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National Geographic Magazine May Robyn Davidson Alone Across The Outback

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Robyn Davidson

Australian writer

Robyn Davidson

Born () 6 September (age&#;71)
Miles, Queensland, Australia
OccupationWriter

Robyn Davidson (born 6 September ) is an Australian writer best known for her book Tracks, about her 2,&#;km (1, miles) trek across the deserts of Western Australia using camels. Her career of travelling and writing about her travels has spanned 40 years.

Biography[edit]

Robyn Davidson was born at Stanley Park, a cattle station in Miles, Queensland, the second of two girls. When Robyn was 11 years old, her mother committed suicide, and she was largely raised by her unmarried aunt (her father's sister), Gillian. She went to a girls' boarding school in Brisbane.[1] She received a music scholarship but did not take it up. In Brisbane, Robyn shared a house with biologists and studied zoology. In , aged 18, she went to Sydney and later lived a bohemian life in a Sydney Push household at Paddington, while working as a card-dealer at an illegal gambling house.[2][3]

In , Robyn moved to Alice Springs in an effort to work with camels for a desert trek she was planning. For two years she trained camels and learned how to survive in the harsh desert. She was peripherally involved in the Aboriginal Land Rights movement.

For some years in the s she was in a relationship with Salman Rushdie, to whom she was introduced by their mutual friend Bruce Chatwin.[4]

Robyn has moved frequently, and had homes in Sydney, London, and India.[5] As of [update], she resides in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia.[6]

Tracks[edit]

In ,[5] Robyn set off from Alice Springs for the west coast, with a dog and four camels, Dookie (a large male), Bub (a smaller male), Zeleika (a wild female), and Goliath (Zeleika's offspring).[1] She had no intention of writing about the journey, but eventually agreed to write an article for the magazine National Geographic. Having met the photographer Rick Smolan in Alice Springs, she insisted that he be the photographer for the journey. 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 [7] and attracted so much interest that Robyn decided to write a book about the experience. She travelled to London and lived with Doris Lessing while writing Tracks.[8]Tracks won the inaugural Thomas Cook Travel Book Award in and the Blind Society Award. In the early nineties, Smolan published his pictures of the trip in From Alice to Ocean.[9] It included the first interactive story-and-photo CDs made for the general public.

It has been suggested that one of the reasons Tracks was so popular, particularly with women, is that Robyn "places herself in the wilderness of her own accord, rather than as an adjunct to a man".

Robyn's desert journey is remembered by Aboriginal Australians she encountered along the way. Artist Jean Burke remembers Robyn in a painting called The Camel Lady which was produced for a Warakurna Artists' exhibition in Darwin in [11] Burke's father, Mr Eddie, had trekked through Ngaanyatjarra lands with Robyn, guiding her to water sources along the way. Robyn mentions Mr Eddie in Tracks.[12]

Film adaptation[edit]

In , a film adaptation directed by John Curran and starring Mia Wasikowska was completed. The film Tracks screened at the Venice Film Festival.[13]

Nomads[edit]

The majority of Robyn's work has been travelling with and studying nomadic peoples. Jane Sullivan in The Age writes that "while she is often called a social anthropologist", she has no academic qualifications and says that she is "completely self-taught".[5] Davidson's experiences with nomads include traveling on migration with nomads in India from to These experiences were published in Desert Places.[14]

She has studied different forms of the nomad lifestyle—including those in Australia, India, and Tibet—for a book and a documentary series. 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.[5] Sullivan writes about this work:

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?" One answer is: when we were nomadic. "It is when we settled that we became strangers in a strange land, and wandering took on the quality of banishment," she writes, and then later adds: "I shall probably be accused of romanticism".[5]

References in popular culture[edit]

Davidson is the subject of a song written by Irish folk singer and songwriter Mick Hanly.[15][16] The song, "Crusader", was recorded by Mary Black on her self-titled album.

