Time To Head “Down Under” With Bill Bryson!
Time to take Wednesday’s Bookmobile “down under” to one of the most fascinating – and dangerous – countries on earth!
Bill Bryson is a legendary travel writer, with “A Walk In The Woods” a travel masterpiece – but he has so many more published adventures as well, and his books are hilarious and packed with interesting information and insight.
Here is what Amazon says about “Down Under”, which has the subtitle “In A Sunburned Country”:
“The book documents his exploits in Australia, where A-bombs go off unnoticed, prime ministers disappear into the surf, and cheery citizens coexist with the world’s deadliest creatures: toxic caterpillars, aggressive seashells, crocodiles, and of course, great white sharks…”
The Amazon writeup goes on to add:
“Add to this deadly list snakes, and the deadliest of them all, the dreaded box jellyfish. And that’s just the beginning, as Bryson treks through sun-baked deserts and up endless coastlines, crisscrossing the “under-discovered” Down Under in search of all things interesting.”
I went to Australia in 2009 and was fascinated by the country, which is gorgeous, as evidenced by this shot of Bondi Beach. And look at the size of Australia – almost the same land mass of the US, yet they only have a tenth of our population! And 90% of the population lives within ten miles of the ocean!
These “Portugese Man Of War” Jellyfish have been overwhelming Australia’s beaches, so of course Bryson goes there to find them.
He also visits southwest Gippsland, home of the world’s largest earthworms, which can grow to twelve feet in length!
Yes, this could have been a 50’s sci-fi film “Attack Of The Giant Worms!” It was my recent “What The Friday?!” and you can find out where and why these exist by clicking here:
Australia also has some cool, “non-life-threatening” things as well!
Bryson also discovers that Australia, which began nationhood as a prison, contains the longest straight stretch of railroad track in the world – 297 miles!
I didn’t have the chance to go into the Outback when I was in Australia, but the book goes there, and it’s fascinating to imagine life there – literally a thousand miles from anywhere. Bryson’s adventures are always put through a lens that is fascinated as well as funny
Bryson travels to some obscure towns – look at these unique names:
“Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jigalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong…”
The Author also manages to catch a cricket game on the radio, which he describes being like:
“…listening to two men sitting in a rowboat on a large, placid lake on a day when the fish aren’t biting; it’s like having a nap without losing consciousness. It actually helps not to know quite what’s going on. In such a rarefied world of contentment and inactivity, comprehension would become a distraction.”
“You see,” Bryson observes, “Australia is an interesting place. It truly is. And that really is all I’m saying.” Of course, Bryson–who is as much a travel writer here as a humorist, naturalist, and historian–says much more, and does so with generous amounts of wit and hilarity. Australia may be “mostly empty and a long way away,” but it’s a little closer now.
I bought this book because of my interest in Australia – as a result of how funny this was, and because of what a great writer Bill Bryson is, I have purchased several more of his travel adventures, like this one:
If you love Bryson’s writing as much as I do, then click here to see the story of his trip to “Little Dribbling”:
I hope you enjoyed Wednesday’s Bookmobile. Let me know if you’ve been “down under!”