Dion Perry publishes Island Life: The Story of Clarke Island 1984-1990

Rebecca Beach on Clarke Island. Photos supplied.
Rebecca Beach on Clarke Island. Photos supplied.

A man who lived a Swiss Family Robinson type experience as a child on a remote island near Tasmania has written a book about it.

Dion Perry now lives on a property at Golspie, near Taralga.

But from 1984 to 1990, he lived on Clarke Island.

His experiences on the island are captured in a book entitled Island Life: The Story of Clarke Island 1984-1990, published by Ginninderra Press.

Clarke Island is an 82km sq island in Bass Strait about 24km off the northeast coast of Tasmania.

Back in 1984, it could only be accessed by light plane or boat when weather permitted.

His family moved there because his father got a job managing a property on the island. Prior to this, they had lived in a caravan in Queensland.

Dion Perry with his book.

Dion Perry with his book.

At the time, they were the only residents on the island, and it would stay that way for the six years they inhabited it.

In the first two weeks, the family ate wallaby stew and fish they caught, until further provisions arrived by boat two week's later.

With scant supplies and few possessions, they occupied an old farmhouse infested with poisonous black house spiders and overrun with mice.

"We had no way to leave the island, so we had to make the best of it," Mr Perry said.

"That said, we made our own fun.

"We had a favourite swimming hole that was a large rock pool that had water in it when the tide was half in/out. That was at the far end of McClain's Bay," he said.

"We also had a favourite big flat rock that we used to fish off. That was on Foam Point. When I was older, I used to go floundering with my brother. There's a chapter in the book called Kangaroo Bay that's an entire fishing adventure."

The house on the island where they lived.

The house on the island where they lived.

Mr Perry said the family used to go on bushwalks to the top of Home Hill.

"The Island is made up of four main vegetation types. The west and south are tussock country. The north is sheoak and tea tree bush. The interior is heath. The east is lagoon country that is dotted with kangaroo tails," he said.

He said their education was completed by correspondence.

"This was through the Tasmanian School of Distance Education. I found school to be my biggest challenge as I did not like learning from manuals," he said.

"In 1989, I left the Island to attend the Sheffield area school."

He said over the six years, with little or no outside help, the family had to contend with a blocked septic tank, a bee swarm in the house chimney, broken machinery, telephone outages, cantankerous horses, wild cattle that could not be mustered and the extreme isolation of living on an island.

"To survive, we had to learn to live in harmony with the island by forging a semi-self-sufficient lifestyle," he said.

"We grew a garden and kept goats for milking, but learned to live off the bounty of the land and sea.

"For a boy, living on Clarke Island was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

This is the plane they would travel to the mainland in. The pilot lived at Cape Portland, on the north-eastern tip of Tasmania. The flight would take about 10 minutes.

This is the plane they would travel to the mainland in. The pilot lived at Cape Portland, on the north-eastern tip of Tasmania. The flight would take about 10 minutes.

Mr Perry later attended university in Hobart where he completed a BA with majors in sociology and Aboriginal studies and he writes mainly speculative fiction in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, but also dabbles in non-fiction.

He has been writing for 12 years and generally writes fantasy and SciFi.

His first book, Target 2013 was published by Vivid Publishing in 2011. His second book Alien Love was published by Amazon in 2012 and his third book Satellite Attack was published by Austin Macauley in 2018.

His day job is as a public servant in Canberra. He lives with his wife, two dogs and a cat on their 10-acre hobby farm at Golspie.

Mr Perry will be at the Goulburn Library BookFest on Saturday, March 28, where all of his books will be available for purchase.

You can get a copy of his new book from Ginninderra Press at this link.

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