We manage a network of approximately 490 visual and electronic aids to navigation at 400 sites around the Australian coastline to assist mariners in making safe and efficient passages. The network is made up of traditional lighthouses, beacons, buoys, radar transponders, differential global positioning systems (DGPS), Automatic Identification System (AIS) stations, and meteorological and oceanographic sensors.
As part of this year’s aids to navigation maintenance program we conducted a full repaint and repair of the Booby Island lighthouse in Queensland.
Constructed in 1890, the lighthouse is located on an isolated, uninhabited rock island to the west of Thursday Island in the Arafura Sea.
The Booby Island light is a Category 1 aid to navigation and the lighthouse also hosts an Automatic Identification System (AIS) base station. It is a very important aid for vessels approaching the western entrance to the navigationally complex Prince of Wales Channel. The Booby Island lightstation was manned from 1890 until the mid-1990s before conversion to automatic operation.
The lighthouse is historically significant as it is a relatively rare and intact nineteenth century timber-framed and ironclad lighthouse. It is part of the historical development of lighthouse types designed and developed in Queensland by the Queensland colonial government particularly for the environment and range of resources available. It was the last in a series of thirteen lighthouses of this distinctive type built between 1873 and 1890, and one of only six of these still in operation.
The coating system of the entire lighthouse structure had reached its end of life, failing in numerous areas leading to corrosion of the iron plates and flaking of the paint internally. The existing coating system had high levels of lead and was in a condition where it was no longer maintainable and required a complete repaint, both internal and external. Assorted structural repairs were also required. The works were undertaken by McElligotts Pty Ltd, a specialised protective coating contractor at an approximate cost of $1.5 million following an open tender process.