In a Sunburned Country
A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

In a Sunburned Country Details

TitleIn a Sunburned Country
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 15th, 2001
PublisherBroadway Books
ISBN-139780767903868
Rating
GenreTravel, Nonfiction, Humor, Cultural, Australia, Autobiography, Memoir

In a Sunburned Country Review

  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Lovely little adventure a la Bill Bryson No one knows, incidentally, why Australia's spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space. What an absolutely stunning endorsement. As with his other traveling books, Bill Bryson hip hops his way across a country - visiting monuments and interviewing natives. We meet quirky ch Lovely little adventure a la Bill Bryson No one knows, incidentally, why Australia's spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space. What an absolutely stunning endorsement. As with his other traveling books, Bill Bryson hip hops his way across a country - visiting monuments and interviewing natives. We meet quirky characters and Australian wildlife galore - from the poisonous snakes to the brutal kookaburra Incidentally, did you know that the kookaburra likes to bash its prey until their bones have been pulverized? Apparently its easier to digest that way...lovely...He also has quite a lot to say about Australians: They spend half of any conversation insisting that the country's dangers are vastly overrated and that there's nothing to worry about, and the other half telling you how six months ago their Uncle Bob was driving to Mudgee when a tiger snake slid out from under the dashboard and bit him on the groin, but that it's okay now because he's off the life support machine and they've discovered he can communicate with eye blinks. To be fair, Bill Bryson does have plenty of good things to say about Australia. As he goes from town to town, he describes delicious sounding dishes and has a way with describing the atmosphere such that you feel like you are really there. About halfway through the book, I did start to get a bit bored (this book became a bit samey-samey with every town he visited). That being said, I did enjoy reading this somewhat unusual trek through Australia.Audiobook CommentsNothing too special - was well-read if a bit bland in tone/inflection.Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Jason Koivu
    January 1, 1970
    I love Bill Bryson. Yep, it's a full-blown, one-sided bromance. Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it (he did and I did)! So, when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia, I knew I'd found my next good read! In a Sunburned Country takes in the Land Down-Under, from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings. You expect and get a look at modern Australia, its UK-c I love Bill Bryson. Yep, it's a full-blown, one-sided bromance. Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it (he did and I did)! So, when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia, I knew I'd found my next good read! In a Sunburned Country takes in the Land Down-Under, from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings. You expect and get a look at modern Australia, its UK-convict days, Sydney and other cities, the bush, the outback, and the plight, trials and importance of the aborigines. All of the above also comes with a healthy dose of Bryson humor. It's self-deprecating, it's consciously delusional for comedy's sake, it's honest and it gives me the chuckles. I appreciate that he puts himself in awkward situations and really enjoy his description of scenes in which he is a participating victim. Australia has countless ways to kill a person, what with all its deadly animals, so there's plenty of opportunity for hair-raising hilarity, especially considering Bryson's the sort of guy who could get himself savaged by a hedgehog. Fun is fun and all, but in the end this book is about the learning, so if you have an interest in learning more about Australia I couldn't recommend another book more highly. The author has a love for learning, as well as the subject at hand, so the reader is treated to a veritable love-fest spewed all over the pages of In a Sunburned Country!
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  • Jeff
    January 1, 1970
    Bill Bryson never seems to use the same approach to each of his books. Is this book going to be snarky Bill? Is this going to be funny Bill? Is this going to be funny, yet informative Bill? Is this going to be snarky, yet informative Bill? I could go on, but my hands would start to cramp up with the unlimited combinations.This one is reverential, informative, and mostly self-effacing humor Bill. Bill loves Australians, but he hates the fact that the country is over-run with hordes of killer spec Bill Bryson never seems to use the same approach to each of his books. Is this book going to be snarky Bill? Is this going to be funny Bill? Is this going to be funny, yet informative Bill? Is this going to be snarky, yet informative Bill? I could go on, but my hands would start to cramp up with the unlimited combinations.This one is reverential, informative, and mostly self-effacing humor Bill. Bill loves Australians, but he hates the fact that the country is over-run with hordes of killer species and there’s a big hot-assed desert in the middle of the continent.Australians are lovely people. The one’s I’ve known were incredibly friendly and generous. I worked with a couple who were touring the United States and working at odd jobs along the way. When they were leaving, they gave me their contact information and invited me to visit at any time. If they are reading this, my family will be down under in a week or so and plan to stay for about a month. We don’t eat much beyond shrimp and steak and don’t wish to try vegemite, so thanks and keep that stuff to yourself. So good onya, mates and crikey and stuff!!Although it’s a topic that needs examining, Bryson’s writing on the treatment of Aborigines seems out of place and shrill compared with the Australian lovefest and repeated warnings about deadly jelly fish, killer spiders and gun-toting snakes.This was a buddy read with la doyenne of non-fiction buddy reads: Le Trish.
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  • Martine
    January 1, 1970
    I developed a taste for Bill Bryson last year when I read his Short History of Nearly Everything, an ambitious attempt to trace the history of life, the universe and everything in just 574 pages. While many of the scientific discoveries outlined in the book were a little beyond me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's descriptions of the larger-than-life personalities behind the discoveries, which really brought the science described to life. So when I found out that he had also written a travelogue of I developed a taste for Bill Bryson last year when I read his Short History of Nearly Everything, an ambitious attempt to trace the history of life, the universe and everything in just 574 pages. While many of the scientific discoveries outlined in the book were a little beyond me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's descriptions of the larger-than-life personalities behind the discoveries, which really brought the science described to life. So when I found out that he had also written a travelogue of a journey across the country I may soon call home -- Australia -- I simply had to read it.Australia, for those of you who have never been there, is one of the most colourful places on earth. It has a history so bizarre that it makes China's seem normal by comparison. It has insane expanses of the most arid desert imaginable, as well as some of the world's most beautiful beaches, where unfortunately you can't swim due to the prevalence of sharks, crocs, box jellyfish, stingrays and murderous rip currents. It houses beyond a shadow of a doubt the world's most interesting flora and fauna, including twelve-foot earthworms and living fossils. (And you thought kangaroos were exotic. Ha.) And if all that weren't interesting enough, the locals are slightly mad. They eat meat pies floating in pea soup, are crazy about cricket and consider shorts and knee-length socks proper attire for middle-aged bus drivers. In short, it's a unique place and I love it. I look forward to moving there in a few months' time.Bill Bryson also loves Australia, and it shows. While he likes to remind his readers of the country's amazing collection of deathly animals (over and over again) and poke fun at the locals and their weird habits, his affection for the place shines through in every chapter, and it's quite infectious. By describing his own travels and those of early settlers, explorers and naturalists, he provides the reader with an appreciation for how vast and unwelcoming the country is, and how utterly unique. He provides background information on events of which few non-Australians will have heard (such as the fact that a nuclear bomb may have been detonated in the outback without anyone noticing, and that an Australian Prime Minister once vanished, never to be seen again), waxes lyrical on trees and animals so bizarre that you'll want to hop on the first plane to Australia to check them out for yourself (again, kangaroos are only the beginning), explains why you should go and see Ayers Rock even if you've already seen hundreds of photos of it, and intersperses all this useful information with a winning combination of self-deprecating humour, bizarre anecdotes, absurd dialogue and entertaining accounts of encounters with fellow travellers and locals. The resulting book is not only completely recognisable to anyone who has visited Australia, but hugely appealing to anyone who hasn't. I doubt anyone can read this book without wishing to book a flight to Oz immediately afterwards.If I have any complaint about Down Under, it is that there is too little of it. While Bryson's writing is entertaining and informative, his choice of places to visit and describe seems rather random and limited. I wish he had done more travelling, gone further into the interior of the country and left all traces of luxury behind him for a while, so as to emulate the pioneers and explorers whose exploits he relates with such gusto. I also think the book would have benefited from slightly more rigorous editing, as parts of it seem rather hastily written. For all its small flaws, though, Down Under (released in the US as In a Sunburned Country) is a fascinating read which has whetted my appetite for more Bryson travelogues. And for a return to Oz, but that's another story.
