A friend was downsizing her library and passed this book on to me. It is a page turner! The story is a true firsthand account of a young (late 20’s) woman’s adventure preparing for and crossing the outback with a dog and three camels. Davidson starts out with virtually no money, works in a bar, and has to settle for whatever housing she can find in a small town near her planned starting point. The preparations alone are daunting. She must earn enough money to support herself and pay for the trip. At the same time, Davidson has to learn all about camels from locals who are very skeptical and warn her over and over again of all the dangers the outback holds for a woman traveling across a desert alone. The misogynist men in the town are both discouraging and physically threatening.
Amazingly, she pulls everything together, and, with the financial help of National Geographic, Davidson heads out. She is saddled with a photojournalist who joins her several times along the way to take pictures. Davidson often expresses regret for the compromise she had to make to gain the funds she needed; Davidson wanted to be entirely alone on the trip. Her descriptions of the land and her encounters with indigenous people made me feel like I was traveling alongside Davidson without leaving home. Her spirit and courage are hard for me to imagine. I was awed by the physical and mental endurance she exhibited as she faced one challenge after another (some life-threatening) without ever giving up.
The edition I read included a postscript. The book itself was written two years after Davidson’s journey ended in 1977. The reflections at the end of the book were written more than 30 years later. Thinking about her younger self Davidson writes,
In a mean little flat on the other side of the earth, an extraordinary feat of remembering took place, making the entire nine months, every single campfire during a 1,700 mile walk, limpid. (Or so it seemed to me then.). But once the book was published, the memories began to fade, as if the book had stolen them. The real journey, who I was when I made it, all of it caved away, leaving behind a similitude called Tracks, and some photographs of a young woman I had difficulty identifying with.