Down Under by Bill Bryson

4 out of 5 stars

It is sometimes easy to forget just how mind-bogglingly big Australia is. This vast, vast country is approximately 7.7m km@ in size and even though it is an island, it is big enough to count as a continent in its own right. It separated from Pangaea millions of years ago and the paths that evolution took with the flora and fauna were very different when compared to the remainder of the world. The people who first inhabited it are pretty special too, traces of their occupation can be found as far back as 65,000 years ago and they have a deep and passionate connection to the land as well as a rich understanding of how to survive in the blistering heat. It teems with life too; and most of it wants to kill you…

Bill Bryson had never ever visited there before. It was a country that scared him, but he was to find that the folk that live there are the total opposite of the creatures. Their cheerful extrovert personalities meant that he fitted in really well and he slowly falls in love with the country. His journeys take him from Darwin down to Alice Springs and to see the marvel that is Uluru, around the cities of the west coast, across the endless desert to Perth and he tries not to lose where the boat is on the Great Barrier reef.

If you have ever read a Bryson before you’ll come to know that these journeys are a rich vein of self depreciating humour as he observes life as it happens around him and this was as highly entertaining as his other books with several genuine laugh out loud moments. It has been a little while since I have read a Bryson and if you haven’t then I can recommend them as he is still such very very funny travel writer.

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  1. Nickimags

    Fab review! I have this on audio and you’ve reminded me that I must listen to this sooner rather than later 🙂

  2. Being an Australian, I felt a little weird picking up a travel guide to my own country, but I *loved* it! I think I’d read anything Bill Bryson wrote, no matter the subject – he’s hilarious, and so clever!

    • admin

      I felt exactly the same way when I first read his book on the UK. He does have a way of getting under the skin of the nation though

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