I have a fascination with Australia, but on most days I have no desire to ever go there. It's too hot, has too many deadly animals, and most of the cities are more isolated than I'd care for. Before reading this book, I was more acquainted with the sheep farming culture of Australia than anything else (thanks to an Australian television series I fell in love with called "McLeod's Daughters"
and a book favorite,[b:The Thorn Birds|3412|The Thorn Birds|Colleen McCullough|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348803598s/3412.jpg|816449]). There certainly are no shortage of tall handsome men in Australia, but the fictional accounts I've read of them seem to paint the guys in a poor light. So I went into this book mainly with one image of Australia and its people and came out with images of other facets of Australia.
I'd never read a book by Bill Bryson before and was pleasantly surprised at what a fun travel companion he made. I like his deadpan tongue-in-cheek silliness which is really my kind of humor. He almost made me want to visit Australia ... almost. However, his recounting of 101 ways to die in Australia has probably taken the country off my to-visit list forever. This means that I can safely assume I'll never have to drink Bill Bryson's or my own urine for survival in an Australian desert. Whew!
There are some things he did make me want to see, though. Chief among them, I'd like to do a treetop walk
. Ayers Rock
is intriguing, but I'm not sure it would be worth the journey. And, while I don't think the trek to see them would be worth it, I'd at least like to read more about stromatolites
which are among the most ancient of our fossil records.
This was written 13 years ago, so I wonder how much has changed in that time. For example, at the time he wrote this, there were people he encountered who were thrilled to have just gotten electricity out on their sheep station. The School of the Air
has been transformed from teaching children in remote areas by radio to teaching via interactive two-way broadband satellite network. And Canberra even has Indian and Thai restaurants when 13 years ago, Bryson was only able to find KFC, Pizza Hut, and a sad little Italian restaurant.
I'm very keen to travel with Bill Bryson again sometime. Wonder where we'll go next.