The Last Lighthouse Keeper
John Cook with Jon Bauer
Allen & Unwin
A beautiful memoir from John Cook, one of Tasmania's last kerosene lighthouse keepers. A story about madness and wilderness, shining a light onto the vicissitudes of love and nature.
'John Cook's ripping life story exposes Tasmania's old kero-fuelled lighthouses: relentless physically and emotionally demanding labour, done under the often cruel vagaries of nature. Noble work that can ultimately redeem a lost soul. Or break them.' MATTHEW EVANS
I loved the life of the island, because I knew my body was more alive than it was on the mainland. People asked how we stood the isolation and boredom, but in some ways, it was more stimulating to have your senses turned up.
In Tasmania, John Cook is known as 'The Keeper of the Flame'. As one of Australia's longest-serving lighthouse keepers, John spent 26 years tending Tasmania's well-known kerosene 'lights' at Tasman Island, Maatsuyker Island and Bruny Island.
From sleepless nights keeping the lights alive, battling the wind and sea as they ripped at gutters and flooded stores, raising a joey, tending sheep and keeping ducks and chickens, the life of a keeper was one of unexpected joy and heartbreak. But for John, nothing was more heartbreaking than the introduction of electric lights, and the lighthouses that were left empty forever.
Evocatively told, The Last Lighthouse Keeper is a love story between a man and a dying way of life, as well as a celebration of wilderness and solitude.
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