House owner Patricia Sheppard talks to Cathy Gatley, manager of the Mon Repos Conservation Park, about her boardwalk fitted with turtle-friendly lights.
House owner Patricia Sheppard talks to Cathy Gatley, manager of the Mon Repos Conservation Park, about her boardwalk fitted with turtle-friendly lights. Rob Barich

Beach house built to help cut glow

WHEN Patricia Sheppard built a house at Archie’s Beach, she decided to do all she could to have the least possible impact on the environment — including ensuring all her lighting was ‘turtle-friendly’.

“Just last night some turtles hatched at the end of my boardwalk and they went exactly where they were supposed to without turning around,” Ms Sheppard said.

The lighting in Ms Sheppard’s house, built by Steve Coates, has been designed to automatically dim during the turtle nesting and hatching season to “cut the glow”.

“Certain lights in the house can’t be turned on and the lights which can be on can’t be set past a certain point,” Mr Coates said.

The lighting system’s settings, which are computerised, cannot be changed by the homeowner and must be done by a qualified technician.

“People should realise that it is not that hard to do turtle-friendly lighting,” Mr Coates said.

Ms Sheppard said the lighting system had not affected her daily habits.

“There is plenty of light. Probably too much for me,” she said.

As well as the automatic dimming systems, Ms Sheppard has also installed low-pressure sodium vapour lights to illuminate the path from her house to the boardwalk.

The second floor of Ms Sheppard’s house includes an art studio that uses exhibition lighting, but the room has been designed so that if the lights are turned on, shutters will automatically come down shielding the lights.

Ms Sheppard said the cost of installing turtle-friendly lighting in her new house had been inconsequential.

“I really love the animals. I can’t wait to see more of the babies hatch,” she said.

Mr Coates and Ms Sheppard consulted with Mon Repos Conservation Park ranger in-charge Cathy Gatley to determine the best lighting system to use for the house to be turtle-friendly.

“It is great that both Pat and Steve had the turtles in mind and have achieved an excellent result for keeping beaches dark for turtles,” Mrs Gatley said.

For more information on how to cut the glow, visit www.derm.qld.gov.au.



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