For many locals and tourists alike, Mt George is a place of learning, exploration and recreation, but historically, it has also been essential to communication through the use of a semaphore tower.
Although the tower is a replica, it holds a great deal of meaning, having been built by the local community for the purpose of preserving and teaching local history in 1988.
Lorraine Wootton, from the George Town & District Historical Society said that a number of tourists enquire about the history of the structure, and the role it played in our history.
Sadly, the structural integrity of the structure is in question, with George Town Mayor Greg Keiser stating that it needs to be taken down for proper assessment.
“The clock is ticking, and from a safety perspective it has to come down,” said Mayor Keiser.
The question that remains unanswered, is what will become of the semaphore once it has been taken down?
There are no firm answers to this question, and what should be a simple case of restoration and preservation of a historical asset is being drawn out into a years’ worth of council meetings, emails, public commentary, and ultimately, inaction.
The semaphore currently sits on Parks and Wildlife land, with a Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife spokesperson saying that the area has been closed to the public due to safety concerns.
“The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) recognises the installation of the replica semaphore was a decision taken by the local community for the local community. PWS fully supports Council undertaking an evaluation that considers the interests of the local community, tourism sector and Council’s economic strategy.”
“Following a site inspection by the PWS and an independent engineering assessment, the structure was deemed unsafe and the area closed to the public. Following ongoing consultation Council agreed the structures will be removed and given to Council.”
With the semaphore due to be taken down, some have suggested that it could alternatively be inspected and repaired in situ, but while this is a point of contention, it seems that everyone agrees on the historical and cultural importance of the semaphore and the site on which it stands, with Mayor Keiser stating that it is well-loved, and that council will explore how it can be retained.