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 12  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Davidson and Rick near Carnarvon, Zeleika becomes ill. With the help of some residents of a nearby station, they nurse her back to health and continue the walk toward the coast. The weather turns hotter and the camels become pickier eaters, worrying Davidson again. Rick departs for a period for another photography assignment, but Davidson meets an outback couple at their homestead who generously help feed the camels and provide supplies. Davidson marvels again at how people living in difficult situations can still be so caring and welcoming.
During this last leg of her trip, Davidson relies on others more comfortably than she has ever before. It becomes clear here that Davidson is most comfortable relying on people who also know how to rely on themselves happily, such as the Aboriginal people and those few white people who live similar lifestyles. Again, it seems that independence and interconnection can coexist peacefully when everyone involved is stable and secure in their own identity.
Themes
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Just as they reach the farm that Davidson hopes will be the camels’ new home, the packs and saddles begin to disintegrate. Davidson walks the last part of her trek naked and has to dress quickly when she stumbles upon the farm sooner than expected. All four camels are happy in their new home, and the new owners dote on them. Rick rejoins Davidson and the two arrange to spend a week at the coast with the camels as a conclusion to the journey. Davidson regrets that the trip is ending so soon, and asks that Rick at least not take pictures with his camera.
Tellingly, the last bits of the order Davidson imposed at the beginning of the trek—in the form of the carefully designed packs—fall apart just as she reaches her destination. Once there, Davidson shows her continued comfort sharing her experience with others but still asks Rick not to take pictures. This lingering aversion is a reminder of how the involvement of others’ perspectives can still diminish one’s experience, even as they may also provide support.
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Upon reaching the ocean at last, Davidson cannot belief that her trek is truly ending, feeling that it all happened too fast. The camels are astonished to see the ocean and play in the waves as Davidson and Rick watch. The two spend the week enjoying the perfect beach scenery and playing with the camels, and Davidson feels at peace. She fears getting caught up in the “madness” of the outside world and hopes that she’ll be able to remember this feeling of freedom even when she arrives in New York City in just a few days. On their last morning, Rick talks in his sleep and accuses Davidson of killing the camels’ parents.
Davidson’s peace during this time shows that for all her struggles throughout the trip, she has nonetheless learned to resolve her central conflicts to some extent. At the same time, she knows how hard it will be to remember these lessons once she’s back in an essentially oppressive social context. Her fear here reinforces the idea that the world of the desert and the Aboriginal people who live there is truly more civilized in many ways than the white society that oppresses them.
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When the camels’ new owners arrive to take them back, Davidson spends hours saying goodbye to all four. Once they are gone, Rick drives her to the town of Carnarvon, where she is hit with immediate culture shock. She feels intimidated and confused by the people all around her, and gets sick during a fancy restaurant dinner, wishing to be back in the desert.
While the chaos of the desert once frightened Davidson, the scarier prospect now is the artificial restriction of a simple restaurant dinner. Davidson nonetheless leans on Rick for support, showing a final example of how she’s learned to embrace the support of interpersonal connection even within a society that she abhors overall.
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Looking back on her trip later, Davidson concludes that when it came down to it, the journey was easy once she realized that she could be as strong as she allowed herself to be. She notes that the hardest part was simply beginning, and although she knows that the truths she learned during the trip were profound, she nonetheless struggles over and over again to remember them when faced with the realities of the outside world.
Davidson’s ongoing struggles to remember the truths she learned during her trip underscore the difficulty of balancing nuanced ideas within a society based on stereotypes and rigid expectations for individuals’ behavior.
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Racial Tension and Oppression Theme Icon