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

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,034 Ratings  ·  646 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)
Feb 26, 2016 Owlseyes rated it really liked it

“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
Jul 21, 2008 Kapi rated it did not like it
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
Jun 16, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it
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
Apr 23, 2009 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
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
Nov 23, 2014 Kristin rated it did not like it
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
Nov 21, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
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
May 22, 2012 Sps rated it liked it
Shelves: story, setting, 900s
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
Lyndsey Page
Dec 11, 2014 Lyndsey Page rated it it was ok
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
Oct 22, 2013 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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
The question I'm most commonly asked is 'why?' A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don't attempt to escape the limitations imposed upon them? If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it's familiar.

After watching the film Tracks twice I immediately ordered the book and promptly read it. Something about the movie stirred a feeling a wasn't familiar with within, and that feeling continued wit
Feb 02, 2014 Noreen rated it it was ok
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
I am so at a loss for this book. I read it sandwiched between Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Mother of God by Paul Rosolie, both of which were fantastic and amazingly well written. Davidson, however, lacked the talent to write as well as the other two. The narrative style was too choppy for me, occasionally hard to follow, and random. It lacked flow the majority of the time, whereas there were other moments in which Davidson discussed her friendship with Aborigines or how the desert necessarily expa ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Robyn Davidson doesn't consider herself incredible or inspirational, although she completed a journey that few other people could have contemplated, let alone completed.

In 1977, from Alice Springs, which is smack bang in the middle of Australia, and is surrounded by deserts, she undertakes an (*almost) solo trek to the Western Australian coast, 1700 miles away, accompanied by her four camels. I say almost, because she is visited periodically by a photographer to capture images of her journey for
Robyn Davidson was a young woman who had a dream of traveling with camels through the bush of the northern and western areas of Australia. She arrived in Alice Springs with her dog and six dollars, hoping to find work and learn to train camels. After two years she still did not have the funds to start on her trek, so she signed a contract with "National Geographic" to allow a photographer to spend a few days with her several times during the trip.

Davidson was a hard working, tenacious woman who
Michael Livingston
Apr 18, 2015 Michael Livingston rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2014 Carina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and brutally honest journey of self confidence and belief. Robyn Davidson is an artful author who has a fascinating experience to share. At times I felt as if I was on the journey and knew Robyn personally - to the extent each time I thought that, I could hear her rightful beration of how I could never really know the journey or the author because I simply wasn't there. (Heck, in the added prologue the author herself points out that 30 years later she relates to but doesn't know, tha ...more
Jan 22, 2014 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 14, 2011 Dylan rated it it was amazing
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,
Nov 04, 2014 Lynne rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2014 Noëlibrarian rated it liked it
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
Book Riot Community
When Robyn Davidson was 25 years old, she decided she was going to walk 1,700 miles across the Australian desert. She spent the mid-1970s training three camels, and with the help of a commission from National Geographic, spent nine months braving heat upwards of 130 degrees, belligerent wild bull camels, and prickly shrubs the likes of which only exist in the Outback.

But the dangers were not solely environmental. Fearful, anxious moments after losing a compass, realizing the camels have wandered
Lisa Lieberman
Aug 10, 2015 Lisa Lieberman rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I've come to Robyn Davidson through her later essays but had never read this, her ur work, as it were. I can see how she became the person -- and writer -- she is, and when you think that she made this solo trek in the late 1970s, it's especially remarkable what she achieved. I think a lot of EXTREME travel writing, by men and women, is derivative of her journey.
Dec 02, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it
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
Francene Carroll
Jul 22, 2014 Francene Carroll rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2016 Karly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

As a work of fiction it would be an amazing book to conjure up, as non-fiction it is a masterpiece in my opinion. Davidson manages to write about things that are so existential and abstract, in such an articulate and poetic way. As a reflective memoir it offers so much insight into what was an amazing journey.

I felt like I learnt a lot about parts of my own country that are so foreign to me, and so many other east coasters. All Australians s
Amy Beatty
Aug 23, 2011 Amy Beatty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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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
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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.” 79 likes
“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.” 37 likes
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