Climbing Cape Byron Lighthouse

Sometimes serendipity works for us and everything lines up. Yet, there are those other times when everything falls apart and something is clearly not meant to be…no matter how hard to try to push, shove or force it to happen. Sometimes, the reason becomes apparent and something even better is waiting just around the corner.

View Halfway up the lighthouse.

View Halfway up the lighthouse.

Monday, we drove to Cape Byron Lighthouse at Byron Bay but couldn’t get a park and ventured further afield. Tuesday we returned. Not only to get a park but also to find out that for the first time in over 20 years, we were able to go on a tour of the lighthouse and actually go inside, climb the stairs and stand on the balcony surveying Australia’s most Easterly point from higher up. Lighthouse tours are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays so yesterday’s disappointment was today’s tribulation.

The view on the way up the lighthouse.

The view on the way up the lighthouse.

Ever since watching Dead Poet’s Society where John Keating played by Robin Williams gets the kids to stand on their desks and see the familiar from a new, fresh perspective and gain a whole fresh insight into the everyday, commonplace world around them.

“Just when you think you know something, you have to look at in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”

John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society.

The view of the walking track from the top of the lighthouse.

The view of the walking track from the top of the lighthouse.

So, as we started climbing up winding spiral staircase, I was mesmerised, captivated both by the scenes I captured through the windows on the way up but also that sense of following in the lighthouse keeper’s footsteps and stepping way back in time. I love history and I was almost getting high living and breathing it as we climbed those stairs.

The lighthouse stairs looking up.

The lighthouse stairs looking up.

A spiral staircase is a rarity and I only recently heard about Coco Chanel’s famous spiral staircase which was lined with mirrors and apparently she could stand at the top and see it all.

Naturally, the lighthouse staircase lacked all of that glamour but it did have brass railings, which were brightly polished back in the day. Children were not to touch them at all and smudge them with their fingerprints.

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

While it was wonderful climbing up the stairs and looking out the windows along the way taking photos, I almost held my breath as the guide opened the door with its shiny brass knob for us to step outside onto the balcony. This has always been a forbidden zone and now we were finally about to be let out. I couldn’t wait.

Guess who?

Guess who?

Perhaps, this great excitement explains my clumsiness. As I moved to step through the door, I tripped over my walking stick and went flying through the door and into the balcony wall, no doubt giving the guide a serious heart attack. Mister was right next to me and apparently I freaked him out. On my way down, I apparently grabbed him and he thought the pair of us were about to fly over the edge to our deaths. After all, neither of us is very good at flying.

Actually, Geoff, who as I’ve mentioned before, never lets my love of the story conflict with the facts, said that I apparently pushed him over when I fell. Not as spectacular as flying over the edge together but I did give him a fright.

Mummy can be a liability but I hope I’m proof that a liability can also be an asset!

Geoff and the kids at the top of Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Geoff and the kids at the top of Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The 360 degree views from the top of the lighthouse were absolutely breathtaking incredible. I was sprouting more superlatives than a real estate advertisement! ! Beaches stretching North and South and the incredible might and power of the Pacific Ocean to the East and Byron Bay and it’s hinterland including jagged Mt Warning to the West. I could have stayed up there forever and who knows, perhaps the sea gulls could have fed me instead!

Okay! I know I’m dreaming!

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

After our walk up to the lighthouse, Geoff and the kids followed the walking track down to Australia’s most Easterly point and onto the beach. It’s a pretty steep walk down and I didn’t think I’d make it back up so I stayed up the top by the lighthouse watching tourists photograph fleeting, pixel-sized flashes of passing whales who seriously must laugh at all the tourists snapping away at little more than bare ocean. Been there done that!

Aerial; view of the lighthouse keeper's cottages from the top of the lighthouse.

Aerial; view of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages from the top of the lighthouse.

I also just happened to mention snakes to a few tourists too. After all, I get no royalty cheque from the Australian Tourism Commission and sharing tales of Australian wildlife is simply being a good host!

The waves pounding the shore....Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

That was when I noticed a bride and groom posing for photos on the first lookout down on the track. From where I was standing up the top, I was looking straight at the steep, rugged escarpment and after all our trials and tribulations since the happiest day of our lives, I couldn’t help but think that this rugged road was a good reflection of some of the times ahead. That marriage, life, is not always about experiencing the smooth, easy road but going cross-country and blazing your own trail through the wilderness and all that entails.

I also wondered what it would look like if her veil was blown away in the wind and landed on the rocks? What would it mean?

Hence, I started scribbling down my poem: Beyond the Veil, which you can read here:

The kids at Australia's Most Easterly Point, Cape Byron.

The kids at Australia’s Most Easterly Point, Cape Byron.

Eventually, the rest of the family returned and we were off for more ice cream…a serious family tradition at the light house. By the way, we’re not talking mass produced stuff either but ice cream cones. My favourite flavour is Mango Macadamia which puts you right on location close to the Queensland border in a tropical paradise.

No matter how many times I visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse, it never loses its sense of wonder, it’s beauty and a strange sense of permanence in an environment were the waves and sand are ever changing.

