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


Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

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

Missing man's body found in bushland at Coolum

Adrian Korst, 39, was last seen at Coolum on Friday.

Police treating cause of death as non-suspicious

Man arrested over bomb scare to stay in custody

Drama unfolds on Weyba Downs Street as bomb squad is called in.

Magistrate says accused has "snowflake's chance" of getting bail

Is Clive Palmer really in his Sunshine Coast electorate?

Clive Palmer was seen during Anzac Day commemorations at Nambour in 2015.

If you can believe what you read on Twitter Clive could be in town

Latest deals and offers

Adem Crosby's legacy: 30,000 lives saved in 3 years

IF ONLY life was fair, Brent and Lu Crosby would have suffered through enough to ensure a lifetime free of challenges.

Missing man's body found in bushland at Coolum

Adrian Korst, 39, was last seen at Coolum on Friday.

Police treating cause of death as non-suspicious

Man arrested over bomb scare to stay in custody

Drama unfolds on Weyba Downs Street as bomb squad is called in.

Magistrate says accused has "snowflake's chance" of getting bail

Is Clive Palmer really in his Sunshine Coast electorate?

Clive Palmer was seen during Anzac Day commemorations at Nambour in 2015.

If you can believe what you read on Twitter Clive could be in town

Pt Arkwright resident wakes to screaming tyres, sirens

Paramedics were able to safely remove the driver from the vehicle.

Paramedics were able to safely remove the driver from the vehicle

In sickness and health: cancer groom granted wedding wish

WEDDING BELLS: Andy Rahman, who has terminal cancer, married Emma Taplin at Sunshine Castle after My Wedding Wish granted his bucket list wish to get married

Life is no fairytale for Andy Rahman but one wish came true

Star Wars: Force Awakens told in Emojis

Disney has released an emoji version of The Force Awakens.

To commemorate Star Wars Day, Disney releases emoji version of film on a smart...

NYPD join dance challenge

New York Police respond to NZ dance challenge.

New York's finest accept Kiwi dance challenge.

NZ Police Issue Dance Challenge

NZ Police doing the running man dance.

Video of NZ Police doing the running man dance and challenging police forces around...

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances