Sunny side up at South Head
,MY doctor says I have chronic vitamin D deficiency and has ordered “sunshine walks” and bright yellow capsules that look like golden orbs and so it feels, a bit, like swallowing measured doses of the sun.
On one such therapeutic promenade last week, after an appointment in east Sydney’s harbourside Watsons Bay, I huffed and puffed up a hill and what a glorious reward was in store on Old South Head Road.
I have driven past this gleaming white lighthouse on many occasions but never paused to read the sign or study the building’s perfect symmetry.
Macquarie Light Station, which began operating on November 30, 1818 and was rebuilt in 1883, was Australia’s first lighthouse and its fitting memorial is simplicity itself — just a plaque embedded in a handsome sandstone stack on a trimmed lawn.
Apparently convict architect Francis Greenway did such a good job with the design that he was granted a conditional pardon by governor Lachlan Macquarie and the colonial pooh-bars. The lighthouse is still in use and 20-minute escorted tours are available every two months from 10am to 4pm; the next is on April 19, with much-coveted bookings open from April 1 at a most reasonable $5 a pop for adults or $3 child or concession (family rates available).
In my quest to be sunny side up, I could attempt the Harbour Bridge to South Head designated walking route for my booked tour or, more realistically, set off from a Bondi cafe, after an almond milk latte and fortifying fruit toast.
Either way, there is much to be said for walking and looking and rediscovering one’s backyard patch.
Thanks to this serendipitous discovery, I also know the first keeper of Greenway’s great beacon was a former harbour master, Robert Watson, hence this pretty suburb’s name, but he died a year after being appointed. Macquarie Light Station has been fully automated since 1976 and a lighthouse keeper is no longer in residence. What a fine job that would have been, in a high, white room with a view, especially in summer, with sunshine streaming from all sides.
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