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.

Rejection wins council praise from residents

LOCAL ANGER: Protesters at last year’s rally against development out on Ewingsdale Road Byron Bay.

Byron Shire residents welcome councils rejection of development

EDITORIAL: Homelessness- the conversation we have to have

STREET WISE: Robina Todd is typical of many sleeping on the streets around Byron Bay.

Homelessness in Byron Bay- the conversation we have to have.

Snag a stall for Brunswick’s Old and Gold

GOLDEN COUPLE: Will and Johanna White at last year’s Brunswick Heads Old and Gold Festival.

Brunswick's Old and Gold festival is on over the June long weekend.

Latest deals and offers

Only-child study seeks subjects

AS PART of a unique research project, Mullumbimby and HSC student Kaitlyn McMurtry is looking to contact families with just one child.

Rejection wins council praise from residents

LOCAL ANGER: Protesters at last year’s rally against development out on Ewingsdale Road Byron Bay.

Byron Shire residents welcome councils rejection of development

EDITORIAL: Homelessness- the conversation we have to have

STREET WISE: Robina Todd is typical of many sleeping on the streets around Byron Bay.

Homelessness in Byron Bay- the conversation we have to have.

Snag a stall for Brunswick’s Old and Gold

GOLDEN COUPLE: Will and Johanna White at last year’s Brunswick Heads Old and Gold Festival.

Brunswick's Old and Gold festival is on over the June long weekend.

Renewables on Greens agenda

ANOTHER GREEN WORLD: Byron Mayor Simon Richardson, Greens Richmond Candidate Dawn Walker, Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale and CEO of Enova Energy, Steve Harris.

Greens leaders were in Byron to promote sustainable energy.

Hurry! Reserved seating selling fast for Pro Bull Riding

Luke Nichols riding Rap Dancer at the PBR Bullriding Rural Weekly Live Series held at the Grafton Showgrounds. Photo:Bruce Thomas / Daily Examiner March 28, 2015

Numbered seats still available for PBR Live Series finale

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...

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

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.

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