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Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  3,689 ratings  ·  409 reviews

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 h
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 30th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1980)
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This is an amazing outdoor adventure/travelogue/girl power memoir.

Robyn Davidson decided to get some camels, train them, and then walk across the Australian Outback.


Yeah, she's a badass who walked 1,700 miles of the Outback, mostly by herself. She had a National Geographic photographer with her for a few days, and an Aboriginal guide a few other days, but most of the time it was just her, the camels and her dog. (view spoiler)
Jun 16, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Around-the-world-ers
A must-read for adventure memoir junkies like myself. Robyn Davidson treks across the Australian Outback with her dog, Diggity, and four camels, beginning near Alice Springs and ending at the West Coast South of Carnarvon. The walk serves as a catharsis for her. In her own words, I had dredged up things that I had no idea existed. People, faces, names, places, feelings, bits of knowledge, all waiting for inspection. It was a giant cleansing of all the garbage and muck that had accumulated in my ...more

“Tracks” is a phenomenal travelogue of a 2700 km voyage through the Australian desert; by Robyn Davidson and four camels. It’s the proof that a single (lunatic?) idea, a seemingly fuzzy project (a woman crossing the desert with camels) can be accomplished. As Davidson put it at the end of the trip, she learned two most important things: (1) we’re as powerful and strong as long as we want; (2) the hardest part on “my” enterprise is the first step, to take the first decision.

Evidently, it was a t
Paul Cheney
Australia is a big country.

A very big country.

And a lot of it is hostile, unforgiving desert. So to set out to travel across half of the country from the centre to the sea, with a dog and four camels is a monumental achievement for Robyn Davidson. Not only is this a tough journey in a physical sense, from the relentless heat, the whole menagerie of nasty & poisonous creatures that exist there, fending off unwelcome advances of men, whilst travelling with the camels, a belligerent species at
The biggest question in my mind before, during, and after reading this book was, WHY? Why would she do this? (I equate it with people who climb Mt. Everest. Why?) We are plunked right down into the story with no explanation of why she undertook this journey. I think she learned a lot about herself and her capabilities along the way, but what would possess a woman to train some camels (she'd never even been exposed to a camel before) and head out into the hostile desert? I actually think there ar ...more
Really liked it (four stars), but two things keep me from giving it the full four:
1. camel beatings
2. my own priggishness about the conservation of stars. [I.e. a book probably won't be a five star book until I am certain it has had an enormous effect on me and short-circuited and rewired something, conjured something, become necessary. A four star book is usually a slightly-less-important-but-still-brilliant book by a favorite author. Four stars still means basically flawless. Which means thre
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
At the age of twenty-five, the author got the wild idea that she wanted to travel solo with camels across the Australian Outback. She moved from Brisbane to Alice Springs where she spent two years learning how to handle camels, figuring out how to obtain camels of her own, and otherwise preparing herself for the trip.

In 1977, she was finally ready, and spent about eight months making her way from Glen Helen Tourist Camp in the Northern Territory to Hamelin Pool on the Indian Ocean.

This was not
Jul 21, 2008 Kapi rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ?
I was disappointed by this book. I felt that the author had a major chip on her shoulder that she never really got over. Her open contempt for anyone interested in her or her journey was not only tiring, but made for a strange read (being one of those interested in her journey). I felt tricked - like she'd invited me to read her story and then accused me of voyeurism. I was left with the feeling that this book was written out of obligation to some sponsor more than a desire to share her experien ...more
Tracks is a cult classic, recently republished, about a woman's solo walk across 1700 miles of the Australian outback. I learned a great deal about camels, Alice Springs Australia, the mentality of Australian men, Aborigines, and Robyn Davidson from this book. It is a book about life on the frontier, self reliance, being a woman in an ultra-macho culture, about tourism in the outback and the savage mistreatment of native peoples of the outback. One of the most interesting and to me edifying aspe ...more
I think what Robyn accomplished is truly amazing. I think the tasks she took on - training her camels and travelling so far across inhospitable, though amazing, country is to be more than admired. I think the relationship she had with her camels was touching and lovely and the book was informative about them. I think the relationship she had with her dog was very much like one many of us have with our dogs and she talked about it well.

