Sunday, 17 May 2015

Down Under, Bill Bryson

Publisher: Black Swan

Pages: 394

Main Characters:

Bill Bryson


Down Under is the hilarious travel guide to Australia written by famous travel author Bill Bryson. The book is based around Bryson’s five different trips to the continent/country of Australia during the 1990’s, ending with his most recent trip in 1997.

Bryson tells his tale from every corner of Australia, from the baking heat of the Northern Territory’s Outback to the wet tropics of Queensland, Bryson has a humorous story and honest opinion on Australia its culture and its (sometimes) unusual people. To summarise his humour, I think a quote explaining one of New South Wales’ remotest towns (which I can’t remember the name of!) really shows how the book is written.

‘(the town) is a real Australian town, where the men are men and the sheep are scared!’

The book is full of these witty, sharp one liners, which I absolutely loved and they often had me bursting out with laughter, especially when he talks of the casualness Aussies have towards their dangerous animals. For me, the book was made even more enjoyable because I have visited a lot of the places Bryson writes about and pens these funny quotes about and for most of the time, I couldn’t agree with him more!

I originally meant to read this book before I set off for my travels to Australia but at the time the Kobo store didn’t actually sell it. I wanted to read it before Australia in the hopes it would give me some inspiration on where to go in the country and what sites I should go and see. However, I’m glad I read it afterwards because the book is not really a travel guide but more of a collection of funny stories. In addition, because I’d already visited most of the places Bryson goes to in the book, it gave me a lot of nostalgia and a longing to go back to Oz. On the other hand, I think that Bryson does over exaggerate some of Australia’s features, especially if you’re doing your travelling on a backpacker’s budget. One example of this is the Great Barrier Reef. Bryson calls it the most beautiful place on Earth and though it is an amazing place, the reef I visited wasn’t as spectacular as you imagine it to be. He also talks of the immense Outback as if it is something more than what it is. It is staggering how huge the Bush is and that much of it is still unexplored, but when you’re driving through it and know you have another twelve hours of driving to do, it soon gets very, very boring.

Down Under was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who plans to visit Australia or to anyone who’s already been there. I’m excited to check out Bryson’s other books, especially his book about Europe as that’s where I plan to travel next!

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