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Coffs Harbour’s night in shining armour reborn

South Solitary Island Optic in its new home near the Coffs Harbour Jetty.

A bumper crowd of some 400 turned up for the turning on of the historic South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores. 

“This is the perfect place for this light as it continues to be a meeting place,” City of Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Paul Amos said as he officially opened the light which is housed in a special enclosure at the entrance to the Jetty pier. 

“To many people it’s the heart of our community.” 

It’s been a painstaking and extraordinary conservation effort to make the light operational again after it was decommissioned in 1975 and transported from the island to the mainland. 

It was fitting that Jack Duvoisin gave the order on 15 March this year to relight the Optic. While it was 144 years to the day after it was first turned on officially on the island in 1880, it was Mr Duvoisin who decommissioned the light in 1975 when the station was automated.

“This is one of the finest displays of light piece equipment anywhere in Australia,” the former lighthouse regional engineer told the crowd. 

WATCH the video from the night here 

The project to return the light to working order and have it on public display was made possible by funding from both the City of Coffs Harbour and the NSW Government – and driven in part by the volunteers of Friends Of South Solitary Island Lighthouse (FOSSIL). 

After being moved to Coffs Harbour, the light had been kept in a Harbour Drive building which was then a museum but is now used as a table tennis centre. 

“It’s (the light) been largely asleep for the past 49 years,” Mr Duvoisin said. 

City of Coffs Harbour Events, Sport and Cultural Services Group Leader Karlene McKeown said the Optic held pride of place for the community. 

“It’s an incredibly significant part of the Yarrila Arts and Museum Collection,” Ms McKeown said. 

The opening and lighting ceremony included an address by FOSSIL, a stirring performance by a lone piper and the reading of a poem by Bishop Druitt College student Will Bursle. 

Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh also gave an address on behalf of the NSW Government. 

Image of Former regional lighthouse engineer Jack Duvoisin, City of Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Paul Amos, and Cr Julie Sechi who MCed the gala opening and lighting of the Optic at the Jetty. They are standing in front of the Optic.
(From left) Former regional lighthouse engineer Jack Duvoisin, City of Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Paul Amos, and Cr Julie Sechi who MCed the gala opening and lighting of the Optic at the Jetty.
An image of The former South Solitary Island lighthouse optic.
The former South Solitary Island lighthouse optic.