An excerpt follows;
I asked Lys (Hickling, ed note) for Andy's'
address. She gave me what turned out to be a false address. I
decided at this point to jump on my white steed and gallop off
to my old friends rescue. Within 10 days I had tracked him down
and together with my 4 1/2 year old son we were on his doorstep
in Chipping Campden, England.
Within 2 days I confessed
my desire to purchase the lease from him and take him home. He
said he couldn't sell me the lease but would gladly give it to
me knowing I would only do what was right for the island. Hoping
to have some time to prepare for this move, this was not to be
the case. The woman at whos' place he was staying was to kick
him out after he had decided to give me the lease. When we turned
up the next day Andy had his bags packed and was hoping to be
home in 7 days. Andrew Martin at this point was penniless. After
repeated efforts to get his "dear family" to reduce
the amount of money being taken from his trust fund fell on deaf
ears he had almost given up ever getting home. At this point
I begged, borrowed and stole (metaphorically speaking of course)
enough money to get Andy home and give him enough money to sustain
his needs. Within 21 days of leaving England I had uprooted my
family, closed down my substantial furniture business, deposited
a large amount of my life savings into Andy's accounts and returned
to the island with Andy
The remarks concerning Lys Hickling differ
from the account given by Jon Hickling and the inference that
Andrew Martins family was bleeding his finances is denied by
a representative of the family. "The only money Andy was
paying was support (divorce settlement) of 2000 pounds a year."
The mention of Mick depositing moneys into "Andy's accounts"
was of particular interest as it dealt with claims at the heart
of the dispute. Thus I asked Mick at interview to provide substantiation
of this claim, assuming that receipts of this important a transaction
would have been retained. He refused saying he would rather not
talk about it because of tax issues. I reminded him that it was
he who had brought it up.
I asked of Mick's opinion of the authenticity
of the will that I had published excerpts from in issue # 9.
He declined comment as he hadn't seen the document but expressed
the opinion that Andy could have been manipulated into such a
thing by family members. I asked for Mick's comment regarding
the claim that an agreement between him and Andy existed that
stated that Andy could demand Mick sell him back his island if
Mick failed to perform adequately as care taker. Mick denied
such an agreement existed. In the way of refuting all Cathryn
Radcliff's documents as Mick claimed he could in our phone conversation
while I was at the boatyard, he did have sent a photo copied
document that, while an interesting addition, I do not believe
disputes or replaces any document in the article at question.
The 3 page "Deed of Pre-emption" document appears to
state that Mick may not sell the island while Andy was alive
without giving Andy first go. The document is witnessed by JP.
There were other papers sent as well that were purported to be
copies of hand written letters by Andy. As was the case with
similar material presented by Andy's family, with no way to authenticate
I can't comment on them.
I asked if he now intended to permanently reside on the island
and he indicated that he did.
I asked if he knew of any interest by the
EPA or "Parks" in assuming possession the island? Mick
stated that he communicated regularly with the EPA/Parks office
in Mackay and they were happy with the islands care. This is
at contrast to a statement by George Mayer. (See previous page.)
Also I have been given a copy of a letter from Jon Wormersly
of the EPA (incorporating Parks and Wildlife) that states, "
may be most effectively protected by conversion
of the tenure to National Park on expiry of the term lease."
Mick had gotten word that I had talked
to the crews of "Kalimna," Terry of "San-E-T"
and George Mayer. He claimed to have patched things up with "Kalimna"
and admitted that there was a debt to Terry for provisioning
George Mayer when he was caretaker on the island and promised
now to pay. I contacted Terry and passed on the message. Terry's
response was, "I've heard that before." Terry said
that the latest offer to pay the money did not alter his opinion
of Micks stewardship of the island.. Mick had some harsh words
for George Mayer, contesting the amount of money that was agreed
to be paid to George and saying he wouldn't pay him in any case
because he caused harm to the island, particularly the batteries
of the solar system. I asked Terry's opinion of George's job
on the island and he disputed Mick's claim that George had caused
More words from Mick: "Since 2001
we have served over 6000 cups of tea, coffee or milo.4000 glasses
of water. We helped to install the automated weather station
and regularly perform simple operations to keep it operating.
