Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bill. As a proud Australian, it has been a never-ending source of irritation that Australia is forever portrayed as a land of beer-swilling "yobbos" who say "cobber" and "fair dinkum" rather a lot. For instance, 'The Simpsons' - usually such a witty, clever and insightful show - completely missed the point in their Australian episode. Finally, someone has managed to capture a bit of the character of this great country. He releases it from the shackles of the Paul Hogan stereotype.This is a terrific read. Bryson has, mercifully, gone well and truly off the beaten track to explore many different parts of Australia - the cities, the outback, the tropics, and everything else in between. But as ever with a Bill Bryson book, more than the destination itself, the pleasure is in getting there. Laugh-out-loud moments abound, though perhaps more in the restrained way of "A Walk in the Woods", as... read more
Another Bryson winner
By saliero - June 14, 2000
I am an unreserved Bryson fan. I love "Made In America" about the English language, and, as an Australian living in England for an extended time, thought he captured perfectly both the expat experience, and the endearing and irritating qualities of the Brits in "Notes from a small island" . This book is factually correct. That might sound inane, but there is nothing more irritating than reading about your own place and finding it tritely stereotypical or factually incorrect. Bill scores well on both counts.Bill's take on the Australian Prime Minister of the day (a small, invisible and colourless entity) is a reasonably brave thing to say in a sense - an outsider commenting on a political identity invites derision, but he captures the essence of the man so well.The other special moment for me is his discovery of cricket on the radio...when all other stations fade out to static, there is the mighty game. Somehow or other, despite writing nonsense... read more
Very informative and quite funny
By Brian D. Rubendall - July 24, 2000
Bill Bryson has an excellent way with words, especially with his descriptive writing. For a travel writer, I suppose this is a must. He's also a humorist, and I laughed out loud on at least a half a dozen occasions while enjoying his adventures down under. Particularly amusing were his descriptions of a Cricket match, of a particularly bad hotel in Darwin and and of a drunken night in the Outback. He also gives a fine overall view of Austrailia, of which he covered much, but alas not nearly as much as he wanted. Though some might gripe that he spends too much time ruminating over the poisonous wildlife and looking for a cold beer, overall this is an exceptionally fun book to read. He includes many historical facts about Australia and even devotes some space to the unfortunate condition of the Aborigines. But not too much to spoil the fun. Bryson's travel writings remind me of an apolitical P.J. O'Rourke, and for that he's worth a read.