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  • Collette
    January 1, 1970
    Ok! First of all I'm here to tell you that non-fiction is normally not my bag. I think I got this book because I forgot to send in the "do not send" notice in a book club. That said..... I'm soooo happy that I didn't and I "made" myself read this. OMG!!! I lost track of how many times I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and how many smiles and chuckles it rang out of me! This is a book about Bryson's trips (I believe he combines a few trips to "Oz" into this one book) to the Ok! First of all I'm here to tell you that non-fiction is normally not my bag. I think I got this book because I forgot to send in the "do not send" notice in a book club. That said..... I'm soooo happy that I didn't and I "made" myself read this. OMG!!! I lost track of how many times I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and how many smiles and chuckles it rang out of me! This is a book about Bryson's trips (I believe he combines a few trips to "Oz" into this one book) to the really undiscovered island of Australia and his impressions of what he sees and who he meets. There is history, wonderfully funny and horribly gruesome and sad stories, lodging and traveling tips and a long list of places there that I really now want to see. His wit and sarcastic humor is what did it for me. I will look for more of his books and hope that he goes on more journeys to share with his reading audience.
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  • Andrew Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Having travelled briefly through parts of Queensland and New South Wales several years ago, I'd been waiting to catch up with Bryson's book ever since. I now wish I'd read it before I travelled or even during the trip itself. It's full interesting information and ideas for places to visit and gave me loads of laughs. A really good read whether you're planning a trip or just looking to enjoy BB's hilariously entertaining anecdotes. I've read a few of his books in the past and I do find him to be Having travelled briefly through parts of Queensland and New South Wales several years ago, I'd been waiting to catch up with Bryson's book ever since. I now wish I'd read it before I travelled or even during the trip itself. It's full interesting information and ideas for places to visit and gave me loads of laughs. A really good read whether you're planning a trip or just looking to enjoy BB's hilariously entertaining anecdotes. I've read a few of his books in the past and I do find him to be an interesting companion, as I've travelled with him. His books on visits to the UK in particular are great fun (even if he pokes fun at some places quite close to my heart). I'm not sure how accurate some of his adventures are - they seem a bit tuned for laughs to me - but that's ok, it's what you pick up a book like this for I think. I'd recommend this book to anyone thinking about a trip to Oz or readers who just enjoy tales of travel and amusing things that can happen when you're in the hands of a natural raconteur.
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  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    As expected this was a mix of fun facts and a companion travel piece. Being Australian I’m sure I enjoyed this more than the average non Australian reader but I could see that some parts especially the parts apart about politics and cricket could bore a few readers who aren’t already familiar with our peculiar sports and politicians. I enjoyed the read and found it fun when injected with Bryson’s humourous anecdotes along the way. I also realised how very little I’ve seen of my own ridiculously As expected this was a mix of fun facts and a companion travel piece. Being Australian I’m sure I enjoyed this more than the average non Australian reader but I could see that some parts especially the parts apart about politics and cricket could bore a few readers who aren’t already familiar with our peculiar sports and politicians. I enjoyed the read and found it fun when injected with Bryson’s humourous anecdotes along the way. I also realised how very little I’ve seen of my own ridiculously large country. Makes me want to pack up the car and go for a road trip and see something other than the East Coast of Australia and the main cities. It’s always a shame when tourists see more of my own country than I have.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    I love Australia, even though I have never been there. It has amazing wilderness and is the setting of beautiful movies; it exports talented actors, actresses and directors; it has that Great Barrier Reef thingy, which is apparently so wonderful that is is a Natural Wonder of the World; and it is home to the stunning Sydney Opera House. And oh yeah, Aussies gave us UGGs. So we have a lot to thank them for.Bill Bryson also loved Australia, so much so that he spent months touring its cities and th I love Australia, even though I have never been there. It has amazing wilderness and is the setting of beautiful movies; it exports talented actors, actresses and directors; it has that Great Barrier Reef thingy, which is apparently so wonderful that is is a Natural Wonder of the World; and it is home to the stunning Sydney Opera House. And oh yeah, Aussies gave us UGGs. So we have a lot to thank them for.Bill Bryson also loved Australia, so much so that he spent months touring its cities and the Outback. Bryson employed his usual humor in this travelogue, and numerous sections had me laughing out loud, sometimes embarrassingly so. But he would also wax rhapsodic about how amazing the land was:There was no place in the world like it. There still isn't. Eighty percent of all that lives in Australia, plant and animal, exists nowhere else. More than this, it exists in an abundance that seems incompatible with the harshness of the environment. Australia is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents. (Only Antarctica is more hostile to life.) This is a place so inert that even the soil is, technically speaking, a fossil. And yet it teems with life in numbers unaccounted. For insects alone, scientists haven't the faintest idea whether the total number of species is 100,000 or more than twice that. As many as a third of those species remain entirely unknown to science. For spiders, the proportion rises to 80 percent ... This is a country that is at once staggeringly empty and yet packed with stuff. Interesting stuff, ancient stuff, stuff not readily explained. Stuff yet to be found. Trust me, this is an interesting place.Bryson gets into his fair share of scrapes during his Australian journey, and at one point he and his traveling companion are in danger of running out of both fuel and water while in the Outback. Luckily, no serious harm was done.Another close encounter was with a bluebottle jellyfish. Bryson and his guide, Deirdre, were boogie boarding at Freshwater Beach near Manly, when Deirdre suddenly grabbed Bryson's arm and stopped him from advancing toward the "bluey," as Deirdre called it. At the time, Bryson didn't know what she meant by "bluey.""Is it dangerous?" I asked.Now, before we hear Deirdre's response to me as I stood there, vulnerable and abraded, shivering, nearly naked and half drowned, let me just quote from her subsequent article in the Herald's weekend magazine: While the photographer shoots, Bryson and his boogie board are dragged 40 meters down the beach in a rip. The shore rip runs south to north, unlike the rip further out which runs north to south. Bryson doesn't know this. He didn't read the warning sign on the beach.* Nor does he know about the bluebottle being blown in his direction — now less than a meter away — a swollen stinger that could give him 20 minutes of agony and, if he's unlucky, an unsightly allergic reaction to carry on his torso for his life."Dangerous? No," Deirdre replied now as we stood gawping at the bluebottle. "But don't brush against it.""Why not?""Might be a bit uncomfortable."I looked at her with an expression of interest bordering on admiration. Long bus journeys are uncomfortable. Slatted wooden benches are uncomfortable. Lulls in conversations are uncomfortable. The sting of a Portuguese man-of-war — even Iowans know this — is agony. It occurred to me that Australians are so surrounded with danger that they have evolved an entirely new vocabulary to deal with it.*Footnote: The statement is inarguable. However, the author would like the record to show that he did not have his glasses on; he trusted his hosts; he was scanning a large area of ocean for sharks; and he was endeavoring throughout not to excrete a large house brick into his pants.HAHAHA! Bryson is a hoot, you guys. There is so much more great stuff in this book, and I could type out pages of other funny stories, but I shall leave you to discover it for yourself. Like all of his travelogues, he shares interesting historical details about the places he visits, and he's good at making fun of himself and his bumbling ways. I enjoyed this so much and I laughed so hard and so often that this has become one of my favorite Bryson books. If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to Bryson narrate this. It's marvelous. My rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5
