Tacking Point Lighthouse Restoration
The restoration & renovation of Port Macquarie's most popular tourist attraction
In August 2010 the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie Sunrise (Sunrise Rotary) made the decision to adopt the restoration and enhancement of the iconic Tacking Point Lighthouse and surrounding headland as a Community Service Project. This followed many years of expressions of concern by the community about the neglected state of the Lighthouse building and surrounding headland. Built in 1887 it is one of the oldest working lighthouses in Australia and the Tacking Point headland is one of the most visited sites in the Port Macquarie region.
A Lighthouse Project Committee comprising Club members Neil Black (Chair), Helen Ross, Bob Higham and Mike Vegter was formed to drive the project. Geoff Moore later joined the Committee.
Support was obtained from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and the NSW Government department responsible for Crown Lands for the project proposal and for Sunrise Rotary to take a leadership role. Meetings were also held with other stakeholders including the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council.
A Master Plan was developed with strong community input and over the following six years (2011 to 2016) Sunrise Rotary obtained a number of government grants and worked in partnership with PMH Council to implement the Master Plan in five stages. A summary of each stage is provided below along with ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos.
- Restoration of the Lighthouse building including replacement of the corroded roof, painting of the exterior walls, restoration of the interior walls and restoration/replacement of the two doors.
- Funded with a $40,000 grant from the NSW Government Public Reserves Management Fund.
- Work was undertaken by Mark Sheriff, a lighthouse restoration and maintenance specialist.
- Construction of a concrete platform adjacent to the Lighthouse along with concrete stairs, block retaining walls and associated drainage systems. This stage greatly improved pedestrian access and arrested serious soil erosion problems.
- Funded principally with a 2012-2013 Australian Government Community Action Grant of $20,000 under the then Caring for our Country program. Also, $10,000 was allocated from the $40,000 grant previously obtained from the State Government and Sunrise Rotary and PMH Council made cash contributions.
- As well as undertaking the project planning and management, Sunrise Rotary members contributed 580 on-job volunteer hours. This in-kind contribution along with industry donations of equipment and materials made completion of the significant works achievable with the limited funds available.
- Col Seaman, local builder and ex Sunrise Rotary member who guided the construction works was also a major contributor to the successful implementation of Stage 2.
- Stage 2 was officially opened on 22 May 2013 by local federal MP Rob Oakeshott and Mayor Peter Besseling
- Construction of a scenic walkway to link the new stairs constructed as part of Stage 2 with the existing viewing platform and the stairs leading down to Lighthouse Beach. This work greatly improved the safety of pedestrians visiting the site as previously they were required to walk on the roadway.
- Funded principally with a State Government Community Building Partnership Program grant of $29,660 with PMH Council and Sunrise Rotary also making smaller cash contributions.
- A significant amount of the general labour was provided by Wesley Employment and Training through the Work for the Dole scheme with Sunrise Rotary members also contributing nearly 200 on-job volunteer hours and undertaking the project planning and management.
- Stage 3 was officially opened on 1 May 2014 by Leslie Williams, State Member for Port Macquarie.
- As a corollary to the above Stage 3 works, six interpretive signs were installed in various locations on the Tacking Point headland. These signs were jointly designed by PMH Council staff and Sunrise Rotary members and were installed as part of a jointly developed signage strategy for the whole site.
- Funding for the signs came from the generous sponsorship of Sunrise Rotary members and or their businesses. The topic of each sign and the associated sponsor is as follows -
Tacking Point Lighthouse (history etc) – Greenmeadows Health Centre
Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage – McNeil Architects
The Three Brothers – Port Macquarie Skin Cancer Clinic
Whale Watching – Priest Legal
Abundance by the Sea (Aboriginal cultural history) – Helen Ross OAM & John Ross OAM
Shipwrecks – Port Macquarie News
- The six signs were unveiled on 8 August 2014 by Mayor Peter Besseling and Sunrise Rotary President Dr Robert Clarke.
- Construction of a 120m walkway as an extension to the Stage 3 walkway. This walkway services people walking along the upper section of Lighthouse Road to and from the Lighthouse and includes a 45m timber cantilevered boardwalk along with a 50m concrete path and a small gravel section. Timber bollards matching those installed as part of Stage 3 are also included. The safety and convenience of pedestrians visiting the headland has been further improved as a result of this work.
- Funded principally with a State Government Community Building Partnership Program grant of $28,400 with an approximate matching allocation from PMH Council and a smaller cash contribution from Sunrise Rotary.
- PMH Council provided the detailed design work and Sunrise Rotary undertook the project planning and management. Sunrise Rotary members also provided 250 on-job volunteer hours in support of a contracted builder who oversaw the specialist construction component.
- Stage 4 was officially opened on 20 April 2015 by Leslie Williams, State Member for Port Macquarie and Mayor Peter Besseling.
- Restoration of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage site including exposure of the cottage footings and provision of pedestrian access onto, through and around the footings. Plaques identifying each of the rooms were installed and two interpretive signs located on the periphery of the foundations – one sign is titled Lighthouse living and the other is titled War on the NSW Coast.
- Stage 5 works also included the construction of a 11m long U shaped concrete feature/retaining wall at the entrance to the roundabout which encircles the lighthouse keepers cottage site. This wall enabled the bank erosion to be arrested and it includes an etched Tacking Point sign – the first time Tacking Point has been identified with a sign since Mathew Flinders named the headland over 200 years ago!
- Funded principally with a State Government Community Building Partnership Program grant of $25,159 with PMH Council and Sunrise Rotary also making cash contributions.
- PMH Council undertook/managed the detailed design work and Sunrise Rotary undertook the project planning and management. Sunrise Rotary members also contributed 380 on-job volunteer hours with specialist contractors employed as necessary.
- Stage 5 was officially opened on 7 November 2016 by Leslie Williams, State Member for Port Macquarie and Deputy Mayor Cr Lisa Intemann.
Stage 5 has greatly improved the appearance of the headland as well as providing environmental protection and enhancing the experience of visitors through access to significant historical information. Locals now say that with the completion of Stage 5 along with all previous enhancements initiated and managed by Sunrise Rotary they are “proud to take their visitors to the Tacking Point Lighthouse”!