Ac­cess to icon push

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Jon Sol­mund­son

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”.

Pic­ture: Jon Sol­mund­son

Dr Howard Gray and Gary Sim­mons out­side the Point Moore Light­house.

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