“I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain

Kahlil Gibran- Sand & Foam

xx Rowena

23 thoughts on “Climbing Cape Byron Lighthouse

  1. Norah

    Your photos are amazing. Cape Byron is a beautiful place. I have visited the lighthouse too and enjoyed a Devonshire tea there one day, but I haven’t climbed up the stairs. How fortunate that you got to do it. I loved that you were getting “high” following the guide up the stairs. A well-chosen word! While I’m sure it wasn’t at the time, your trip at the top and onto the balcony sounds hilarious. Just like something I would do. I’m pleased it turned out okay.
    The quote from Kahlil Gibran is beautiful. What a wonderful sentiment. I haven’t read that one. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. stuckinscared

    My goodness… such stunning captures! The light house (I’m a fan of light houses) looks incredibly beautiful!

  3. roweeee Post author

    You’re right. It truly is a spectacular lighthouse and it had this grand sense of omnipresence. Like you, I also have a love of lighthouses. I love the design, the symbolism, history and the stories. What is there not to love? Take care xx Rowena

  4. roweeee Post author

    You’re welcome, Norah. I always feel so awkward about my fumbles but so many people relate to them and so I finally know that I’m not alone. Yesterday, I reversed over the neighbour’s wheelie bin and it got completely wedged in under the rear bumper bar. We’ve only had our car for a few months and this is the second close encounter I’ve had at the rear and a bit unnerving. This time our new neighbours across the road came to my rescue and he pulled the bin out. It took quite a lot of force. I was so embarrassed. What a way to meet the neighbours. I console myself by thinking: “At least I’m human!” xx Rowena

  5. Norah

    Oh dear! I am pleased that my car has reversing sensors as well as a camera. It makes reversing so much safer. At least driving over the wheelie bin was a little more creative way of meeting the neighbours than asking for a cup of sugar! 🙂
    It reminds me of the day I drove the car, which had low profile tyres into the side of the garage where Hub usually parked his ute. I hadn’t thought about the height of the ladder he kept on the floor under the ute in relation to the low-profile car, and got the ladder wedged firmly under it. Hub was away at the time (that’s why his ute wasn’t there) and I didn’t know what to do. Just then the electricity meter-reader turned up and, thankfully, helped me! You are definitely not the only one, and we are all human. I think we need to celebrate rather than console ourselves with that fact! 🙂

  6. roweeee Post author

    Thanks for the empathetic laugh, Norah. Of course, my husband would never jam anything. He has incredible spatial skills. He is gifted, mine are challenged…makes us a good match and somehow whole…or perhaps not!

  7. New Journey

    wow, I just revisited all your blog post of Byron Bay and shared them with my husband…he has always wanted to put his big toe in the ocean on Christmas Day at the great reef in Australia..he would like to drive around the entire continent, what’s your thoughts on that??? would it be wise for us to think we could rent an RV and do this??? your pictures are beautiful, they call to us….come to Australia…LOL the picture of your son on top of the lighthouse has worry written all over his face…you really did alarm him….the ocean is so blue and a perfect day….I love all the birds……good pictures….I know I keep repeating that but they really are…..hope your enjoying your spring….our fall is to hot for me…..96 yesterday, 90 today…xxkat

  8. roweeee Post author

    Kat, I’ve never driven round Australia but I’d really recommend it for the sense of total freedom you’d experience. I’ve never been to the Barrier Reef but my husband has dived there and I’d love to. Neither of us have been to Uluru either. I’ve driven across the Nullarbor (been more of a passenger) and that was incredible. The cliffs along the Great Australian Bite were incredible and Esperence has the deepest blue water. I think you can experience a sense of freedom in Australia that isn’t possible elsewhere. There are bad people here too but just not as many people all up. Quite sparcely populated outside the cities. The distances are huge. It took 10 days to drive from Sydney to Perth without a lot of detours. Great Ocean Road in Victoria is also very pretty and worth a Google search. Even Tasmania, which looks small on the map is bigger than you think. I swear it’s a bit like a compressed spring. The first time I went there, I expected to get around the place pretty quickly and I was surprised. I’ll have to post some photos soon of my Nullarbor travels but they’re pre-digital and I’d have a bit of scanning to do.
    It is very hot here. I had a calcium infusion earlier in the week and they warned me it could give flu like symptoms and I’m still fighting off the cough so I slept most of yesterday and am having a quiet day today. I’m reading Geoff Lepard’s first book, which I think you’ve read and am really enjoying it xx Ro

  9. New Journey

    thanks for all the great info…I am writing down the names and will do some research….sorry your under the weather…but the calcium should be a good thing for you…and yes I enjoyed his book…thanks my friend…rest!!

  10. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Kat. I’ve resurrected somewhat after my Nanna nap. Hoping a bit of lunch might energise me before the kids get home. Humph…the dog is being uber-friendly at the moment! His love comes from his stomach and you should see those puppy dog eyes on an old dog. He has no self-respect! xx Ro

  11. Norah

    Well you know what they say, opposites attract. But then, do you believe everything “they” say? As long as we can laugh we’re okay. 🙂

  12. Shareen Mansfield

    Serendipity ! A word I always want to use yet never have . You just let me use it. Aside from that ! Wow! Such a silver lining of blissful touring! Yay-You! Such wonderful photos. I felt like I went on a tour with you. Your words brought the pictures to life. Amazing when a photo worth a 1,000 words ends up being worth infinity joy! Lots of beauty in the writing as well as photos! Not to mention your smiles!

  13. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Shareen. Means a lot. Serendipity is a great word but an even better experience when things just fall into place for no explained reason. Bliss…particularly when you’ve tried so hard to make something happen and it’s failed big time. I really do believe in what’s meant to be. I think we can tweak things a bit but there are definitely paths we’re not meant to take and it usually turns out for the best xx Rowena

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