History, Nature and Hermits: Geoff Harwood, Katherine Johnson and Pete Hay on the West Coast’s ‘last hermit’

The Last Hermit coverJoin Geoff Harwood, Katherine Johnson and Pete Hay for a fascinating discussion of ‘history, nature and hermits’, themed around the extraordinary story of western Tasmania’s ‘Last Hermit’, Jackey Stevens.

Geoff Harwood became friends with Jackey after coming across his distinctive footprints leading off into the scrub outside of Queenstown. What emerged out of their sometimes perplexing conversations, carefully pieced together by Geoff (for Jackey had a language truly of his own), is an incredible story of Jackey’s traumatic life and amazing resilience, and a portrait of a community that ultimately learned to accept and care for him.

The Last Hermit is also a meditation on ‘what is real’, on facts and fiction, and on the lessons to be found in careful observation of the phenomena we experience in the world that surrounds us. Lessons hermits like Jackey might teach us well.

The presenters

Geoff Harwood is an adventurer and yarner who is fascinated by the natural world and history. Exceeding his ‘four score years’ has curbed some of Geoff’s adventures, but stimulated him to record some of his stories. The Last Hermit is one of these. He has worked in the tourism industry for many years, most recently under the banner of his company, a registered training organisation, Transtrain. During the 1970s and 80s Geoff and his wife, Janice, operated tourist accommodation in the former Singlemen’s Quarters in Queenstown. It was during this period that he came to know Jackey Stevens.

Katherine Johnson is a Tasmanian novelist and science writer. Her novels include Pescador’s Wake, The Better Son, Matryoshka and Paris Savages. Paris Savages was The Times (UK) Historical Fiction Book of the Month in July 2020 and was shortlisted in the 2020 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA). You can read her complete profile here.

DON’T MISS: Katherine will also be participating in the session Rebellious Facts and Comforting Fictions.

Pete Hay is a former political advisor, activist, academic, essayist and poet. His poetry collection Physick, was Shortlisted for the Tasmanian Premier’s Book Prize and Last Days of the Mill, with Tony Thorne, won the People’s Choice Award at the Tasmanian Book Prize. Forgotten Corners: Essays in Search of an Island’s Soul won the Small Press Network’s 2020 Book of the Year Award. Find out more about Pete on his website.

DON’T MISS: You can catch Pete reading his poetry as part of the More Than Human Poetry Project.