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  • RandomAnthony
    January 1, 1970
    Bill Bryson is on a short-list of go-to writers when I need a thoughtful but not too taxing book. His travel works seem to follow the Bryson formula:1. Bryson travels around a country and gets drunk in hotel bars.2. Bryson gets pissed off at rude and stupid people but is usually forgiving and self-depreciating.3. Bryson assiduously researches the locales beforehand and integrates history into his itineraries and narratives.4. Bryson writes with impeccable skill.5. Bryson balances mundane details Bill Bryson is on a short-list of go-to writers when I need a thoughtful but not too taxing book. His travel works seem to follow the Bryson formula:1. Bryson travels around a country and gets drunk in hotel bars.2. Bryson gets pissed off at rude and stupid people but is usually forgiving and self-depreciating.3. Bryson assiduously researches the locales beforehand and integrates history into his itineraries and narratives.4. Bryson writes with impeccable skill.5. Bryson balances mundane details with broader musings about wherever he's visiting.Bryson makes travel writing look easy but I don't undervalue his talent. He's funny more often than not, like when he describes the joys of tacky roadside attractions and his decision to trespass through a suburban backyard when he thinks a dog is chasing him through a park. He keeps the text moving and harmonizes the personal and cultural with respect but without sanctimony. Bryson maintains a willingness to criticize and even mock a culture when, well, the culture deserves criticism or mockery. Bryson doesn't look or sound like one might expect from a travel writer; he's a fat middle-aged guy who grew up in Iowa, not some tanned and overtly fit mountain climber with flowing locks and a beard styled to look un-styled. He can dispense with all pretense of coolness and write about his travels from a laid-back perspective. 6. In a Sunburned Country outlines four central messages about Australia:1) The country is so huge and varied that comprehending all the disparate elements as representative of one cohesive nation is very difficult.2) The rest of the world kind of forgets about Australia most of the time, except for New Year's Eve or whenever there's reason to show fireworks over the Sydney Opera House.3) You can get killed in many interesting ways there.4) While many white Australians are preternaturally friendly the country still shits on the Aborigines. Bryson faces a curious paradox when addressing Australia. When describing the country's expanse and diversity he runs the risk of repeating himself. He seems to get a little frustrated with the idea that, for example, while he doesn't have the space or time to describe all the nuances of the huge, barren bush country that comprises much of non-coastal Australia he's essentially describing, you know, the bush country over and over again. You can say “we are way out in the middle of nowhere” but communicating exactly what that means is more difficult than one can expect from even the best travel writer. Bryson does his best by adding key details (e.g. describing how much he hates the ocean and fears jellyfish) and his best is damn good. He also avoids the cliches, never once mentioning vegemite or Men at Work. I liked In a Sunburned Country and I don't want to downplay Bryson's hard work and excellent narratives. His humility is admirable and I think he's underrated possibly because he's so damn uncool. And I'd rather drive around Australia with someone uncool but courteous and appreciative of decent hotel rooms than a guy who wants to mine the trip for hipster stories he can tell at coffee shops back home. Bryson delivers with In a Sunburned Country. The next time my brain is slightly fried I'll work through the next book in his catalog and be happy, I imagine, I did.
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  • Helene Jeppesen
    January 1, 1970
    This was my first book by Bill Bryson as well as a great, educating read! I understand now, why Bill Bryson is so popular, because this non-fictional account of his trip to Australia is wonderful and humouristic from beginning till end. I already have 2 other books by Bill Bryson on hold at the library because this is definitely an author I'm curious to get much more familiar with.
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  • Trish
    January 1, 1970
    Bill Bryson is not exactly known as an adventurer despite having written a few "travel guides". In fact, he's known for being constantly looking up and subsequently freaking out about all sorts of dangers. Him going to Australia ...... what could possibly go wrong?I just KNEW this would be fun. Bryson is clumsy, pale and already of a certain age so just picturing him in Australia of all places, among the boogie-board-surfing tanned Aussie hunks made me chuckle.And I wasn't disappointed. He manag Bill Bryson is not exactly known as an adventurer despite having written a few "travel guides". In fact, he's known for being constantly looking up and subsequently freaking out about all sorts of dangers. Him going to Australia ...... what could possibly go wrong?I just KNEW this would be fun. Bryson is clumsy, pale and already of a certain age so just picturing him in Australia of all places, among the boogie-board-surfing tanned Aussie hunks made me chuckle.And I wasn't disappointed. He managed to combine important historical information about the continent's discovery and colonization with chuckle-worthy stories of him freaking out on land and in the water alike.Through his (mis-)adventures we're taught some of the local slangmeet the truly weird people (you can tell how much the place has shaped them) and get to travel from one side of Australia to the next - visiting city parks such as Perth's Kings Park, marvelling at sights such as Mount Uluruencountering living rocks and strange animals and plants along the way, while hearing about people meeting dreadful ends thanks to the most venomous animals on the planet (or for lack of / due to too much water). Bryson also incorporates political and economical information such as the racism against the Aborigines that is called "prejudice" there (I was very interested to learn about the seizure of children that went on for decades as well as the on-going problems regarding education that apparently also lead to barely any Aborigines working in restaurants, museums or shops to this day) and tells the readers about almost comical contradictions such as Australia being the country with the fewest trees but the biggest exporter of wooden pallets ... in short: we get to know an impossible place.Alas, he missed out on Bungle Bungle and Kakadu National Park amongst other things but on a whole, I'd say he and therefore we got to see a lot nevertheless. For details of where he was and what he/we encountered along the way, please see my numerous status updates. What is more, I like how he went from freaked out tourist to enamoured enthusiast who is likely to go back there again. Not bad as a crash course about this unique and volatile country/continent and its inhabitants.This adventure has been proudly presented by Jeff, my non-fic buddy-reader.
