I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Seeing the Light at Fingal

There’s something majestic yet mysterious about the lighthouses that still play a major role in keeping safe shipping that plies the Australian coastline. And given that the length of this sprawling coastline is 34,218 km, it’s a big job.

Fingal Head lighthouse, the most northerly of New South Wales lighthouses, is situated on a headland that’s becoming familiar to people who visit this blog. We're fast learning that there are many sides to this lovely little area which is not far from my home.

Fingal is probably one of the smaller lighthouses in Australia but it still plays a useful role, standing on one of the most easterly points of Australia with deep water offshore. The structure itself is only 7 metres high and it's 24 metres above sea level.

This is the western side of the present building.

The original lighthouse was established in 1872 to help guard shipping against a large number of dangerous reefs in the area.

According to the Tweed Historial Society
, entries from the log book of the Tweed River Pilot Station under the date of Monday, 19th February 1872 noted that trees were felled for the Fingal Head light, and a pole structure of approximately 30 feet high was erected to hold the light, a fixed kerosene lantern.

A daughter of Mr William Arnold, the first lighthouse keeper at Fingal Headland described the 1872 lighthouse as being shaped like a large meat safe, mounted on a wooden structure resembling a pigeon loft.

A hut was constructed for the keeper, who had to previously row from the Tweed Heads Pilot Station each day, and light the lantern at sunset.

This notice on the western side of the the present building carries a reference to the date of the original structure not the new one.

In October 1878 the Maritime Board of NSW decided to build a new modern lighthouse, and the first structure was replaced with a sandstone tower and attached oil room with a four room cottage for the keeper a short distance away.
The ruins of the keeper's residence are today still 20 metres northwest of the lighthouse.

In 1920 the first light was converted to unmanned automatic acetylene operation and all buildings other than the tower were demolished.

This section of the 1878 lighthouse is today the oldest existing public building in the Tweed Shire.

Picture Tweed River Historical Society

Mr Arnold remained as keeper after the new building was constructed, and he was pictured here with his granddaughter around 1900, before the structure was partially demolished.

This is the view today from the front of the lighthouse whose rays reach eight nautical miles seaward due to the addition of electricity in 1980.


All photographs on this site are copyright to June Saville unless otherwise attributed.

Are lighthouses still used to aid shipping where you live?


  1. hello June

    I did not know the lighthouse was still in use ..Thank you for the update on Fingal!

  2. I enjoyed doing it with you MONA.

  3. Glad to see that there are still lighthouses out there being used... Love them, the symbolism... and they are beautiful. :D

    They all seem so grand, and reaching forever higher ...

  5. Hi June,

    thanks for some more of your local geography and history...I love it.
    Happy days

  6. Pleased you enjoyed Fingal lighthouse DELWYN

  7. June, in the second photo of your post, can you tell me what the dark rocks are? Is that from old lava flows or another material all together?

    You take great photographs, by the way!

  8. Hi again MARTHA
    Look a couple of posts back (March 3 Chocolate Cake and Porpoises at Fingal Headland) and you will see yet another post about Fingal, showing a number of pictures of these rocks. Many of them are from a nearby extinct volcano. More details there.

  9. Love the lighthouse! There are still quite a few in use in Sweden. Some of the ones that aren't used are now used as exotic hotels!

  10. Hmmmm.....I see you writing a story about the innkeeper of the lighthouse and his family????
    Lighthouses hold so much mystery and romance.
    Many of the Michigan lighthouses are said to be haunted.
    The Retirement Chronicles

  11. LADYFI
    How about that! I'd love to be able to spend a night or two in a lighthouse - they're generally in such wonderful settings.

    I love your support for my fiction writing ...
    You never know - a lighthouse as 'place' for a story - very appealing. It might pop up on Journeys in Creative Writing.

  13. light houses always seem ever so romantic and mysterious to me. staying at one place they communicate with those eternal travellers - ships and guide them to safety... feels lovely...thanks for sharing..

  14. Hi Pinku
    Good to see you again.I really like your idea of lighthouses, stationary, interacting with shipping, eternal trsavellers. Poetic.

  15. Great,
    the trip back to history of a place always leaves me fascinated. The last time it happened was when I was watching a picture book from old days of Canada.
    Thanks, post more of such stuff here.

  16. June;

    Thank you for the light house's. I have always loved then and have even collected different ones to keep over the years.
    Your scenery is just gorgeous! No
    other word come to mind!

  17. Hi June,

    Lovely post as usual. Lighthouses have fascinated me ever since I read Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse.

  18. I'll try to post more history MAMPI. I like to have a personal element in most of my items as well ...
    I'm pleased you were interested in this one.

  19. PEGGY
    I suppose you mean you collected pictures or models of them? They do have a great charisma I reckon.

    You enjoy Virginia Woolf too? I have To the Lighthouse on my bookshelf behind me.

    May I compliment you on your post about the workers building the extension to your college, and their plight? You have a big heart.

    It puzzles me a lot that people can live comfortably and well fed while ignoring the misery of others. Obviously, that's not you!

  21. I don't know of any lighthouses in Kentucky but I have always thought them to be very interesting structures. This one is definitly different from most of the ones I have seen.
    Guess if your were a lighthouse keeper, you never got off from work! Have a great Easter, June.

  22. Hi JUDY
    It's true that keepers in the past often lived very isolated lives - as did their families. In time the lights were automated and things changed.
    You have a good Easter too Judy. Thanks

  23. Dear June,I know that you are not in to awards,but I gave you one anywhey,cause I find your blog lovely(it is you thats lovely)so if you want it its yours,love from Sandra

  24. Love the changes to your masthead, June.

  25. Thanks CROW
    A great buzzing day on the beach eh?


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