Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

by

Robyn Davidson

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Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback: Chapter 11  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Davidson walks on without Diggity, feeling both devastated and detached from her emotions. She has frequent dreams that Diggity is alive and feels completely isolated without her, as well as frightened by the landscape and noises around her in a way that she has not been previously. Though she knows it is irrational, she feels vulnerable and full of dread without Diggity.
The loss of Diggity shows once and for all that Davidson has never been truly independent throughout her trip. Relying on others turns out to be a crucial source of meaning for her, as she fully grasps once Diggity is gone.
Themes
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During the days between Diggity’s death and her arrival in Wiluna, Davidson finds a stunning landscape of colorful cliffs and sand that looks to her like “a martian landscape.” Even so, she still feels empty and unable to appreciate what she is seeing. Eventually, she comes upon a rock formation that looks like an amphitheatre and spontaneously dances naked until she is completely exhausted and falls asleep. When she wakes up, Davidson feels that she has healed and is prepared to face the rest of the trek.
Davidson’s method of coping with Diggity’s death highlights the importance of surrendering to the beautiful chaos of the natural world, even with its dangers and pains. Here, the landscape inspires and facilitates peace in a way that Davidson’s fixation on order and control never could.
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Related Quotes
Shortly thereafter, Davidson spots a vehicle driving toward her and, though she expects local people, it turns out to be reporters and photographers from the press. They swarm around her, asking questions and offering money for her story. Davidson is overwhelmed and agrees to go with them to get a beer. She still tries to fend them off but ends up disclosing Diggity’s death, a fact which they eventually print even though she asks them not to.
This encounter with the press is Davidson’s first indication that the relationship of others to her trek will remain complicated after its conclusion. The insensitive and overwhelming tactics of the reporters also serve as an example of how uncivilized the so-called civilized world can be, shedding new light on the contrasting wisdom of Aboriginal communities.
Themes
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Racial Tension and Oppression Theme Icon
The press also informs Davidson that the man she met earlier who was trying to set a car driving record claimed to have spent a romantic night with her, and that he gave them the geographic information they needed to track her down. Davidson is furious and hides from the people trying to film her, and eventually they leave her to her camp. Alone, she feels exposed and astonished at the amount of attention her trip is getting.
The man Davidson met earlier is able to effortlessly establish his version of events as the truth, even though it has nothing to do with the reality Davidson experienced. This moment shows how the male perspective will come to dominate interpretations of the trek, even though Davidson tries to stop it.
Themes
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Moments later, Rick arrives, warning Davidson that more members of the press are on their way. Later, Rick tells her that she “looked and behaved like a mad woman” at this time. The journalists and photographers talk to her for a while and take some photos before Rick convinces them to leave. He also informs her that tourists have been selling pictures of her to papers. Stunned, Davidson realizes how far out of her control her own story has gotten. She speculates that her image as a wild, eccentric woman has won her both unfounded admiration from people who wish to do the same and unfair scorn from sexists. She resents being pigeon-holed as the “camel lady” and regrets that her image is now mythic, when what she really wanted was to show people that you don’t need to be special to do something ambitious.
The ongoing attention from reporters and photographers reintroduces all of the negative aspects of interconnection with others, as their interpretation of the trip immediately diverges from what Davidson intended. However, Rick’s role here complicates the scenario; his presence provides a contrasting example of how other people can also be supportive allies. Because the outside interpretations are largely sexist, this sequence also underscores how Davidson’s female identity can be a liability within the simplistic gender roles of a paternalistic society.
Themes
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Related Quotes
Rick introduces Davidson to a bushman and tracker, Peter Muir. Peter warns her that Wiluna is swarming with reporters and offers her his second home to stay in, miles outside of town. Rick has also arranged for Jenny and Toly to fly in, which delights Davidson. Together, the four of them hide out in the spare house and Davidson begins to share her stories with them. She also starts receiving huge amounts of mail from strangers of all kinds, some of which are admiring and some of which are simply odd.
The time during which Davidson hides out from the press showcases how involvement from others can both support one’s independence and undermine it. Along with helpful strangers like Peter Muir, her friends protect her from the aggressive press, while the press themselves constantly threaten Davidson’s autonomy. The letters she receives show both sides of the story; in their variety, they show how other people’s perspectives can be both inspiring and irritating.
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While continuing to dodge the reporters, the group drives back through the country that Davidson recently passed through, since she feels that her sadness over Diggity kept her from fully experiencing it. Though the country is gorgeous, they also see a helicopter of uranium prospectors, which underscores the constant threat to the land’s purity. They return to Wiluna and enjoy a last day together laughing at the camels’ antics before Jenny and Toly depart.
Accompanied by her friends, Davidson sees more clearly than ever how the natural landscape provides a model for the effective integration of order and chaos. At the same time, she knows that its integrity is under dire threat, knowledge that reinforces her concern for the well-being of the Aboriginal communities that are so deeply connected to the land.
Themes
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Racial Tension and Oppression Theme Icon
Davidson and Rick spend a couple of additional weeks traveling through the desert together, leading the camels, talking over the trip, and bonding through their shared experience. Davidson plans to complete her trip at last in the coastal town of Carnarvon, near a farm where some acquaintances have agreed to take over ownership of the camels.
These happy weeks with Rick demonstrate how Davidson has managed to resolve some of the conflict she experiences between being independent and relying on other people. Though she is still uneasy about how other people have been involved with her trip and continue to interpret it, her changed relationship with Rick also shows that going it alone and working with others don’t necessarily have to be opposites.
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