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Claire Dunn

Author, Inspirational Speaker

Claire Dunn is a writer, journalist, educator, barefoot explorer and author of My Year Without Matches, the memoir of her extraordinary journey living in the bush for a year learning wilderness survival skills. Her latest book is Rewilding the Urban Soul, a memoir about searching for the wild in the city, set for release in June 2021.

Where were you born?

Overlooking Newcastle Beach, where I am often spotted today bodysurfing.

What other jobs have you had?

My parents put me to work in the family nursery as soon as I was old enough to hold a broom, and I can still sometimes be found pottering among the ferns. Other illustrious careers have included McDonalds fry maker, tennis coach, and fairy floss seller. More recently I’ve worked as a campaigner for The Wilderness Society and a Wilderness Guide for retreats.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Authenticity. Living our true desires and visions. The healing power of nature. Simplicity. Slowing down. Breaking the addiction to busyness. Redefining success. Creating from inspiration and flow rather than striving and ambition. Human potential. What it means to live a meaningful life. Sense of place and belonging. Meditating. Dancing. Laughing. Being.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Spearheading a campaign that protected 65,000 hectares of forest between Sydney and Brisbane. Lighting my first ‘matchless’ fire. Being nominated for the Publishers Australia Excellence Award for Journalist of the Year 2014.

While living ‘primitively’ in the bush for a year was hard, it was nothing compared to the courage and dedication required write the book – another kind of solitary wilderness – except for three years! Winning the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival Manuscript Pitch competition and being published was a huge step. Receiving feedback that my story has moved and inspired people has made all the hard slog worthwhile.

Where have your works been published?

I am a regular contributor to The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Wellbeing magazine. I have also been published in The Australian Geographic, The Big Issue, Grazia, and the essay anthology Fire.

My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild was published by Black Inc in 2014.

Talking Water: An Australian Guidebook for the 21st Century was published by The Farmhand Foundation in 2003.

What are you passionate about?

Contributing to the global movement of ‘cultural creatives’ – people following their passions and talents in service of a life-affirming society.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Quite possibly during my 15 minutes of fame when My Year Without Matches was  released… The Today Show, The Project, Studio 10, The Daily Mail, The Sun Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, Conversations with Richard Fidler… I began to wish I was back in the bush!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

This Harold Thurman quote is a bit of a mantra for me: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


ving read Claire’s book and been thoroughly engaged, I was delighted to have the opportunity to have her as our guest speaker. I have convened and run literary events and festivals for almost forty years and am keenly aware of the requirements that make for a good event. Claire was able to impart her story with great passion whilst also engaging with her interviewer and audience on the broader themes her book raises. She speaks with clarity and authority and interacts with her audience extremely well. Commentary from the audience was all positive and made mention of Claire’s ability to inspire.

—M. Dalmau, Director and Events Manager, Reader's Feast Bookstore, 2014

Claire was an absolute highlight and is the talk of the office this morning. It has inspired me to slow down where I can and spend more unstructured time in nature.

—L. McLean, Surf Coast Shire, June 2017

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