23a["Nor'-West Lights", The West Australian, Wednesday 29 June 1910, page 2]



(By "Vindex.")

One of the most important functions connected with the visit of the Colonial Secretary to the Nor'-West was the opening of three of the six new lighthouses which are being established along the coast for the guidance of mariners and the protection of the travelling public. In 1906 the necessity for additional navigation lights around the extensive and dangerous coast north of Geraldton was brought under the notice of the Government by the various shipping companies trading between Fremantle, the Nor'-West ports, and Singapore. The perils which abound at all points of the coast had already been drawn attention to by a score of wrecks, attended in many instances with a large loss of human life, and the increasing trade with the Nor'-West and Singapore and the larger and more luxurious boats recently brought on to that service, made the provision of additional lights an absolute necessity. The Government realised what was wanted, and they were spurred on to immediate action, rather than deterred by the fact that the lighting of the whole of the Australian coast will shortly become a responsibility of the Federal authority. The Nor'-West coast was undoubtedly the darkest and most sinister of any portion of the Continent, and having experienced something of the difficulty of getting necessary services, such as telegraph and postal conveniences from an authority situated so far away as Melbourne, the State Government decided to build at once such lighthouses as were most urgently necessary, because when the Federal Government assumed control they would be committed to the maintenance of all lights then existing. Accordingly, in 1906, the Colonial Secretary appointed a board, comprising Captains Laurie, Arundel, and Irvine (Chief Harbourmaster), to take evidence and submit a recommendation as to the four most most important cites north of Geraldton which should be lit. In March, 1907, the board made a recommendation for the erection of lighthouses at Cape Inscription, Point Cloates, Bedout Island, and Cape Leveque. The necessary surveys were ast once put in hand, and the preparation of plans was proceeded with. Subsequently owing to the loss of the s.s. Mildura at North-West Cape, the Government decided upon the erection of a light in that vicinity on Vlaming Head. Also, it was decided to improve the light on Gantheaume Point, near Broome, thus making no less than six new lights on the coast between Geraldton and Derby. What those lights will mean only those who know the coast can understand. Practically from Shark Bay northward is a continuous succession of islands, large and small, here and there are reefs seen and unseen and in apparently open sea, only narrow passages which must be threaded with a delicate hand and alert mind on the wheel. There is the famous Mary Ann Passage, which steamers negotiate only in daylight, so treacherous are the waters in the vicinity, and with ports that shut and open with the tides, the delay of a few hours in darkiness often means the missing of a tide and the having to wait outside a port for a further few hours till the incoming flow is graciously pleased to allow the vessel to enter. Small wonder that freights are high and fares almost prohibitive. Belief that facilitating the navigation of the coast would give the Nor'-West the benefit of reduced charges was a big factor in inducing the Government to vote for 50,000 for the lights.


23b[Lighthouses - N.W. Coast, Harbour and Lights Department, Western Australia, 1911, State Records Office of Western Australia. Cons 1066 Item 1911/549, Selection of sites of new Nor'-West lighthouses]

includes early requests for a light on Bedout Island

pages photographed. find green print

letters were gathered from ship masters to reinforce the 'petition'

28 Feb 1907: Colonial Sec Connolly wrote to Irvine,

formally requesting that input from ships' masters be sought

as to locations of four NW lighthouses

great comments on Bedout and Cloates, so relevant to both Koombana Days and Ship Trap