Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

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Australia has more things that can kill you than anywhere else. Nevertheless, Bill Bryson journeyed to the country and promptly fell in love with it. The people are cheerful, their cities are clean, the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines.These evocative descriptions of Australia and its lifestyle are accurate and interesting. Facts, figures, history, extent and division of territories, flora and fauna; how they look, how deadly or how tame they are, and how many of them exist, will stir exciting memories for those who have been Down Under and paint a precise picture in the mind for those who haven’t.

Events, how people look and what they say are recorded faithfully and with master of observation Bill Bryson’s wonderful facility for making you laugh out loud, there are plenty of reasons for doing so. His running commentary on a radio broadcast cricket match, a game about which he knows nothing, is brilliantly inventive. There’s not a single actual word or expression associated with the game but the nuance is stunning. Spiky conversations with his English producer friend as they drive to Ayres Rock, the sighting of a rotary clothes-line in the depths of the outback, confrontations with receptionists and waiters, a beer-drinking man at the bar of the Nambucca telling him “Dining room’s closed mate. The chef’s crook. Must have ate some of his own cooking” and a full tuckerbag more, are entertainingly, albeit rather hastily, delivered by the reader. —Running time 3 hours

— Lyn Took

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