Tracks

Tracks is captivating, subtle and tense, I felt I was right there with Robyn Davidson travelling those spectacular Australian landscapes with her gorgeous dog and the grand, snooty looking camels who seem to be grinning ...Naomi

Tracks is an inspiring and gently paced film, telling the true story of a 25-year woman, Robyn Davidson, who feels disconnected from the world. Seeking solitude decides to test her limits on a solo trek from Australia's Alice Springs to Uluru and on to the Indian Ocean, travelling 2700km of spectacular yet unforgiving Australian desert.

First, Robyn spends two years in the harsh climate of Alice Springs learning how to train and handle wild camels and then in 1977, aided by her loyal dog Diggity, four unpredictable camels and at intervals, New York photographer Rick Smolan, who chronicled her epic adventure. Although wanting to be alone, she is given much needed help by many generous people during the 9 month journey, including Afghani camel farmer, Sallay Mahomet, and respected Aboriginal Elder, Mr Eddy. Robyn slowly faces the pain of her past and when tragedy strikes has to decide whether to give up or continue.

Robyn struggles to avoid media scrutiny but fortunately for us she doesn’t manage to avoid photographer Rick Smolan, who becomes a friend while documenting her journey and finally encourages her to complete her challenge. What a spectacular photo shoot that would have been. The film is set in the mid seventies, but imagine doing this today with internet media.

I was deeply affected by the films outcome and left wondering, was it worth it? Why did she need to push herself so far? Was it because of her mother? Her father? There were eery moments when she would look around the vast landscape as though she is wondering if someone is watching her and see nothing. She was brave, confident, brash and really, really lucky to survive. I left the cinema wondering where she went after and what is she doing now?

Mia Wasikowska and Camels in Tracks. Is this Camel smiling? I think so.

Robyn's way of handling camels was very different to the norm at the time, says Emile Sherman: 'A lot of the men working with camels at that time saw camels as these beasts of burden - they were just there to carry gear or do whatever for them. Robyn developed absolutely personal relationships with these camels and fed them food by hand and loved them individually."

Andrew Harper from the Outback Camel Company, says 'One of the things that Mia had to learn with the camels was the commands for making them, or asking them, to do what she wanted. We use words that stem back from the days when camels were first introduced to Australia back in 1860. And most of the words come from the subcontinent. The words we use most are 'udu' which means 'stop', 'ibna', which means 'stand' or 'go', and 'hoosh', which means 'sit'. We use 'steady' as well, and 'back up' to go backwards. And the camels know what all those commands are, just like the camels know their names.'

Robyn Davidson was born on a cattle property in Queensland, Australia. She attended boarding school at Saint Margaret's Girl's School in Brisbane, gaining 2 scholarships in 1966, one to the Brisbane Conservatorium of Music. She turned down those scholarships and between 1967 and 1972, took odd jobs while studying part-time at various institutions – a year of zoology and philosophy at Queensland University, a year of piano studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and two years of Japanese language at Queensland University.

After writing her novel Tracks, Robyn has traveled a great deal and written travel stories, essays, novels and screenplays.