Triple treat for City of Coffs Harbour at Heritage Awards

Coffs Harbour City

The mind-boggling conservation exercise to resurrect the historic South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic to a place of prominence in Coffs Harbour has earned widespread acclaim.

The City of Coffs Harbour’s optic now stands proud in a purpose-built enclosure at the entrance to the Jetty pier – an accomplishment which saw the project highly commended in the National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards.

Like the optic itself, the gong completes a full circle for the precious glass piece.

The kerosene-fuelled light stood sentry at Coffs Harbour from 1880 until 1975 when the lighthouse was automated and the optic decommissioned.

‘Old faithful’ then fell into a dark period, being stored in a Harbour Drive building for decades until a plan was hatched to restore it to a stage of glory.

This involved a complex procedure which required a partial roof removal as the large and heavy jewel was craned from the table tennis centre.

The project saw many roll-up their sleeves for the prized piece in the Yarrila Arts and Museum Collection.

“The expertise of North Coast Cranes came to the fore while there was funding support through Property and Development NSW, and the building acumen of Lahey Constructions,” City of Coffs Harbour City Planning and Communities Director Chris Chapman said.

“And hats off to International Conservation Services and International Art Services who did the bulk of the work and all of the planning.”

You can watch a video of the optic’s rebirth here.

Some 400 people attended the official opening of the optic by Mayor Paul Amos on March 15.

The optic wasn’t the only shining star at the National Trust (NSW) Heritage Awards announced at Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont, Sydney.

The restoration of the Sawtell Reserve Hall and the City’s Yaamanga Around Here permanent exhibition at YAM were short-listed – a huge honour in a big field including multiple entries from metropolitan centres.

“Recognition in these awards is an honour for the community. It’s also a bow to the vision of setting the bar high and getting it right in the delivery,” City of Coffs Harbour General Manager Natalia Cowley said.

“The optic, Yaamanga and Sawtell Reserve Hall were all ambitious projects and it’s a credit to the City and its partners for seeing these through and not shying from a task just because it’s demanding.”

Photo: City of Coffs Harbour Cultural Services Team Leader Michelle Smith and International Conservation Services CEO Julian Bickersteth AO at the awards night when the South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic project was celebrated.

/Public Release. View in full here.