Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve
The Norah Head Lighthouse, built between 1901 and 1903, is still in operation and has become a popular tourist destination.
The Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve is a non-profit organisation comprising seven local community representatives appointed by the NSW Government to manage the reserve and its associated activities.
The reserve is ably supported by 50 passionate volunteers, who conduct tours of the lighthouse, the site and its historic buildings and maintain the surrounding bushland through bush care and coast care groups.
Two reserve managers live on site and manage the accommodation and bookings. The heritage Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage and Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage are let for accommodation and the venue is available for hire for weddings, receptions and photos, and other functions.
Gary Dean, Chair of the reserve, said ‘it is a wonderful example of volunteers maintaining a public asset’.
‘All income from guided tours, accommodation and venue hire is directed towards the upkeep and preservation of the Norah Head Lighthouse, buildings and site. Donations from people or companies committed to the ongoing preservation of the site are also greatly appreciated by the reserve’, he said.
Guided tours of the lighthouse are available from 10 am to 1 pm every day of the year except Christmas and ANZAC days. Visits to the reserve over the past five years have grown from 11,867 people in 2015 to 15,438 people in 2017. These guided tours generated $73,265 in 2017.
There has also been steady growth in the guest accommodation. It is now difficult to book a weekend unless you book 12 months in advance. Gary said that more work is needed to fill the weekday gaps and the reserve’s marketing committee and the reserve managers are developing initiatives to achieve that aim.
The revamped guest accommodation was given a 4 star rating for 2017–18 in the category of ‘self-catering’.
Gary said, ‘we have always known and thought that we were “winners” with our activities at the reserve, but occasionally it is nice to have that recognised by others. During our term we have received the Regional Gold Award for cultural tourism, been nominated as a State Finalist in that same category, recognised as a great place for wedding ceremonies and were a finalist (runner up) at the 2017 State Regional and Community Awards for Community Managers’.
In the end it comes down to good management and governance processes on behalf of the reserve and volunteers and support from the local community.
‘Without the support of our wonderful volunteers Norah Head Lighthouse could not be maintained and operated in the way it is’, Gary said.
Find out more at Norah Head Lighthouse