Lighthouses: The romance and the reality
Everybody loves a lighthouse. The image of the shining light in a tall tower seem to stir something in everyone’s imagination. We imagine a romantic life in one of these isolated outposts. Away from the hustle and bustle, in a sublime and wild setting, at one with the elements…
The reality was a little different. Lighthouses were built on remote sections of the Victorian coast or on islands, some only accessible by sea. Light keepers and their families relied on infrequent supplies brought in by ships. During emergencies there might be no help at hand and the consequences could be tragic.
Over 600 shipwrecks are recorded along the treacherous Victorian coastline with the loss of many lives. Many of the wrecked ships were bringing people from all over the world to try their luck on the goldfields. The establishment of a series of Lighthouses along Victoria’s coast from the mid 1800’s didn’t stop the wrecks altogether; human error was often a contributing factor in these disasters.
Lighthouse keepers had their part to play, sometimes helping shipwreck survivors and communicating news of these disasters to the outside world.
Adventurous travellers have been visiting lighthouses since soon after they were built. They are now iconic destinations that most people can access and they haven’t lost their romantic appeal.