Percy Island Lease Update

The time has come for , Cathryn Radclyffe, Andy Martins cousin,to pass on the Island Custodianship, for the next chapter of the Islands heritage and education , to be ‘write’. By the Grace of our Father in Heaven, Robin and Annie Cooke will take up the Government Agreement for the next  20 years residency and custodianship of the Conservation Park under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

I am sad to leave after 12 years of residency and 35 years of loving the Island; but we are burnt out after fixing the Governments’ blunders. It is wonderful now looking to the future unfold, and knowing the Island is in good Christian hands and going forward to complete its role, for the greater Community (as hoped for by Andy Martin, Jon and Liz Hickling and myself)

Robin and Annie Cooke will still use the same Email address (percyisland and are based at the Homestead, and scan Marine Channel 73

Phone numbers are Robin,the Island Skipper; 0404 468 551

Annie, the Island secretary, : 0438 252 088


50 thoughts on “Percy Island Lease Update

  1. we are very happy to hear that you now have some type of security for percy. we hope that the terms are not made too difficult so that they again pressure you to leave, our family has watched this saga unfold over the years, we have been a guest of Andies in the old days of the light house supply boat ,again when Andy had the assistance of the Hicklings, and a few years ago, under the suspicious gaze of cotters caretakers,caretakers,again we wish you well and hope one day to again sit on the beach chasing the sandflies and having a few drinks with whoever happens to be passing by (the littles from the redlands just south of brisbane)

    • Thank you very much for your support; it is marvelous to know that our commitment and hard work is appreciated by the cruising boaties. I look forward to catching -up with you one day and sharing memories of those special times here with Andy. Regards Cate

  2. What a fascinating story.Not having known anything about the ‘saga’, we visited on our timber ketch a couple of weeks ago and were entranced by the “timeless ambience.All the best for your future at that very special place.
    We will return.
    Peter & Paula
    S.Y. Manureva

  3. I am very happy to hear that the tradition of this island can continue – frankly, a tradition that is being lost in the world; community! I’ve yet to travel to Percy Island, but I think you will know me when I one day get there – I don’t think I’ll want to leave hehe, this island id so intriguing to me. All the best for the future of this special place!

  4. Hi Cate,
    Thanks for the membership number 50 I will transfer the membership fees now with Royce 50 as a reference.
    Have a great Xmas and I will see you in the new year

    Regards Royce Black
    Seawind Catamarans

  5. Hi Cate,
    Thanks for the membership number 50 I will transfer the membership fees now with Royce 50 as a reference.
    Have a great Xmas and I will see you in the new year

    Regards Royce Black
    Seawind Catamarans

  6. Back in April LATE 80s EARLY 90s we sailed on a .. BEAUTIFULLY RESORED SWEDISH Top Sail BRIGINTINE [ 3 masted square rigged on the foremast , gaff rigged on the main & aft masts , approx. 140 mtrs ] called ” VIDA ” sporting a huge netted varnished timber BOW SPIRIT ] to this enchanting butterfly island paradise LATER ENJOYING tea & cucumber sandwiches with ANDY…ALSO providing him with much appreciated small practical items ie. biros , writting paper etc.. I THANK YHWH & ALL CONCERNED. MUCH APPRECIATED ANDY .. THANKS .

  7. would like to become a yatch club member although I do not have a sailboat but a 8.5 mtr tinnie. will be planning a couple of visits 2012 depending on time constraints. will be happy to bring supplies at the time of travell

  8. Hi, until 2hrs ago I knew nothing of Percy Island. I actually stumbled across it on google when I zoomed into the wrong spot, really! It intrigued me and so I started googling for information and have been captivated since. I’m glad to hear your tenure on the island will continue for some time yet as I hope to one day find my way to Percy Island. Until then, keep up all the good work.

    • As an addition, I am very tempted to come and visit one day with my two children ( currently 5 and 6 ) for a ‘working holiday’. To revisit such a remembered spot would be magical. I am wondering how I could make it work ? Any thoughts ?