However, I didn't enjoy Robyn herself at all. I know what sh
More of 1.5 stars really. I wanted to like this book a lot more. This book lacked a lot for me. For starters, while I appreciate her need to keep a lot of her motivations and revelations private, it makes it difficult to relate to someone on this type of journey with so little to go on. What makes these books good is knowing why someone chose to do this type of journey, and how it changed that person. I didn't get either in this book, which made me not invested at all in the story. Also, she wro ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Darlene rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yvensong
Recommended to Darlene by: Cheryl in cc nv
Oh, how I hated to see the end of this story. I absolutely loved it! I was lucky enough to pick it up on Kindle Unlimited. Then I saw that there was an Audible version. I bought that. I'm glad I did. I loved listening to Angie Milliken tell me the story. Even though the KU went back to Amazon, I still have the story to listen to again, later.

When I was a girl, at the zoo, I was talking to a camel and he spit at me. Yuck! I hated camels ever since. But between Robyn Davidson's story and Angie Mil
Jan 14, 2011 Dylan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dylan by: Mrs. Cyberhobo Kuhn
I'm not really fascinated by camels, but I am a sucker for stories of desert landscapes transforming human beings, and this book is a moving marriage of the two.

I found the portrayal of the way immersion in a landscape like the Australian outback can affect a person really powerful. This idea is extended from the author, who is changed by her journey, to the aboriginal people as being truly formed by the land. I've experienced just enough of this to be transformed a little myself in reading it,
More than a travelogue, more than memoirs. Even though this presents to being more about her than the Bill Bryson I've read & only somewhat about the places & people, and camels, it ends up being much more illuminating of the settings & context than his works which present as travelogues.

If you're not sure you want to read it, start at Chapter 10 (p. 193 in my edition) and read towards the end. I bet you'll want to get back to the beginning and find out more. One example of what got
I never thought a book about deserts, camels and Aborigines would be for me, and honestly, this book did take a bit of sticktoitiveness at the beginning, but now it is in the running for the best book I've read this year. It's a story about a journey through a desert, and reading it you feel like you are on a journey too.There is nothing really special about the author's writing style- the power comes all from the story. I learned about places and people and issues I never knew existed. I someti ...more
Perhaps I should have given this book one more star, because there were short passages of transcendent beauty when Davidson describes lovely, remote, and impossibly hostile stretches of Australian outback desert. The author trekked 1,700 miles with four camels and a dog, in a journey of self-exploration and transformation.

Davidson has a great story, with a breathtaking backdrop, but it suffers in her telling. Often she refers to friends as though the reader already knows them, and several times
Lyndsey Page
I really thought that I would love this book. It has aspects that I love in a memoir including adventure and a female perspective. I quickly realized that Robyn Davidson has absolutely no problems with animal abuse. The treatment of the camels that she claims to love and spoil is disgusting. If camels are not easy to train or socialize, DON'T USE THEM! It's so sad that the camels had no choice in any of this and were taken from the wild only to be forced into a trek that I'm sure they had no des ...more
Michael Livingston
I read this during a brief trip to Alice Springs, Uluru and surrounds having seen the movie during a characteristically chilly April day in Melbourne earlier this year. It's a stunning book - capturing Davidson's love and appreciation of the Central Australian landscape, her principles and passion for the Indigenous people of the country and her deep and abiding love of her camels and dog. The story of the walk is perfect, covering the highs and lows of the journey and its effects on the author' ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Julia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenage girls
"Tracks" is Robyn Davidson's account of her journey from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, to Broome in Western Australia, crossing the desert accompanied by camels and her dog. It was first published a few years after her journey in 1980, and re-published in 2013 to accompany the recently made feature film.

