My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild

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It really shifted my awareness from the head to the heart, towards the eco-psychological and exploring this nature-human psyche relationship. What did you learn from the experience? One of my favourite quotes, and it's in the book too, is by Harold Thurman :. I had that experience of what it feels like to feel really alive in my senses and in my body and I really want that to continue.

Any advice for others feeling inspired by your book? If I could do anything… What really calls to me? Even camping.


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Just pack up a tent, a stove and a sleeping bag and go. And reduce the gear; try to go with as few mod cons as possible. What was your favourite part of the year? I think my time at the sit-spot every morning, and walking and wandering, without time or destination. In case any of you think I've lost my No Impact Girl sensibilities, let me assure you that the luxury travel experience I wrote about was a safari at Ulusaba , Richard Branson's low key lodge in South Africa, and the real luxury of the place, as I mention in my winning story, Wildly indulgent , is how close you can get to the wildlife in Sabi Sands Game Reserve, thanks to Ulusaba's incredible rangers and trackers.

Urban Nature Connection and Wild Living

Go Ben! Still, getting words out of him now is not as easy as I expected. Not for lack of stories but for the time to share them. In what is almost the ultimate sacrifice for a prolific writer, in recent years Marsden has put down his pen in lieu of full-time teaching at Candlebark, one of two independent schools he founded on bush properties outside Melbourne. While Marsden once admitted that he dreamt of fame and fortune before his writing career took off, the time constraints placed on our interview make it clear how priorities have shifted. My days are filled with school management issues.

I work on school stuff 10—12 hours a day, 6—7 days a week.

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The Rev Samuel Marsden was a tough cookie. His nephew down the line has righted the wrongs, speaking out against corporal punishment in schools, and sporting a distinctly dry Aussie wit that does not suffer fools gladly. His mother was a strong person who believed in the value of education and who did everything possible to give her children successful starts in their careers.

Possibly the best thing she did was foster a love affair with books. Marsden grew up in the bush and, he says, time spent there is still one of the things he relies on to nourish his soul. The young man poured himself into reading, especially on detention, absorbing the relatively sophisticated — Salinger, Dickens, Kafka — and the adolescent thrillers — Fleming, Innes, Bagley.

A growing sense of alienation and loneliness, deriving from family rifts, educational experiences and his own personality resulted in his dropping out and eventually being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

My year without matches with Claire Dunn at Mind & Its Potential 2014

The new life took many twists and turns, turning over dozens of jobs in his 20s before deciding to try his hand at teaching in In the classroom, he was pleased to find ample opportunity for creative expression and experimentation. Experiences such as taking his English class to an abattoir.

Studying a book that involved large animals being killed, Marsden noticed a kind of apathy infecting the classroom. To rouse a feeling response, he promptly bussed them all to the killing room of an abattoir to see firsthand the reality of their reading material. Three of them became vegetarians on the spot. This decision coincided with a different approach to his writing.

My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild

Abandoning the unproductive edit-as-you-go method, Marsden experimented with full-throttle storytelling. The desire to write Tomorrow, When the War Began in , Marsden says, was partly born from a conscious desire to revive adventure stories for young people. I wanted to marry them with the new teenage genres, where feelings, relationships and character development were all-important. The 10 books that ensued, which detail the lives of Ellie Linton and her friends as they struggle to survive in a post-invasion world, have been huge hits, both locally and internationally.

In , Marsden bought a vast bush property north of Melbourne, where for eight years he ran popular writing camps, attracting school groups from as far away as Indonesia, Singapore and Turkey. The success of this venture encouraged him to go further and, at the start of , he launched his own school. The school quickly filled to capacity and, in , Marsden opened Alice Miller, an arts-focused secondary school, also in the Macedon Ranges. The miracle is that hard-working teachers have managed to keep it going for so long.

We should have brilliant, knowledgeable adults working with small groups of kids — and we should provide heaps of room for the children to run, play and explore.