Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Celebrating 150 years- Nobbys Lighthouse

Nobbys Lighthouse is a unique Commonwealth Heritage Place and listed on the Commonwealth Heritage Register.
The erection of Nobbys lighthouse represents a significant advance in the navigational aids provided at the entrance to the Port of Newcastle.
Nobbys Lighthouse was built to replace the coal –fired beacon located on the Signal Hill that had operated since the earliest times in the convict settlement.
The Headland was formerly an Island called Whybaygamba by the aboriginal people and named Coal Island on the Barrallier Chart the first survey of the river and the abortive 1801 settlement and coal mines at Colliers Point.
Nobbys light became operational 1857- 58 and the coal fired beacon was extinguished
The Nobby headland was reduced in height from 62 metres to 28 metres to form a base for the Light and built dwellings for Signalman.
The lighthouse site is associated with the Penal settlement of Newcastle (1801 & 1804), convict settlement and industry (coal mining)
The place illustrates its association with Australian Navigational and defence history, and also has a high degree of significance in regard to convict labour that took place on the site and association with other convict built sites in the precinct (Breakwater).
The lighthouse is associated with the changes of the headland.
Aboriginal people used this site Whybaygamba (Nobbys) for fishing and hunting and have special spiritual significance. It is also the location of the dreamtime story of the immensely large kangaroo that occasionally shakes himself causing the island to tremble and large pieces to fall.
The place is significant in the history of Australia because of its convict, military, navigational and early European associations.
Illustrates the settlements industrial past as an early site of coal mining and is closely associated with Australia’s navigation and coal industry for 150 years.
Nobbys lighthouse has a particular aesthetic character valued by the community. Historical visual sources show the lighthouse in its early days. Frank Hurley and others have produced artworks that depict Nobbys lighthouse. Aesthetically Nobbys lighthouse is a rare example of colonial architecture (purpose built for the headland). The precinct is an outstanding landmark and continues to be an ‘icon’.
(The site is significant in demonstrating the aesthetic value of the lighthouse and its surrounds, including views to and from the headland).
The lighthouse site has significant heritage value, because the structure has remained intact with minimal changes to its fabric. The nearby Coal River Heritage Precinct adds to the prominence of the lighthouse and contributes to its quality and aesthetics.
The erection of Nobbys lighthouse represents a significant advance in the navigational aids provided at the entrance to the Port of Newcastle. It has a high degree of scientific value in that the site provides archaeological, engineering and navigational history and future research into all of these areas can provide new knowledge about the site. There is further potential for archaeological research in regard to the sites unseen features such as the ‘chambers for blowing up Nobbys’ (Keene, W. survey) as well as Aboriginal and other early European archaeological evidence.
The lighthouse already contributes greatly to the community, providing a special ambience. The lighthouse has significant social value and is well known by ship’s masters and mariners throughout the world.
The community has a strong association with Nobbys lighthouse and the cultural heritage of the site, it is significant to locals who understand its continuous history and use. The community use of the site has been restricted but only completely denied in the year 2000. It is a well known place and should be reopened to the general public so that more people can experience the lighthouse and its surroundings. Nobbys is set in a recreational and social place where large numbers of people go to gather and promenade and have strong social and cultural ties to the place. It would be wrong to close off the lighthouse surrounds of this significant Heritage Place and impair its heritage significance predominantly for private patrons who would also not be able to have the benefit of the heritage experience.

The Nobbys lighthouse is rare in that it represents the first navigational light on the east coast of Australia, replacing the earlier coal fired beacon that existed on Signal Hill (Fort Scratchley) in 1804. The existing lighthouse is one of the oldest operational lighthouse on the east coast.
The Nobbys headland was reduced in height from 62 metres to 28 metres to form a base for the Light and build accommodation for staff.
The place is a reminder of the use of the site (convict, industry, military, navigational) and demonstrate the transition of the area and development of Navigational and changing use of this site.
Nobbys Lighthouse is a unique Commonwealth Heritage Place
The place is representative of the specific use and long history of the site ‘lighthouse’ and of the people associated with navigation in Australia, such as lighthouse keepers.
It is a symbol and representative of the transformation of the landscape (beacon to lighthouse) shaped by convict labour and early European occupation.
The place continues to be used as a ‘lighthouse’. The surrounding landscape has remained relatively unchanged adding to the sites integrity. It is only this year that the headland as it is seen from the city has been altered by a scar for earthworks for a widened roadway and erosion control. The integrity of the lighthouse and its surroundings is essential.
The site has a high degree of authenticity because of its original use as a lighthouse since 1857. The history of the place is authentic as documented in sketches and written literature about the use of the place.

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