hours on an activity in Geraldton — such as visiting the lighthouse — it often meant they stayed an extra night in town, which was a great boon for local businesses.
“We’re trying to look at getting the environs improved. It’s really a bit of an eyesore and we can do a whole lot better for such an iconic structure,” he said.
“We could easily replace the fence with an aesthetic fence that would provide access for pedestrians but not for vehicles.
“The inside of the lighthouse and the views from the top are spectacular and it’s a shame that these cannot be experienced by locals, and that they are not available as an attraction for tourists.”
Dr Gray’s more ambitious plans include re-purchasing the freehold land around the lighthouse to develop the cottage and grounds into a “magnificent tourist drawcard”.
Dr Howard Gray and Gary Simmons outside the Point Moore Lighthouse.