Audit uncovers blast from past


A blast from the past has been uncovered by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as part of a review of the organisation’s maritime artefacts collection.

A rare cannonball was found by AMSA’s Heritage Team, in the artefacts collection in Canberra, which was used by heritage lighthouses to help vessels in conditions of low visibility, such as fog.

Often, the beam from a lighthouse tower was not enough to warn vessels of nearby dangers. So some lightstations were equipped with cannons to ensure mariners were kept aware of hazards. The lighthouse keepers were the ones to fire the cannons as part of their duties.

These cannons were normally placed within the grounds of a lightstation.

There are more than 300 artefacts on display and stored at AMSA’s head office in the ACT, including the cannonball which weighs about 15kg.

AMSA cannonball artefact

Other interesting artefacts include large lighthouse lenses in the foyer, a number of 19th Century brass telescopes and many other objects including kerosene jugs, that were used by lighthouse keepers to measure oil needed to power the lighthouses.

AMSA has more than 800 maritime artefacts stored and displayed across Australia, with many of these priceless items on loan to various museums and local heritage groups.

A major review of AMSA’s artefacts is currently being undertaken and is due to be completed in December this year.

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