Textures of Sam's Island

Just off the coast of Dampier, Western Australia, a castle of red stone, coral and seashells perches on a tiny island. This was the home of Sam Ostojic, who settled here in the 1960s and lived alone with his cat Tiger for company. After Sam’s death in 2005, the building started to crumble until a group of locals came together to care for the island. Sam’s belongings – bed, teapot, tools – sit just where he left them.

I visited on a sunny May day, my brother’s fishing boat docked alongside a flotilla of stand-up paddleboarders. The instructor was a local woman who reminisced about coming across as a high school kid for a chat and a smoke. Like anywhere isolated and abandoned, the atmosphere today is both peaceful and a little unsettling. It’s a respectful monument to solitude and resourcefulness and a good place to get up to mischief.

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