      • The store boat (a converted trocus fishing boat) often has space for volunteers. It is a 8 hour trip and depends upon weather being calm; as opposed to a 3/4hr by helicopter ($2,000). The best time to come is during the cruising season (May-Oct) when it’s not too hot. Please follow-up by email. regards Cate

  9. Hi all. My mum lived on middle Percy with the whites around the late 1940s-50s. Claude Harold Dorry, all brothers and sisters had the lease. Harold would row across to pine island every day to light the lighthouse. There was live stock at the time. When world war 2 was on the Japenese used to come into the bay and trade with the whites. They were afraid not to..

    • I met Andy Martin in 1987 on June 21st, as an impressionable , 18 year old, London girl ( I am now 43 with two children ) and have a wonderful diary entry about Andy which I would love to share with readers. I was working aboard a yacht as a cook and the crew visited Middle Percy. I remember being shocked at there only being one inhabitant of this island. I thought ‘he was the coolest bloke I had ever met.’ We read the info on landing and were so tempted by Andy’s challenge to clamber through the 1 and 1/4 miles of woodland to go and see the homestead. what a treat…i have written a fair bit more about my trip……..can I publish it all on your website ?

      • Thanks Emma for your memories and yes your contribution to the Percy Island history will be appreciated. In particular for me I love to hear about Andys’ stories and share his unique spirit of llife with folks. regards Cate

  10. Hi it is great to know Andrew had a cousin that is now interested of the welfare of ‘Percy’ he often did not know what he would do with it in the end.
    I met and had a very close relationship with him in the 1960/70s and visited and stayed on the island many times. I came back to the UK in 1978 and we wrote for sometime but eventually we lost contact. I did not know he was no longer here with us. I would be very interested to know when he departed this world and did he go on his beloved island? It makes me sad to write this. He had a companion when I first met him called Lil, do you know what happened to her?
    All very lovely memories for me, I was there with my adopted son Levon who was only three years old at the time.

    • Yes Andy was extraordinary and Lil Smith who now lives in Darwin. Andy passed away on 3rd May 2003 at Mackay Base Hospital (after enjoyig a huge meal at 6pm, he died while the doctor was talking with him, a hour later. Thank the LORD, Andys last months were in amiable surroundings in Northview Aged Care Home Hostel, where he was visited by old friends. He knew we would win the Island back, by the grace of GOD and asked me to care for the Island ecology. I have done the best I can, and am grateful for the vocal support of the cruising community making their love of the island known to the Queensland Government EPA who now the Landlords on behalf of the Australian people. It would be marvellous to share your stories and please post photos on the website for all to enjoy.

      • I am sorry to hear of Andrew passing away in a hospital and not on his beloved ‘Percy’. I feel somehow that he would have liked to have been buried on the Island, but then maybe he was as you did not say.
        When I knew him and was on the Island he had plans on making it into a resort but then he had many plans for it. I was under the impression that he owned it outright but we never discussed this
        I do have some ‘photo’s that may be of interest to you all but they are fairly old now and I will have to put them on my PC. I also recorded an interview he had with Angus Deaton (a TV presenter) in the 1980/90s I recorded it on Video but could have it transferred to DVD if you are interested and then send it to you. It shows quite a bit of the Island and also the homestead.
        I saw your picture on the web-site and thought how like Andrew you look. Is his son still in touch. At least I think he had a son. He also told me his family farmed in Northamptonshire and not Devon.
        I must read up about the trouble you have been having getting the lease and what was involved as I do not know anything at present.
        Look forward to your comments. Juno Miller

        • Hello Juno, on rereading your comment I wonder if I answered fully. Yes it wold have been marvellous to have his ashes here next to his beloved Homestead and gardens. His only son, Edwyn (who looks like him!) decided to let the ashes go at Mackay harbour; so that’s fine too. Andys’ parents farmed near Northamptonshire, East Haddon, when he was a child, near his aunts family (my grandmother). So my mother and he spent time together growing up. Then Andys’ parents moved to Sparsholt, in Somerset;- and Andy himself eventually farmed in Devon; so when it rained there it was cold, unlike here! I will work on adding some family photos to the website, for a history of Andy. Please could you copy me that video as I gave mine to Edwyn via Malcolm his step brother. Edwyn is in UK and hasn’t been here since 1980s I believe.

