In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

I wasn’t as fond of this travel book by Bill Bryson. Granted I’ve only read one of his others, but at least it was more about the place he was traveling rather than reading like a fact book on the place.

This time Bryson is in Australia traveling across and up and down and around the great island continent. He visits such places as Ayer’s Rock (Uluru), the Great Barrier Reef, and other famous locales. He also stays at some small towns and travels through the wide desert expanse by car. Bryson doesn’t leave cities out either. He visits most of the big ones and comments on their park areas and accommodations, and sometimes even their food (or lack of places to eat). I was particularly excited when he mentioned visiting an area that had gigantic worms (up to twelve feet long) as I had never heard of such a thing before.

This book though is mostly about Bryson himself. Indeed, he leaves out a great portion of describing Australia and in turn replaces it with what sort of drink he had at a certain place or other details I really couldn’t care about. The people he describes are mostly ok, but almost seem caricatures of real people. He almost seems to be fairer to the animals of Australia.

For a travel book this read more like a reference book. In between explaining what beer he had or where he stayed it was filled with history and facts about Australia. While normally this isn’t a bad thing, the result here was that the book was very boring at parts and I had to struggle to keep myself from skimming ahead. While Bryson claims to like Australia, there was a lot of negative in the book and I just didn’t enjoy reading it. Nor did it make me want to travel there someday. I would have liked to have read more about the scenery or had more detail on the attractions he visited.

Not his best, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t really recommend this one to anyone.

In a Sunburned Country
Copyright 2000
304 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2011

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