My seduction by lighthouses began while staying in the heritage lighthouse cottages on Kangaroo Island. It wasn’t that I hadn’t visited a lighthouse before but this interest was completely new as were the experiences it brought and the way I sought them out during the rest of the year.
As the interpretive sign at Exmouth describes it, lighthouses are inevitably ‘beacons of disaster’. Though on a blue sky day they can seem calm and benign, by their nature they are rarely built in safe easy places but generally where ships have already been dashed upon the rocks. They perch on cliffs that the seas pound and the winds howl around and beneath which lies a history of scattered remains of people and cargos..of tragic tales of desperate rescues and lone survivors. Particularly in eras past they were lonely isolated places of uncertain provision and necessary self sufficiency. Their mere presence saved and continues to save lives.
It was such an evocative experience staying in the lighthouse cottages on Kangaroo Island. There was an atmosphere embedded in the simple old buildings and a thrill being there when the first pink of dawn hit the lighthouse at Cape Willoughby. There were stunning sunsets to stare out at while sipping wine on our verandah in the late afternoon and windswept views along the coast from up top. There were the rainbow colours in the refracted glass of the fresnel lights and the delight of a spiral staircase.
At Cape de Cuedic too, the way the bricks of the cottages glowed orange with the late warm light and the Tamar wallabies edged closer from the scrub as evening fell. Most extraordinary at Cape de Cuedic being able to walk a few minutes to visit our neighbours the colony of New Zealand fur seals dozing on the rocks below. Visiting out of the busier tourist time we fairly much had these experiences to ourselves.
This should have been enough for me but they wouldn’t let them go…these beacons of disaster. They seeped into my consciousness and I found myself scanning the possibility of seeing them throughout the rest of the year until I gave way to it and actively sought them out.
Cape de Couedic