Friday, 12 October 2012

Tracks by Robyn Davidson

About the book
Tracks is a travel writing book by Robyn Davidson. It was published on 9th January 1998 by Picador and the book is 250 pages long.

In April 1977, a young Australian woman set off from Alice Springs to cross 1,700 miles of desert and bush with four camels and a dog. Most locals who knew of her plan thought her at best imprudent and at worst out of her wilful mind. When Robyn Davidson discovered, as the journey neared its end, that the international press were all clamouring for reports on a new public property known as the Australian 'camel lady', it came as a considerable shock.

Tracks is a compelling personal record - told with candour and humour - of a young woman's dream and the sobering truths, unexpected rewards, joys and ironies she encountered in realizing it. The telling is as remarkable as the tale. Masterly descriptions evoke this ancient, bony, awesome landscape with unusual vividness. And although the enterprise began as a pure gesture of independence - with the launching of a myth as an unlooked-for consequence and a frequent impediment - Robyn Davidson has eloquently satisfied the world's curiosity in a book of immense integrity and interest.
(Taken from

What I thought
This is a book that I had to read for university and the first thing from the travel writing genre that I have ever read. I haven’t had the best luck with university books but it seems that my third year is going to be different as I have liked a lot of what I’ve read so far.

The first part of Tracks is spent getting to know Robyn and her desires for this trip. She starts out in a small place called Alice Springs where she learns everything she needs to know before setting out on her journey. It was really refreshing to learn about such a small place in Australia and also how the people there different from those in large cities and towns. This is where Robyn learns how to care for camels, which are one of the largest parts of her trip, and how to look after herself out in the open. The characters that she meets both help and hinder her education.

Not only do you really get to know Robyn and her beliefs but also her camels. I know how strange that might sound but they really have their own personalities and stand out so much from one another. Robyn’s relationships with her camels was one of the best aspects of this book for me. After spending so long learning how to care for a camel, how to treat injuries and how to make them work for her instead of against her, these animals were like main characters to me. Their antics made for some funny reading but there are also some quite tense moments with them at the same time.

When I first started reading this book, I imagined there would be quite a lot of boring parts where nothing much happened. As this adventure was trekking across the desert, I figured that this would take up most of the book. It doesn’t. I was thankful to Robyn for not writing about these long, boring times where all she did really was walk. I know that this was a big part of her trip and she would have crossed a lot of miles doing just this but it doesn’t exactly make for exciting reading. However, there were of course times where some of this is written about but only when something important happened.

Tracks gives a very unique stance on Aboriginals in Australia. Robyn states early on that she really doesn’t know too much about their lifestyle but in Alice Springs, she gets a clear view of how white men see things. It was definitely eye-opening to learn about this different way of life and how so many people were against them. Reading about the way that Aboriginals were treated by white people was actually really shocking. Everyone has the right to live in a way that they see fit and these people were judged and bullied because of their beliefs. Robyn actually spends some time with different tribes along the way and her perceptions of people were changed dramatically after experiencing their way of life.

Tracks was a fantastic book and a great introduction to travel writing. I love travelling myself so to read about other people’s adventures is pretty perfect for me. I can’t wait to see what other books like this I get to read this year and to see if I like them as much as this one. 

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