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  • Roy Lotz
    January 1, 1970
    Every year (more or less), I take a trip up to New Brunswick, Canada, on a family vacation. To get there from New York means about 10 hours in the car; and once you’re there, it is an hour and a half round trip to get groceries—not counting time in the store—and this is a trip that must be made about every other day, since the only fridge we have is small, weak, alarmingly old, and runs on propane. The point is, we have to spend a goodly number of hours in the car.Thus, I have gotten into the ha Every year (more or less), I take a trip up to New Brunswick, Canada, on a family vacation. To get there from New York means about 10 hours in the car; and once you’re there, it is an hour and a half round trip to get groceries—not counting time in the store—and this is a trip that must be made about every other day, since the only fridge we have is small, weak, alarmingly old, and runs on propane. The point is, we have to spend a goodly number of hours in the car.Thus, I have gotten into the habit of downloading a few audiobooks for the trip; and this year, Bill Bryson was my man. I’d listened to his recording of A Short History of Nearly Everything before (it is an abridged recording, unfortunately), so I knew that he had a lovely voice. If you haven’t heard him speak, I’d recommend searching him on YouTube; he has a delightful transatlantic accent—owing to his long stay in England, combined with his American roots—and this gives his dorky, awkward persona a sort of extra layer of fragile charm. He sounds like a delicate man, not one for thrills or even serious exertion, but very clever and sharp, rather like someone it would be nice to have a drink with. I hit play on my phone and we began to drive. It was an excellent start to a vacation. Bryson’s prose is bubbling and lively; and it’s endearing to hear the poor author have to pronounce some of his extravagant word choices. Besides his usual writing prowess, I must say that in this book he chose his subject very well. Bryson begins by emphasizing—and he really knows how to emphasize a point—how little Australia is discussed in the media. And I realized, with a bit of an embarrassed shock, that he’s right: I knew only a handful of facts about Australia, some of which I wasn’t even too sure about. For example, I didn’t even know the name of Australia’s capital; and, really, that’s a bit shameful for someone who normally considers himself a relatively cultured person. (It’s Canberra, by the way.)As Bryson does, he begins his bumbling travels, managing to make even simple tasks like finding a hotel or falling asleep in a car seem Homeric. And as usual, Bryson weaves frequent and lengthy digressions into the narrative of his journey, delving into Australia’s economy, history, biology, sports, politics, local legends—you name it, Bryson will likely give you a neat anecdote about it. Perhaps due to his journalistic training, Bryson has a fascination for all things deadly. Just as in A Short History of Nearly Everything, where he includes several ways that humanity might actually be made extinct, so here Bryson lets his taste for the macabre run rampant with Australia’s impressive collection of dangerous critters. Plentiful and poisonous snakes, spiders, and jellyfish; big and hungry sharks and crocodiles; and even some malicious species of plants—it seems that Australia is not a welcoming environment. Australia’s weather is not any better, as Bryson makes clear with his many stories of the explorers who attempted to brave Australia’s hot and empty innards—many of them, as Bryson gleefully points out, woefully and hilariously unprepared.Another journalistic habit of his is his fascination with gaps. He spends page after page hammering home the extent to which Australia is huge, vast, empty, and to a large extent unexplored. With the instinct of a trained reporter, Bryson focuses in wherever there is something unexplained, unknown, unclear, or even just poorly understood. When Bryson is lucky, this leads him to some neglected piece of history, such as the impressive career of aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. But often Bryson runs up against a dead end, such as the disappearance of Australian Prime Minster, Harold Holt, who took a swim while in office, never to be seen again. Considering that this poor fellow likely drowned and was then eaten by some large aquatic animal, this makes Bryson doubly curious, for it involves both death and mystery.Well, I must say that I had a great time with Bryson, and I’m sad our shared trip has come to an end. One of us has to go back to work. I had a few good laughs, and, perhaps more importantly, now I know more about Australia than ever before—which I suppose isn’t saying much, but it’s something. But still I must admit that I’m left with one dreadful unanswered question. I need to know: is it good or bad to drink your own urine when you’re stranded in a hot environment with no water? Bryson mentions somewhere that it’s not a good idea (although many have done it), because urine has a high sodium content; so it’s counterproductive, and will only speed up dehydration. But there are plenty of stories of people successfully drinking their own urine to survive. My suspicion is that, if you’re relatively well-hydrated to begin with so your urine is watery, it wouldn’t be too bad; but if you kept repeating the process, you would get diminishing returns, owing to higher and higher levels of waste products. Can anyone help me answer this question?
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    "That is of course the thing about Australia- that there is such a lot to find in it, but such a lot of it to find it in."“In a Sunburned Country” is a delightful read, and worth your time if for no other reason than that many of us will probably never get to Australia except in books and film and this text gets us there in its own way. Bill Bryson has mixed anecdotal history, modern travel, biological and geographical history of the continent of Australia in an amusing and mostly quick to read "That is of course the thing about Australia- that there is such a lot to find in it, but such a lot of it to find it in."“In a Sunburned Country” is a delightful read, and worth your time if for no other reason than that many of us will probably never get to Australia except in books and film and this text gets us there in its own way. Bill Bryson has mixed anecdotal history, modern travel, biological and geographical history of the continent of Australia in an amusing and mostly quick to read style that I found engaging. It was not a labor to pick up this book, and that is no small thing.Mr. Bryson is at times dismissive of people and some places, which I found a little jarring. However, if that is his honest reaction I should be glad for it. I also think his healthy ego comes thru from time to time. Nevertheless, these are rather small quibbles with what is otherwise a really interesting text. The writing is humorous, at times really insightful, and mostly always informative. “In a Sunburned Country” is worth a read because it will expand your worldview. And you will enjoy it to boot!
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    .Contains spoilersA wonderful read! From belly laughs to joy, from horror to disbelief….. in this book we have a riveting journey though this amazing and oh-so-different continent. Surely there are few authors who could begin to tackle the scope of this giant hunk of land, but Bryson is a master writer, and he tackles Australia superbly well - with enthusiasm, insight and bucket loads of his wonderful self-deprecating humour.These were some of my favourite bits in the book:* His trip to White Cl .Contains spoilersA wonderful read! From belly laughs to joy, from horror to disbelief….. in this book we have a riveting journey though this amazing and oh-so-different continent. Surely there are few authors who could begin to tackle the scope of this giant hunk of land, but Bryson is a master writer, and he tackles Australia superbly well - with enthusiasm, insight and bucket loads of his wonderful self-deprecating humour.These were some of my favourite bits in the book:* His trip to White Cliffs, in opal mining territory, where the temperature gets up to 110F, and people live in cave dwellings in order to keep cool. * His drive in Victoria along the coast, an area famous for shipwrecks.“With its wild currents and famous fogs, the south Victorian coast was long notorious to mariners. If you took all the water away, you would see 1,200 ships lying broken on the seabed, more than almost anywhere else in the world.”*His discussion of ‘acclimatization’ (the introduction of non-indigenous animals to Australia). The mad proliferation of rabbits – halted for a while by the introduction of the horrible illness Myxomatosis, but now numbers are increasing again. Other introductions include camels, donkeys and foxes. (There are now five million wild donkeys in Australia). ”The consequences for native species have been devastating. About 130 mammals are threatened. Sixteen have become extinct – more than in any other continent. And guess what is the mightiest killer of all? According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, it is the common cat….there are twelve million of them out there, inhabiting every niche in the landscape.” Foreign plants have also been introduced. ”Prickly pear, a type of pulpy cactus native to America, was introduced in Queensland early in the twentieth century ….by 1925, thirty million acres were overrun with impenetrable groves of prickly pear up to six feet high. It is an almost absurdly dense plant – an acre of prickly pear weighs 800 tons, as against about fifteen tons for an acre of wheat – and a nightmare to clear.”*His respect and awe for the Aborigines, who are likely to have come to Australia about 60,000 years ago. Their amazing capacity for survival in difficult environments. His disbelief in the way they were treated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (they were often hunted down and shot, like animals), and his concern for their well-being today.*His description of the wonders of The Great Barrier Reef. I had no idea it was so big ”Depending on which sources you consult, the Great Barrier Reef covers 280,000 square kilometres or 344,000 or something in between; stretches 1,200 miles from top to bottom, or 1,600; is bigger than Kansas or Italy or the United Kingdom. Nobody can agree really on where the Barrier Reef begins and ends, though everyone agrees it’s awfully big. Even by the shortest measure, it is equivalent in length to the west coast of the United States”. Swimming over it was a scary experience. "At the top of the steps were large bins containing flippers, snorkels and masks. We kitted up and plopped in. I had assumed that we would be in a few feet of water, so I was taken aback – I am putting this mildly – to discover that I was perhaps sixty feet above the bottom. I had never been in water this deep before and it was unexpectedly unnerving – as unnerving as finding myself floating sixty feet in the air above solid ground. This panicky assessment took place over the course of perhaps three seconds, then my mask and snorkel filled with water and I started choking.”*His stories about men obsessed with exploring the horrendously hostile interior of Australia. "It is almost not possible to exaggerate the punishing nature of Australia’s interior. For nineteenth-century explorers, it wasn’t just the inexpressible heat and constant scarcity of water, but a thousand other miseries. Stinging ants swarmed over them wherever they rested. Natives sometimes attacked with spears. The landscape was full of thorny bushes and merciless spinifex (plants) whose silicate pricks nearly always grew infected from sweat and dirt. Scurvy was a constant plague. Hygiene was impossible. Pack animals grew frequently crazed or lost the will to go on….” Some of these explorers returned from their adventures in the interior, but many didn’t.*The degree to which he was bowled over and awed by Ayers Rock (now called Uluru, its Aborigine name). He writes very movingly about the experience of seeing it.*His story about Kingsford Smith - an Australian pilot - who he reckons is the greatest aviator ever. Just a year after Charles Lindbergh made his famous flight across the Atlantic, Kingsford Smith became the first man to cross the Pacific – a far, far tougher challenge than the Atlantic… Bryson’s description of the trip is grip-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting. ~~~~All in all a wonderful book. I feel I really got a taste of the flavour of Australia. Bravo Bryson! I enjoyed it tons.
