Life outside challenges Corby
Life outside challenges Corby

After almost a decade, the girl who loved the ocean had forgotten what it was like.

Schapelle Corby stumbled across a Balinese beach and threw herself into the water, falling clumsily under the waves as they crashed around her.

It was a symbolic moment in the convicted drug smuggler's first days of freedom and a rare victory against the media circus that has camped outside the luxury villa where she has been bunkered for the past three weeks.

Corby's return to the ocean happened spontaneously in front of Ku De Ta, the popular Seminyak bar and restaurant which is a favourite with Australians, especially the media.

The 36-year-old - one of the most recognisable faces in Indonesia and Australia - snuck away from the photographers surrounding her Kuta hideout, had her first drink in a bar in nine years and then walked to the beach unnoticed by the crowd around her.

Two weeks earlier, as she was driven from Kerobokan prison, her covered face captured in images which went around the world, she told the bodyguard beside her that she felt like a crab, "trying to out of a mud crab cage".

"I'm tired of people just... keeping me a show pony," she said.

"I just started crying because I just feel so, I am just used, they just used me.

"People judge me and say I'm a really bad person, but look at this - this is just... that's wrong.

"There's a lot of people who are kind of against me getting out.“

Corby said she remembered the frenzy which surrounded her trial nine years ago. But she didn't remember the waves.

"She had forgotten how rough the surf could be," her sister, Mercedes, said last week of Schapelle's first moments back in the ocean.

"I think in her head she must have had clear water, enjoying slow breaststroke and instead she was tumbled over by waves."

Schapelle Corby has her first swim in an ocean in 9 years. Picture: Sunday Night
Picture: Sunday Night

The poignant moment was captured by a film crew for Channel Seven's Sunday Night program, which has been bunkered with Corby in Bali since her release from Kerobokan prison almost three weeks ago.

Amid a furore surrounding plans for Corby's first post-prison interview, rumours of seven-figure payments and a raid by the Australian Federal Police, Sunday Night has decided to go ahead with its story tomorrow night, albeit without an interview with Corby.

Instead, the show will follow her release from prison, capturing her candid conversations and giving an insight into the state-of-mind of the country's most famous ex-prisoner.

Veteran journalist Mike Willesee, who has been in Bali for the past month while prospects of a Corby interview have hung in the balance, spoke instead to her sister, Mercedes.

She told him that the family had been victims of domestic politics, public opinion and international media scrutiny and said Schapelle has had difficulty coping.

"There was a media report and the chef had spoken about her first meal (post prison) and what food we'd been ordering," Mercedes said.

"That upset her and she just refused to eat.

"She stayed in her bathroom and wouldn't leave, wouldn't eat, didn't talk.

"There were a couple of other times where we don't really know what made her upset and she just wanted to stay in her room or sit in the back.

"... we don't know actually what has brought her down but that might just be a normal part of recovery, I'm not sure."

She spoke of the time she spent with her sister, whose mental health had all but deteriorated, during her jail sentence.

"For months we had to hand feed her, and I'd to have to stick her medicine with my finger down her throat, hold a straw to her mouth so she could drink. She couldn't speak," she said.

But Mercedes said that while her sister was "broken", she believed wasn't permanent.

"She is going to come back to the person that she was before," she said.

"I don't know if it actually hit her yet - same as me - but I feel positive that it is all going to be alright."

Mercedes Corby. Picture: Sunday Night

Mercedes - who wiped away tears as show talked about the toll of the past nine years -- said the media attention, along with false reports that the Corbys were being paid $3 million for their story, made her fear for her family's safety.

"There's things that the children know we're always worried about - secret cameras or people standing on fences taking photos," she said.
"You know, like my youngest son for example, every day its like there's a camera."
She said the media attention had been constant throughout Corby's imprisonment but the extent of the coverage since her release had shocked her.

"They didn't let the facts get in the way of a good story," she said.

"They put pressure on the Indonesian government reporting rumour as fact."

She spoke about speculation her late father, Michael had planted the drugs and and described the moment Schapelle was arrested.

"First of all I thought she was joking with me," she said.

"And then she put the policeman on the phone and until I got to the airport and I had seen the bag I was just assuming it was a tiny matter, it was a mistake.

"I just didn't know what it was. I just never expected it would be what I had seen when I walked into that room.”

She remained adamant that her sister was innocent.

Sunday Night executive producer Mark Llewellyn said Corby was not interviewed "because she cannot do an interview".

But her family had decided to go ahead with the program without payment to try to put an end to the media frenzy surrounding them.

Mercedes said she couldn't understand why her sister wasn't allowed to tell her story.

"I actually don't know why it is a problem because other people have been able to speak," she said, referring to interviews with convicted terrorits in Indonesia.

"It seems that it is, my thinking, that they have taken away her freedom of speech."

The West Australian

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