Stroll to Nobby's Head Lighthouse
Sunday 24th April 2016
With the inclement weather yesterday we spent much of the day down below with the hatches firmly closed against the rain, so today we needed to get out for some fresh air. As we had passed Nobby’s Head Lighthouse on the way in, we had remarked that we never got around to visiting it when we were here before, so today we were putting that right.
The wind had dropped considerably by the time we set off after lunch, but we could tell it was still quite breezy out at sea by the lumpy horizon we could see through the river entrance from the town wharf.
The river entrance with Nobby’s Head Lighthouse to right. Zoomed in to show the horizon made lumpy by the waves.
We were amazed to see so many people fishing from the town wharf, in fact there seemed to be complete families picnicking by the water’s edge.
The entire length of the wharf was filled with people fishing. This is what they are after – apparently plentiful here since Easter.
We followed the water’s edge and passed the bronze sculpture of ‘Destiny’ which commemorates the 200th anniversary of Newcastle Port operations.
One of the tug fleet passes ‘Destiny’ as it comes back into port. Bronze sculpture ‘Destiny’.
We walked past the old Customs House, and huge orange triangles on poles – leading marks which are lined up by boats to guide them safely in and out of the port. A boat positions itself in the water so that one triangle is immediately above and in line with the other, and keeps them that way as it moves towards (or away from) them, in order to stay in safe water.
The old Customs House. Boats line these two triangles one above the other.
Nobby’s Head Lighthouse stands on what was once an island, first sighted by Cook in 1770 from the Endeavour. It became of importance when coal was found in 1797 and ships began to use the river mouth regularly. Building of a pier to join Nobby’s Head to the mainland was started in 1818 using convict labour and took 38 years to complete. During this time many convicts lost their lives as they were made to work through all weather conditions, day and night. The pier was later replaced by a breakwater, using rocks from the top of Nobby’s.
The breakwater that today joins Nobby’s Head to the mainland, busy with people out for a stroll, jogging or walking for exercise.
When first spotted by Cook, Nobby’s Head was 43 metres high, but in 1857 it was reduced to its current 27 metres because sailing ships were losing the wind as they passed into its wind shadow and many ships were lost between 1833-57. The present lighthouse was built in 1858 and it continues as a working lighthouse to this day. It is the oldest working lighthouse on the New South Wales coast. Its light shines for up to 24 nautical miles to help ships safely navigate this part of the Australian coastline.
Nobby’s Head Lighthouse
The breakwater beyond Nobby’s was begun in 1875 and extended a number of times before being finished in 1915. It is known as the southern breakwater, a northern breakwater being also built between 1898 and 1912. Prior to the construction of both breakwaters, heavy seas often pushed ships into difficulties on the Oyster Bank just north of the entrance, the first of these being in 1805. We were certainly glad of the protection of both breakwaters on Friday!
Looking along the southern breakwater from Nobby’s. One of six murals along the edge of the breakwater.
Looking back to Nobby’s Head from the end of the breakwater. There was still the odd big wave out there!
Looking back to Nobby’s beach and the coast south. Not sure who left this pencil lying around – but it made a good rest stop!
Carefully avoiding the wet patches along the pathway in case another wave came over, we made our way back along the breakwater and into town. It was by now Happy Hour at the restaurants that lined the shore, so we stopped into one for refreshments. My glass of bubbles was $3.50 and Steve’s beer $4, but the best of all was the salt and pepper squid at $6 – it was delicious! Just what we needed to round off a lovely afternoon stroll. By the time we were retracing our steps along the foreshore back to the boat it was dark, and not only were the fisherpeople still there, but the water was alight with hundreds of red and green LED floats bobbing around. What a sight!