Hike-in hike-out couple find work at 'bloody beautiful' Wilsons Prom lighthouse
Carolyn Webb | Fairfax Media | 18 August 2017
Working as caretakers at Wilsons Promontory lighthouse – that would be a lark, wouldn't it?
Wouldn't you spend your days sitting in a deckchair, chardonnay in hand, watching the whales frolic in Bass Strait?
Renata and Colin Musson, who divide their lives between their city apartment and their paid gig at the wildly beautiful Prom, won't deny there are perks.
Like getting a front row seat for some of the country's most spectacular coastal scenery and beautiful bushwalks.
Admiring wallabies and wombats at their doorstep. Watching a parade of humpback whales and ships go by. Sea eagles soaring, and seals lolling on rocks.
But it's also hard yakka.
The Mussons must clean for, and host, as many as 22 tourists at a time staying in the three cottages below the lighthouse on the Prom's south-eastern tip – the southernmost point of mainland Australia.
The lighthouse is so remote – visitors must walk 19 kilometres to the lighthouse, carrying their own food and clothes – that the couple do everything from painting to repairs to gardening.
The Mussons work at the Prom for about 140 days a year, alternating stints with two colleagues.
So from September to May, they spend seven days at the Prom, and the next seven days 240km away, among skyscrapers in their Southbank apartment.
During winter, the Mussons are at the Prom for three- or four-day weekends, according to demand.
They say many visitors prefer the cold to the heat of summer.
Mr Musson says the Prom can be "bloody beautiful", even if it's cold, blowing a gale and pouring rain.
Mobile phone and internet coverage can be patchy. Even with a service road down the middle of the prom that gets the Mussons to within 3.5 kilometres of the lighthouse, the supermarket is still a five-hour round trip away in Foster.
But these are petty woes compared with their predecessors in the 1800s, who fended for themselves between six-monthly supply ships.
In the 1870s, lighthouse keepers the Musgrave family had 16 children, two of whom died here.
Parks Victoria today employs only about 20 people in the job the Mussons do, at five lighthouses.
The Mussons love showing off the Prom, to visitors from as far afield as Chile and South Africa.
The Mussons previously managed or worked in Queensland island resorts and more recently managed a holiday park at Carnarvon Gorge in outback Queensland.
But being diving fanatics, they wanted to be nearer the sea. Ms Musson said she got lucky when she typed "remote area lighthouse" on a job search website.
A keen photographer, she says there's always something interesting happening.
One Frenchman interrupted his 100-kilomtere fun run to have wine (in a glass) and cheese from his backpack at the lighthouse.
There have been five wedding proposals between guest couples.
"It's an absolute privilege", Ms Musson says of the lighthouse gig.
"We've been there over four years but it still surprises me that we get paid to do the job. It is wonderful."