Thinking outside the big flashing box
  • Thursday 15 April 2021

Gazing out to sea, imagining romance, creating perfect endings….that’s all in store for Sara Hartland, romance writer and new resident at the iconic 1968 Signal Station at the Caloundra Lighthouses.

COVID has dealt a blow to many local businesses and attractions, but the Friends of the Caloundra Lighthouses, in partnership with Sunshine Coast Council, have rallied and diversified to offer up this unique space for a different purpose while their tours are on hold.

The Signal Station will be tested as the latest space in council’s Creative Spaces program, which matches artists with inspirational places to work.

Local author Sara Hartland was selected through an EOI process to become the inaugural artist in residence at the Caloundra Lighthouses from 5 April to 3 May.

The view from the lighthouse makes this a one-of-a-kind opportunity. From the balcony there are spectacular views – you can see the ships rounding the marker and entering Moreton Bay, with the sand cliffs of Moreton Island behind. Look the other way and the Glass House Mountains dominate the landscape.

Ms Hartland said while in residence, she would work on her manuscript, which will be pitched to publishers at the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference in August.

“It’s a dream come true to have access to such a unique and inspiring space to work,” Ms Hartland said.

“I’m very thankful to Sunshine Coast Council for this innovative program and to the Friends of the Caloundra Lighthouses for providing access to this iconic and beloved location.

“Lighthouses have a strong tradition in storytelling and literature. I’ll be thinking of that as I climb the lighthouse’s 47 winding steps each day to my temporary ‘artist’s garret’ where the views to the sea and the mountains will work their magic.

“Access to the lighthouse location as a workspace will help me complete my current manuscript in time to pitch it to editors at the Romance Writers of Australia 30th anniversary conference at the Gold Coast in August this year.”

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the Creative Spaces program helped build a dedicated network of places and spaces for artists to connect, create and collaborate – one of the goals in council’s 20-year Arts Plan.

“We have everything from scout halls to a new dance studio in Nambour and The Hatchery creative studio space in Eumundi to name a few.

"This diversity is key and allows for artists of all types to find spaces that can truly support and inspire their practice.

“You might have or need a great floor for dance rehearsals or an inspiring view for poets, painters or writers. As I said, variety is essential to ensure we can cater for everyone’s creative needs.

“I’d suggest anyone with an appropriate space to rent or anyone looking for a space to create, should take a look at the site and register.”

Registration is free. Visit council’s website or email

The Caloundra Lighthouses can usually be toured every second and fourth Saturday of the month 9am till mid-afternoon and hope to be up and running again soon.

Visit the lighthouses website to keep up to date or follow them on Facebook.

Image: Sara Hartland and Roger Todd – a member of the Friends of the Caloundra Lighthouses.