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  • Jan-Maat
    January 1, 1970
    I felt that this was the flattest Bryson I have yet read. It felt slightly more engaged when he dealt with the mysterious disappearance of former Prime Minister Harold Holt while swimming, but otherwise it read as though he and his publishers were simply determined to crank out another travelogue and Australia was one place they hadn't covered so far. In my memory it compares unfavourably with a three part National Geographic series I read about a man who cycled round Australia - but then their I felt that this was the flattest Bryson I have yet read. It felt slightly more engaged when he dealt with the mysterious disappearance of former Prime Minister Harold Holt while swimming, but otherwise it read as though he and his publishers were simply determined to crank out another travelogue and Australia was one place they hadn't covered so far. In my memory it compares unfavourably with a three part National Geographic series I read about a man who cycled round Australia - but then their photographs are hard to beat.Because he stresses so often how extrovert and friendly all Australians are, what stands out is how rarely he talks to anybody and if he does, how brief the conversations are, perhaps Bryson has a prophylactic personality. Very middle of the road. An ok read but nothing special, apart from that his persona of a bumbling, ineffectual, Colonel Blimp in training, turns out actually to be his personality, his habit of winging it - evident in his other travel books too - confronted by the size of Australia means he spends a lot of time nowhere in particular or on the bare featureless Nullarbor plain, which I did learn (view spoiler)[ thanks Bill! (hide spoiler)] is one of those comedy Latin place names - no tree plain in plain English. In short Australia's a big place if you are going to visit spend some time with a map first rather than be disappointed later.
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  • Twerking To Beethoven
    January 1, 1970
    This book will teach you a lot of things that no ordinary travel guide will. Also, Bill Bryson is a funny bastard, and in a really genuine way; I mean, he's not trying to be funny at all costs, it's just the way he is, and that's why this book is so pleasant. There are heaps of information about the geology, the animal life, the plants and insects, the history, the statistics, the folklore, etc., etc. AND the many dangers: taipan snakes, funnel web spiders, box-jellyfish, crocs, sharks, and rip This book will teach you a lot of things that no ordinary travel guide will. Also, Bill Bryson is a funny bastard, and in a really genuine way; I mean, he's not trying to be funny at all costs, it's just the way he is, and that's why this book is so pleasant. There are heaps of information about the geology, the animal life, the plants and insects, the history, the statistics, the folklore, etc., etc. AND the many dangers: taipan snakes, funnel web spiders, box-jellyfish, crocs, sharks, and rip currents - they're all out to get you. The inhospitable deserts, the beautiful beaches, the huge distances; Bill Bryson gives you a feeling of what it's all like, and he's SPOT ON.My favourite bit? The trip to Alice Springs with Allan Sherwin. Comedy gold.Let me say right here that I love Australia—adore it immeasurably—and am smitten anew each time I see it. One of the effects of paying so little attention to Australia is that it is always such a pleasant surprise to find it there. Every cultural instinct and previous experience tells you that when you travel this far you should find, at the very least, people on camels. There should be unrecognizable lettering on the signs, and swarthy men in robes drinking coffee from thimble-sized cups and puffing on hookahs, and rattletrap buses and potholes in the road and a real possibility of disease on everything you touch—but no, it’s not like that at all. This is comfortable and clean and familiar. Apart from a tendency among men of a certain age to wear knee-high socks with shorts, these people are just like you and me. This is wonderful. This is exhilarating. This is why I love to come to Australia.So, there you go. Should you visit our shores, look no further, go get your copy of "In a Sunburned Country"(*). It's very informative, gives you plenty of info and covers just about everything-Straya.(*) - Actually my copy goes by the title of "Downunder". I swapped it with this one as, for uknown reasons, GR wouldn't show the sleeve. It's the same book anyway.
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  • Michael Finocchiaro
    January 1, 1970
    Bill Bryson is a very funny travel writer and his voyage down under is quite funny. I did not really use it when I was in Australia though to be honest. It is more for entertainment than a guide book.
  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    January 1, 1970
    This travelogue of an American in Australia was hilarious. I had no choice; I had to give this five stars. I have this rule you see: if a book makes me think, cry, or laugh out loud, I give it top marks. I was smiling madly by the middle of the first page--at page 17 I was giggling. I haven't laughed so often or so hard since Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. Bryson gets a lot of mileage out of Australia being a "wondrously venomous and toothy country." Here's a snippet:"You probably won't see This travelogue of an American in Australia was hilarious. I had no choice; I had to give this five stars. I have this rule you see: if a book makes me think, cry, or laugh out loud, I give it top marks. I was smiling madly by the middle of the first page--at page 17 I was giggling. I haven't laughed so often or so hard since Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. Bryson gets a lot of mileage out of Australia being a "wondrously venomous and toothy country." Here's a snippet:"You probably won't see any redbacks out there," Sonja reassured us. "Snakes are much more of a problem."This intelligence was received with four raised eyebrows and expressions that said, "Go on."She nodded. "Common brown, western taipan, western puff pastry, yellow-backed lockjaw, eastern groin groper, dodge viper..." I don't remember what she said exactly, but it was a long list. "But don't worry," she continued. "Most snakes don't want to hurt you. If you're out in the bush and a snake comes along, just stop dead and let it slide over your shoes."This, I decided, was the least-likely-to-be-followed advice I have ever been given.Yet he keeps repeating that "it's a wonderful country." And he means it--his affection for Australia and Australians shines through. He gives us plenty of reasons why through the book--the wide spaces, the unique natural wonders, the friendly and optimistic people he meets. He doesn't gloss over that Australia has its dark side. The Aborigines are the "oldest continuously maintained culture on Earth," but are also Australia's "great social failing." The Australians don't want to talk about them and Bryson describes people looking right through them and describes a history every bit as heartbreaking as that of Native Americans. But mostly this is a very sunny book--in just about every way you can imagine.