          • Sorry Cat I have not been too well myself these past months but now I am able I will send you that DVD and some ‘photo’s. Hope you are coping OK.
            I still dream of Percy and the beautiful colours and the peacefulness of it all.

          • Sorry to hear you have not been well, and hope you bounce back to good health . I sent a copy of your info. to Lil Smith who now lives in Darwin. It would be marvellous to see your material. Andy touched so many lives and I feel privileged to keep the history alive here. Its a big job to clear up after the Cyclone Marcia and I do hope we get lots of help with this seasons visitors. There will be photos posted on this site soon. regards Cate

  11. Hello Cate,
    Hope the summer was positive for you. Port Stephens has been very wet but no floods as we are mainly sandy soils to soak up the local downpours and Myall Lake and Port Stephens are large enough to spread the flooding river waters to no ,ore than a metre increases height.

    I left All The Colours at Rosslyn Bay for the summer with Ray minding her while I was home in Port Stephens.

    You mentioned that you would like to visit the beautiful Lady Musgrave Island
    sometime and I am hoping the weather will co-operate in the next few weeks. ATC will be on the slips for her antifouling on 18th April so should be ready by 22nd April for cruising. I have to fly home by 4th May for a few weeks and will then be available again from about end May. Can’t be more specific about that date as I may need surgical intervention on my shoulder. I managed to break a tendon digging in my garden – time to accept that the damn body is wearing out – not easy for me!

    Hope we can put it together.

    I have friends sailing with me from mid July to the end of August and finding others the rest of the winter but I will be heading up to Gloucester Passage for th Shag Island Yacht Club meet – not sure of the date of that – it’s about July something.

    All the Best

  12. hi cate, I knew andy when he farmed in n devon, i have been following events recently and am so pleased to hear that you won the leacehold back, well done! !I hope to be able to visit one day

  13. Thank you. It has been a huge task, taking 7.5 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars and our continual hard work to rectify the Governments lack of Duty of Care. The Homestead is well on the way to being made safe, with 56 supporting stumps being renewed and the new roof is now collecting all the rainwater! Thank the Lord for the active support from so many people, to ensure the islands unique values can be enjoyed by future generations,

  14. Hi Cate, just like to say great work with securing a 20 year lease on this lovely piece of paradise, i was last there in 1989, but certainly intend to visit again before too long with our Labrador called “Max”.
    Proud Member No. 62
    Mark Neilson

  15. Hi Cate, we have paid our club membership today, and look forward to the wonderful benefits that it will bring. Great hospitality, kindness, friendship, generosity, peace – you name it, you got it! We are looking forward to our journey back your way in the next month. I wonder if you have a wish list of items which would be of benefit to your comfort and the island’s ambiance? Don’t be shy, name them and see what happens! We have towel rails, taps, toilets, vanities and suchlike that are new and in excess. Other items as well. So looking forward to seeing you all again!
    Love and peace from John and Paula.

  16. Hi how do I become a member? I would love to revisit one day. I have fond memories of staying at the homestead in 1986 and earning my keep – trimming all the horses feet, riding to every accessible corner of the island, feeding the emus, grinding wheat to bake bread, eating paw paw with lots of fruit maggots which Andy said “wont hurt you!” so I closed my eyes and ate up. He was so knowledgeable and I will never forget the month I stayed there waiting for the lighthouse boat to come and give me a ride back to Mackay. I arrived on a yacht that had survived a tropical storm and my feet hit the sand and I abandoned ship! It felt like paradise after the storm and nothing was going to get me back on board. Sorry not much of a boatie I have discovered! There was a man that lived in the A frame. Does anyone remember who he was? Maybe Carl???

