- Series: Adventure Press
- Hardcover: 284 pages
- Publisher: National Geographic (August 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0792279522
- ISBN-13: 978-0792279525
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,490,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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It's not every day that a fellow decides to pack in a good job, pack up his saddlebags, and set off by bicycle to make a circumferential journey around Australia. In 1996, that's just what American-born Time magazine correspondent Roff Martin Smith did, though; as he explains, he'd been living in Australia for 14 years but didn't really know the country, and he "felt no emotional bond to it." About to turn 38, a few pounds over his ideal weight, and untested as a distance bicyclist, Smith faced up to considerable odds, but he survived to tell the tale.
And a rollicking tale it is, as Smith meets with an odd assortment of humans and critters along his sometimes torturous path. (One all-too-long stretch of road, for instance, he calls "the most dangerous and frightening I've ever had the misfortune to ride: a suicide run of hammering trucks, heavy construction, muddy detours, and lane closures.") Smith logs time in crocodile country, too, in the far northern Australian rainforest, where he counts the awful moments until antediluvian doom strikes. It never does, and in any event the crocs are nothing compared to the errant sheep, emus, kangaroos, and death adders he encounters, to say nothing of the 108-degree gusts euphemistically referred to by local weathercasters as "sea breezes"--none of which poses quite the dangers that his fellow humans offer out on the beery highways of Oz. Difficult though the journey is, Smith keeps up his good cheer throughout these lively pages, and, if he's not quite unflappable, he's certainly a sympathetic narrator.
Expanded from his popular three-part series in National Geographic magazine, Smith's pedal-powered epic is an instructive manual for anyone contemplating a life-changing journey--and, for the rest of us, a highly enjoyable, altogether unexpected tour of the outback. --Gregory McNamee
Smith relates the story of his bicycle trek through Australia in this amazing travel account. The New Englander, who has lived in Australia for the past 15 years, had never taken the time to see the country and realized he had no feel for the nature and character of Australia. Restless, he impulsively quit his prestigious job to embark on this journey. His adventure takes him through cities, mountains, deserts, and incredibly remote outback villages. Pitting himself against nature's harshest elements, Smith battles steep hills, headwinds, 140-degree heat, tropical storms, and xenophobia with a strength of purpose that rarely falters. Along the way, he crosses paths with a number of hostile and unsavory characters, but it is the surprising kindness and generosity of most of the people that touch him the most and teach him what it means to be "Australian." Smith set out as a foreigner, but he returned with a new and profound understanding and appreciation of that beautiful country and its people. The story of Smith's initiation into his adopted culture proves to be an engaging read. Gavin Quinn
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The book is not about the bike or his equipment (except for the amount of water he had to carry in some areas of Australia), but about the country & it's people. It is a fascinating book if you tour by bicycle, and I'm not sure if a non cyclist would enjoy the book, but it reads well as an Adventure. The author met many Australians in a variety of places, from a short encounter to developing friendships in some long stays with Australians. I guess the book would be enjoyable by non-cyclists if you are interested in Australia...
More photos would have been nice but the dozen of so in the book are enough to get a picture of some of the areas he biked. It is a magnificent country, but seems quite hostile in places too. The author is tougher & more disciplined than I under those same circumstances!
It has always been a great read even tho' I've read it enough to wear out one volume!
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I am preparing for a trip to Australia. It gave good insight into the customs and people. Though I may bicycle some, I don't think I'll be traveling but a hundredth of the distance he covered on bike.
UPDATE - Jamie and I traveled to Australia and used the CityRail to get us to downtown Sydney as the first stop. We used Rolf's "Australian Traveler Guide" (National Geographic) and wound our way through the Royal Botanic Garden from the St. James train stop. This was an absolutely wonderful introduction to Sydney and Australia. Thanks again to Roff Smith. You can tell the man loves Australia!
HIGHLY recommended for anyone with an interest in our antipodean neighbor or in bicycling!
As other reviewers have stated, the only flaw is that we would have wanted more detail, more information. If ever there is a second edition, I will be among the first to buy the book. I would love to take the trip again, looking for more details in every encounter and circumstance. I highly recommend reading about this painful, enjoyable, amazing journey.
Most recent customer reviews
When they return it, I will read again.Read more