Thursday, 28 August 2014

Close call

Saturday 15th of January
Sorry dear diary, it has been too hot this week to write and it’s also been an uneventful week - until today.  Today my little brother Arthur and I were almost killed.

 Dad hired a trap and took our family out to South Head.  Mamma was very excited as she used to live there when she was a young girl.  She said those were happy days before the demon drink really took hold of her Da.  When we asked if he was the lighthouse keeper, she replied that no, he was a signaller at the signal station adjacent to the lighthouse.

Whilst mamma and dad relaxed on the grass with our picnic lunch - and with Anne and Alfie - the other five of us played hide and go seek around the Macquarie Light.  It was so nice to have a cool breeze blowing to cool us all down, as the week had been so hot and we were enjoying running around freely.  Anyway,  it was Freddie’s turn to seek and I had little Arthur with me, because he’s still too young to hide on his own, and I thought that hiding around the base of the lighthouse would be good, as we could work our way around it and stay out of sight of Freddie.  That plan was working and we were both giggling as Freddie looked under bushes and caught Harriet.  Suddenly there was a funny noise - a bit like when the soldiers struck their matches on the walls of the barracks - and we all looked around to see what it was.  

Next thing I knew, Freddie was running fast across the lawn, scooped up Arthur and barrelled into me - like in a football match.  I was about to yell abuse at him from where he had knocked me to the ground, when suddenly a big block of sandstone fell off the Lighthouse and landed where Arthur and I had been standing not five seconds before!  Dad and mamma came running in panic and mamma took little Arthur from Freddie and held him tightly, covering his golden curls with kisses - although all he wanted was to get down to look at the big stone.  I was flabbergasted and found it hard to believe that I owed my life to Freddie.  Dad had both Freddie and I in his arms, asking if we were alright and praising Freddie for his quick thinking, heroics and for a brilliant  rugby tackle.

Needless to say, that was the end of the game of Hide and Go Seek and we picked up our picnic things and moved further away from the Lighthouse.  Dad said something about having to report this and that the bands were not holding the structure together anymore.  I don’t know what bands he meant as I didn’t see any musicians anywhere near the lighthouse.
The original Macquarie Lighthouse with the structural steel bands on the left; the new and current Macquarie Lighthouse, South Head on right. From the collection of the State Library of NSW.

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