ON WAY UP: Visitors climb the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse.
ON WAY UP: Visitors climb the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse.

Light still shining proudly celebrated at Bustard Head

AUSTRALIA'S many lighthouses have provided safe passage for sailors for centuries and International Lighthouse Weekend, just passed, was celebrated all over, but nowhere more intimately than at Bustard Head LightStation in the Gladstone region.

The light at Bustard Head is one of Australia's oldest continuously operating lighthouses, and in keeping with its place in history is Queensland's only operating light that is open to the public.

THE LIGHT: The Bustard Head Lighthouse.
THE LIGHT: The Bustard Head Lighthouse. Rob Black

The LightStation and light was only this year opened to the public after years of painstaking restoration by the volunteers of the Bustard Head Lighthouse Association.

A group of visitors and guests from the Gladstone region, other parts of Queensland and Australia and a few international tourists made the trip in the iconic big pink LARC (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) vessel to the Bustard Head LightStation on International Lighthouse Weekend to mark the occasion.

International Lighthouse Weekend was initiated in 1998 by the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland to promote public awareness of lighthouses and other navigational aids and their need for preservation and restoration, as well as encouraging amateur radio operators to practice their craft.

All Australian lighthouses are now automated and continue to play an important role in shipping safety.

More than 350 lighthouses populate Australia's coastal areas with 300 of these under the operation of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

AMSA chief executive officer Graham Peachey said International Lighthouse Day was held annually across the globe to celebrate the significant role of lighthouses in our history.

"Lighthouses have been used as a navigational aid for hundreds of years and are a unique part of Australia's history and coastline," Mr Peachey said.

Australia's coastline has more than 350 lighthouses which have been erected over the past 200 years on islands, beaches and in harbours to improve safety at sea.

"All Australian lighthouses are now automated and continue to play an important role in shipping safety," Mr Peachey said.

Bustard Head Lighthouse is about 115km northwest of Bundaberg, 55km southeast of Gladstone and 27km north of the Town of 1770.

It is accessible by the LARC vessel and tours operate from 1770 Marina, 9am to 4pm with 1770 LARC! Tours (http://www.1770larctours.com.au ).