Friday, August 13, 2010

No money for airfare: Exploring Australia through books

Can't afford a trip?  Sick of your own town?   I've put together my favorite Aussie titles to get to know the region via fiction and nonfiction books.  Aussie readers, feel free to comment, but no mocking my Tim Winton choices!  You hear me Bernadette? 

Nonfiction:  The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes:  history of Australia, heavy on details, but you can always skim over parts. 

Historical Fiction:  The Long Green Shore by John Hepworth:  older novel that covers little-known details of Australia's participation in WWII.  Supposedly a future film with Russell Crowe. Hard to find in U.S.

Travel:  In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryon:  English/American's observations from travelling through the region, analyzes stereotypes and ignorance by American tourists. 

Fiction:  Cloudstreet by Tim Winton:  epic story of two families and three generations.

Fiction:  Dirt Music by Tim Winton:  heavy on details of landscape and fauna of Western Australia, in production for 2011 movie with Rachel Weiss and Russell Crowe.

Fiction:  Eucalyptus by Murray Bail:  sweet story about a storyteller and an obsessive tree planter, restful and amusing.

Children's book:  Edward the Emu by Sheila Knowles:  a silly picture book but well-loved at our house.

Coffee-table/photography:  Australian Colors by Bill Bachman:  not the usual style of photography, instead photos examine textures of tree bark, stone formations, and soil.  And cattle dogs. (?). 

So, I'll probably never get to go, but I can travel vicariously on paper.  It's going to have to do for now!  Ireland is next!


  1. The Bill Bryson one is absolutely hilarious!!!

  2. I can say without question that The Fatal Shore and A Sunburned Country (titled Down Under, Down Under), are two of the best books about Australia there are. I've read a lot about the country and both of these books are thorough and Bryson's, at turns, is hilarious.

  3. These look like great books and I would love to travel to Australia - of course, the one that looks most interesting to me is the one hard to find in the US! Thanks for the post.

  4. I also enjoyed Cloudstreet and Eucalyptus so no complaints here! Have you read Patrick White? I loved his Eye of the Storm and have a couple other books of his that I have yet to read. I have a few other Australian books that I bought in Australia but also haven't read yet... BTW, we went in the off-season (August), and it was much cheaper than during peak season. (Of course that was also in 1999, when airfares weren't nearly as expensive as they are now...)

  5. I have always wanted to travel to Australia, but it's so low my dear husband's wish list that I don't know when I'll make it (of course that also means he may never see Alaska, fair is fair). Thanks for the great virtual vacation list!

  6. let me know when you're coming for a real visit Amy instead of a virtual one and I'll clear out the spare room (which of full of books which I'm sure you won't mind too much).

    You've picked a great selection of Aussie books (though even I skipped the dull parts of THE FATAL SHORE) and I'm so glad to know Edward The Emu is a favourite for kids in other parts of the world.