What is significant?
The Cape Schanck Lightstation was constructed in 1857-59 as part of the second campaign of highway or ocean (as opposed to harbour) lighthouse building in Victoria which also produced lights at Wilson?s Promontory and Gabo Island. The early buildings are constructed of locally quarried limestone and are similar in design to those at Wilson?s Promontory and Gabo Island as well as the later quarters at Cape Otway all of which were designed within the Victorian Public Works Department probably by Charles Maplestone. Like Cape Otway there was also a stone signal station but this has been demolished leaving only archaeological remains. Other demolished buildings include the stables and stone privies. Unusual features of Cape Schanck Lightstation are the dispersed layout of the buildings around a central lawn and the retention within the tower of an early clockwork mechanism (despite conversion to automatic operation) and the original 1859 Chance Bros lens. As well as the early buildings there is a red brick 1938 residence and some later utility buildings. One half of the early duplex assistants' quarters has been converted to a museum while the other has been converted to a generator room. A separate weatherboard kitchen block was built in 1887 for these tiny dwellings but was itself converted to a spare residence in the 1960s. Cape Schanck, along with other Victorian ocean lightstations, was handed over to the Commonwealth after Federation. All the transferred lightstations, now automated, were returned to Victoria in 1995.
How is it significant?
The Cape Schanck Lightstation is of historical, architectural, scientific, social and archaeological importance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Cape Schanck Lightstation is historically and architecturally important as a complex of lighthouse and lightkeepers' quarters which has been in continuous operation since 1859. It is a manifestation of the increasing importance of Bass Strait as a shipping route in the 1850s and was a direct result of Intercolonial co-operation which presaged Federation. The limestone tower and quarters are architecturally significant as relatively intact purpose designed buildings designed in the Victorian Public Works Department probably by Charles Maplestone.
The Cape Schanck Lightstation is scientifically (technologically) important as a fine example of nineteenth century lighthouse technology, particularly the 1859 lens array manufactured by famous lighthouse manufacturer Chance Bros of Birmingham, the first of its type imported into Victoria.
The Cape Schanck Lightstation is socially important because its location, layout and design contribute to an understanding of the isolated life and critically important function of lightkeepers, particularly in the nineteenth century.
The Cape Schanck Lightstation is archaeologically important for its potential to reveal significant artefact remains pertaining to the use of the place as a lightstation and signal station. There are several recorded sites of former rubbish dumps which have already yielded household artefacts. As well there are the sites of demolished buildings, in particular the signal station, which have a high archaeological potential.
See Cape Schanck Conservation Management Plan prepared by Clive Lucas, Stapleton and Partners in May 1995 as amended by Ivar Nelsen and Patrick Miller in September 1998.
Associated People: Owner DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES;
EXEMPTIONS FROM PERMITS:
(Classes of works or activities which may be undertaken without a permit under Part 4 of the Heritage Act 1995)
1. All alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of
alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the
place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or
object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the
Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.
3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive
Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.
4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending
or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
5. Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the
responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the
responsible authority where applicable.
* No permits are required for works which are in accordance with the
Conservation Management Plan prepared by Clive Lucas, Stapleton and Partners in May 1995 as amended by Ivar Nelsen and Patrick Miller in September 1998.
Lightstations are special places with a special ambience. While they have great appeal for visitation and high tourist potential, overdevelopment is highly undesirable and should be avoided. Conservation plans have been developed for most lightstations which give guidance for the physical treatment of buildings and features. Within the constraints inherent in managing what are fairly delicate places, there remain opportunities to enhance the physical fabric by appropriate conservation works and to retrieve former bad practice.
The importance of the lightstation lies in its intactness and layout. There is a conservation management plan in place which addresses the lightstation itself (referred to in Permit Exemptions). Another useful guide which places the lightstation in a wider context is the Cape Schanck Precinct Master Plan prepared by Gerner Consulting Group Pty Ltd, Barrack Douglas & Company, and Wilde and Woollard for Parks Victoria and dated December 1998.