Skip to main content

Robyn Davidson (Hamelin Pool, Indian Ocean, Western Australia)
, 1977 (printed 2014)

by Rick Smolan

inkjet print (sheet: 50.3 cm x 61.1 cm, image: 37.3 cm x 56.0 cm)

Robyn Davidson (b. 1950), writer, attended a Brisbane boarding school before moving to Sydney, where she lived a loosely Bohemian life and picked up leftist ideas. In the mid-1970s she went to Alice Springs. There, she trained camels for a trek through the desert to Western Australia. She set off from Alice Springs and reached the end of her journey - 1700 miles away - nine months later. On the way, she had to shoot her beloved dog Diggity. Intermittently, she was joined by photographer Rick Smolan, whose pictures of the journey were published in National Geographic in 1978. Two years later, on the strength of the popularity of the National Geographic article, Davidson wrote an account of her journey called Tracks (1980). At that time, she was living with Doris Lessing. Davidson now lives in Australia and writes about travel, other cultures and sustainability. She is a contributor to The Monthly magazine and wrote the Quarterly Essay for 2006. Of her journey, she says ‘the question I’m most commonly asked is “Why?” A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don’t attempt to escape the limitations imposed upon them?’ Davidson’s ‘outer and inner’ journeys are the subject of the recently-released film Tracks, produced by Emile Sherman and starring Mia Wasikowska.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2014
Accession number: 2014.9