Outback camel trek: one woman’s 5,000km journey across Australia

Outback camel trek: one woman’s 5,000km journey across Australia

  • Sophie Matterson, a film and television producer who wanted to take a break in 2016, chose the ‘ most random job’ she could find: milking camels. She says, ‘I didn’t anticipate how much I’d end up loving these animals’.
  • It was supposed to be just a six-month break from her “real job,” which turned into five years working with camels. She began to wonder what she would do if she were able to go on her camel trip. The answer was a 5,000km walk coast-to-coast across Australia.Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

  • Sophie crossed Australia’s heart in near-total isolation, as the state borders were closed and travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. She walked 700km of the Great Victoria Desert with little to no contact. There are few places in the world where you can see the landscape from 360 degrees.

  • Sophie said, “The signs of civilization just disappeared.” I had the desert all to myself. The desert is a place where car tracks and footprints can last for a very long time. But there were none.

  • Sophie: “People think walking is hard. It’s actually the simplest part of the day. It’s not easy to set up camp and then relax with a tea.

  • During this difficult journey, there were highs and lows. I remember sitting down at one point and crying. The animals were often isolated and under a lot of strain.

  • The initial challenges were not as difficult as they seemed. I loved watching the scenery change alone.

  • Sophie’s morning begins at 5.30 am, with breakfast being prepared while the camels are grazing for an hour. After the camels are gathered, they must be saddled with supplies and then walked to their destination.

  • Sophie tends to Delilah’s feet, which are a camel’s. The chains act as a restraint to keep the camels near camp at night.

  • Sophie warms up by the fire after setting up camp.

  • Sophie walks with camels 18km a night and hopes to reach Byron Bay in November.

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