HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

25 March 2015

‘good old friends of yore”

In a time when we can travel at great speeds in comfort from place to place, have all manner of entertainment at our fingertips, have conversations instantly with friends from every part of the globe at the press of a button, this story takes us back to an era where time and fun and community was seen in a completely different way.  I hope you take the time to enjoy this story…I did.

parker The lighthouse keepers and their families lived in isolation in meager accommodation on top of the exposed cliffs of Cape St George headland,   tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the lighthouse, monitoring passing ships in all weather,  aid in their safe passage along the dangerous and rugged coast.   The occupants of the lighthouse must have been very happy to have a visitor call in every now and then and break the monotony, and receive news from the colonies.

This story from the Shoalhaven Telegraph August 1892, is full of joy and good spirits, and speaks of a simpler time, it’s about a group of friends that make a surprise visit to the lighthouse.

Harry Parker, principal keeper at the time.


To the weary voyager across the vast Pacific,  who see’s naught to relieve his monotony,  nothing is so gladdening as the sight of land which reminds him that home is not far distant;  hope springs within his eternal breast,  rising like a giant pillar till it reaches the summit of his ambition.  Not less jubilant is he than were the residents of Cape St George lighthouse on the evening of Friday, 5th August, when to their astonishment entered some two dozen visitors – several others,  including your humble scribe,  entering at a later hour - from Nth Huskisson, St Georges basin,  Erowal, Bherwerre, and Sydney.  The event had been mooted several weeks previously.  but owing to circumstances could not be accomplished till above date.  Perfect secrecy was maintained with a view of thoroughly bombarding the enemy,  in this case one not hostile to such proceedings.

The day opened rather gloomily,  as also the day previous,  but Mr Sun,  now and then sent fourth his splendour,  gladdening the hearts of one and all.  But in the afternoon at the appointed hour of starting,  our hearts almost sank within us when the sky became overcast,  and a very heavy storm passed,  but inclined to the west.  However,  a start was effected.  Having travelled at least 13 miles of the worst vehicular roads in the colony,  we alighted in order to satisfy our craving appetites,  and to arrange the attack.

Rain threatening we lost no time in resuming our journey in order to bombard the enemy between lights,  having posted our sentry at an earlier date,  and who proved equal to the occasion.

The first residence of the Keepers in sight was that of the principal,  Mr Parker,  Who along with his family and our sentry,  were having pleasant reminiscences over the tea table.  Not a foot was heard,  and as if ordained by Providence,  the canine species were all indoors.  We eagerly alighted,  entered premises by pioneer entrance,  and with loud “hoorahs”  announced our arrival.  The inmates were astounded,  each and everyone helter skelter to witness the scene,  Parker even blessing the victuals to which he was partaking owing to misrepresenting his garments for his mouth.

Some vowed we were from foreign parts,  others from the city,  and elsewhere's.  but in our gentle demeanor we were soon detected as ‘good old friends of yore”  and were made welcome.  We spent no time in illuminating the room,  and ridding it of it’s contents, piano, etc,  going to adjoining room, where we began operations as true warriors alone can do.  Travel where you may,  you could not find a happier assemblage,  as evidenced by their smiling countenances,  and by the familiar,  yet graceful demeanor of the ladies,  than when no worthier could be found,  not omitting the names of the three keepers,  their worthy spouses and families who joined the assemblage as soon as circumstances permitted.  To those who indulged in the ‘'”terpsichorean art”  a suitable floor was at their disposal,  and not long was it before they indulged in the light fantastic.  Music,  concertina,  being supplied by several of the company,  including our sentry.  The talented “Gus” was ever on the alert at the piano. Several of the company not being equal to the occasion,  at least in the aforementioned art,  several intermissions were made,  interspersed with many amusing games,  causing much merriment at times. Not less amusing were the pranks of our worthy hostess,  and a talented Boniface  by title “Jack”  from Sydney,  in recruit of health.  Several songs were ably rendered during the night,  many comics' relieving the monotony of sentimental on such occasions.  Punctually at 12 p.m an adjournment was made for refreshments,  and I need hardly say,  were partaken of with much gusto,  recipients dooming edibles A1. The former program was then resumed and was kept up until daylight,  the only regret expressed,  that the night had elapsed far to soon.
Refreshments were again provided,  after which the company again assembled to sing  ‘Auld Lang Syne,” and “For he’s a jolly good fellow,”  
after which one and all separated for their respective homes.

Many expressions were made regarding the event,  that not a more enjoyable company,  nor a more satisfied one had ever assembled at Cape St George, as evidenced by the host and hostess the outcome of which  I trust will be the re-assemblage of a similar nature on some future occasion,  not only in the above tone,  but in true meaning of the expression, With hearty congratulations, au revoir


The exposed cliffs and ruins of the Cape St George lighthouse, bathed in light from the morning sun.

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