Robyn Davidson’s opens the memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company with the following words: “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there’s no going back.”
Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.
“An unforgettably powerful book.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
Now with a new postscript by Robyn Davidson.
Many travelogs are obsessive – here’s everything I did to prepare, here’s all the worries and fears I had, here’s a day by day account of what happened. Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country covers Australia in this way to great effect.
Tracks is nothing like that. You get dropped along with Davidson to a remote post and follow her as she scrapes together everything she needs to cross the Outback by camel. The first part of the book feels frenzied and unsettled, and while it may not be on purpose it serves the crazy time she had in Alice Springs. As the journey finally gets underway you can feel her slip into the ways of the desert and come into her true self through the more solid and considered writing style.
Davidson wrote this book two years after the journey and it provides her just the right amount of perspective and hindsight. A postscript written thirty years later is a fitting digestif and addresses some concerns I had while reading the book, first and foremost being “how the heck did they make this into a movie?!” Davidson writes:
First [my journey] was hijacked by my own book, then by Rick’s photographs, and any day now, by a film that will have almost nothing to do with ‘what really happened’.
Ahhh. Skipping that movie, then.
If you like being led on an adventure, if you’d like to learn something about the Outback, or if you’d like a reminder that nearly anyone can do anything as long as they don’t give up, this is the book for you.