Arrested in an eternal lip-lock by the blue sky, Norah Head Lighthouse stands like a proud bride surrounded by an audience of lush green vegetation. A short walk from the carpark brings one face to face with this beautiful white edifice styled in the image of the Macquarie Lighthouse at South Head, Sydney. The light station was designed by Charles Assinder Harding and the architecture was modeled by James Barnet. It officially opened on 15th November 1903 and was completely automated in 1995.
Situated just 20 minutes from The Entrance in Central Coast, Norah Head takes under 2 hrs to reach from Sydney. The lighthouse carpark is preceded by Young street reserve which has a kids play area and offers tables under the shade of dense foliage for picnicking. A couple of meters from the carpark, to the right, is a lookout offering a 180 degree view of the Tasman Sea. There on, the gradual gradient of a narrow but well-paved path leads down to the lighthouse. The red-brick cottages along the track are the head and the assistant lightkeepers quarters. A quick overview of the website shows that these cosy accommodations can be booked for a minimum of 2 nights stay for a maximum of 8 persons in each cottage.
Unfortunately our trip to the lighthouse was overshadowed by clouds. Even so, the glow of its pristine white musculature set the 27 mts high tower in stark contrast against the swollen clouds almost like a sword ready to slash through every odd.
Further down, the tree-lined track ends at a wooden staircase leading to the part sandy, part rocky beach below where the Tasman sea breaks into frantic waves, hissing and spewing froth. The rocky platform formed of a solidified lava core topped by granite has been dated back to 180-280million years. Tiny rock pools on the surface of this platform provide residence to various weeds and mollusks. We even noticed small crabs scurrying around. This protruding base at the foot of the headland makes for an idyllic spot to spread a mat and enjoy a relaxed bite. Resolute upon returning on a brighter day, we left.
On our second visit, the clear sky brought in a thick influx of visitors. At the beach, fishing enthusiasts hunched over their poles while families enjoyed the lap of waves against the deep channels carved through years by a constant collision between land and water. Up above, the tall bride form of Norah Head Lighthouse beamed at us embosomed by the azure sky.
Short and stout Nobbys Lighthouse (the tall headland substitutes for its height) is the third lighthouse to be erected on the coast of New South Wales. It shed its first light on 1st January 1858 and was fully automated and electrified in 1935. Present day body of the promontory on which the lightstation sits is almost half its original height. Its tall structure obstructed wind making it difficult for the then ships with sails to enter the port. Thus, it was downsized using manual labour. Convicts were employed to cleave the bluff down by 27.5 mts. The dismantled parent rocks were used to pave portions of Nobbys Breakwater.
About an hour from Norah Head Lighthouse, Nobbys lighthouse sits at the very edge of Newcastle. From the top, the headland offers stunning 360 degree views of Newcastle, Stockton and the blue waters. The carpark is expansive and leads to Nobbys Beach, the lighthouse (through a steep ramp) and the Newcastle Breakwall. The lighthouse grounds are open to public only on Sundays from 10am to 4pm and entry is free.
Spirits already dampened by the gloomy weather, we trundled along the breakwall. It is ideal for fitness enthusiasts. We passed several of them jogging or brisk walking along the pier. From the breakwall, the lighthouse looks like a sentry on round the clock watch. The headland is mostly barefaced on the windward side, but the leeward side is blanketed by densely packed bushes. To our right, the expanse of Nobbys beach, otherwise populated, was pockmarked by scant number of beach bums.
Given its open location, ideal for picnics and lazying around, the Nobbys Head area can be windy and cold on occasions as it was during our visit. So keep yourself abreast of the weather before heading out to Nobbys.
Both Lighthouses are amazing spots for a day trip - one framed by the recreation rich Central Coast; the other hugged by picturesque walks of Newcastle - offering plenty of opportunities to relax and flex the photographing finger.