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Trekking Aus with 4 wild camels... solo

Trekking Aus with 4 wild camels... solo

Trekking Aus with 4 wild camels... solo
Sophie Matterson AKA the modern day Robyn Davidson takes on the 5,000km trek across aus with her 4 camels in tow.
Photographer & videographer turned camelier, Sophie Matterson went from being in the thick of the film industry to a camel dairy and now, a solo trek across Australia with her 4 wild camels.
Where did you start the trip and where do you plan to finish?
I’m started in Shark bay, cardler station, West Coast and planning on endeding in Byron Bay, NSW. It’s a total of 5,000km roughly

And how long do you think the entire trip will take?
Hopefully 9 months, maybe a little longer. The only time parameter is getting across the deserts in cooler months, it’s already going to be undoubtedly hot but a lot cooler than summer. I’m already 2 months in!

What sparked your inspiration for this trip and how did you get it from an idea into action?
I just totally fell in love with camels when I was working on the Camel Dairy and figured that this trip isnt so unrealisitc if people have already done it before. So then I started collecting equiptment for the trip and then finally buying the camels because Nothing felt like it was going to be real until I actually started taking action.
Okay so tell us a little bit about these camels…
Haha well, all four are wild, caught from a station called Mualga Park station (between NT and SA). I helped do the muster after paying $500 per camel. That also included trucking them to Uluru where I was living.

Woah that seems like a pretty good deal! Have you named them?
Yeah, it was a great deal! So my lead camel is Jude (named after the song) then Delilah (also after the song), Charlie (named after the first camel I ever fell in love with at the camel dairy) and finally, Clayton (after Clayton station, where I started my first mini trek with the camels).

So how did you get them from Uluru to the starting point in WA?
This was a massive hurdle actually. I just assumed their would just be some stock truck I could load them onto that was already going that way until I realised there's no trucks that drive from Uluru to Shark Bay haha. It ended up being cheaper for me to buy a truck and drive the camels there myself, so I went and got my truck licence and bought a truck! My friend Greg drove with me for 6 days and we (stupidly) decided to go across the great central road (notoriously terrible dirt road) but the truck handled it.

No way! What did you do with the truck after?
Truck is still there, thats another adventure. I’ll have to fly back over when im done and drive it back haha!
‘If I just walk across Aus with camels, if that’s all I do with my life, ill be really f*cking happy’
I’m not sure if I should ask this question but do you have a favourite camel?
*giggling* No parent ever wants to admit who their favourite child is, but I’d have to say Jude. We have such a strong bond, he’s my lead camel. We spend the most time together and we’ve learned to place a lot of trust in each other.

What will you do with the camels after?
In the back of my mind, I’d love to have my own camel business, to take people out to experience what I’m experiencing. If that works out then ill keep them, but ill just give them a break, let them be camels that arent trekking across Aus.

Did you ever think you’d be doing something like this in your life?
No. When I left film and tv career, I felt a little judged. People wondered why I wanted to leave such a ‘great’ career path to go down then ‘weird/unusual’ path of camels and working with animals, but I’m so glad I stuck to my gut feeling because of look at where I am now. Then I started to think “if I just walk across Aus with camels, if that’s all I do with my life, ill be really f*cking happy”. And also here I am now, trekking Aus with camels, sending my photos to National Geographic. It’s all pretty surreal.
And apparently you made all your own saddles....
Yeah, I decided to make them, I mean when else would I have the opportunity to learn to make my own saddles? I was so lucky to be around people in this field. I also wanted to know exactly how they were put together so I knew how to fix them if something goes wrong. Also understanding and respecting the HUGE amount of work that goes into stuff like that. I chipped away at them slowly over an entire year having to juggle life and training and work etc. Each saddle has 3 pads, each pad is stuffed with straw, and each pad takes about 3 hours each to stuff. Like, it’s it’s insane how much works goes into stuffing just one pad. I had blisters on my hands, asking if they thought it was done and they were like nope, keep going. It was rough but rewarding.
How’re you keeping safe out there? You said you’re coming into the stage where you’ll really be needing the gun, have you had any moments where you’ve had to fire shots
I’ve been practicing loading the gun so I know how to handle it but no I haven’t had to use it yet. I think in about 2 weeks time I’ll start coming into wild camels and scrub bulls (wild cows). A station owner told me about a scary story about her encounter with one and then one night I was camping and I could see one, quite sizable, huge horns, and then the middle of the night it began to bellow and I freaked out so I slept with the loaded gun next to my swag. I never had to use it but it was so scary.
If you could go back, what would you say to the Sophie Matterson 2 years ago?
Stop stressing, it'll happen. 2 years ago iI only had the idea, I would talk about it at dinners, with friends but it never really felt like I was going to attain that goal. Here I am. It’s all about trusting the process.