My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild
In the tradition of Wild and Tracks, one woman's story of how she left the city and found her soul.
Disillusioned and burnt out by her job, Claire Dunn quits a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Her new forest home swings between ally and enemy as reality - and the rain - sets in.
Claire's adventure unfolds over four seasons and in the essential order of survival: shelter, water, fire and food. She arrives in summer, buoyant with idealism, and is initially confronted with physical challenges: building a shelter, escaping the vicious insects and making fire without matches. By winter, however, her emotional landscape has become the toughest terrain of all. Can she connect with her inner spirit to guide her journey onwards?
Brimming with earthy charm and hard-won wisdom, My Year Without Matches is one woman's quest for belonging, to the land and to herself. When Claire finally cracks life in the bush wide open, she discovers a wild heart to warm the coldest night.
"A brave and adventurous book ... Claire's writing is full of life and profound surprises." - Anne Deveson
"An entertaining look at how Dunn survived for four seasons in a 'hundred acres of baking scrubland" - Sun Herald
"With earthy, expressive honesty she shares her struggles [and] the swooping highs of crafting life out of a block of unforgiving scrub... by sharing such an intimate journey, Claire has given us all a gift." - WellBeing Magazine
grasstrees. Hollow bones, the needles whisper. Be hollow bones. Far below, the sun glints off an open bulge in the creek before drawing in sharply at an elbow bend. The bank is the bone, directive and strong, the river hollow within. Together they pulse the current downstream, expanding and contracting in an ongoing dialogue. Hollow bones. Be hollow bones. The river carries, receives. Grasping nothing, judging nothing. It accepts both the push and pull of the tides, the fullness of flood and
me, so I picked up a stick and killed it, or tried to kill it, but it just kept on wriggling.” Silence. “Well, we’re here to learn to survive off the land, aren’t we?” he says, trying to convince himself as much as anyone. “Or are we just pretending?” Dan lunges in to take hold of the snake’s neck, as if also in doubt of its dead status. Unhooked, it drops to the ground, continuing to spin out in short spasms. Dan bursts into tears. Watching on from the shade, with a frozen grin of shock and
pointing above my head. I look up, humbled to realise I hadn’t before noticed the thick bunches of purple berries hanging from a vine on the path to the waterhole. “Makes an alright jam, this one.” “Yum,” says Nik, passing around the bunch. I pop a few in my mouth and stash a bunch in my pocket. Back at camp, Mark lights a small fire to cook some of our collected roots. Chatting as we prepare our supper, no-one notices Sam approach until he’s standing next to us, a goanna slung over his
basket. Laying them crossways, I attempt to secure them at the base with two thin strands. The first weaver snaps at the leaf node. It’s definitely not cane. Over and under, over and under. My hands soon learn the amount of give the vine can offer, gently persuading it to bend without breaking. I relax into the weaver’s mantra. The burble of the creek washes over me, a river stone caressed by the shallow rapids. I am absorbed deeper and deeper in the task until all movement – hands, fingers,
I invited you over, apart from wanting to hang out, of course. Ever since I decided to leave, I’ve been having a great time. For the first week or so all I did was sit around and read and look at the bush, except this time without the guilty feeling that I should be doing something useful, you know?” “Ha, yeah, I know.” “I was seeing everything in a way I hadn’t before. It was all so beautiful. Every moment was precious, but not in a pressured way, just poignant or something. “One morning I