FOR the workers working on the Montague Island renovations there have been little rewards such as the vintage matchbox found stashed in the rafters.
Carpenter David Crooke last Wednesday proudly handed over the fragile but still colourful matchbox to Narooma ranger Cass Bendixsen who went out for day trip.
The Mogo-based carpenter, whose two brothers are also working on the island, also found a newspaper from 1981 but that had to be destroyed because of asbestos contamination.
Jerry Bell from the Australian Matchcover Collectors Society, which has branches in Melbourne and Adelaide, has been collecting personally for over 65 years.
“This box was the standard issue of the Federal Match Company in Sydney, and was made in Sydney,” he said.
“It was issued prior to 1936, when the design changed slightly. The box is not rare, in fact it is still reasonably common, as many tens of millions were made.
There are many more varieties of this design, which we call the ‘Kangaroo and Map’.”
"Perhaps I should add that the Federal Match Company operated from 1913 to 1975, and from 1922 onwards, it was owned by the British Bryant & May company, who also had factories in Melbourne and Perth."
A band of tradesmen from the Narooma and Eurobodalla area are about three weeks into the $1.1million renovation project being overseen by NSW National Parks and funded by the State Government’s Heritage Asset Revitalisation Program.
Most of roof has been replaced on the main lighthouse keepers’ building that once served as the house of the head keeper and is now a luxurious but still authentic tourist accommodation.
Next the workers will move on the larger main part of the assistant keeper’s quarters that now serve as accommodation and office space for the current day National Parks rangers that live on the island.
Project manager Rob Bennett said up to 19 tradesman and parks workers had been living on the island in up to 10 hours shifts.
“We’re on track time wise but the biggest challenge is the logistics and transport of material and people on and off the island – it takes a lot of time and is very expensive.”
Removal of asbestos also added complications, but National Parks was keen for the island to be taken off the asbestos register and similar operations were being completed at other heritage light stations.