I am a lighthouse spotter. It’s like being a train spotter but I collect lighthouses.
In Australia I have visited exactly 100 lighthouses and a few in other countries. My interest was piqued in 2004 when I lived on Kangaroo Island which has 4 lighthouses. If you look closely at the photo with the light you can see the candle which is the same as what they used before going automatic.
Some of you may be aware of my time working on vessels (boats, ships, yachts, etc) and also with Volunteer Marine Rescue since the late 90s. Even now, with all the new fangled electronic navigation systems on ships, lighthouses are still essential. Just like your GPS and mobile phone in the bush, electronic navigation can fail. So, just like learning to read a compass and topographic map, you learn to read charts, pilot guides, sextant and, yes, a compass.
Lighthouses are now automated but some have lighthouse keepers for security reasons and they also have unique radar signals.
Every lighthouse has a different light sequence which is marked on the chart so you can recognise it at night. It is needless to say that each light is strategically located to guide vessels past dangerous coast lines, islands, reefs and shoals notorious for wrecks.
If I had been born a man into another era I would most definitely have been a lighthouse keeper.
When you visit lighthouses it is not just about the light tower. There is history about the light keepers and their families, ship wrecks, supply boats, important visitors, grave yards, buildings, light tower designs, light designs and there are clues everywhere to help you put together the stories as well as log books and local legends.
Many lighthouses around Australia have been restored, some offer accommodation, like Sugarloaf and some have tours run by volunteers and park officers including climbing up inside to the light. No 2 lighthouses are the same which makes them so interesting.
Revisiting Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse was a highlight of this last part of the walk. Last time I was there taking photos with a new digital camera the files were scrambled into a strange pixelation. My theory is the low frequency radio waves somehow interfered with my digital camera. It will remain a mystery, there is no explanation and I have asked many people about it. I have seen weird stuff around radar.
It is my dream to stay at some lighthouses during the next expedition and add a few more to my list. If I can time the next visit to Sugarloaf Lighthouse during offpeak season I will try out their Lighthouse Keepers Cottage accommodation. Bucket List item!