Tag Archives: lighthouse

Norah Head Lighthouse, NSW, Australia.

“Turning, she looked across the
bay, and there, sure enough,
coming regularly across the
waves first two quick strokes
and then one long steady stroke,
was the light of the Lighthouse.
It had been lit.”

― Virginia Woolf

As a poet, photographer and philosopher, I had to jolt myself while looking at my photos of the Norah Head Lighthouse. Force myself to remember that lighthouses were actually constructed to serve a practical, potentially lifesaving purpose. They weren’t just plonked on top of dramatic, rugged headlands in splendid isolation for me to explore and express my creativity. Moreover, during this time of covid, social distancing and even lock down, this lighthouse doesn’t exist just so I can project our collective sense of isolation onto this “concrete tower painted white” (as it was described when it was opened in 1903).

A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.”

Navjot Singh Sidhu

However, these practical realities still haven’t stopped me from delving deep into my imagination and my soul, to marvel at the dramatic beauty of its glowing whiteness backdropped by the azure blue sea on a charmed sunny day.

It also didn’t stop me from confronting the realities of the here and now. The front door of the lighthouse, which could well have been there for over 115 years, has now been slapped with a Covid notice, and the lighthouse is closed for tours. Welcome to 2020.

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Of course, I couldn’t help wondering how the lighthouse feels about being all locked up, and whether the ghost within is enjoying its solitude, or perhaps it’s craving human forms? Not that I really believe in ghosts. However, if you’re going to talk about a lighthouse, especially one which has witnessed shipwrecks and the tragic loss of life, it’s okay to let your imagination wander. You can put on your storytelling hat, and nothing really needs to make a lot of sense or stand up in a court of law.

Front Door Handle.

I first came to the Norah Head Lighthouse when I was a little girl about six years old when we were staying nearby at The Entrance. Being so young, I didn’t have strong memories of it. However, when I was 13, I returned to Norah Head to attend a friend’s slumber party. I immediately recognized the lighthouse. Lighthouses are like that. They stay with you forever. Leave a lasting impression.

I attended two birthday slumber parties at Norah Head for my friend, and they still retain their magic after all these years. At that age, you rarely go away with anyone but your own immediate family. However, there we were just our group of friends, and without that sense of omnipresent parental supervision either. I remember snorkelling in the rockpool and seeing little fish. I also remember having my friend’s birthday cake up in the sand dunes, and sliding down the sand dunes on large green garbage bags. It was so very simple, and yet so much fun.

Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, Norah Head.

However, when I went back to Norah Head with my kids about 10 years ago, the sand dunes were nowhere to be found. Indeed, when I inquired about them at a local shop, they were quite a mystery. You see, the dunes had been rejuvenated and by this stage, were hidden beneath six foot paperbark trees and thick vegetation. Although this was good for the environment, I have to admit I was rather disappointed. I wanted to slide down those dunes again and take my kids with me. Moreover, I particularly didn’t want to be that old, that I’d developed my own tales about “life back in the olden days”.

Cute but functional sign.

Anyway, getting back to the lighthouse, I’m not going to delve too deeply into its construction and design of the Norah Head Lighthouse. All of that’s only a quick Google search away. However, I wanted to share this little story I came across from Christmas 1945 where a journalist explored what it was like to spend Christmas at the Norah Head Lighthouse:

Lighthouse Wasn’t Lonely

Although Norah Head lighthouse is in a comparatively isolated position, about 20 miles south of Newcastle, its staff had anything but a lonely Christmas. The head keeper’s wife (Mrs. J. H. Fisher), who said: “It couldn’t be lonely here-it’s absolutely beautiful,” entertained a party of guests from Sydney. A number of fishermen and holiday-makers are camped on the head land and fishing catches are reported to be good. Supplies brought in from the small village of Norahville, 20 minutes’ walk from the light house, ensured a typical Christmas dinner for the lighthouse staff. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 26 December 1945, page 2

