I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
For years I have been regularly visiting the Kingscliff/Fingal Head area but have never realised there was a lighthouse at Fingal Head! After recently being told about this lighthouse a visit to the area went to the top of my to-do list!
The walk from the car park to the lighthouse takes approximately 5 - 10 minutes. The ground is uneven and there are several patches of soft sand, making this track unsuitable for people who are unsteady on their feet. The track takes you through remnant coastal rainforest and past the walkway to beautiful Dreamtime Beach. Just before reaching the lighthouse there are about 20 steps, taking you up a small incline and then you are well and truly rewarded for your efforts.
The view from the headland is nothing short of spectacular and takes in the southern Gold Coast beaches in one direction and affords a fabulous view of Kingscliff and northern NSW beaches in the other direction. Interestingly, the headland itself was made from a lava flow from the now extinct Tweed Volcano.
Across a stretch of water, known as the Giants Causeway (named after the famous Giants Causeway between Northern Ireland and Western Scotland), is Cook Island. As the name suggests, this uninhabited island was discovered by James Cook in 1770. In 1988 Cook Island was designated a marine reserve, making fishing in nearby waters illegal.
For boats travelling along this coastline and particularly for those wishing to enter the Tweed River, off-shore reefs have always proved to be hazardous. Cook Island, sitting just 500 meters out to sea added to the danger of this area. In 1872 the Government acknowledged the dangers of these reefs and a provisional light station was established on the headland. Six years later a "modern" lighthouse was built and the existing structure was replaced by a sandstone tower and attached oil room. A four room cottage for the keeper was built a short distance away. The first lighthouse keeper, William Arnold, remained in this position for almost 27 years, living with his wife and 11 children in the cottage! In 1923 the light was converted to an unmanned automatic acetylene operation and sadly, all buildings other than the tower were demolished. In 1980 the lighthouse was converted to electricity. Today, visitors can see the ruins of the keeper's cottage, close to the lighthouse.
Although only standing at 7 meters in height, Fingal Head lighthouse is situated atop one of the region's tallest cliffs, giving it an elevation of 24 meters above sea level. The oldest existing public building in the Tweed Shire, the tower is sadly, but understandably, closed to the public.
If you happen to be visiting during whale watching season, there's a very good chance you'll see these amazing creatures from the headland. We didn't spot whales during our visit but were entertained by a large pod of dolphins happily playing in the surf meters below!
There is another gem in this area that you may like to experience - why not stop at the Sheoak Shack Gallery Cafe to refuel after your morning or afternoon of exploring? Great food, good coffee, a lovely view and a chance to relax await you here and will see you returning home feeling very satisfied on all levels!