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  • David Sarkies
    January 1, 1970
    Bryson in Australia1 July 2017 I have something to admit – I’ve never been to Uluru. I have traveled to Europe, seen the Tower Brige and the Arc de Triumphe, I have wandered the gardens of Versailles and walked the plains where Hannibul slaughtered the Romans, but I have never been to Uluru, and it doesn’t seem to be all that likely I’ll be going there in the near future. The reason that I raise this is because in this book Byrson pretty much describe Uluru, a rock of which there is nothing like Bryson in Australia1 July 2017 I have something to admit – I’ve never been to Uluru. I have traveled to Europe, seen the Tower Brige and the Arc de Triumphe, I have wandered the gardens of Versailles and walked the plains where Hannibul slaughtered the Romans, but I have never been to Uluru, and it doesn’t seem to be all that likely I’ll be going there in the near future. The reason that I raise this is because in this book Byrson pretty much describe Uluru, a rock of which there is nothing like it in the entire world, and dominates your vision as you approach it, rising like a lone monolith in an empty desert, literally defines Australia. In fact you cannot arrive in Australia without seeing an image of Uluru. Actually, there are probably quite a few Australians in my position, well, not quite because if they can afford to go to Europe then they can certainly afford to go to Uluru. Anyway, the impression that I got from this book is that Bill Bryson absolutely loves Australia, and honestly what is there not to love – sun, sand, wonderful beaches, lovely people, and a developed and peaceful country. Okay, granted, pretty much everything in Australia is out to kill you, and we have pretty much each and every one of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world (not to mention shells that spit poison and jelly fish that make the beaches uninhabitable in the summer), but the thing is that for those of us who live in Australia we just shrug our shoulders, say ‘she’ll be right mate’ and ‘no worries’, and get on with life. Actually, in all my time in Australia I have seen a grand total of two living snakes (which doesn’t count the snake that one of my housemates killed with a mop and tossed over the neighbour’s fence, namely because I wasn’t there to see that spectacle – oh, and my house mate was French). Sure, Australia has its problems, and sure, Australia isn’t anything like the old world with its grand castles, beautiful churches, magnificent works of art, or even a theatre scene that would keep me entranced for months, but that isn’t why people come to Australia. People come to Australia to experience the life style, the wonder, to cruise the harbour, and to visit the beaches. In short, people don’t come to Australia to see things that other people have built, but rather they come to Australia to see nature in all of its glory. That might be saying something considering that around eighty percent of Australia is desert, but outside of that eighty percent you have a variety of landscapes and climate that is very hard to beat. Hey, the United States doesn’t have any tropical rainforests that I’m aware of, nor is there a danger of a kangaroo taking out your car while you are driving down the road. Oh, and if there is anything that describes the Australian lifestyle it is this: I would say that Bryson traveled all over the country, but the thing is that Australia is so huge, and there is so much here to explore, whether it be the struggles of the early explorers and colonists, or simply the natural beauty, that it would be impossible to do in a couple of trips, and from what I gathered from the book he was here for quite a while (which suggests that his wife must be very supportive of him going off and gallivanting around the world). He even has a friend come with him for part of the trip, which added a little spice to his generally solo travels. I guess that is why he finishes off with the Grey Nomads, retirees who sell up, buy a campervan, and simply spend their golden years traveling across the country. There are a couple of things that I probably should mention that come out of this book though, the first being the explorers. I grew up hearing all about the explorers, and in a way, as a kid, they were my heroes. I would be constantly reminded of them, and their routes, when I looked at a map to see the Stuart Highway heading up through the centre of Australia, and the Eyre Highway heading from Adelaide to Perth. However, one thing that has come out about them as I have grown older is how insane they were. There is the story of Burke and Wills, who left Melbourne to find an inland route to the north and were so convinced that there had to be an inland sea that they decided to take everything (and when I say everything, I mean everything), except extra supplies of water. Needless to say that they didn’t make it. Oh, and there was Stuart, who attempted to cross the centre of Australia, almost killed himself, then tried it again with similar results, and if coming to the brink of death twice was not enough, he made a third attempt, which was successful. However, there was an interesting anecdote (I’m not sure of the truth of the story though), that when he wandered into the dead centre he encountered some Aboriginals who greeted him with the Freemason’s greeting, and then proceeded to demonstrate how they knew how to tie a shoelace – clearly he wasn’t the first person to come here, and who these previous travelers were remains a mystery (and no doubt the died in the attempt). Oh, there is also the running joke about drinking urine, namely because when you are dying of thirst you will go to extreme lengths to survive (not that it will actually do any good considering the salt content). Then there is this aspect of Australia that makes it seem forgotten. It is basically at the far flung reaches of the world, further away than pretty much anywhere (well, not as far flung as Tristan da Cunha), surrounded by water, and the only major metropolises lie in the South-Eastern corner of the country. It takes seven hours to fly to Singapore, and no doubt even more to get to Los Angeles. Bryson also makes a quirp as to how nobody actually knows the name of the Prime Minister of Australia (it’s Malcolm Turnbull by the way), nor anything about our politics. However, one interesting titbit he points out is that when he was here there was this case going through court, a defamation case, involving a journalist writing some things about two government ministers, and it just happened that these two ministers had the names Abbott and Costello. Mind you, Tony Abbott did end up being a bit of a joke, going down in history as one of the most disliked Prime Ministers in Australia, and even though he has since been kicked out of the position he still sits there with this absolutely strange belief that the people of Australia actually want him back. I will finish off by speaking about the Aboriginals, who are referred to as Australia’s forgotten people. In reality the are, and our treatment of them is nothing short of shameful. When pretty much hunting them for sport and committing wholesale genocide didn’t work (that is kill off the ones that weren’t killed off by the introduction of European diseases), we then went about confiscating their children and attempting to raise them as Westerners. Well, that didn’t work and now we have his horrendous underclass in the cities (that you rarely see by the way), and communities living in what is in effect third world conditions in the outback – which are also being ravaged by drugs and alcohol, as well as petrol sniffing (though that isn’t anywhere near as bad a problem as it used to be). Bryson seemed to think that they simply lurked in the shadows as people wandered by them without a care in the world, or even acknowledging their existence, but I can assure you that if you encounter a group of them at night, when there is nobody else around, then you will know about it. However, it is true that you rarely, if ever, see one serving behind the counter at a store, or anywhere for that matter. Okay, some of them do land up with decent jobs, but the problem is that there is still a huge amount of prejudice towards them. Yet I remember this one aboriginal I knew at primary school – the only one at school by the way - and he was a wonderful person. I don’t know what happened to him, but I still remember him following me around as I was doing library duties, keen to learn as much as he could.
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    How do I love this book? Let me count the ways...Better yet, read it for yourself and you'll discover your own reasons to love it. I honestly cannot think of one person to whom I would not recommend this book. It's fascinating, funny, and fact-filled. I'd bet even native Aussies could learn a thing or five they didn't know about their country. Australia is an even more interesting place than I thought. Let Bill Bryson give you an entertaining and educational tour. He researched many books and qu How do I love this book? Let me count the ways...Better yet, read it for yourself and you'll discover your own reasons to love it. I honestly cannot think of one person to whom I would not recommend this book. It's fascinating, funny, and fact-filled. I'd bet even native Aussies could learn a thing or five they didn't know about their country. Australia is an even more interesting place than I thought. Let Bill Bryson give you an entertaining and educational tour. He researched many books and questioned many people in preparation for his visits to Australia. The book covers Australia's history, natural wonders and weather patterns, a whole host of deadly critters found nowhere else in the world, some really bizarre people both past and present, and his own hilarious and harrowing experiences Down Under. All explored and recorded with a childlike sense of wonder and a funny man's sense of the absurd.How much do I love this book? I actually cut back on reading it when I got near the end because I loved it so much I didn't want to finish!
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  • Terri
    January 1, 1970
    An entertaining book in so many ways and I would recommend it to anyone. Sadly, I had some issues with the author that come from my being an Aussie and with him for being a bullshitter.Of course, considering my origins, I should like to read a book by a first class bullshitter, seeing as Aussies are renowned for their special abilities in that department. However, in this book he is trying to pass his fabrications off as truth and I don't like that at all.Not everything you read in this book is An entertaining book in so many ways and I would recommend it to anyone. Sadly, I had some issues with the author that come from my being an Aussie and with him for being a bullshitter.Of course, considering my origins, I should like to read a book by a first class bullshitter, seeing as Aussies are renowned for their special abilities in that department. However, in this book he is trying to pass his fabrications off as truth and I don't like that at all.Not everything you read in this book is true and Bryson elaborates a lot in an effort just to be funny. So, if you go into this book remembering that not everything is as it seems, then maybe you will enjoy the ride and come out the other end not disliking my country.A final comment...I had an ENORMOUS issue with the disrespect Bill Bryson showed to the Aboriginal nation. He portrated them as brainless victms moving about on the peripheral of white society. A large portion of the aboriginal people are proud and very aware if who they are and their history. Bryson buys into the aboriginal issue half heartedly basing his opinions on a few points given him by second or third hand. He casts opinions about the 'poor' aboriginals and yet never took himself to an aboriginal community or visited any aboriginal and Islander schools or heritage centres. He visited an aboriginal museum in Alice Springs, and then proceeded to be critical and obnoxious about there only being photos of relics on display not real relics. Real relics aren't on display for cultural reasons, but he didn't seem to respect that. It was just another thing for Bryson to mock.I nearly gave the book 2 stars, and now I am finishing this review I am wondering why I didn't, but I must remember that there is some entertainment to be had in this book. I just wish he didn't provide entertainment at expense of others so much.