    • Special memories abound on this Island, you arrived the year after I did and your description takes me back to those wonderful days. Sadly Emu and the ponies have gone, but we do have permission for horses in the new agreement which is fantastic as it is the best way to get about the Island. To join the Percy island Yacht Club and help our costs, please go to the PIYC webpage. To visit us is more tricky, as until we are self sufficient again you will have to bring food. Transport depends upon your hitching a lift with a boat from the Mariner at Yeppoon (Keppel Sands?) or Mackay to catch a lift north or south, depending upon the season and the wind!

  17. I remember seeing the “History of the Percy Isles” as a work in progress at the homestead when I visited as a solo-sailor onboard my “Vitamin Sea” back in 2010. My visit was a very pleasant experience mixed with sadness and anger over the insensitive treatment of the permanent residents of this uniquely well-managed East-coast island. I have now purchased and downloaded this work that I look forward to read in its finished and completed form. Thank you very much and you good people are constantly in my thoughts.
    PS: I know this may be sensitive, but I wish you one day will benefit from some clearing of the Great Lagoon entry-canal and surrounding area. Also excavating a trench with a line of poles for yachts to “hang on to” during ebbs would be a truly fantastic addition. This remote and beautiful natural “hurricane hole” have a potential that many yachts would be begging to use. All the best / Bob

    • thank you for your much appreciated enthusiasm for this unique Island. Not so sure what the NP would make of your suggestion for the Lagoon though !

  18. I only just found this website!

    My twin brother first visited Middle Percy in 1971 sailing solo on ‘Merringannee’ from Brisbane.

    I visited there twice in 1987 sailing in the schooner/brigantine ‘Azimat’ from Melbourne, and twice again in the same vessel in 1997. This was my wife’s last voyage, and as such remains a treasured memory for me (she was terminally ill at the time and struggled to make it to the homestead). I found this website when it occurred to me to wonder about the current status there. Living in inland NSW these days, I am out of touch with coastal affairs!


    • If you can purchase the ‘History of Percy Isles’ on EBooks (see Home page) you can catch up with all the happenings since your last visit. There is now a phone at the Homestead and we are open to visitors. I love to hear of peoples individual ‘special time’ in life when visiting the Island. As I experience this unique place in 1985 I knew I had to try to come back to live here. I studied Land Resource Planning and Resource Management in UK and eventually came back to Australia in 1996 and Residency. I eventually supported my cousin Andy Martin to win the Island back for the people to enjoy it’s unique style.

  19. Hi

    I was reading with interest all the articles on the history and saga over Middle Percy Island, and it brought back memories of a visit I made there in 1976. I was crewing (as a 17yr old) on the sloop Galubra III owned by Ray Lamb who had previously visited Middle Percy and met Andrew martin, and wanted to visit him again. On our visit we stayed some three days. Andrew had us on his verandah at the homestead for a goat stew. I recall he wore a pair of red Speedos and walked around with what I believe was an old .303 rifle and a bandolier over his shoulder. He also took us to a remote part of the island where there were some brumbies that he had semi-tamed and was able to whistle one over. He showed us a small dam in a creek where he was trying to generate hydro electricity for the homestead. There was a hut on the beach then (before the A-Frame) with yacht names, and we hung a sign there with our yacht name Galubra III. Ray’s previous sign was still in the shed from his earlier visit. I have some old photos somewhere – if I can find them I’ll scan and send to you if interested.

    Hope this is of interest and I hope to visit again one day!


    Geoff Heath

    • I love to hear these stories. I wonder if your sign s still in the old shed. I will look for you. Please send any photos to add to the website if you can. The sad thing is that the politicians made the Island a National Park which means that they are looking for funding to kill all the goats and roos (introduced by Andy). So now I am trying to find homes for some of these heritage goats before the helicopter guns are sent in. The Island is not s care free as it used to be thanks to politics creeping in I wish Andy was here to sort them out! Yep speedos and gun sounds normal for Andy! Those were special times. The dam is no more as it bred cane toads and the Hicklings paid for a 1,000litre water tank to pump up into ; wonderful and clean water now.

