In 1977, Robyn Davidson embarked on a trek across 1700 miles of western Australian desert with her dog and four camels. She actually arrived in Alice Springs (or “the Alice”), a large town in the desert, two years prior. It took her that long to get ready since she had no money and knew nothing of camels. It was a struggle and she had several setbacks, but it is actually a meeting with a photographer from National Geographic that got her on track.
National Geographic agreed to sponsor her in exchange for her meeting up with the photographer several times along the way. While she needed the money, the agreement set off a conflict in her since now the journey was not just her own. She already had been having trouble articulating the reasons for her trip and now she had to also deal with other people’s projections onto it. In addition, other tourists and journalists started to seek out the “camel lady” and she had to deal with the loss of her personal journey.
Davidson also explored the sexism and racism in her country at that time. She experienced the sexism herself, everything from men telling her she’d never make it, to men showing up at her camp in the middle of the night threatening her. She showed firsthand the destruction of the Aboriginal culture and lands as she walked through the desert and into various small settlements. An Aboriginal elder traveled with her for a portion of the trip so she got more of a glimpse into their culture than most whites do.
The book has recently been turned into a film. It only had limited release and I apparently missed it near me but I hope to see it later.