Historical information

The 41 alphabetic and numeric visual signalling flags (including substitute and answering pennants) have either square or pointed ends. They are made of bunting, a coarse fabric of worsted (open yarn wool) in various colour combinations. Some of the flags are marked with inscriptions, for example “B”. Attachments to the flags include hemp rope and metal clips. Each flag has its own galvanised canister and lid, each of which is painted grey and marked with a letter, number or word. The flags were used for communicating messages to passing ships. Knowledge of visual signalling was mandatory for all lightkeepers and all lightstations maintained a set of flags. Although used for centuries, visual flag signalling formally developed in the nineteenth century and was published internationally as a system in 1857. By the early twentieth century it had developed into an effective means of conveying all kinds of short range visual messages. The signal flags and canisters at Gabo Island form a complete set and are not historically linked to the lightstation and their provenance is unknown. It is known however that they originate from a lightstation in Victoria and for some years were on loan from AMSA to the Queenscliff Maritime Museum, where they were held in storage and not displayed. Three of the six lightstations that Parks Victoria manages have sets of signal flags in their collections.

Physical description

Forty navigational signal alphabet flags & numeral pennants. Flags are made of wool.