Robyn Davidson walked 2700n km of the Australian desert with four camels and a dog named Diggity to find herself and understand a little of Aboriginal culture. Robyn did this back in 1977
In the era of feminism, she became a romatic symbol of the desert. Tracks, her published memories of the journey from Alice Springs to near the Indian Ocean became a best seller. She became known affectionately as the Camel Lady.
What type of woman can endure such a journey? From my reading of this book a few years ago, I was struck by Robyn’s writings which painted her as an introverted, restless soul, searching for her identity in the spectrum of things.
I read the novel, Tracks, when I was living for a year in Australia. That was back in 2003. Now, ten years later, my attention was again drawn to Robyn Davidson. There is a movie in the making of her gruelsome journey, staring actress, Mia Wasikowska, as Robyn.
What I found remarkable was the person of Robyn. She dropped out of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music and headed for Alice Springs with today’s equivalent of $20 US. Her goal was to train wild camels and walk the dead heart of Australia with them. Back in 1977, the predominant roles for most women were that of wife and mother. Robyn had a dream of the desert that spoke to her of space and freedom; a place to push herself through the rigors of self-sufficiency and resilience. I remember just a couple of trips to the Outback in 2003 and the real and verifiable stories of the deaths of people who defied this environment. Having travelled for nearly ten hours on a mail route from Cober Pedy, I discovered first hand the heat and terrain of the outback. I was with a professional driver named Peter and he was well versed in the history, geology and survival of the place.
Robyn did not take this trip for ego or fame and fortune. In fact, after she had accomplished the journey, she hid from the media
Now in her 60s, Davidson is still writing books. After her Australian camel trek, she did one in India and wrote Desert Places (1997) where she accompanied the Rabari, a nomadic desert tribe.
Robinson is glad she made such a trek across Australia when she did, back in 1977.
There would be a lot of red tape to cross parts of the desert that are now in aboriginal hands. She adds that the desert is no longer isolated with the availability of satellite and mobile phones.