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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...
I couldn't stand this book and had to stop reading it ½ of the way through. My biggest issue is that the author didn't seem to really enjoy talking to people and then sharing those... Read morePublished 17 hours ago by Eileen Auerbach
Started out great - laugh-out-loud funny - but then bogged down. For me it was way too much detail.Published 1 day ago by Nantrak
I buy this for everyone I know going to Australia.
I lived there for two years. Bryson is spot on. Sometimes when I miss Australia, I read this and it takes me right back. Read more
Great adventure of Australia. He ties in history to present day.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
Though Bill can be Crass at times I still enjoy his stories. Yes I enjoyed this one. Plenty of humor expected and unexpected.Published 12 days ago by Tuckerd4
Bryson always has a way of making facts and history come alive in a hilarious way - and this is no exception. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Greg Jones
I read this before a trip to Australia and determined to take the train ride across the country and to visit at least some of the places Bill describes in this book. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Sylvia Marlow
ON an adventure with Bill and Alan, travel doesn't get any better than this. This will make you want to pack your bags and visit Australia asap. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Little Red Barn