The Little Pink Lighthouse

National Breast Cancer Awareness month has gone international, with buildings all over the world lighting up in pink for the month of October. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Empire State Building and Kensington Palace are on the list of well known landmarks becoming pretty in pink for the month.
But at least two lighthouses, both in Australia, have joined in the campaign to wipe out breast cancer. Point Cartwright Lighthouse in Queensland will be bathed in pink all month, but one that wasn't on the official list, and in fact isn't even an active aid to navigation, ihas been relit in pink with a pink glow for the entire month. The Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse in Wollongong, New South Wales, joins in with hundreds of other buildings in support of breast cancer research. The lovely photo below was taken on October 3, 2007 by Tina Hanneman, who kindly gave me permission to use this picture. Be sure to check out her other photos on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinahanneman/

Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse has a rich history. It’s one of two lighthouses on Wollongong Harbor, and is currently inactive. It was first lit in 1871, and is constructed of wrought iron, one of only three in Australia so built. These wrought iron plates were designed and manufactured in a foundry by its builder, Joseph Mather. The plates were then transported to the site and assembled. While the lighthouse was being built, there were those that wondered if such an unusual design would stand up to the heavy winds and seas at the end of the breakwater, and that the lightkeeper would be unable to reach the light under the gale force conditions. Work on construction was delayed during some bad weather, but the 12.8 metre (40 feet) lighthouse proved the naysayers wrong and survives until this day.

In 1937, the 25.3 metre (83 feet) Wollongong Head Lighthouse was built on Flagstaff Point south of the breakwater, and became the major light into the harbor. The little light remained lit until 1974, when its light was extinguished and it was allowed to fall into disrepair. So much so that it was slated for demolition in the late 1970s, however a public outcry from the citizens of Wollongong saved it from the wrecking ball. A complete restoration was funded by local organizations in 1978-79 and the light was placed on the Register of National Estate in 1982. In 2000, a more complete restoration was started, with a new beacon installed, and it was relit in March 2002 for the first time since 1974 in conjunction with the IALA Conference in Sydney and the in Wollongong. The restoration won the highly competitive Australian Engineering Excellence Awards.

The lighthouse is now lit only on special occasions, and with this special lighting for this special month, it will help raise awareness of the world’s second most common cancer among women (surpassed only by lung cancer). Please find it in your heart to donate some money to the American Cancer Society’s research into wiping out this disease. What better way for lighthouse enthusiasts to celebrate our eternal beacons of light by providing a beacon of hope to someone diagnosed with breast cancer?

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