REVIEWS AND RESPONSES
This is a surprising and remarkable account of one woman's quest to reconnect with the earth and herself. Written with raw honesty, humour and poetic beauty, Claire swept me along through the swamps and mountaintops of her experience. Thrumming with the sounds of nature, read this book and hear in yourself the call to the wilds.
- John Seed, co-author “Thinking Like a Mountain”
This is a brave and adventurous book - a memoir that took me into the heart of the wilderness through the eyes of a courageous young woman. Claire’s writing is full of life and profound surprises. She writes with stunning intricacy of the world around her as she is caught in the spell of the wilderness. Read, and you will be caught in the ripple of the land as Claire leads us into alien yet intimate landscapes.
I sometimes felt as if I had been transported into another land - birds that alarmed if danger were near, red-bellied snakes that mercifully slithered away from me, insects that could kill. It became a place of such magic that plundering its beauty is the worst sign of greed.
- Anne Deveson AO,author of 'Tell me I'm Here', 'Resilience', and others
In My Year Without Matches, Claire Dunn has written an eloquent and deeply personal account of her year in the Australian wilderness. With some kindred spirits, she forsakes her uban comforts for the elemental requisites: shelter, water, fire and food. In this intimate meeting with the Earth's gifts and demands, this embrace of the Feminine in its most pure form, Claire shares with us her initiation and her transformation. How nourished we are by her offering.
- Joyce Kornblatt, author of 'The Reason for Wings' and other novels
I probably would have loved My Year Without Matches for its subject matter alone: solo woman braves wilderness, barefoot, in Australia. But this was never going to be 'just another into-the-wild book'. Claire Dunn’s account of her year of living simply is so beautifully written, with such wisdom, wit and heart, and so many well-observed details, that you feel yourself alongside a dear friend, seeing and experiencing all she does, and hoping the journey will never end. This is the best, most honest book I have read in a long time.
- Louise Southerden, award-winning travel writer
As a campaigner to save the wilderness, Claire Dunn thought she knew the bush. But what she knew was "the Forest" – a concept that needed her protection, something "revered, magnificent, faraway". Burnt out by the never-ending demands of environmental campaigns, Dunn realised she needed the forest more than it needed her. She decided to take up the challenge of living in the bush for a year with five others, developing wildness skills – hunting and trapping, gathering bush food, building shelters. A cross, she says, between the reality-TV show Survivor and Henry Thoreau’s Walden. The television dimension of the story surfaces in the inevitable tensions between group members. The main thread of this soul-searching story, however, concerns the daily challenge of survival and Dunn’s inner struggles as she proves to herself she can last the distance.
- Sydney Morning Herald, July 4 2014
Some people burnt out by the daily grind head off to sunbathe and have inappropriate flings in Mediterranean hotspots. Others, like Claire Dunn, spend the year in a far more challenging environment: Australia’s first residential wilderness skills program. A campaigner who has worked for the Wilderness Society, Dunn thought she knew everything about forests, but then she’d never really considered how to build a shelter using only natural materials; gather, hunt or trap; nor indeed how to make a fire sans matches. An entertaining look at how Dunn survived for four seasons in a “hundred acres of baking scrubland".
- Sun Herald, June 12, 2014
Who in their right mind would spend a year in the bush with nothing, having promised to eschew all toxic stimulants? Dunn did it. Beyond the physical struggle, which was considerable, her mind and soul soared into realms she shares with us. We discover an exceptional woman who emerged from the remotest thickets of NSW to apply unique insights to the green movement.
- Country Style Magazine, August 1, 2014
Abandoning the demands of her desk-bound vocation, AGS sponsored author Claire Dunn swapped her office for the simplicity of the bush to rekindle the life in the wild she once loved (see AG 99). Claire documents the time she spent living in the natural environment, where she learnt how to build shelters, create fire, find bush tucker and survive without the majority of modern conveniences. Claire details the land's cycles of transition and transformation and how the experience changed her, too.
- Australian Geographic, August, 2014
"It may be that our task now,as it has always been, is to listen. Simply that. If we really listen, the land will tell us what it wants and tell us how we can live more responsively.”
- Terry Tempest Williams