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Press Release: International Lighthouse Weekend at Cape Otway Lightstation

Issued: 20 August 2007

ERIN Lane, 13, of Killarney, prides herself at being pretty speedy at sending text messages to her friends – so it came as a surprise when she was outdone by a system of dots and dashes invented in the 1840s.

Along with her two younger sisters, Brianna and Sarah, Erin watched with amazement at Cape Otway Lightstation as Morse Codian Fraternity member Peter Shaw tapped out a message to the girls’ primary school in Port Fairy.

Peter was stationed at the Cape’s old Telegraph Station on Saturday and Sunday as part of International Lighthouse weekend celebrations. He said although most children hadn’t heard of Morse Code they were quickly captivated with stories of the telegraphy system.

Kids were impressed by the fact that it was still a mighty fast form of telegraphy, outstripping contemporary favourites such as message couriers like Harry Potter’s owl Hedwig, or sending a text message via a mobile phone.

The Lane sisters were one of more than 80 family groups who chose to send a Morse Code message to friends and family around the world from Cape Otway over the weekend.

People wrote their message out, which Peter translated into a series of long and short electrical signals.

With the assistance of Telstra Countrywide these were picked up by Morse Code operators in towns as far away as Beechworth and Albury, then typed up onto a souvenir Cape Otway telegraph form, and posted.

The Lane sisters described their experience of Morse Code as “cool”.

They were among many hundreds of people who attended celebrations at the lighthouse heritage precinct.

Lightstation manager Paul Thompson said the weekend was a big success with hundreds of Colac Otway residents making the most of the Locals’ Pass.

The Lightstation’s Murder Mystery dinner, with a Titanic theme, was a sell-out on Saturday night.

Whales put in a half-hour appearance on Saturday morning, even though they weren’t scheduled as part of the live entertainment line-up, when the Lightstation celebrated along with 380 lighthouses in 51 countries.

Mr Thompson said the weekend promoted the need for preservation of lighthouses and their fascinating history.

For more details, visit the Cape Otway Lightstation website at www.lightstation.com.

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