      Justin Hickling is in Cairns with his family; he was here for 12years as a child and they were meant to be on the lease; another Gov. stuff up so sad as that eventually allowed a crook to get his name on the lease and stuff up the island for everyone. It has taken us 7 years to get the infrastructure stabilised and now I need gardeners to get the garden productive again.

      • Hi Cate, there should be two Galubra plaques, a Galubra I (in 1971) and a Galubra III (in 1976). Would loves photos if they are still there. I have a photo of them back in 1976. I have some 1976 photos to send you – to what email can I send them?

  20. Great to know that Percy Island remains the same. We visited Andy back in 84 and he came out for a sail with us but insisted we take his dogs. On the way one of his dogs jumped overboard and Andy jumped right in after it. Much laughter. Fond memories of island life staying in the treehouse and fishing off the beach. Helping out with the bee hives, eating goat and turkey. I hope that one day we may return.

  21. Percy isl, Majic atmosphere, isn’t another place like it in the world, and it cost you nothing to visit anchor, stay in the lagoon as long as you like etc
    Another great feature is the amazing friendliness of Cate john and Steve Martin Ernst, they always have time to talk and show you round
    And if you want you can help in the garden , or maintence, building ,bee keeping, etc, which for me is so satisfying
    I am tony Ollerenshaw, first came. 1992′ when andy was here, my introductions was sailing in at dusk. And a tinnie driving about inviting us all to a goat stew party, just bring what I had.
    There were 18 yachts there and we had a super party, no street lights phone , Internet, the stars just seem to hover over our heads, the fire set the atmosphere
    The yachties have an interest together, plus they are so often so interesting people,
    Appreciating being out of the rat race, and living a alternate lifestyle, often there are one or more have a guitar, and we have many great sing songs , no one gets drunk, it’s just not that sort of place
    Been there many times since living in the tree house sometimes as caretaker for a month or staying with Cate and John, now firm friends, I have my own bedroom in their house, I renovate the furniture, or help john or just hover over the super wood burning stove,
    It’s very important to watch this site to see that the parks and wildlife, don’t take over the isl, kill the goats and chop down the palm trees, PEOPLE POWER
    This isl is managed very well by Cate and John

  22. G’day. I was fortunate enough to have visited your world earlier this year, when I was invited to sail with Bill and Vince on Two Canoes, we were on our way to Mackay to slip the boat and delivered your Honey. Best Wishes for the cyclone season.

  23. I was on Percy Island for a month sometime in the 70’s and loved the place. I met Andy and Lil and another couple, can’t remember their names. Had lunch with Andy and Lil. I loved the homestead, the way it was decked out, loved the island and everything about it and dreamed of going back for another visit but never got there and now there is probably no chance for me to go back but I have kept the photos and even passed one to Cruisers Ahoy and they still use it on their sight. It was very exciting to be there and if there is ever a chance for me to go back there I definitely will.

    • Thank You Melda, Yes this is a unique island haven for one and all. It was a labour of love to save it from ruin when the Hicklings were ejected by a conman. It has taken us 10 years to get the infrastructure into working order. The hope is to find the right people to takeover fomr us when we retire to continue the traditions so loved by the people. Any photos of Andy and Lils time would be much appreciated.
      Check this link for good aerial view of the island today.

      regards Cate

      • the video of Middle Percy is really worth watching. I loved it. Sure wish I could go back there but too old now.

        • So glad you enjoyed the video . It is such a special place that we will ensure it continues to get back to self sufficiency and is in the right hands when we retire

      • Hi Cate the video is stunning! Brought back a lot of memories! I so very much want to visit again. How do I get there now without a boat? When I was young, many years ago, I jumped off a boat after a cyclone south and stayed with Andy. Does the lighthouse supply boat still run?

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