Matterson, Sophie

In 2020, at the age of thirty-one, Sophie Matterson set out to walk her five camels from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Byron Bay on the east coast. At a time when most of her friends were getting engaged or starting families, Sophie longed for adventure, independence and purpose. She broke up with her long-term boyfriend, packed all her belongings into saddlebags and trained her wild camels to follow her lead.

Her thirteen-month solo crossing was the ultimate test of resilience and self-sufficiency – with each state in various forms of lockdowns, Sophie would often walk for weeks without seeing another soul. She crossed harsh, remote deserts, navigated treacherously beautiful salt lakes, and visited country towns and isolated cattle stations. Along the way she survived life-and-death situations, fell in love in the middle of the Outback, and slowly began to trust herself and her own abilities.

In 2021, Sophie became the first woman to complete a 4,750km camel crossing of Australia, walking her five wild camels – Jude, Delilah, Charlie, Clayton and Mac – from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Byron Bay in New South Wales. In 2022, she won the Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure Award.

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Allen & Unwin, May 2023.   336 pages, paperback.