Shining light on a beacon
TODAY you can call the Cape Byron Lighthouse your own.
The lighthouse – one of Australia’s most iconic beacons – will be open to the public as part of National Lighthouse Day.
Visitors have the chance to experience some of the best views on the Northern Rivers, with an invitation to spend time on the lighthouse balcony.
There will also be three 40-minute tours at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm.
National Parks and Wildlife ranger Andy Robinson said it was a rare opportunity for residents and visitors to get a close-up look at the 22m, 109-year-old structure.
“It is one of the few working lighthouses in Australia people can get access to and tour,” he said.
The lighthouse was built in 1901 after timber cutters lobbied for a lighthouse to guide cargo boats.
When it was built the Cape Byron light was the most powerful in the Southern Hemisphere.
It still warns ships of the location of Julian Rocks, and the lighthouse also attracts 500,000 visitors a year.
As well as other precincts on the Northern Rivers taking part in the Lighthouse Day/Lightship Weekend, Byron will also host members of the Summerland Amateur Radio Club, based in Richmond Hill.
Members will man posts at Cape Byron, Tweed, Ballina and Evans Head lighthouses in an effort to raise awareness about the need to preserve lighthouses and amateur radio.
Operators will use their radio frequencies to contact other lighthouse stations around the world.
Kevin Mulcahy (‘vk2ce’), of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, has organised a field day in which operators around the world can set up portable or amateur radio stations in cars, cottages, lighthouses or wherever power is available.
“Operators get on the air on any of their allowed frequencies and try to contact other lighthouse stations around the world,” he said.
“If successful they have a conversation, chat or whatever and log each contact. If the public are around they are able to talk to these guys and get an idea of what ham radio is all about.
“They also learn a bit about lighthouses and the plight a lot of them are in, rundown and vandalised due to a lack of financial resources.”