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  • Tiffany
    January 1, 1970
    Like most Americans, I have never really given much thought to Australia. It's an island where the seasons are backwards, there's a famous opera house, my ex husband's ex girlfriend is expating it up there, and there are loads of gorgeous men running around shirtless, drinking Fosters and saying "No worries, mate" in a delicious Crocodile Dundee sort of accent. Nothing too exciting, right?Wrong! Australia is fascinating, and Bill Bryson has done an excellent job of telling us why. This book touc Like most Americans, I have never really given much thought to Australia. It's an island where the seasons are backwards, there's a famous opera house, my ex husband's ex girlfriend is expating it up there, and there are loads of gorgeous men running around shirtless, drinking Fosters and saying "No worries, mate" in a delicious Crocodile Dundee sort of accent. Nothing too exciting, right?Wrong! Australia is fascinating, and Bill Bryson has done an excellent job of telling us why. This book touches on a little bit of everything; history, politics, people, geology, geography, biology ... It's all quite interesting. I, for one, had no idea that Australia teemed with such an amazing and unique class of flora and fauna. Or that so many of them can kill you in their own special way.I also had no earthly idea that Australia is so enormous. It is truly, truly massive. Stunningly so. After reading this book, I really want to travel to Australia at some point. It's now on my top five list of places to vacation. And I never would have known about it if Bill Bryson hadn't traveled through it so thoroughly and written about it so eloquently.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    In a Sunburned Country is what it is. Pure Bryson all the way and I loved every minute of it. It is not meant to be a scholarly course on Australia history but it is informative and fun. Considering Bryson's repeated mention of the many things that can kill you and the possibility of drinking your own urine, it's a wonder that we come away with a desire to see Australia for ourselves. But we do. Along with Bryson's familiar humor, he manages to capture the vastness of the land, the people, the d In a Sunburned Country is what it is. Pure Bryson all the way and I loved every minute of it. It is not meant to be a scholarly course on Australia history but it is informative and fun. Considering Bryson's repeated mention of the many things that can kill you and the possibility of drinking your own urine, it's a wonder that we come away with a desire to see Australia for ourselves. But we do. Along with Bryson's familiar humor, he manages to capture the vastness of the land, the people, the diversity of nature, the beauty of this country. He wraps it up so well in his quote:"Australia is an interesting place, it truly is and really is all I'm saying."Enough said. This is an entertaining read, it truly is, just saying.
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  • Bionic Jean
    January 1, 1970
    Alternatively titled "Down Under", this is Bill Bryson's take on Australia. Very funny in his own quirky way. I found myself learning about parts of Australia unknown to me (as well as discovering many new aspects of this huge continent) while being entertained in a very amusing way.
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  • Jessaka
    January 1, 1970
    This time around Bryson kind of meets Australians, heads into a few pubs, wanders about the cities, complains, makes jokes and has some serious fears of Australia’s nature. He is right, Australia has the most poisonous critters on earth, and he names them, while I sat and wondered how the Australians managed to make it all these years without being poisoned, without dying. Many probably did. Well, according to some articles online they don’t die from venom much anymore because they have anti-ven This time around Bryson kind of meets Australians, heads into a few pubs, wanders about the cities, complains, makes jokes and has some serious fears of Australia’s nature. He is right, Australia has the most poisonous critters on earth, and he names them, while I sat and wondered how the Australians managed to make it all these years without being poisoned, without dying. Many probably did. Well, according to some articles online they don’t die from venom much anymore because they have anti-venom. I wondered if they carried suitcases of it when they went into the Outback, different kinds of venom for each poisonous creature. After reading, I see that people die more from car accidents there, but I imagine that if they ran into a kangaroo they could get kicked to death. And so I asked my sister if she knew any Australians, and she did. She emailed him, giving him my questions, so I received some fun answers, and then I decided that if you are in the Outback with no cell phone coverage, and you get bitten by a poisonous critter, then you just die, unless someone comes by to help you. Here is what my sister’s friend said, and I must say it was the most interesting part of this book even though it wasn't in the book: “we have 6 of the top 10 most venomous snakes on earth, including the top 2. if u were in the middle of absolute nowhere and got bitten..ur probably gonna have a bad time, but u would also just be airlifted lol and snakes dont like attack u lol they bite u if u mess with them lol. i have the poisonous ones in my back yard. You would actively have to be looking for something to bite u, like run into the bushes and step on something. I don’t see snakes when camping, and I have only seen two spiders that can kill you. I have had snakes in my house; two of my cats were killed by snakes. Had one cat that kill three. Spiders are also crappy little things that die if u step on them…I have big spiders in my house, but they are chill…daddy long legs are a living cobweb. if u swim in the 2 states that have crocs..u will be eaten haha. snakebites usually make the news here, it doesnt really happen much. ”I have always wondered why man couldn’t get rid of the poisonous creatures, but I suppose they breed too fast and are hard to find, which means that it is rare for someone to run into one, get bitten, and die, just as my sister’s friend had said. But Bryson is drawn to them, at least in word, so we can rest assured that he will be alive to write another book. And what about those rabbits that they have that just keep multiplying. Maybe we can send them some coyotes.As I continued to read on in this book, I came to a comment that he made that struck me as odd because it really applied to the first half of this book, and so I will capitalize which part does:“As I sat at the bar now I pulled out my one-volume history of Australia by Manny Clark and dutifully plowed into it. I had only about thirty pages left and I WOULD BE LESS THAN CANDID IF I DIDN’T TELL YOU THAT I COULDN’T WAIT TO HAVE MR. CLARK AND HIS EXTRAVAGANT DRONING OUT OF MY LIFE FOREVER.” And so that was how I feel about Bryson’s almost arm chair travel book, which is where I think most of his writing of Australian history comes from, reading in the bars, instead of spending time exploring, like digging around in the bushes looking for those poisonous critters just to see them. Well, that would be a bad idea; it sounds like something I would do.I had put the book down about 4 times in my own travels through it, but then it picked up some. He talked some about the history of the Aboriginals, and how they were treated, then he went to see where the great outlaw Ned Kelly hid out, and next he went on Great Barrier Reef tour, where he began having more fears, this time of “sharks, boxfish, scorpion fish, stinging corals, and sea snakes, and groupers.” I would also have those fears. And then as he got out of the pontoon boat and into the water, he feared drowning. At least he got out of the boat and into the water. He wrote: “I discovered that I was perhaps sixty feet above the bottom. I had never been in water this deep before and it was unexpectedly unnerving…then my mask and snorkel filled with water and I started choking.” He got back in the boat, and I am not putting him down for this, because I never learned to swim well either and find deep water to panic me. I remember snorkeling in a lagoon in the Yucatan, and while I was having fun seeing the colorful tropical fish, I looked up and found that I was heading out to sea. I didn’t panic, thank God, instead I swam sideways to get back, and if it had not been for the duck feet that I was wearing, I would have drowned.
