It has a population of just two and is a world away from modern life Deal Island is Tasmania's most remote national park, home to Australia's highest Lighthouse.
Deal Island is also home to Dallas and Shirley Barker. "I love the solitude. You're not answerable to anybody, you're not answerable to anything other than yourself. There's no corner store, there's no post office, there's no nothing," Dallas said.
At 64, Dallas has no regrets. He and wife, Shirley, tossed in their 9 to 5 jobs in sunny Queensland and moved to Tasmania three years ago, after their first stint on Deal Island as volunteer caretakers.
Now for the third time, they're perched in the middle of Bass Strait where there are no mod-cons and the phone and TV only work when the wind blows in the right direction.
"Life is simple. Everything you do is just simple," Dallas said.
"Here we're coming back to where human beings evolved to be at this stage of just living life as it goes, instead of this mad race to do everything, and burn out."
It is like paradise and it is free.
Here you can take your pick of any of five spectacular coves, their aquamarine water teeming with crayfish, visited only by the occasional pod of dolphins. And of course not only does the package include a complimentary lighthouse, it also comes with some of the most spectacular views you're ever likely to see.
"The sound of the wind, it's talking to you all the time and I feel it isn't just a building, it's a living, breathing thing and it's certainly part of the spirit of this island. It's marvellous," Shirley said.
The Barker's job is to preserve history, and there's plenty of it, from the ruins of the convict built houses, to the lighthouse itself, constructed from island stone and rubble in 1847.
Back then of course the lighthouse keeper's work was miserable and relentless.
"The major responsibility of course was to maintain the light. The keepers were convicts and they would have worked in relays to maintain the light. The original light of course was an oil burner and all that had to be transported up to the light house itself," Dallas said.
"It is special because it's still entire. When you look at a lot of lighthouses they all have special things but some parts are missing and here we have a lighthouse that would still work should it need be.
"Most of the maintenance here is to try to keep it dry. There's a lot of moisture gets in and we get a lot of mould growth on the sides of the lighthouse," he added.
Three kilometres down the hill is the original house built in 1848 by convict labour for the first lighthouse keeper Superintendent William Baudinet and his wife Augusta lived here for 20 years and raised 12 children.
The Baudinet house is now a museum and houses some of the Island's enormous history.
"The Beagle of Darwin fame was sailing these waters; Matthew Flinders on his trip south sailed past here. Bass Strait was crossed many times by all sorts of sailing vessels and they came to grief fairly regularly because of the conditions and the wild weather, a lot of them came to grief on Deal and their wreckage still lies out there. During the war we had an Airspeed Oxford, a training plane with four young Air Force men on board, crashed into the mountain just the other side of the lighthouse," Dallas said.
"I think [the island's] got spirit more than it's got ghosts. It breathes through the place in its history and you go with it, you're part of it and you contribute to it. I hope to think that our spirit is left here to torment future caretaker," Shirley said.
The abundant Baudinet veggie patch means Dallas and Shirley are almost self sufficient and that's a must given there are no food deliveries to the island during their stay.
"There's probably nothing I miss about modern life. Going back to reality is probably more difficult because all of a sudden you can't remember your pin numbers, you go to the machine, you lose your card because you haven't got a clue. All of a sudden you can't remember your phone numbers, you forget all those things that were so important," the couple said.
But the Barkers will head back to reality in time for Christmas and they'll relinquish paradise to the next couple for another three months.
"People who would like to do it, have to have a serious look at it, it offers so much but you have to be totally ready to come and live in solitude", Dallas said.
"You do miss the place but we never feel sad when we leave. It's always been a privilege to be here and we've sailed out twice now. We've had a summer, an autumn and a spring, time will tell if we ever manage to get back to do a winter to complete the round," Shirley said.For further information:
Island Life fact sheet visit the website at: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/volunteer/index.html
Caroline Shemwell (East and north east coastal areas from Little Swanport to Bridport including the Furneaux Group and the Kent Group National Park - Deal Island) Coles Bay phone (03) 6256 7009
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