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Press Release: International Lighthouse Weekend

Issued: 21 August 2005

Lighthouses are a beacon for incurable romantics like Geelong’s Peter Hill who was in his element at the weekend.

The celebrated author of Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper had fellow ‘lighthouse tragics’ hanging from his every word at Cape Otway Lightstation on Saturday.

It was International Lighthouse Weekend and Peter was one of the attractions.

A Melbourne University fine arts lecturer and international art critic by day, Peter’s incurable passion for lighthouses has burned bright since he was a bairn of four or five.

As a 19 year old art student, with hair almost to his waist, Peter had the chance to try life as a lightkeeper in the Scottish summer of 1973.

He served as a relief lightkeeper on three uninhabited islands off the western coast of Scotland, which fuelled his passion for lighthouses, and ultimately led to him penning Stargazing almost 30 years later.

“I was attracted by the romantic notion of sitting on a rock, writing haikus and dashing off the occasional watercolour, but I was quickly disillusioned,” says Peter, who found himself abruptly emerged in the more practical operations of keeping the lights operational.

But in between the hard work Peter found inspiration in his lighthouse ‘spaceships’, which he says appeared to have been designed by NASA in partnership with Monty Python.

As Stargazing gains a growing audience around the world – it’s just been published in Germany under the title How the Hippie Arrived at the Lighthouse – Peter’s anxiously awaiting news from a publisher on his latest book Ocean Necklace.

It’s all about his “horizontal mountaineering”, a type of travel diary about the pilgrimages he makes from cities around the globe to … you guessed it a lighthouse.

Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper is published by Random House.

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