To the question: what did you do during the pandemic? Only one person will be able to reply that they walked across Australia, alone, with 5 camels. And that's 32-year-old Sophie Matterson.
A few years ago, Sophie found herself stuck in a bit of a rut working in film and TV and decided, rather randomly, to take a six month break and work taking tourists on camel treks. Six months turned into 5 years. At which point, she decided she needed an adventure and embarked on an epic trek across Australia, with nothing but the animals she had come to love for company.
She trained five of them to carry her provisions before beginning a 5,000km coast-to-coast walk from Australia’s western-most point in Shark Bay to the eastern-most point in Byron Bay, New South Wales.
Sophie crossed the heart of Australia in almost total isolation as state border closures and travel restrictions due to Covid were implemented. She walked a 700km stretch of the Great Victoria desert with almost no contact. ‘There are not many places left in the world where you can look around 360 degrees and just see nothing but the landscape.'
‘The signs of civilisation just melted away,’ Sophie says. ‘I had the desert to myself. Car tracks and footprints last a long time in the desert – but there was just nothing.’
‘People think walking is the hard part,’ Sophie says. ‘But it’s almost the easiest part of the day. I can’t just pitch up and relax with a cup of tea when I’m done, setting up and breaking down the camp every day is arduous.’
Unsurprisingly, she experienced intense highs and lows during this challenging journey. ‘I remember just sitting down and crying at one stage. The isolation and strain on the animals at times were overwhelming.’ Despite this, the highs outweighed initial challenges. ‘I just loved being out there alone, watching the landscape change.’
Sophie’s day starts at 5.30am with a fire and breakfast made while the camels graze for an hour. The process of gathering the camels together and saddling up with supplies takes another hour.
Sophie usually walks 18km a day with the camels and plans to make it to Byron Bay by November of this year. You can follow her extraordinary journey on Sophie's blog.
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