“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.”
Every time I read this book it reawakens in me a longing to visit Australia. I want to see literally every place Bill Bryson visits. I can’t get enough information about the animals and plants (whenever I reread it, my Google search history is full of tingle trees, potoroos, cassowaries, and box jellyfish). What is it like to ride on the Indian Pacific, or see the Great Barrier Reef, or visit Uluru? What’s it like to live in Perth, the most remote big city in the world (I’m so obsessed with Perth)? Is Canberra REALLY as boring as Bryson says? And are there seriously six foot long earthworms in Victoria? Australia is fascinating and there is still so much there that is unknown. It’s an exciting place.
I love this book because Bryson’s enthusiasm for Australia is infectious. I’d never really thought much about Australia before reading it, but he succeeds in making it a place you’re dying to go. I read a lot of nonfiction, but I think this is the only book where I’ve ever gone through the bibliography and made a reading list.
There are a few quibbles–it was written almost 20 years ago, so some of the science stuff is out of date. I think more of the book could be devoted to Indigenous Australians. But other than that, I love this book. I’ve read it a million times and I’m never bored by it.