Lighthouses in Australia

Lighthouses stand on the land’s edge, but they belong to the sea. They are part of a ship’s journey.
We look up at them but their eye is on the ocean, waiting for the dark to signal the passing ships. 
The lights say ... This is where you are ... You are here ... Goose Island ...
... Grassy Hill ...
... Smoky Cape ...
The lights warn ... Look out! Danger! ... South Head rocks! 
... North Reef!
... Bay Rock!
All around the coast of the island nation of Australia the line of lights signal safety and location.
Within the vast collection of the National Archives of Australia, you can find out about the story of those lights and the lives of the people who kept watch with the lighthouses, minding the lights – the lighthouse keepers and their families.
‘At night my father would sit at the top of the tower to make quite sure that the light would never stop shining because people’s lives depended on that light always being there … Out in the darkness and storms, many mariners and their passengers looked to this light for guidance and safety.’  Sheila Burn, daughter of Lightkeeper Martin, of the Currie Light, King Island, Bass Strait
The lighthouse was often the first Australian landfall sighted by new settlers. For these people, lighthouses were not just navigational aids, but the first sight of a new life. For others, it was the first sight of home.
Who's watching the light?
The light is still on … but the keepers are gone. There are no lightkeepers living at Australian lighthouses now. The lights are all automatic. The lightstations themselves are now owned by the states, often under the control of the State Park Authorities.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority leases back the lights and maintains them. Some of the historic lighthouses have been decommissioned and replaced by modern acrylic cabinet ‘lighthouses’. Lighthouses send messages to ships. But ships now have other messengers – global positioning systems, differential global positioning systems and computerised charts. Lighthouses, once the prime messengers, are often the back-up system today.
Credits: Story

This exhibit draws from ‘Beacons by the Sea', a larger exhibition developed by the National Archives of Australia in 2002, drawing on the wealth of lighthouse material held in the Archives. Keepers’ diaries, log books and exquisite architectural drawings of lighthouses from every state and territory in Australia are just a small sample of this vast collection. The exhibition toured Australia until 2006.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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