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Lighthouse Keepers and Their Families

Video clip synopsis – Three lighthouse keepers and their families are the only residents on remote and windswept Maatsuyke Island, off the south-west coast of Tasmania.
Year of production - 1949
Duration - 2min 16sec
Tags - gender, remote areas, technological change, see all tags


Lighthouse Keepers and Their Families

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About the Video Clip


Lighthouse Keepers and Their Families is an excerpt from the film The Lighthouse Keeper (11 mins), produced in 1949.

The Lighthouse Keeper: There are few lonelier jobs than that of a lighthouse keeper. Around Australia’s long coastline are the lighthouses that provide navigational aids to ships at sea. Many of these are sited in lonely spots, but the people who tend them never fail to keep the lights ablaze. This program looks at the lifestyle of a family living in the lighthouse on Maatsuyker Island, off the southwest coast of Tasmania.

The Lighthouse Keeper is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of Information.

Curriculum Focus


Reading standard: Students read and view imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that explore ideas and information relating to challenging topics, themes and issues. They explore the ideas, themes and issues explored in these texts, and provide supporting evidence to justify their interpretations. They produce personal responses, for example, interpretive pieces and character profiles.

Writing standard: Students produce, in print and electronic forms, texts for a variety of purposes, including speculating, hypothesizing, persuading and reflecting. They edit their writing for clarity, coherence and consistency of style, and proofread and correct spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.

Speaking and listening standard: Students express creative and analytical responses to texts, themes and issues.

The activities in this learning module are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strand of Level 5 Communications (Listening, viewing and responding standard; Presenting standard) and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, processing and inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 5 Interpersonal Development (Building social relationships standard; Working in teams standard) and Personal Learning (The individual learner standard; Managing personal learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Lighthouses are essential for the safety of ships. Each has its own special sequence of flashing, and this tells navigators where they are located. They are always placed on land, and warn of the presence of rocks and land that need to be avoided in an area. This lighthouse is situated on Maatsuyker Island below Tasmania. For many years three lighthouse keepers and their families lived on this island. It is an isolated location where food and supplies were brought in every few months by boat. It is a challenging environment where the weather is changeable, often with very cold winds. Despite these challenges, these lighthouse keepers never failed to keep the lights ablaze. It might be a lonely occupation but for certain people, they enjoy the lifestyle in a remote place like Maatsuyker Island. There is also something beautiful about lighthouses. Today, however, with changes in technology which automate lighthouses, lighthouse keepers have become part of a bygone era.

Classroom Activities

    1. Describe the setting of the lighthouse.
    2. Describe the jobs that need to be done to keep the light working and visible.
    3. The video clip tells us that three families live at the lighthouse. Give reasons why those families might choose to live there.
    4. List five advantages and five disadvantages of living this way.
    1. Write brief descriptions of the roles of the men and the women in the video clip.
    2. Give reasons why you think men and women had such separate roles at that time.
    1. Imagine you are one of the children living at the lighthouse. Write a 300-word letter to your cousin describing your life on the day before the supply ship is expected.
    2. Write a micro mystery story (300–500 words) set in a lighthouse many years ago. You could begin with something strange being washed up on the shore.

Further Resources


Television Program
Esben Storm (dir), Round the Twist, Australian Childrens Television Foundation & ABC, 1989