Light Keepers

Norah Head Light Keepers

In the by-gone days of light keeping, all daily work was done by the head-keeper and assistant light-keepers. The work was never-ending.

The grounds needed to be kept in check, gardens weeded, fences repaired and painted, accommodation quarters repaired, maintenance and painting of the tower inside and out, brass handrail and brass polishing and cleaning the windows inside and out.

The 700 lens in the prism had to be polished, the light started and stopped each evening, the curtains taken down and put up after every night. At night there were 3 alternating shifts of 4 hours each, followed by an 8 hour break. Each night there were weather readings, recording and reporting tasks and the winding up of the mechanism’s counterweights to keep the prism rotating. This winding if done all in one go, lasted for about 3 hours, but to make life easier the winding was generally done about every 20 minutes.

The Light Keeper had the most responsibility as he was not only responsible for maintaining the light, but also for reporting the weather and communicating with numerous passing ships.

Weather reports were taken every three hours when the Light Keeper had to check and record the temperature, wind direction and velocity, barometric reading and rain gauge reading, plus the cloud cover and direction, sea swell and conditions.

On top of this a general observance had to be kept up at all times to give storm warnings to local shipping, fishing boats and fishermen and of course visitors to the station.

Mails were delivered to the Lighthouse twice weekly and Government stores yearly by coastal steamer. Oil and provisions were delivered, as required, by rail or steamer.