Running the light at Green Cape in the old days was a bit like winding a grand-father clock said chief lighthouse lighter and vice president of Lighthouses Australia Inc Ian Clifford.
The rotation of the original two-tonne lantern was dependent on a weighted clockwork system that used around six, 40 kilogram weights.
Every few hours, the lighthouse keeper would take the 114 steps to the top of the tower and wind the ‘clock’, also ensuring the fuel system was working correctly.
“Keepers had to be quite fit,” he said.
“They preferred married men because the men and their wives worked as a team and there was a lot less trouble if there were women around.”
“The light was not electrified until 1962 because it was a very efficient system and used long lasting technology.
“It actually floats in a bed of mercury, which is a very efficient and low-friction bearing for the light,” Mr Clifford said.
“It was particularly useful in the old days; it meant you didn’t have to wind it up as much.”
Mr Clifford’s association with Green Cape goes back to 2000, when the former engineer played a key role in restoring the light for use on special occasions.
Eden resident Richard Jermyn was the keeper at the time.
As the current solar powered light is an important navigational aid, special permission was needed to switch it off and power up the original.
“The two lights have the same character which makes things a bit simpler,” Mr Clifford said.
“The solar light uses a solar powered beacon, built on the same principals as the old light and although it is actually a very small plastic lens it is very efficient.”
“Solar is exceptionally reliable and there’s about five days of reserve battery.”
He said the best times to view the light are at dusk or dawn.
“We will turn it on just after sunset and we turn it off just before sunrise,” he said.
“It’s always a lot of fun out there.”
The original lighthouse was officially tuned off for the last time on March 17, 1992 and has been replaced by an automated steel lattice skeleton tower with a solar powered light.