Wild Reading

Rewilding of our world needs to be simultaneous with the rewilding of our hearts.”  –  Claire Dunn

my year without matches

I recently read “My Year Without Matches”, by Claire Dunn, and once I finished it I promptly returned to the start and read it all over again.  That’s how inspiring  I found her story.

Today, I was lucky enough to meet Claire at a library not far from where I live, where she shared her story of spending a year living in a wilderness survival camp.  Burnt out from years working as a conservation campaigner, most notably for the Wilderness Society, Claire accepts an opportunity to be one of six individuals to participate in Australia’s first wilderness survival camp.  Set on 100 acres of wild land on the NSW coast, she begins her journey of learning to re-engage with nature, while simultaneously re-connecting with her inner spirit.

Her adventure spans four seasons, and her story is told in the essential order of survival; shelter, water, fire and food.  Spending the first few months learning essential bush survival skills from specialist instructors provides the basis of knowledge that is to be further built on by her own direct experiences.  Claire will build her own shelter, learn to make fire by traditional methods, and ultimately come face to face with the realisation that her own survival will depend on having to take the life of animals as a source of food.

Fire takes the chill off the dawn air as Claire Dunn starts her day with a spot of basket-weaving.


Claire is the sort of person who has a relaxed presence about her, yet emanates a subtle degree of clarity that comes from people who know their place in this world.  By her own admission, she learnt a great deal about herself in the 12 months spent in the wild, but more importantly she learnt how to connect with the natural world.  Her story is a compelling read for anyone wanting to know what it would be like to step away from the man-made world and be completely “off the grid”.  And, by so doing, learn how to ‘rewild’ your heart.

Today, Claire described her new-found purpose since her 12 months in the wild, as being ‘a bridge’ from the city to the wild.  She now runs work-shops designed to help connect people back to our ‘wild ways’ so that society may learn to re-love the wild places that need to be cherished and saved.

Claire writes beautifully, and with a grace an charm that shows her innate love of the wild.  I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who desires to take a step further into the wilds of nature, and learn what it has to offer.  Perhaps even, what we, might be able to offer in return.



4 thoughts on “Wild Reading

  1. Hi Leah!
    Great to “read” you again. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the review of Claire’s book and also your description of meeting her. How lovely that you were able to talk to her and what an inspiring and interesting story. I’d heard of the book but have yet to read it. After your post I must try to get a copy. I’m hoping once my responsibilities have lessened in a couple of years I’ll be able to try out some extended trips in the wilderness. I do crave getting away from the city. I hope you’ve been well, Leah. I am sure you could write your own “story” about your experiences and love for the wild and it would be well received. Best wishes! 🙂

  2. Hi Jane, thankyou for your comments, and good to hear from you. I have indeed been busy; creating my very own book to self-publish (I hope). I have been working on it almost for a year now, in my ‘spare’ time, but more intensely for the last few months (hence, no blog posts). I banned myself from the distractions of both writing and reading blog posts, and I’m sure you know just how much time and effort goes into this. But non-the-less, I do miss the blogger-sphere. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about Claire’s book though, after having met her in person yesterday, and it was a nice easy post to write, without the drama of photo editing etc. that goes with my usual posts :). I hope you are well Jane, and I will endeavour to catch up on some of your posts in the next few weeks; so don’t write too many more! Cheers, Leah 🙂

  3. A year, does it become another day at the office at some point? The longest I’ve been backcountry in a minimalist fashion was 2 weeks. I simply must have this book, off to Amazon with me to get a copy. Thanks for sharing. Speaking of buying books I want to buy a first pressed signed copy when you publish.

  4. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, and I sure wouldn’t mind the location of bush for my office! 🙂 Thanks for your interest again in my book Curt; it’s motivating me to keep going 🙂 Cheers, Leah

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