Bill Bryson always combines interesting facts about his destinations with humor to make his travel journals both fun and informative. Though In a Sunburned Country was written a number of years ago, I wanted to read it because Australia is to me, like many people that that I talk to, a destination to which I would like to travel. I am not sure whether Bryson diminished or enhanced that wish. This book is probably much like Australia itself…wonderful sections separated by long stretches of barren landscape.
Bryson describes beautiful scenes separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles through god-forsaken country. I think that were I to attempt to see some of my favorite areas highlighted by the author, my stay would have to exceed four weeks of which half would be spent on Australia’s highways. I am not sure that is terribly attractive.
“The great virtue about driving through a great deal of emptiness is that when you come to anything – anything at all – that might be called a diversion, you get disproportionately excited. In midafternoon we saw a signpost for something called the Devils Marbles and, with the briefest exchange of glances, followed a side road a mile or so to a parking area. And there we saw something really quite fabulous.”
Author Bryson immerses himself so thoroughly in his travels and provides many potential sites that I now add to my list of places to visit if/when I get down under. Many would list The Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House as must see locations. One place that would be on my list is Uluru (Ayers Rock) which Bryson describes in an almost mystical fashion,
“There, in the middle of a memorable and imposing emptiness, stands an eminence of exceptional nobility and grandueur, 1,150 feet high, a mile and a half long, five and a half miles around…more arresting than you could ever have supposed…you know this rock…Your knowledge of this rock is grounded in something much more elemental.”
If you really want to experience Australia, In A Sunburned Country should be part of you planning literature.