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The Coast Watchers’ Memorial Lighthouse (Kalibobo) in Madang is one of the Iconic Monuments of the World

Updated on July 13, 2014

The Coast Watchers’ Memorial Lighthouse – An Iconic Landmark in its own Rights

The Pyramids of Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris (France), the Statue of Liberty in New York (United States of America), the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House in Sydney (Australia), the Burge Al Arab in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and of course our very own Coastwatchers’ Memorial Lighthouse (Kalibobo) are some of the World’s most renowned landmarks. These landmarks are so iconic that they become instantly recognisable.

The Coastwatchers’ Memorial Lighthouse or Kalibobo as it is known locally is a ceramic white structure that stands tall at 27 meters high. Uniquely shaped and equipped with navigational lights at its pinnacle, it has been so loyal, shining over the pretty township of Madang for over 50 years.

Brief History

As a monument to commemorate the brave hearts who fought in alliance against the Japanese during World War Two (WWII), this lighthouse was officially dedicated and switched on for the first time on the eve of Saturday, August 15, 1959.

Madang was the spot chosen for the Coastwatchers’ Memorial lighthouse in January 1954. Sufficient funds were donated and made available at that time and plans were well underway by October 1955. Its design resembles a torpedo (underwater missile) in memoriam of those Coastwatchers who have fallen and those dedicated locals who gave their life looking out and signalling to the allied troops using only teleradios.

The Unique Design

This graceful torpedo shaped structure of dazzling white reinforced concrete stands at the entrance into the tranquil Madang Harbor. At 27 meters (80 feet) high, it is equipped with navigational lights so powerful that the beacon is visible 30 kilometres out at sea, even in trying weather conditions.

This structure is so unique and iconic that it stands out and becomes one of the instantly recognisable structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Sydney Opera House and the Burge Al Arab.

It has an attractive base surround and a cruciform pathway approach from the main road. At the centre of a circular base of terrazzo tiles stands the monument resembling a torpedo. This monument is, beyond all uncertainty, the most beautiful and magnificent design to commemorate the work these men did.

Fact Box

 
 
 
Date of Commemoration
15 August
 
Year of Construction
1958
 
Year of Completion
1959
 
Height
27 meters
 
Focal Plane of Elevation Above Sea Level
28 meters
 
Coordinates
5 12.7243 S 145 48.9033 E
 
Current Status
Active
 
Location
Godawan Point, Madang, Papua New Guinea
 

Memorial

Kalibobo Laithaus is a memorial lighthouse funded by allied countries who fought in alliance against the Japanese during the Second World War (WWII). As the Coastwatchers watched the coast, so now does their Coastwatchers Memorial Lighthouse (or Kalibobo as it is known locally).

Inscription Plaques

Before the relocation of the bronze plaques in early 2013, the three bronze plaques lay on the foreside of the monument as it is approached along the cruciform pathway. At the base of the monument laid the honour plaque in the centre, bearing the names and ranks of the thirty six fallen Coastwatchers.

While on the left fin of the torpedo shaped structure, a plaque reads; "In honour and grateful memory of the Coastwatchers and of the loyal natives who assisted them in their heroic service behind enemy lines during the Second World War in providing intelligence vital to the conduct of Allied operations. Not only did they transmit by means of teleradio from their jungle hideouts, information which led to the sinking of numerous enemy warships, but they were able to give timely warning of impending enemy air attacks. The contribution towards the Allied victory in the Pacific by the small body of men who constituted the Coastwatchers was out of all proportion to their numbers."

And on the fin to its right is also a bronze plaque with the New Guinea Pidgin (Tok Pisin) version of the inscription on the left plaque.

Relocation of Plaques

In 2013, the bronze plaques were relocated. New vertical columns of brick were erected towards the seafront and the three bronze plaques containing the inscriptions were attached to them.

Commemoration

Every year, on the evening of August 15, crowds gather ceremonially at the base of the lighthouse to venerate the evening on which this lighthouse was switched on for the first time. In this low key ceremonies, military personal, government leaders and other prominent people turn up and mingle with the crowd to remember the thirty six fallen Coastwatchers and the natives and also to commemorate the date at which the light was first switched on.

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