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    I almost forgot how much fun it is to read books about foreign countries and cultures. As soon as opened In a Sunburned Country, memories of reading travelogues about U.S. rushed back to me. Oh, how amazed I was those years ago to learn that apparently many Americans put their T-shirts on to swim in the pool and wear extra underwear underneath their swimming trucks (I am originally from one of those speedo countries) or that to go to a school dance you just have to have a boy-friend who is oblig I almost forgot how much fun it is to read books about foreign countries and cultures. As soon as opened In a Sunburned Country, memories of reading travelogues about U.S. rushed back to me. Oh, how amazed I was those years ago to learn that apparently many Americans put their T-shirts on to swim in the pool and wear extra underwear underneath their swimming trucks (I am originally from one of those speedo countries) or that to go to a school dance you just have to have a boy-friend who is obligated to bring you a corsage or that American toilets already have water in them so that when you... no, I am not going to elaborate on this one. What I am getting at is that Bill Bryson's book about Australia is full of entertaining facts like that plus more - he also introduces a lot of information about history of Australia, its landscape, nature, etc. Basically, tons of information for us, people completely unfamiliar with this distant country, to finally learn something, anything about it beyond what's written in The Thorn Birds.What especially stood out for me:1) Australia in fact was originally forcefully populated by criminals from England (Kat wasn't joking).2) The country/continent is a dangerous place where you can expect to be poisoned by any insect and jelly fish or eaten by a crocodile.3) Australians love building big things in the shapes of other things - Big Lobster, for instance (once again, Kat wasn't kidding in her Giant Mango review)4) How Aborigines found their way to the continent of Australia tens of thousands years ago is still a mystery and they weren't even considered people worthy of being mentioned on Australian census up until 1970s.5) Non-whites weren't allowed to immigrate to Australia until the same 1970s.... and much much more.All in all, Bill Bryson succeeds in drawing a comprehensive picture of Australia, a vast, unexplored, beautiful, dangerous, young, distant country with some unattractive spots in its past (and maybe present).
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  • Ran
    January 1, 1970
    Bill Bryson drives through the bush in Australia and gives his follow passengers a rundown of why he loves this country-continent, including some interesting and outright silly tidbits on history, culture, and wildlife. Having never been and not an expert myself, I wonder how much of this information (published from 2000) is dated now - not the historical parts, but rather his perspective on Australians circa 2000. At times, Bryson seems to think that Australians are aliens (like the space kind, Bill Bryson drives through the bush in Australia and gives his follow passengers a rundown of why he loves this country-continent, including some interesting and outright silly tidbits on history, culture, and wildlife. Having never been and not an expert myself, I wonder how much of this information (published from 2000) is dated now - not the historical parts, but rather his perspective on Australians circa 2000. At times, Bryson seems to think that Australians are aliens (like the space kind, not the illegal kind ... which in a way, white Australians sort of were aliens in being illegal (criminal) immigrants). I don't think of Australians as alien ... I mostly think of them as Southern Hemisphere Canadians. Two countries that were (are?) part of the same Commonwealth and share folkways/traditions in opposite hemispheres ... one has bears and moose, the other has crocs and boxer jellyfish. Same diff, right? (I like both Australians and Canadians and envy their general likability.) However, I do wish he'd spent more time on Aboriginals ... and perhaps a bit a little less flip about that. Be flip about killer spiders, snakes, stingrays, jellies, etc. Maybe don't be flip about racial relations. Then again, this is Bill Bryson. I get it. I'll go find additional reading for myself. Also, can we talk about Bryson's voice? His American r's and British t's and the mix and jumble drive me crazy. Can anyone else narrate his audiobooks? His voice is not meant to be.
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  • Kaethe Douglas
    January 1, 1970
    In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson What Bill Bryson taught me about Australia: everything wants to kill you, whether or not it is animate, let alone conscious.Everything. And all of the critters are weird, many adorably so. We’re big on quakkas at my house. And Bryson is at his funniest describing a deep and embarrassing sleep he fell into. Oh, and the country is too damn big to see more than just a tiny bit, especially since the most inhabited parts, that is, the cities, are all dotted along In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson What Bill Bryson taught me about Australia: everything wants to kill you, whether or not it is animate, let alone conscious.Everything. And all of the critters are weird, many adorably so. We’re big on quakkas at my house. And Bryson is at his funniest describing a deep and embarrassing sleep he fell into. Oh, and the country is too damn big to see more than just a tiny bit, especially since the most inhabited parts, that is, the cities, are all dotted along the perimeter, and the middle is all desolate wasteland filled with dragons. No, wait, the dragons were from Novik.When I got to that description of Bryson sleeping, I felt compelled to read some aloud to Veronica. When she later read the same book, she was compelled to read part of that aloud to me.This might be an important finding about compatibility, or humor, or something.August 10,2000
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  • Daniel Chaikin
    January 1, 1970
    I really picked this audiobook only because I thought it would be mildly interesting and entertaining enough for my commute. It hadn't really occurred to me to be all that interested in an overview of Australia. But I have basically cleaned my library out of audiobooks I might want to listen to. So, on the good, after opening with much real but mindlessly entertaining humor, the book did later bring me onboard. Bryson is Bryson and he can make stuff you didn't care all that much about become rea I really picked this audiobook only because I thought it would be mildly interesting and entertaining enough for my commute. It hadn't really occurred to me to be all that interested in an overview of Australia. But I have basically cleaned my library out of audiobooks I might want to listen to. So, on the good, after opening with much real but mindlessly entertaining humor, the book did later bring me onboard. Bryson is Bryson and he can make stuff you didn't care all that much about become really interesting. I picture him having a tough time figuring how to go about this book, how to write a travel book that isn't really a travel book. First throw in as much humor as possible and then eventually stumble into substance. Anyway, that is what he seems to have done and it works. That bad is that, after all this very interesting and sometimes wonderful stuff, he sidesteps the Australian Aboriginal issue. Of course it's a thorny issue and something rather complicated and negative for what is supposed to be a fun and non-controversial book. But, it felt like a great mistake, like the whole book became somehow half effort all because he couldn't figure out his way in. Did he try and just encounter too many problems? Did he decide that at 1.5% of the population maybe they aren't such a big deal? I don't know and wish he had found a better answer.
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  • Jayme
    January 1, 1970
    Man, did I ever hate this book. Someone is paying this guy to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world and all he can do is bitch and moan about it. I get that he's trying to be funny, but he comes off as a prentious douchebag instead. And it's particilarly in-your-face in his self-narrated audiobook. He speaks with quite a condescending tone, going on and on about how backwater everyone is and how quaint it is that they're all stuck in 1958.(view spoiler)[For example, early on in Man, did I ever hate this book. Someone is paying this guy to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world and all he can do is bitch and moan about it. I get that he's trying to be funny, but he comes off as a prentious douchebag instead. And it's particilarly in-your-face in his self-narrated audiobook. He speaks with quite a condescending tone, going on and on about how backwater everyone is and how quaint it is that they're all stuck in 1958.(view spoiler)[For example, early on in the book, Bryson gets a chance to go boogie boarding in a gorgeos, ecologically diverse ocean. Instead of being so freaking excited that he's going to see some amazing sea creatures and plants, he whines about the "dangers" of rip tides, sharks, and poisonous jellyfish. As if he isn't on a super well funded tour with guides and zero need to worry about anything other than how awesome his life is. Example two. Bryson is looking for something to eat. Instead of doing some research and finding somewhere interesting, unique, and Australian to eat, he decides to ask some teenagers on the side of the road where he can go to get some Italian or Thai food. There are so many reasons this is just wrong. Then when the teenagers inevitably tell him where the closest McDonald's or whatever is (they're fucking teenagers, what did you expect?) he actually blames the town for not having anywhere decent to eat!Example three is just plain funny and shows how fake Bryson is. He ends up at a pet shop, that also happens to be a porn shop. Bryson goes on and on about how he's only checking out the back of the store to be thorough in his "research" and how he would never visit such a place in America. I'm onto you Bryson, they know by name at your local Adult Source. Admit it! (hide spoiler)]So publishers of Bryson, if you're sick of the stupid, whiny, little bitch you hired and want someone who would be so happy to work for you for almost nothing if you will send me to beautiful places, then I'm your lady!
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