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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, work, 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


This digital resource can be used to achieve the following outcomes:

H.1 A student demonstrates understanding of how relationships between composer, responder, text and context shape meaning.
H.4 A student describes and analyses the ways that language forms and features, and structures of texts shape meaning and influence responses.
H.5 A student analyses the effect of technology and medium on meaning.
H.8 A student articulates and represents own ideas in critical, interpretive and imaginative texts from a range of perspectives.
H.10 A student analyses and synthesises information and ideas into sustained and logical argument for a range of purposes and audiences.
H.11 A student draws upon the imagination to transform experience and ideas into text, demonstrating control of language.

This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies 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.

Literacy Activity: Focus= Viewing / Analysing

  1. The clip begins with slow, serious music, images of cliffs and rocks and a series of facts presented by the commentator. Explain the purpose of this introduction? (3 marks)
  2. Why must everything be exact? (1 mark)
  3. What important job do women have on the island? (1 mark)

Further Resources


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