Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(Australia, 2013)

In America there is the Appalachian Trail, 2200 miles long and a very tough hike, but only the bunny course compared to the Pacific Crest Trail, which starred in the recent movie Wild. There is nothing like it in Australia, so far as I know, so a crazy woman named Robyn Davidson made her own. Starting out in what must be the most godawful town in the English-speaking world, Alice Springs, she hiked about 1700 miles to the coast with four camels and her beloved dog, Diggity (played by a hound named Special Agent Gibbs!).

She spent two years preparing, mostly training the camels, about which she knew nothing before she arrived in the Outback. (Did you know there are 50,000 feral camels in Australia? I didn’t.) This was all done in 1977, and sponsored by the National Geographic, who insisted that a photographer chronicle the trip. She wasn’t wild about that idea, and it would have been impractical for him to accompany her all the way, and anyway, the whole idea was to do it alone. So he met her three times along the way. The resulting article was extremely popular. You can find it online, and you will be amazed at how much the Aussie actress, Mia Wasikowska, resembles Davidson.

We always ask ourselves in a case like this … why? I vaguely understand the impulse to hike the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest, or climb Everest. These things are {{there,} and others do it. But in her case, there was no there there. There was no trail. No one else had ever done it. She had to make her own way, from watering hole to sheep station through a whole lot of nothing. What possesses a person to wake up one morning and say to herself, “I think I will hike 1700 miles through some of the most hostile land on the planet, and I’ll take some camels with me.” Well, you won’t get any answer to that question here. She simply wanted to do it, and she did it.

Davidson is a fascinating character. Later in life she was involved in a relationship with Salman Rushdie, of all people, and lived with Doris Lessing while writing the book Tracks. She has spent a lot of her life traveling with nomadic people.

So, should you see this movie? Well, if you find the idea of watching a woman do a lot of walking boring, avoid this. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it better than the other two hiking movies we saw recently: Wild, and A Walk in the Woods.