The autobiographical travel adventure book is inevitably inspiring, as the author's voice is as humorous and heartfelt, as it is neurotic, passionate and self-deprecating. There is an
Amy Beatty
I read this book a month or so ago and what lingers in my mind is her love for her camels and her crazy couple of years she had to go through to finally be able to make the trek. I can't imagine going through with all she did. one of my very favorite parts is when she (which is a few times) walks naked and joins her camels in a dust bath. In a way it made me jealous. I would like to live somewhere for a season and be naked. she is so very bold and brave even though she doesn't always feel that w ...more
Fantastic read. In addition to a good adventure travel story, Davidson has sprinkled in astute political observations and loads of personal insight. Makes me want to visit Uluru, and also to have more adventures.
This was a pretty amazing book to be honest.
A mix of travelogue, philosophical complaints, cultural commentary, and camel handling tips :)

I have to admit i'm a bit of a sucker for travel stories, especially ones like this where the traveler goes "back to basics". She starts her incredible odyssey with $6 and a dream, knowing nothing about camels or the desert! Finally she makes the trip from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia, after 2 years of struggle against her own ignorance, idiots
The story of the author's physical journey across Western Australia doesn't actually begin until about half-way through the book, which is really where the "page-turning" begins. The first half relates mostly to her preparation for the journey. The book is also peppered with references to the cultural and political plight of the Australian aborigines in the 60s and 70s which is enlightening and important, and plays a role in the author's philosophical and moral attitudes. Readers of this book wi ...more
This book unfortunately has become famous around the same time as Cheryl Strayed's Wild, an account of her solo trek through the Pacific Coast Trail. The two women share a similar emotional and physical battering and then re-building, but Strayed's account feels more intimate to the reader. She talks at length about her struggle with her mother's death, and then her plummet into drug addiction and casual affairs. Davidson alludes to her mother having died as well, but gives no great details into ...more
Backed by National Geographic, Robyn Davidson trains (4) camels and treks across 1700 miles of the Outback in Australia. She. Trains. The. Camels.

Cheyenne Blue
Back in the early 1980s, Robyn Davidson traveled to Alice Springs in the middle of Australia, spent a year working with camels in exchange for knowledge of the animals and some camels of her own. Then after gaining sponsorship from National Geographic, she set off west across the Gibson Desert, one of world's harshest deserts with four camels and her dog. She made it to the Indian Ocean.

That's the short version of the book.

Roughly the first third of the book is taken up with her preparation in
Francene Carroll
This account of Robyn Davidson's trek across the Australian outback with four camels and a dog does what all great books do - it makes you run through the whole gamut of emotions. I experienced moments of intense dislike towards the narrator, anger at her actions, joy at her triumphs and tears over her heartbreak and losses.

The most famous photos from this expedition show a young, pretty sarong-clad Robyn at the end of her journey cavorting in a turquoise Indian ocean with her camels. It is an i
I’d probably understand the appeal of walking across the desert with camels better if I were Australian. I’m completely on board with the desire to go on a solo multi-month wilderness trek with animals to carry the provisions, but I'd prefer trekking across mountains with goats, a completely different adventure and book.

The first half of the book, preparing for the journey, is rough. The sexism and racism of 1970s Australia, the brutality of one camel rancher/employer, the sheer hard knocks of l
Tracks by Robyn Davidson

It took me a couple of tries at this book to finish it. I found the chaoticness of the first section very annoying. It starts off rather benignly: our hero arrives at the jumping off place with a dream and six dollars. She sets about learning how to make the cash and the skills she will need to fulfill her dream. All well and good except that as she works her way through the various adventures to learn these lessons, time becomes very distorted. The story line appears to
A candid, insightful record of Robyn Davidson's solo trek across the Australian desert in the 70s with 4 camels, which was part documented by National Geographic and which has recently been made into a film (which I haven't yet seen). I finished the book in awe of this woman, and adored her honesty about the downsides of travelling alone and her courage to brave the harsh environment of the Aussie outback. A new hero.
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Robyn Davidson was born on a cattle property in Queensland, Australia. She went to Sydney in the late sixties, then spent time studying in Brisbane before moving to Alice Springs, where the events of this book begin. Since then, she has traveled extensively, living in London, New York, and India. In the early 1990s, she migrated with and wrote about nomads in northwestern India. She is now based i ...more
More about Robyn Davidson...
Desert Places From Alice to Ocean: Alone Across the Outback Inside Tracks: Alone Across the Outback Ancestors Travelling Light

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“It seems to me that the good lord in his infinate wisdom gave us three things to make life bearable- hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these was dogs.” 33 likes
“I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there's no going back.” 13 likes
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