When my children were little people who loved having a bedtime story read to them each night, one of their favourite books was called “The Most Scary Ghost”. There was nothing particularly significant about this story, other than said star of our story, the ghost, resided in an old lighthouse and would run up and down the one-hundred stairs each night shrieking, “I’m the most scary ghost, whippety-woo!”
The big attraction to this book was definitely the lighthouse. There’s something rather romantic to the image of a lighthouse, even to a child; of being a lighthouse keeper, living in the lighthouse, and being responsible for the safety of countless ships and the lives of the crew, as they pass the rocky points of land the flashing lights are a warning of.
One such lighthouse exists at Fingal Head, a lovely little seaside village just south of the New South Wales and Queensland borders.
This tiny lighthouse, situated twenty-four metres above sea-level, stands only seven metres in height, making it one of the smallest lighthouses in Australia. But height wasn’t an important factor when designing and building the lighthouse in 1878, due to the natural elevation of the site.
Once upon a time this lighthouse did have a keeper, in fact the first keeper, William Arnold, happily resided in the keeper’s residence with his wife and eleven children for twenty-seven years. What a view they enjoyed, with Cook Island just half a kilometre out to sea, and the endless blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, as far as the eye can see!
These days, Fingal lighthouse has the honour of being the oldest public building in the Tweed Shire. It was converted to automatic operation in 1920 and with the keeper’s cottage having no further use, it was demolished.
Yesterday, when I visited Fingal Heads, the sky was the most brilliant of blues and a pod of dolphins frolicked playfully not far from the shore. I wonder if Captain James Cook was met by such a delightful day, back in 1770, when he sailed north along the eastern coast of New South Wales, sighting Fingal Head and Cook Island, and naming the local landmarks of Point Danger and Mount Warning?
If there were any ghosts present at Fingal lighthouse yesterday, they were no doubt basking in the glory of the day, watching the dolphins play in the ocean below and sighing with contentment at the sight of the multitudes of happy people, enjoying a day in the sun in the surrounds of the old lighthouse.
And what became of the scary ghost in my children’s beloved childhood story? The child in the story yelled “BOO!” to the ghost, and it fled down the one-hundred stairs, never to be seen again. 🙂