MOVIES: Tracks – a desert journey

TRAILBLAZER: Mia Wasikowska in the Australian film Tracks.IN today’s over-connected world, many would probably envy Robyn Davidson’s solitary trek across Australia.
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With just four camels and a dog as company, writer and nomad Davidson’s nine-month journey gained such attention back in 1977, it expanded from a National Geographic story to a book – and is finally finding new life as a film.

Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska, who plays Davidson, says Tracks is just as relevant now, maybe even more – thanks to technology, where you always feel connected.

“The feeling of that is heightened,” she said. But even though the need is greater, Wasikowska admits it’s a double-edged sword, because “it’s now hard to get lost”.

For Davidson, who was 27 when she walked from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia, it’s one of the sad things about today’s world.

“The tragic thing is that it’s becoming impossible to actually do that [journey],” she said.

“We’re becoming so accessible and linked in everywhere that the very action of disappearing somewhere where you can just be you – it’s becoming almost impossible to do.”

To see the continuing impact of her journey, some 37 years later, is astonishing to the writer.

“This one little decision from one little person and suddenly it’s all this,” Davidson said.

“I do find it very odd.”

Tracks first began life in the early ’80s when Davidson sold the rights for the book.

One thing she was certain about – she didn’t want it to be a big Hollywood film.

The other, which she discovered many years later watching TV series In Treatment, was that Wasikowska should play her.

She initially thought the Canberra-born actor was American, so good was her accent. Over time it became more and more apparent that the 24-year-old was perfect for the part.

“Not that she was like me or anything else but just that she was very, very good at what she does,” Davidson said.

Wasikowska has been in adaptations before but unlike Alice in Wonderland or Jane Eyre, she could actually meet her character in real life for Tracks, although initially she didn’t want to.

“It was so strange but obviously I did. I just had to get over having a panic attack about it,” she said.

“We met two weeks before we started filming, I did a camel training boot camp for a few days.”

Davidson was surprised at how quickly Wasikowska threw herself into it, walking straight into the yards and picking up the nose line for the creatures.

The young actress immediately found the camels, her main co-stars, to be endearing and sweet.

“You always think of a big animal as an elephant or a hippo or something you can’t really approach.

“They’re like big dogs and just have really funny, distinctive personalities,” she said. AAP

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