Lighthouse families share stories

Norma McCabe of Mullumbimby lived at the Byron Bay Lighthouse cottages with her husband John between 1973 and 1980.
Norma McCabe of Mullumbimby lived at the Byron Bay Lighthouse cottages with her husband John between 1973 and 1980. Marc Stapelberg

A NEW book is shining a light on the families who lived and worked in some of the state's most remote and isolated lighthouses.

"Life Under the Light: Lighthouse Families of New South Wales" was launched by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service at Cape Byron Lighthouse yesterday.

More than 30 people, light keepers and their family members were interviewed for the book, including Norma McCabe, 84, of Mullumbimby.

Ms McCabe raised four children in lighthouses with her husband, light keeper John McCabe.

When her husband applied for the job, Ms McCabe was also tested to see if she could adapt to life in isolated conditions.

She said their first posting at the South Solitary Island off Coffs Harbour came as "a shock" but she "loved" living in Cape Byron lighthouse from 1973 to 1980.

"The view was wonderful, but I guess it always is from a lighthouse," Ms McCabe smiled.

In the days of kerosene burners her husband was on duty throughout the night ensuring the light did not go out.

But the creation of automated lights in the 1980s replaced the need for lightkeepers and tourists also began to flock to the Cape Byron lighthouse.

"Once it became automated some of the romance went out," Ms McCabe said.

"We had a lot of visitors coming to see the lighthouse but my husband had joined up to be a lightkeeper not a tour guide."

The book includes historical photographs of family life at seven of the 10 lighthouses managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Historian and writer Dr Jo Kijas said family partnerships played a key role in keeping the light alive.

"On the whole it seems the men and women who lived on the lighthouses were the sort of characters who learnt to live in their own family units and be independent," Dr Kijas said.

"Until now this story hasn't been told but it was the family partnerships that made life in a lighthouse what it was."

Topics:  book, cape byron lighthouse, families



Local Real Estate

finda logo
Featured Real Estate
Imagine the... $249,000
House 3 1
CIRCA 1880’s - ... $345,000
House 4 2 2
A+ for Position... Offers Over...
House 5 1 2
UNIQUE NORTH FACING GOLF... Listed at...
House 4 2 2

Featured Jobs

finda logo

Sunshine Coast jobs listed daily


Featured Jobs
OSHC/Kindy Educator... Buderim Full Time
[Opportunities with APN]... [Opportunities with APN] Retail Champion Sunshine Coast Newspaper Company The Sunshine Coast ...
Canvasser Sunshine Coast Part Time



Local Partners

Local Profile

Stay Connected

You can change the newsletters you are subscribed to when you edit your profile

Edit Profile


Horoscopes

Virgo

Being the martyr and loving until it hurts is not necessary. Reciprocal relationships are the key idea for you today. If you plan to plan to...

read more

Marketplace

Special Offers & Promotions

Compare & Save