The film Tracks is based on Robyn Davidson's memoir of the same name.[17]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Davidson, Robyn (). Tracks. Vintage.
  • Davidson, Robyn; Thomas Keneally; Patsy Adam-Smith (). Australia: Beyond the Dreamtime. Facts on File.
  • Davidson, Robyn (September ). Travelling Light, a collection of essays. Harpercollins; Paperback Original edition.
  • &#; (). Ancestors. Australian Large Print.
  • &#; (1 November ). Desert Places, Pastoral Nomads in India (the Rabari). Penguin.
  • &#; (Summer ). "Marrying Eddie". Granta. 70: 53–
  • &#; (5 July ). The Picador Book of Journeys. Picador; New Ed edition.
  • &#; (). "No Fixed Address: Nomads and the Fate of the Planet". Quarterly Essay (24).
Screenplays

References[edit]

  1. ^ abDavidson, Robyn (30 May ). Tracks. Vintage. ISBN&#;.
  2. ^Krien, Anna. Robyn Davidson is a nomad. Interview at dumbofeather.com, 1 January Retrieved 18 July
  3. ^"Robyn Davidson, the 'Camel Lady'", Australian Museum
  4. ^Bruce Chatwin, letter to Ninette Dutton, 1 November , in Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin, ed. Elizabeth Chatwin and Nicholas Shakespeare, p.
  5. ^ abcde"The wonder of wander" by Jane Sullivan, The Age, 9 December ]
  6. ^"Travels of the heart" by Amanda Hooton, The Age, GoodWeekend, 8 February
  7. ^Davidson, Robyn (May ). "Tracks". National Geographic.
  8. ^Davidson, Robyn (). Tracks. J. Cape.
  9. ^Smolan, Rick; Davidson, Robyn (). From Alice to Ocean&#;: Alone Across the Outback / photographed by Rick Smolan. Viking in association with Against All Odds Productions.
  10. ^Warakurna Artists
  11. ^Warakurna history paintings, National Museum of Australia
  12. ^"Mia Wasikowska stars in film of Robyn Davidson's book Tracks, about camel journey across Australia", The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
  13. ^Davidson, Robyn (). Desert Places. Penguin Books.
  14. ^Smolan, Rick (24 April ). "Lone crusader: Robyn Davidson's epic desert trek". The Irish Independent.
  15. ^Crusader lyrics, Mary Black website
  16. ^Lodderhose, Diana (23 May ). "Mia Wasikowska heads Down Under for Tracks". Variety. Retrieved 23 May
  17. ^Mail Order Bride at IMDb

Sources[edit]

  • Falkiner, Suzanne (). Wilderness. Writers' Landscape. East Roseville: Simon and Schuster.

External links[edit]

  • No Fixed Address – transcript of a talk by Davidson in December on Perspective program, ABC Radio National
  • Robyn Davidson in conversation – MP3 download of conversation with Richard FidlerABC Local Radio 6 December
  • Nomadic cultures, journeys and coming home, Robyn Davidson joins desert archaeologist Mike Smith for a discussion about her travels in Australia, India, China and Tibet, National Museum of Australia, Historical Interpretation series, 16 September
  • Robyn Davidson at talking heads, 1 September
  • Participation at Germaine's Legacy – After The Female Eunuch – session at Adelaide Writers' Week, April
  • "Robyn Davidson reflects on 40 years since 'Tracks'" - talk with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National "Life Matters" in March
  • Official website
  • Robyn Davidson at IMDb
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robyn_Davidson
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This past month, my co-worker Julia and I read a book titled Tracks by Robyn Davidson (DB ) for one of our Library’s book clubs.  Julia and I fell head over heels for the book: placing holds on all the companion books, hunting down the original article in National Geography, and 3D printing a caravan of camels. Julia wrote a blog post about our group&#;s reaction to the book which I highly recommend reading. In graceful prose, Julia discusses the likability of the character and how that effects the likability of the story. In further discussion of the book, we both found the character tough and fantastically stoic about her choice to walk across the Australian desert to the Indian Ocean, a total of 1, miles with four camels and a dog.

What I found so intriguing about the book was her desire to do this in the first place. When asked, her answer is simple, why not? Robyn Davidson didn’t do this to find fame or have her story told. She simply felt bored with the direction her life was taking and decided to take a long walk through the desert. The only reason her story was told was because she needed money and wrote to National Geographic. Which she wouldn’t have done without the suggestion from a friend of a friend photographer who had previously worked with the magazine. Fate perhaps? Her contempt for the magazine however, was very apparent throughout which I think some found frustrating. I think she just wanted to be true to herself and her story despite needing help to fund it. I understand why she felt so conflicted about using Nat-Geo. Her original desire for this trip was to be completely alone.  Having to ask for help must have been incredibly difficult. To me that shows how much drive she had to take this trip and was willing to do anything to take it.

