Quicklet on Bill Bryson's In a...
Ben Mitchell Lewis
ABOUT THE BOOK
“This is a country that loses a prime minister and that is so vast and empty that a band of amateur enthusiasts could conceivably set off the world’s first non-governmental atomic bomb on its mainland almost four years would pass before anyone noticed. Clearly, this is a place worth getting to know.”
In a Sunburned Country is Bill Bryson’s seventh book on travel. Published just five years after his much-celebrated travelogue of Great Britain, Notes from a Small Island, the book takes on a much bigger topic: Australia.
The book was published just before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and some later editions have an appendix chronicling Bryson’s time spent as a spectator. Yet, the focus of the book is on Bryson’s several trips to the massive island over the course of a year.
Bryson finds himself hopping back and forth between various points in Australia, his home in New England, and a few other international locales. He never strays for long though, and much of the book is spent in the car and at dozens of hotels, pubs, and attractions along Australia’s 23,000 mile coastline.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
Next we meet Alan Howe, an old friend from London. Along with his wife, Carmel, Howe takes Bryson on several adventures to natural wonders, many of which are quite near his vacation home in the hills. After journeying with Howe for a few days, Bryson again strikes out on his own and heads north towards Brisbane. In the midst of his travels, he digresses into a chapter about Australia’s native people—the Aborigines.
The history is unbelievable. The Aborigines are an incredibly ancient tribe who still astound scientists today. After a short time walking the beaches of the Gold Coast and extolling the history of the area, Bryson departs, returns home for a time, then returns for the final leg of his trip.
In part three, “Around the Edges,” Bryson careens towards the wilder parts of the country. He is accompanied by Allan Sherwin, a friend from London. The most exciting leg of his journey begins as he travels to Great Barrier Reef and braves the sharks and waves native to the area.
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