Lighthouse Keepers

In the by-gone days of light keeping, all daily work was done by the head-keeper and 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 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 Lighthouse 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 Lighthouse 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.

Smith Family Lightkeepers

At Norah Head Lighthouse, 7 members of one light keeping family, spanning three generations, has served and worked at the Lighthouse over various periods of time. William Sidney Smith Snr was posted to Norah Head Lighthouse in 1905 and returned in 1922 as Principal Head Lighthouse Keeper until he retired in 1930 (after 42 years of light keeping service).

Stuart Sidney Smith (who rebuilt Nobbies Head Lighthouse in 1935), worked at Norah Head as a lighthouse mechanic. William Smith was stationed at Norah Head from 1949 to 1962 as Principal Head Lighthouse Keeper. Clifford Stanley Smith served at the lighthouse for 13 years between 1949 and 1962. He retired as Senior Head Lighthouse Keeper after 38 years of light keeping service.

Robert James Smith first relieved in 1948 and periodically did relief until posted to Norah Head in 1967, also as Principal Head Lighthouse Keeper. Robert was required to train new keepers into the service. Robert retired whilst stationed at Norah Head after serving a total 27 years of accredited light keeping service.

The Smith family completed over 140 years of lighthouse service at various Lighthouses in Australia.