Aside from that, Tracks filled me with a sense of wanderlust I have yet to feel with another book. Something about it made me research all the interviews she had done and read the two coffee table books, with Rick Smolan’s beautiful photographs layered inside. I couldn’t get enough. Maybe what truly astounded me was how despite the fact she was wholly unprepared for this journey, she did it anyway. She learned how to camp, how to train camels, how to eat from the desert (an incomprehensible concept in my opinion) and, maybe most devastatingly, learned how her actions have consequences she may not be fully prepared to handle.

There are many layers to this book that I feel make one read-through not enough. Take her relationship to the Aboriginal groups she stayed with along the way. She wanted to learn from them, learn their language and their desperate love for their land. They taught her how to live and thrive in the desert, a feat only taken by the most unpretentious groups…or the craziest. Consider her relationship to her animals, or her relationship to the desert. Robyn states multiple times her love for the dry hot Australian lands and the feeling of purity it offers. Take her relationship to Rick, the photographer from Nat-Geo. She accidentally met him when she was trying to make money for the trip and then again when she had friends over, and he tagged along. It was his suggestion to write to Nat-Geo that enabled her to take her trip. I say again… perhaps it was fate?

I don’t know what it is about this novel but it will stick in my head as one of my favorites. Maybe her ability to literally pick up and do something completely new is a riveting idea.  Maybe the thought of such hard travel is enticing.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve never been camping. Whatever reason it is, this book is now a part of my top ten.

“Many times since the trek I have been asked why I made it, and I answer that the trip speaks for itself. But for those who persist I would add these few thoughts. I love the desert and its incomparable sense of space. I enjoy being with Aborigines and learning from them. I like the freedom inherent in being on my own, and I like the growth and learning processes that develop from taking chances. And obviously, camels are the best means of getting across deserts. Obvious. Self-explanatory. Simple. What’s all the fuss about?” -Davidson, Robyn “Alone across the outback” National Geographic May &#;

Sours: https://www.carnegielibrary.org/a-camel-ladys-fate/
National Geographic: Cyclone! (1995)

Rick Smolan’s Trek with TRACKS, from Australian Outback to Silver Screen

In photographer Rick Smolan was traveling in Australia on assignment for Time magazine when he encountered an angry woman in the small town of Alice Springs. Little did he know that 37 years later their story would be dramatized by movie stars.

“I was sent to do a story on Aborigines,” Smolan says. “I walked out of my hotel, and I looked up and saw Robyn washing the windows. I took some pictures and she got really pissed off and started yelling at me: ‘Put your f—–g cameras down!’ I went to explain what I was doing, and she said, ‘Oh, you’re American…What are you, some kind of journalistic parasite here photographing the Aborigines?'”

The woman was Robyn Davidson—the so-called “camel-lady” who undertook a 1,mile trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean on foot with four camels and a dog as her companions. “TRACKS” is the movie version of her epic journey and evolving relationship with Smolan.

When Davidson embarked on her ambitious walk across the Australian Outback she didn’t think it was that big of a deal. She didn’t tell anybody why she was going, and she mostly wanted to be left alone. But she also needed money, so Smolan helped introduce her to editors at National Geographic who offered funding in exchange for her story. In turn, year-old Smolan was assigned to photograph her trip for the magazine. Davidson just wished he would go away.

Robyn Davidson

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“She told me ‘I only want you to come out once,’ and I said ‘No, I have to come a number of times,’” says Smolan. The problem was, although Davidson had been training her camels and preparing for the trip for years, Smolan had no experience in the outback.

“I went to Alice Springs and bought way too much stuff. I was such a rube. I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t even a boy scout,” Smolan cheerfully recounted. “My friends in New York thought it was really funny that I was assigned to the outback. I was so completely clueless.”

Adam Driver

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Over Davidson’s nine-month trek, Smolan visited her five times. While she initially resisted his presence, eventually they became friends, then started a brief romance. Smolan didn’t tell his editors about the affair—the relationship would have been frowned upon. But as he continued to document Davidson’s journey he became an inextricable part of her story.

“I had to decide whether my allegiances were with her or the Geographic,” says Smolan. “Even with her fierceness there was something about her that was very vulnerable. I felt very protective of her, even though she didn’t want to be protected. Every time I left her, I wondered if it was the last time I would ever see her again. She could have died out there.”

