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Great Adventures: Tracks

Almost 40 years have passed since Robyn Davidson suffered desert heat, freezing nights, animal attacks and tragedy as she guided her party of creatures through Australia’s wilds. Pat Kinsella reveals how a she overcame all obstacles...
A WELCOME SPLASH After seven dry months spent well-hopping across Australia, Robyn Davidson and her camel Bub luxuriate in the waters of the Indian Ocean


There’s initially nothing remarkable about a young Australian student leaving university to go travelling. However, Robyn Davidson didn’t follow the well-worn Aussie backpack-thongs-and-bongs trail through Asia to London. Instead, she made her own distinct tracks, embarking on an extraordinary journey through the centre of Australia, with four camels, a dog called Diggity and a gun.

In seven months in 1977, she traipsed across 1,700 miles of terrifically unforgiving terrain, from the rusty red hills around Alice Springs to the sensational surf of the Indian Ocean on the wild coast of Western Australia.

It was a deeply personal and very eccentric odyssey, yet it echoed an age-old Australian tradition sometimes described (somewhat derisively by a culture that doesn’t understand it) as ‘going walkabout’. The Indigenous people of the central deserts have been following unseeable routes – known as songlines – through the harsh terrain since the Dream Time, and during her journey, Davidson enjoyed encounters with her country’s traditional custodians that very few ever experience.

Rick Smolan’s photographs for National Geographic highlighted the sheer scale of Robyn’s daring trek across Australia’s unforgiving Outback

“I love the desert and its incomparable sense of space. I enjoy being with Aborigines and learning from them”Robyn Davidson

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The February 2016 issue of History Revealed