Robyn Davidson - Wikipedia
In Robyn Davidson trekked miles across the Australian Robyn Davidson leading her caravan of camels Photo: Rick Smolan. It's been 37 years since Robyn Davidson crossed the Australian desert on (It's not clear what Davidson's connection is to this house - or the small friend, Rick Smolan, the photographer who met Davidson in Alice Springs. Robyn Davidson's solo trek across Australia with camels was a turning point Rick Smolan's beautiful images of Robyn Davidson in the.
Smolan, with whom she had an "on-again off-again" romantic relationship during the trip, drove out to meet her three times during the nine-month journey. The National Geographic article was published in  and attracted so much interest that Davidson decided to write a book about the experience.
She travelled to London and lived with Doris Lessing while writing Tracks. In the early nineties, Smolan published his pictures of the trip in From Alice to Ocean. It has been suggested that one of the reasons Tracks was so popular, particularly with women, is that Davidson "places herself in the wilderness of her own accord, rather than as an adjunct to a man". Davidson mentions Mr Eddie in Tracks.
Jane Sullivan in The Age writes that 'while she is often called a social anthropologist', she has no academic qualifications and claims to be "completely self-taught". These experiences were published in Desert Places. Her writing on nomads is based mainly on personal experience, and she brings many of her thoughts together in No Fixed Address, her contribution to the Quarterly Essay series. One of the questions we need to ask, if we are to have a future, she says, is "Where did we cause less damage to ourselves, to our environment, and to our animal kin?
The film Tracks is based on Davidson's memoir of the same name. Works[ edit ] Davidson, Robyn Davidson, Robyn September Travelling Light, a collection of essays. No need to find the well and tank that night; they were there by the patch of green. Then I had a freezing, early-morning bath.
It was good to be alive. Davidson and Diggity enjoying a rare swim. He is a Pitjantjatjara man, and he arrived at my camp that evening with several carloads of Aborigines from the settlements of Wingelinna and Pipalyatjara. I served them all billies of tea, and we chatted.
I kept a polite silence and simply started off — to be joined by Mr Eddie. I turned then, and we looked at each other. There was such humour, depth, life and knowledge in those eyes that somehow we started laughing. And so we came to Pipalyatjara — it is one of those rarities in the outback, an Aborigine settlement where the whites do a really splendid job of helping the Aborigines cope with prejudice, neglect and government bureaucracy.
As I began packing for Warburton, miles due west in the Gibson desert, Mr Eddie announced that he was coming too. He wanted to gather pauri, a native narcotic tobacco plant that Aborigines chew, and we turned into a valley beside the trail. But Mr Eddie seemed to flow with time rather than measure it, and eventually I relaxed and began to enjoy my surroundings.
It was not the least of the lessons he was to teach me. By afternoon we had trekked 15 miles and were tired, hot, dusty and fly-ridden. A column of red dust gradually rose on the horizon. Cars on the trail, though rare, frequently meant tourists, and I was in no mood to be gawked at today.
These were worse than usual. The car drew up beside us, and several men in silly hats spilt out, festooned with cameras. Brandishing his walking stick he drove the tourists back towards their car, alternately raving in Pitjantjatjara and demanding payment for the photographs in broken English. The startled men beat a hasty retreat, emptying their pockets of bills as they went.
Mr Eddie tucked the money away then he walked serenely over to me, and we cracked up. With tears streaming down my face I thought of the Aborigines, how they had been poisoned, slaughtered, herded into settlements, prodded, photographed, and left to rot with their shattered pride and their cheap liquor. And here was this superb old gentleman, who had lived through it all, who could turn himself into an outrageous parody of the Aborigine, then do an about-face and laugh with the abandon of a child.
Reflecting on my own lesser problems and hardships, I thought: I called on a friend by Australian Flying Doctor Service radio to take him home. I still think of our three weeks together on the trail as the heart of my entire journey.
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I had already arranged at Pipalyatjara to have a gun similar to mine waiting for Mr Eddie at Warburton. He had fallen in love with my rifle, and it seemed the perfect gift. The most dangerous part of the journey now lay ahead of me, the Gunbarrel Highway. The camels could not carry enough water to make it all the way, so my friend Glendle Schrader from Pipalyatjara would drive a truck with additional water from Warburton to the western part of the Gunbarrel.
From Pipalyatjara the round trip comes to hazardous miles, whether on foot or by motor. Such is the quality of friends. On July 15 I set out with Diggity and the camels. The country was harsh, though lovely in its way. Sand hills stretched over some of the route, interspersed here and there with great stands of impenetrable mulga bush.
Golden tufts of spinifex grass turned portions of the trail into a giant pincushion that continually jabbed at our feet. The camels strained under loads consisting largely of water, and noselines frequently snapped. Progress was achingly slow. Yet there were some moments along the Gunbarrel that I will never forget.
Tracks: Robyn Davidson's Journey To Enlightenment
One morning before sunrise — grey silk sky, Venus aloft — I saw a single crow, carving up wind currents above the hills. One evening I opened a tin of cherries, the ultimate luxury, ate half, and put the other half beside the swag for breakfast.
Woke up the next morning. Mia Wasikowska on set filming Tracks.
