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Bryson, who could make a pile of dirt compelling--and yes, Australia is mostly dirt--finds no shortage of curiosities. When he isn't dodging Portuguese man-of-wars or considering the virtues of the remarkable platypus, he visits southwest Gippsland, home of the world's largest earthworms (up to 12 feet in length). He discovers that Australia, which began nationhood as a prison, contains the longest straight stretch of railroad track in the world (297 miles), as well as the world's largest monolith (the majestic Uluru) and largest living thing (the Great Barrier Reef). He finds ridiculous place names: "Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jiggalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong," and manages to catch a cricket game on the radio, which is like
listening to two men sitting in a rowboat on a large, placid lake on a day when the fish aren't biting; it's like having a nap without losing consciousness. It actually helps not to know quite what's going on. In such a rarefied world of contentment and inactivity, comprehension would become a distraction.
"You see," Bryson observes, "Australia is an interesting place. It truly is. And that really is all I'm saying." Of course, Bryson--who is as much a travel writer here as a humorist, naturalist, and historian--says much more, and does so with generous amounts of wit and hilarity. Australia may be "mostly empty and a long way away," but it's a little closer now. --Rob McDonald --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This is a funny, engrossing account of Bryson's time in Australia. We lived there for two years, so it made the place names and descriptions extra enjoyable. Read morePublished 18 hours ago by S. Smith
I didn't know much about this country, and after reading this book I feel that I've just gotten back from a most enjoyable tour of this wonderful place!Published 2 days ago by Susan Smith
Pretty good overview of a fascinating land. Be aware that Bill can get of on tangents that are sometimes a bit tedious but easily skipped. Read morePublished 3 days ago by G. Ronnback
Gotta love Bill Bryson!!! Even nearly 20 years later, this book makes me want to visit Australia.Published 5 days ago by glenn rifkin
This is a very funny book that reveals Australia as a wonderful and vast place. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Down Under. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Jacob Mayer
Having lived in Australia for several years, and having traveled there recently, I enjoyed this book immensely. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Deborah Anderson
I would actually give it 4.5 stars. Bill Bryson brings all his insight and humour to bear in creating a unique insight into the country down under. Read morePublished 11 days ago by BA Watters