News

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


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Could Goodna trio be world's dumbest crims?

WATCHING: Police used a Safe City Camera to monitor suspects.

Safe City camera was watching activities of suspects

School to open with no student bus service

STALLED: A designated school bus service is not in place for a school opening at Bellbird Park.

New Bellbird Park Secondary College students left high and dry

Scammers strike more often than hackers: IT specialist

SCAM ALERT: Australia Post published this fake email on its website on January, 11, 2017, warning people its a scam and not to click or past the link into your internet browser. 'Delete the email immediately'.

"Everything locks up; then a ransom note comes up."

Local Partners

Ed Sheeran wants Beyonce collaboration

Ed Sheeran wants to record a duet with Beyoncé.

Nicole Kidman squirms through questions on Keith

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

'God, you guys are personal ... that’s for him to talk about'

Mark Salling's child porn court date cancelled

Mark Salling's upcoming court hearing has been cancelled

Steve Carell pulls cruel prank on fans of the office

Steve Carrell decided to pull a cruel prank on fans of The Office

Lee Lin Chin's man-crazy, beer-loving side revealed

HAVE A BEER: Lee Lin Chin her tips and quips on life.

SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin offers up satirical tips and quips.

Married at First Sight: M'boro dad to feature on reality TV

LOOKING FOR LOVE: Farmer Sean Hollands, 35, from Maryborough will feature on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.

A bull riding accident put everything into perspective for Sean.

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Looking back, looking ahead in Noosa

NEVER-ENDING GLORY: Looking towards Laguna Bay and Hastings St from Noosa National Park.

Natural appeal of Noosa continues to attract buyers

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!