Tracks: Robyn Davidson's Journey To Enlightenment | HuffPost UK
Rain, I thought as the first light slithered under my eyelids and into the folds of the blankets. But the clouds vanished, and then I realised something was missing: Where were Zeleika and Bub?
How far had they gone? Then I recalled what a very wise friend in Alice once said to me: You are a hundred miles from anything; you have lost two camels; one of the other camels has a hole in his foot so big you could sleep in it; you have only enough water to last for six days; your hip is sore from walking; this is a god-awful place to spend the rest of your life.
So having tidied all that up, I panicked. The water situation was saved shortly afterwards by the arrival of Glendle and his truck. When he caught up with us, he was so exhausted from the trip he could barely speak. We unloaded two of three gallon water drums from the truck, then filled my own drums from them with gallons to spare.
Wearily we drove some 50 miles to the west, dropped off the drum, and returned to camp. Minutes later Glendle was dead asleep in his blanket. Next morning he headed back towards Pipalyatjara.
When he had become only a dust cloud on the horizon behind us, the silence and solitude closed in again. I was not in the best shape. My left hip, sore from endless slogging over sand hills, was barely usable.
Had it all been worth it? I still thought so. The station was little used because of severe drought, and I could not resupply with food as I had planned.
There was nothing to do but trek north-west 75 miles to the station at Glenayle and hope for the best. By luck I met two men travelling by car to Carnegie, and they gave me some tucker. Davidson's dinner at times included witchetty grubs. Rick Smolan All I could think of was Glenayle and escape from the drought. We straggled in at last, a miserable sight.
As I entered the Glenayle homestead, the first thing I saw was a lovely, middle-aged lady watering her flower garden. What warm, generous and utterly charming people, and how little I can ever repay their kindness. But as we toured the property, I saw what devastation the drought had worked.
The horses were skin and bones and the cattle were even worse. Yet never once did I hear a complaint or a harsh word from the Wards. Their entire future was at stake, with no relief in sight. Still, they hung on with courage and hope.
While the horses and cows suffered, my camels — who could browse on trees as well as on ground cover — fared better, and after a week were slightly improved.
One morning as I stood talking with Henry and patting Bub, big, jealous Dookie came up behind me. By way of attracting my attention, he opened his great jaws, took my entire head between them, and squeezed gently. Then he opened his mouth and galloped off, immensely pleased with himself.
Soon afterwards we began packing up to leave Glenayle. The Canning is an Australian legend. Fortunately, I had to cover only miles, from a point near Glenayle to Cunyu. The Gibson desert would be far behind us, and the remaining miles to the Indian Ocean would be much easier. This was dingo country, and I was terrified that Diggity would pick up one of the poisoned baits set out to exterminate the wild dogs.
I put a muzzle on her, but she whined and scratched at it and was so disconsolate that I finally took it off. The area was rougher than anything we had crossed before, and at Well Number 6 I called a halt. The setting was lovely, an infinitely extended bowl of pastel blue haze carpeting the desert, and in the far distance five violet, magical mountains soared above the desert. I longed to journey to those mountains.
I had found the heart of the world. Well Number 6 hardly deserved the name. The surface of the water lay nine feet below ground level and could only be reached with a bucket, a rope and enough effort to cause a hernia. The water tasted foul, but none of us cared, and I camouflaged mine with huge doses of coffee. The night was incredibly lovely. I made camp and built a mattress of fallen leaves. The camels had more forage than they could possibly eat.
In the evening they rolled and played in the white dust, raising puffs of cloud that the fat red sun turned to bronze. For three days it was perfection, and I wanted never to leave. On the third night Diggity took a dingo bait.
I had to shoot her. Before dawn I left that place I had thought so beautiful. DAY My only thought now was to push on to the end of my route. The country passed unnoticed beneath my feet, and I recall little of that time. I think I reached Cunyu on August To avoid pestering questions, I left the camels at Cunyu and sneaked away to Wiluna, 40 miles to the south. The people of Wiluna asked no questions: Within a week I was setting out for the Indian Ocean coast.
Behind me lay nearly 1, miles — five months of travel. Ahead lay only more miles. We made them slowly, for beyond Cunyu Zeleika fell seriously ill. She had nursed Goliath, her calf, throughout the entire six months, and now she suddenly began bleeding internally.
David and Margot Steadman, homesteaders at Dalgety, took us in and proceeded to spoil all five of us. The camels were fed barley, oats, and lollies, an undreamt-of diet. They were praised, patted, stroked and talked to.
With such care even Zeleika began to improve. For a time I considered leaving Zeleika behind with Dave and Margot and pushing on to the sea with the other three camels. But she continued to improve, and I decided that a dip in the Indian Ocean might do the old girl a power of good.
On that final stretch of miles we rode in style for about 30 of them. I accepted, but the camels had reservations. After the long journey, however, their trust in me was complete, and they finally climbed aboard.
We trussed them up like plucked chickens and off we headed. DAY Six miles short of our goal we unloaded and set out on the final leg. Oh, how my spirits soared. Two hours later I saw it, glinting on the far side of the dunes — the Indian Ocean, end of trail. We rode down to the beach towards the sunset and stood thunderstruck at the beauty of the sea.
At the end of the journey, the camels were wide-eyed with wonder at the sight of the Indian Ocean. They would stare at it, walk a few paces, then turn and stare again.