15 striking photos of one woman's 1,700-mile trek across the Australian outback


people tracks

Rick Smolan

Aboriginal children greet Robyn Davidson as she passes through their village.


When Robyn Davidson was 26 years old, she decided to walk 1,700 miles across the harsh terrain of wild Australia.

It was 1977, and Davidson spent nine months traveling from Alice Springs in central Australia to the Indian Ocean off the western coast.

She wanted to find meaning outside of the noise of modern society, and reached out to National Geographic to fund the trip.

The magazine agreed to give her some money to survive the trek alongside her four camels and dog, in exchange for intermittently sending 27-year-old photographer Rick Smolan to document stretches of the journey.


The National Geographic story was published in May 1978, and Davidson published her memoir, "Tracks," two years later.

It made Davidson a celebrity in Australia, and over 30 years later was adapted into a dramatic film starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.

More recently, Smolan self-published "Inside Tracks: Robyn Davidson's Solo Journey Across the Outback," a collection of high-res prints of his original photographs alongside personal essays from him and Davidson.

Smolan shared a sampling of the photos with Business Insider. They capture Davidson's journey, as well as powerful lessons about love, death, and self-reliance.