On the road with Sophie Matterson
When I got the call from Australian Geographic to track down Sophie Matterson and...
Since mid last year I have had a burning desire to get up into the lands and speak with the communities about what life is like encompassing the challenges of living so remotely and the rewards of beings close to country and the spirit of the land.
Being based in Coober Pedy this is ultimately made a lot easier shaving 1000km’s from the journey. The initial meeting time was 4pm to 5pm on the Friday in the town of Marla (243km). After four hours of waiting it became apparent that my contact wasn’t going to show.
This time my contact, Rueben Burton, did show up and quickly explained that a fibre cable had been cut somewhere in the lands leaving the entire APY without phones, internet, banking, food or fuel. This obviously caused some communication and logistical challenges. We drove for six hours into the lands passing communities along the way including Indulkana, Mimili, Freegon and finally Amata.
The next port of call was the community shop which was an eye opener with a common coles cake fetching $68 and malu wipu (tail) rounding out at $30 each. I could completely appreciate the struggles and challenges of the community living so remotely and paying such high prices for everything ranging from food, limited clothing and diesel sitting firmly at $2.20 a litre.
I would have to say the most disconcerting part of the stay would have been the 24 hour church service that is broadcasted throughout the town at quite an impressive sound pressure level. Think it was the duration of the broadcast coupled with the yelling and signal distortion.
Will be back for sure it’s just a matter of time. Big thanks to Rueben and his family for taking me into their lives even if for three days.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this gallery does contain images and voices of people who have died.