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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.
If you like Bryson and enjoy reading about travel, you should love this book.
Bryson mixes historical and factual information with tales of his own travels to Australia, as well as his own wry, humorous observations, in this tale.
I enjoyed reading about Australia, the book gave me a good idea of what that place is like...makes me want to got there...
Bryson writes tongue in check style. This book tells a lot about the continent of Australia and I did find it interesting and enjoyed it. Read morePublished 5 hours ago by Doris Cauda
Bryson, whom I've only lately discovered is quickly becoming my favorite author. I read In a Sunburned Country in just a few days. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Mitch
Hilarious. Very well-written and so fun to read when I was traveling through Australia. Highly recommended. I'll read more of his books.Published 7 days ago by Meghan H.
Funny, charming, informative - great way to prepare for a trip to Australia. Bill Bryson is a delight. Offbeat and out of the way places abound.Published 9 days ago by Kim Peterson
I wanted to love this book as much as I have enjoyed others by the author. Perhaps bc I've never been to Australia it made the difference in reading it... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Dawn M. Anderson
Terrific mix of history, fact, odd snippets of information, humorous conversations, laugh-provoking opinions, and a pervading love of the landscape and people.Published 15 days ago by Carolyn J. Rose