Robyn Davidson

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Along her trek, Davidson suffered multiple hardships, including dehydration, sick camels, the poisoning of her beloved dog, and intrusions by curious people who would simply not leave her alone. At one point, when Smolan heard a rumor that she was lost in the desert, he high-tailed it from Asia to Australia to track her down, unwittingly leading a mob of other frenzied journalists along with him. Davidson was furious.

She eventually made it to the Indian Ocean where she took her camels for a triumphant swim. It was the end of her physical journey, but the beginning of her sharing her story with the world—first in the National Geographic article, and later in her best-selling memoir called TRACKS.

Robyn Davidson

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When the story was published, Davidson told Smolan she hated the photos in the magazine, and she was dissatisfied with the editing of the piece.

“I think she didn’t like the pictures because she thought [they were] my experience, not hers,” says Smolan. “In a way, it’s true, because I was only there for portions of the trip. I wasn’t there for the moments of panic. But now, with the passage of time, Robyn loves the photos.”

National Georgraphic cover

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The images from have a timeless, cinematic quality to them. The light is golden. The camels are dusty. Davidson’s face is streaked with dirt. You can almost smell the campfires, imagine the silence, and conjure both the difficulty and the romance of the trek.

“I used to develop the film myself in Sydney or Melbourne to show her. And the more beautiful I made her look the more she hated them,” Smolan says. “You made me look like a goddamn model,” she told him.

Robyn Davidson photographed in the outback for the original National Geographic assignment.

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“I got in huge trouble with the Geographic because you weren’t supposed to develop your own film,” he continued. “But one of the challenges was that she didn’t wear clothes a lot and I didn’t want to send pictures of her naked.”

Smolan later published more photos from the trip in his book From Alice to Ocean. Those images helped set the stage for the film version of “TRACKS,” starring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson, and Adam Driver as Smolan. “They used the book to set the color palate and tone [of the film],” he says.

Robyn Davidson with her dog, Diggity, in (Left) Actor Mia Wasikowska is seen with the movie-version of Diggity at Ayers Rock in (Right).

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Adam Driver and Mia Wasikowska

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Smolan and Davidson both traveled to Australia to spend time on the set.

“It was very surreal to watch people wearing our clothes, dressed up like us—the whole thing was very surreal. I hadn’t been back there since the trip. It’s completely the same,” says Smolan.

He says he was pleased the filmmakers stayed true to the details of the journey, including the mystery of Davidson’s motivations for her trip, as well as the nuances of their relationship.

“[The movie makes] her coldness and nastiness, and my goofiness, very extreme, but I think they did a good job capturing the friendship. When you go through something like that with someone— something that is so emotionally intense—a friendship lasts a really long time,” Smolan says. “She asked me whether I wondered what would’ve happened if we’d stayed together—and I said we’d probably be divorced and hate each other now.”

Rick Smolan and Adam Driver are seen on the set of "TRACKS." (Left) Robyn Davidson and Mia Wasikowska are pictured together. (Right)

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Instead, the two have remained friends. Smolan is married with two children, and has published a series of photo books with his wife, Jennifer Erwitt. He reflects that traveling with Davidson—and having to make tough choices about covering and becoming involved in her story—ultimately changed his career.

“[Davidson] asked me after the trip was over, ‘Are you going back to being a prostitute?’ Her point was that I was always going to be a cog in someone else’s machine.”

He says her scorn eventually led him to stop taking assignments and start producing his own photo books, including the wildly successful “Day in the Life” series, which have sold millions of copies worldwide.

He adds that part of the modern day appeal of Davidson’s tale is that it would be almost impossible to do again today. “The reason the filmmakers made the film is because it’s a burden that we can’t ever untether ourselves from civilization now. They are hoping [people] will find the story interesting because it’s about trying to find yourself.”

Robyn Davidson

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Watch Rick Smolan talk live at National Geographic about his experiences in Australia with Robyn Davidson.

Also, hear more from Smolan and Davidson in this video interview from MediaStorm and purchase Inside TRACKS here. purchase Inside TRACKS here. purchase Inside TRACKS here.

Smolan is co-creator of the best-selling “A Day in the Life” series, which has sold more than three-million copies worldwide. Other projects, among many, include America at Home, America 24/7, The Human Face of Big Data, and The Obama Time Capsule. He is CEO of Against All Odds Productions, and lives in New York with his wife and collaborator Jennifer Erwitt.

Sours: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/article/rick-smolans-trek-with-tracks-from-australian-outback-to-silver-screen

1978 may national geographic

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Neanderthals 101 - National Geographic

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