I also thought you’d enjoy this aerial perspective from 1953, even if it is in black & white:

Gosford Times and Wyong District Advocate (NSW : 1906 – 1954), Tuesday 27 October 1953, page 10

While the lighthouse itself is a stunning attraction, the dramatic views from the headland are amazing and stretch in all directions. I was particularly captivated by the waves smashing onto the rock platform down below, more than reinforcing the need for a lighthouse here, at least historically speaking. This photo gives you a good idea of the forces down below:

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Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour around Norah Head Lighthouse. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on a blogshare called Thursday Doors, but I thought my trip to the Norah Head Lighthouse made for a good contribution.

Hosted by Norm Frampton, “Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). “

here’s the link: https://miscellaneousmusingsofamiddleagedmind.wordpress.com/2020/10/01/thursday-doors-october-1-2020/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Poem: Beyond the Veil

I watch the tourist bride & groom

snap-frozen for the camera.

Smiling in the shadow of

its towering silhouette.

Guardian of ships,

she’s now fully automated.

The lighthouse keeper

is long gone.

Thrown into the spotlight,

the tourist bride & groom

try on their celebrity smiles:

so awkward,

almost robotic.

Their performance unrehearsed,

bride and groom for one day.

Married for a life time.

Or, maybe not.

An Easterly wind blows

straight in my face.

So close

that I can almost smell its breath.

It slaps me hard on both cheeks,

like a frozen fish.

If I were a kite,

I would fly!

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

Tourist bride & groom

perched so precariously

on the edge of the abyss,

the lookout giving way to the sea.

Waves gnashing their teeth

against the rocks.

Shipwrecks, disaster

are no stranger to these

savage, unforgiving shores…

a watery grave.

Following a change in the guard,

a Northerly blows through

with a vengeance,

seizing her bridal veil

too fast for a grasping hand

to intervene.

Pirouetting in slow motion

through the air with such grace,

almost Swan Lake,

it comes to rest in the surf

where there is no peace.

Just the savagery of the brutal sea.

She stares through tears

at her diamond ring,

which has suddenly lost

so much of its sparkle.

It might just be chance

but deep in her heart

she fears the winds of fate

have spoken.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

How can it be

that even our loftiest dreams

can crash so quickly,

broken by the waves?

Those waves

which never, ever

pause to stop.

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

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Byron Bay Lighthouse September 2015.

I started writing this poem while watching a Japanese bride and groom posing for their wedding photos at the lookout. Geoff and the kids were walking down to signposted Most Easterly Point in Australia and onto the beach down below, which was too much of a walk for me. They also had the camera. They were gone for about an hour, giving me plenty of time to watch and absorb the waves ferociously crashing on the waves down below. You really feel the strength and power of the mighty Pacific Ocean here and the waves are huge, powerful, incredibly beautiful but also unforgiving.

I ended up watching this bride and groom posing for their photos for some time. They clearly weren’t feeling comfortable, like so many bride and grooms. They spend there big day being photo models without any preparation or training. Being an extrovert myself, I’ve always loved having my photo taken and have my photo face. People tell me that I look a lot better in photos. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t feel some compassion for this poor bride and groom being tortured by their photographer.

I was standing quite a distance away and from where I was standing, I saw most of the steep escarpment behind them, which became quite an allegoryt for the ruggedness of real life after the wedding is over. Sure, it’s not all hard work but it’s not a fairytale wrapped up in lace and rose petals either.

The bride’s veil didn’t fly away but I could help imagining how that would look with the veil leaping over the edge and spiralling towards its death in the surf.

How would you feel as a bride if your veil flew away like that? I couldn’t help but feel a little superstitious, despite my Christian beliefs. Brides can be very anxious creatures and any sign of trouble becomes magnified and instantly catastrophised.

However, my husband, who is more pragmatic, said what would it matter if the veil flew away after the wedding? It’s done its job.

Anyway, any insights would be much appreciated.Do you have any wedding disasters to share?

xx Rowena

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.