We delivered and mostly installed the government repeater station
that helps keep our waters safe from smuggling, poaching, etc.
We have available at the homestead a fully updated RFDS medical
kit. We have delivered over 2000 liters of jet a1 helicopter
fuel to helipad at homestead from Mackay. We supplied over 200
litres of fuel to over 11 mariners who ran short. We have a telephone
installed at homestead in case yachtsmen are in need of assistance.
Homestead is finally cleaned and set up as museum as tribute
to the pioneers of this incredible island. We have hosted guests
from Endeavour replica, Young Endeavour, Windeward Bound and
many more .we have assisted in air sea rescue operations, often
relaying radio messages. For all of this we have asked absolutely
nothing from absolutely no body......what everybody seems to
forget is that Andy never gave this island to anyone over 38
years. He gave it to me. It is my home now nobody else's. Percy
Island nor myself owes anybody anything at all. At the end of
the day I still welcome all and sundry to this house and island.
The ability to visit Percy Island is after all a privilege and
not a right. Would anybody welcome anybody onto their yacht or
property regardless of colour creed or intention. I think not.
We do not have to supply bread ,fruit ,veges or any thing to
anyone. In fact it is absolutely forbidden and is in contravention
of the conditions of the lease I signed with dept of natural
resources.....every body thinks they own some part of this island.
In fact they do not. I do. I own all of it, from high tide mark
to high tide mark. Everybody should be more concerned about the
good times they have had in the past and the times they could
have in the future
And What of the charges against the
I contacted Jon Hickling to get his side
of these issues. I was surprised to hear that the family had
visited the island at all as there was much hard feeling and
disappointment left over from their leaving the island after
12 years, finding that the island they thought they would have
a stake in was instead handed over to Mick Cotter for $10 (see
TCP # 6). When I talked to Jon he confirmed that they had stopped
on their way north and had a visit with the caretakers there.
He said that they had gotten on well with the group and took
the opportunity to look around. Also, Jon noted that when they
left a few years ago, there was a limit to what they could carry
on their boat, the "Ruby Charlotte" and he did attempt
to retrieve some of what he claimed was their personally owned
gear, including a 'Honey Spinner,' a honey extracting machine.
Jon said, "Mick had bought another, bigger machine and mine
was just sitting there getting dusty and I saw no reason why
I shouldn't take it with me." One of the caretakers discovered
Jon in the loading process and requested that Jon not take the
machine. Jon reports that he relented because he understood the
caretakers view in that he couldn't verify that it was Jons and
it was on the island in his care. "And I really didn't need
it Bob, but it wasn't being used." Jon told how he had heard
tales from Mick about his so-called misdeeds. "He told people
that when we left I tied a dog to a tree to starve to death which
was not true." Jon gave me the name of the business in Marian
where he had purchased the Honey Spinner to check out.
I contacted the business "Hello Honey"
owned by Peter and Lynette Zahra in the hope they may have record
or recollection of the matter. They did recall that Jon Hickling
had purchased the Honey spinner in question for $600 in about
97. The Zahra's had done a lot of business with Percy Island
via the Hicklings over the years. They would buy all the honey
that was offered them and reported that their dealings with Jon
Hickling had always been satisfactory. They were angry about
Mick Cotter. They claimed they had made a deal where they would
give him a new, larger machine and containers in exchange for
a small down payment, the smaller machine that had been purchased
by Jon, and a future quantity of honey from the island or cash
equivalent. The Zahra's report that they have received nothing
except the original down payment. The older machine was not handed
in as a trade as they say they had agreed, nor any additional
money. The supply of honey also ceased. Lynette provided me with
copies of court documents that represent their attempts to force
the payment of the debt which according to their documents is
over $1500. They expressed doubt that they will ever see the
Editors comment; The universal concern
of the local yachties I have talked to about the island is the
fear that it could all come undone because of the personal 'dynamics'
involved. Whist it is acknowledged that Mick has the lease there
is a strong feeling in the community that the island belongs
to all and the lessee is the caretaker of the public's resource.