ONE hundred years of Commonwealth management of lighthouses will be celebrated this year with a stamp collection, two minted coins, lighthouse open days and a gathering of former commonwealth lighthouse keepers.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said Australia’s coastline is dotted by more than 300 lighthouses managed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and some 200 other navigation aids to keep mariners safe around Australia’s rugged coastline.
"Lighthouses are not just historical structures and tourist attractions, they are vital to the modern safety of recreational boaters and the many ships that visit our shores," Mr Truss said.
"The first lighthouse was a simple iron basket on a tripod at the heads of Sydney Harbour, built in 1794. The lighthouse network is made up of a variety of imposing structures that are just as important to the safety of those on the sea as they were 100 years ago."
An uncirculated $1 coin and a frosted uncirculated $5 coin are now available to buy at the Royal Australian Mint and a commemorative stamp series will be available from participating Australia Post outlets from July 7.
The coins and stamps will be launched in Brisbane at the Queensland Maritime Museum today, ahead of a Commonwealth Lighthouse Service reunion on Saturday.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer said the coins would be a permanent reminder of the importance of lighthouses to maritime safety and their special place in the hearts of Australians.
"The Royal Australian Mint has produced a stunning duo of coins for Australians to mark this special occasion," Ms O’Dwyer said.
"These collectable coins help pay tribute to the role lighthouse keepers and their lighthouses have played in keeping seafarers safe since 1794."
Today AMSA’s lighthouse network is unmanned but former lighthouse keepers will meet to mark the transfer of control for lighthouse maintenance to the Commonwealth from the States on July 1 1915.
AMSA has been responsible for the aids to navigation network since its formation in 1991.
Lighthouse open days will also be held at a number of sites around Australia this year, as part of the celebrations.
An interactive lighthouse map, featuring heritage lighthouses is available on the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website.
Further information on the uncirculated coins is available from the Mint’s online store.