The life of the Lighthouse Keepers
Gallery13a• There were always three keepers on duty each night so a head light-keeper and two assistants lived in the precinct. George Bardin was the first head lighthouse keeper who originally came from the Channel Islands.

• It was amazing that he could hold such a position considering that on his way to Australia he fell from the crows nest on board the ship, breaking both his legs. To add insult to injury, during his recovery in Williamstown Hospital, rats ate away part of his heels! Other keepers included George Stevens (1893-96), Samuel Buse (1899-1902), Henry Cohen Stafford (1910-1915), and Richard Baker (1915-1919).
Gallery18a• Baker, whose annual salary in 1919, including rent, was 216 pounds, maintained an active social life and loved a quiet drink. He is said to have scratched a small hole in the black paint on the back of the lantern, which prevents the light shining inland and annoying residents. The hole lined up with the Airey’s Inlet Hotel so that each time the lenses flashed, the light winked through the hole assuring Richard (who was in the pub) that all was well.

• The head light-keeper ensured that the light was correctly lit 15 minutes before dusk and he wasreplaced after five hours by an assistant. Five hours later the third keeper relieved him. They overlapped their shifts for an hour to ensure that the new watch was awake. There were communication pipes between the lantern room and the three main bedrooms of the cottages.

• Kerosene required active maintenance to ensure that the wick was always burning at the correct length and that maximum oxygen was available to brighten the light. It produced a stinky vapor and black soot which had to be cleaned from the lens and the windows. The fuel also needed to be lugged up the stairs.

• Further tasks for the keepers involved maintaining the light tower( including washing the outside windows!), taking weather readings, and rocket launch practice once a month for shipwreck rescues.


• Life at Aireys Inlet also involved growing fresh food and looking after farm animals which provided them with eggs and milk. The farmers in the valley were able to provide some food as well. In the early 1890s a supply boat provided all other provisions twice a year.

• There were up to 20 children living in the two residences, so store rooms were turned into bedrooms in the quarters to house all of them. There were enough children to open the first Aireys Inlet school. They were able toride horses and helped with the farm work.

• The Lighthouse Ghost: It is believed that the lighthouse has ghostly connections. “A pretty young girl who calls to men from the surf to join her, who has even been said to come up out of the sea to catch hold of a man and try to pull him back with her. It is said that she is an unhappy spirit who needs a man to come down into the ocean before she can find her rest.” The ghost is said to be a keepers daughter who drowned on a fishing excursion with her father after he discovered that she was pregnant. The tragedy was not documented and its truth is not known.


• Communication to Sea: The lighthouse communicated to ships in two ways. At night an acetylene Morse lamp was used, and by day a signal tree – a T-shaped flagpole system- from which maritime flags were hung. If, for example, a ship was coming into danger the letters J.D was to be hoisted as warning.

• The First cottage was sold to the Williams family in 1935 and in 2004, the two assistant keeper’s cottages were put up for auction. Much speculation and publicity surrounded the event, and there were hundreds of people at the auction on 6 March. The cottages were reportedly sold for an undisclosed figure over AU$1.5 million.