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.

Byron Shire News Community Calendar

SWITHED ON: Local MP Justine Elliot was in Mullum last week to announce Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) will receive $5,000 in federal funding for the installation of a 10kw solar PV system at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds under the Stronger Communities Programme. Pictured are: Justine Elliot MP, Robert Passey (COREM), Valley Lipcer (Trust member) Ella Goninan(President COREM) and Harry Hackett (Manager Showgrounds).

This week's Byron Shire News Community Calendar

Locals: Stay away from Byron, McDonalds!

The golden arches of McDonalds. Photo: John Gass

Readers of The Northern Star have fired up

Scientist shoots down Migaloo imposter theory

Wally Franklin of Byron Bay, has been researching whales for many years, and the international court tribunal's decision on the ban of whaling by the Japanese means a lot to him.
Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star

Well, it doesn't get much more scientifically definitive than that.

Latest deals and offers

New app to help you remember what bin day it is

WHO hasn't raced down the driveway with the bin only to find that you're too late - Or you've put out the wrong bin?

Byron Shire News Community Calendar

SWITHED ON: Local MP Justine Elliot was in Mullum last week to announce Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM) will receive $5,000 in federal funding for the installation of a 10kw solar PV system at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds under the Stronger Communities Programme. Pictured are: Justine Elliot MP, Robert Passey (COREM), Valley Lipcer (Trust member) Ella Goninan(President COREM) and Harry Hackett (Manager Showgrounds).

This week's Byron Shire News Community Calendar

Locals: Stay away from Byron, McDonalds!

The golden arches of McDonalds. Photo: John Gass

Readers of The Northern Star have fired up

Scientist shoots down Migaloo imposter theory

Wally Franklin of Byron Bay, has been researching whales for many years, and the international court tribunal's decision on the ban of whaling by the Japanese means a lot to him.
Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star

Well, it doesn't get much more scientifically definitive than that.

Byron Rugby swaps scrum for gardens

TEAM WORK: Applying their physical skill and strength to the garden Byron Youth Activity Centre.

Byron Bar Rugby players helped spruce up the YAC on Saturday.

Jake and Joshua wanted by police

POLICE are appealing to the public to find out the whereabouts of Joshua Mulheron.

Police appeal to the public to find wanted men

Run helps shine a light on cancer

ABOVE: Byron Lighthouse Run supports Crackin' Cancer and the North Coast Cancer Institute.

This year the Byron Lighthouse Run is turning 10

Kerri-Anne Kennerley to Sonia Kruger: "Stay brave"

She said her television peer should "stay brave"

Swimwear designer looking for love on The Bachelor

Noni Janur on her first day of filming.

The 25-year-old is one of 22 women vying for Richie Strahan’s heart

Elena wins MasterChef: “I’m ecstatic and eager to celebrate"

MasterChef Australia 2016 winner Elena Duggan, from Noosa.

NOOSA chefs survive marathon grand final dish by Heston Blumenthal.

Shannen Doherty shaves hair during cancer battle

Shannen Doherty has completely shaved off her hair

Brian McFadden makes daughters pay for own Christmas gifts

McFadden makes his daughters pay for half their presents

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started