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Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  319 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A New England-born author and journalist describes his nine-month, ten-thousand-mile journey through Australia by bicycle, detailing the cattle stations, mining towns, Aboriginal communities, rain forests, deserts, and other sights of the Australian Outback.
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by National Geographic (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 876)
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Mark Allen
Oct 22, 2008 Mark Allen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: armchair travelers
Roff first covered his trip around Australia in a three part series in National Geographic a few years ago. It was a find to discover he had written an entire book on his journey since cycling around a country roughly the size of the United States should produce more material than just three magazine articles. It's not quite the same prose either, so if you did read these articles, you're not reading a reprint.

"Cold Beer and Crocodiles" is a poor title, especially when Smith's account proves the
Oct 20, 2014 Chrisl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, australia, 2000s
Among the top ten travel books I've read ... having hitch-hiked in back and forth across Australia in the 1960s, including some of the roads Roff rode, I'm grateful for his clearly portrayed images of Aus, particularly the southwest coast, the forested area around Albany.

A quote:

"Aborigines long ago adopted, in everyday life, Albert Einstein's simplest yet most profound theorem: All time is now. The unassailable philosophical common sense of this can be infuriating to those who live by the clo
Apr 01, 2011 Doug rated it it was amazing
This was one of the great book discoveries of a lifetime. I had stumbled upon the series of National Geographic magazines years ago in which Mr. Smith's articles first appeared and loved them. I thought that the idea of riding a bicycle around Australia, or anywhere for that matter, sounded great. I had no idea that he had turned the articles into a book until finding it by chance while looking for other books on Australia. What a treat! The author captures the vastness of Australia's outback in ...more
Oct 02, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: cycling
Author describes nine months spent riding counter-clockwise around Australia on a bike. An American ex-pat resident in Australia, he probably says less than most such travelers about the country because he had lived there so long. The "bike" aspect mostly means that he travels slowly and has experiences which he then describes. It isn't much about the bike although there is certainly an endurance aspect to his travels through some pretty extreme conditions.

The title is silly - crocodiles are men
Scott Bischke
Aug 01, 2015 Scott Bischke rated it really liked it
Recommended to Scott by: Jeff & Molly King
Roff Smith was a US ex-pat writer living in Sydney through the 1990s. He quits it all--don't we all do that (OK, or want to do that) at some point?!--and pedals off to circumvent Australia. Smith starts with a small amount of bike touring knowledge, but a large desire to learn about Australia beyond the big cities.

Fine writing, enjoyable stories about life on the road with a bike, stories of people and kindness and discovery, stories that anyone who's ever been on a bike tour will recognize and
Mar 26, 2012 Michael rated it liked it
Despite its idiotic title, Cold Beer and Crocodiles is worth it. It definitely has the same pitfalls as other travel narratives: too wordy, pointless stories, angsty introspection, etc. But Roff Smith does better than most for these pitfalls. And the other, more obvious reason you should read this book is that he circumnavigated Australia on a bicycle. Pretty badass.

One of my favorite passages from the book:

The highway west of Camooweal, however, took the concepts of empty, lonely, and bleak to
Stephen Case
Sep 20, 2013 Stephen Case rated it liked it
I first met Roff Smith in Northwestern Australia, as he was in the middle of his bike trip around the continent. Not in person, of course. I read one of his National Geographic articles among some back issues shelved at my folks' house. But I recently finished Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, and Bryson was right: this was an incredible place that I needed to learn more about. I recalled Smith's articles and wondered if they were collected into a book. A bit of searching, an interlibrary loan, a ...more
Jul 21, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, 100-in-2010
I bought Cold Beer and Crocodiles a few years ago and it sat on my shelf collecting dust, ever since. This book was fun. Journalist quits his job, buys a bike, rides around the coast of Australia, end of book. In between, he meets a lot of people, gets injured and sunburned, and sees a lot of the country. It's not, contrary to the subtitle, a journey INTO Australia - he stays on the outside. But most of the people live on the outside, so it works. I thought he managed to make it less of a diary ...more
Stephen Gallup
Jun 24, 2008 Stephen Gallup rated it liked it
As someone who's done a wee bit of traveling in Oz, and as a veteran of a long bicycle odyssey in bygone times (nowhere near as ambitious as the author's), I found this account very enjoyable. I learned something about parts of Australia I haven't seen, appreciated the parade of colorful characters encountered along the way, and was reminded of the toil involved in daily cross-country riding. The latter aspect can become repetitive -- tiring not only for the rider but also to some extent for tho ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of travel books, bicycle lovers
Recommended to Mike by: no one...found on a list
Shelves: travel, cycle-touring
I only know about Australia from what I've see on TV or the occasional book...this book by Roff Smith definitely arouses my curiosity as the land down under might be a place to visit one day.

This title is about the author's quest to ride (by bicycle) around Australia and hit all the major areas...he talks of his day to day adventures whether its on the road or perhaps at a stop along the way, thanks to some good Samaratin who offers a place to sleep.

You read of the many seasons of the continent
Michael Donlan
Jul 07, 2012 Michael Donlan rated it really liked it
This was the first travel book that I have read. I usually have a hard time finishing a book. However, I knew that this was a good one because I couldn't put it down. It wasn't just a book to read before going to bed; I actually carried it with me in case I got a spare moment to read. Not only did the author entertain me with his description of many popular & off-the-beaten path locations in Australia, but his mode of travel was out of the ordinary. This journalist rode his bike around Austr ...more
Derek Tepe
Feb 23, 2016 Derek Tepe rated it really liked it
"Is it a friendly Universe?"

Roff Smith ponders this question near the end of his almost-10,000 miles bicycle journey around Australia, following a miserable week of fevers and roadhouse hostility that was ultimately saved by a kind and generous family who took him in at his absolute worst. Like other well-known journeys of this type, the scenery takes a backseat to the people encountered along the way. The Australian outback presented Smith with a cast of memorable characters throughout his jour
Nov 16, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially once he gets past Cairns and all the places I'm already familiar with. While I knew that Australia is fairly unpopulated outside the east coast stretch between Sydney/Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, this book really brought to light how many truly barren places there are in that country. I was also amazed at the extremes of the weather/landscape (100+ temperatures, huge storms, etc). Not sure I have it in my to bike around the country, but I wou ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Ron rated it really liked it
A well crafted journey that could have been dull if not written by a talented writer.
I now want to visit Darwin.
Artūrs Andžs
Jul 07, 2014 Artūrs Andžs rated it it was amazing
Sāku lasīt padsmito reizi desmit gadu laikā. Šī ir mana viena no lielās iedvesmas grāmatām. Iesaku arī jums. Par amerikāņu čali-žurnālistu, kurš vienatnē ar divriteni apbrauca apkārt Austrālijai pēc tam, kad tur duci gadu jau bija nostrādājis ietekmīga ASV žurnāla ārzemju redakcijā un vienā dienā saprata, ka garo gadu laikā šo zemi patiesībā nemaz nepazīst.
May 04, 2014 Meg rated it it was amazing
Loved every minute of this journey around Australia's coast and volatile outback.
Feb 20, 2015 'Lana rated it really liked it
Inspirational. Something we can all aspire to.
Jan 11, 2014 Cygny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, not-finished
OK, it started out rather ok, but not far into the book, I just thought it was an endless list of things he didn't like and it felt as if he was constantly whining. There may have been some good parts, but for me, there were so many other parts that it just outweighed the good bits. I skipped through the book in the hopes of it getting better, but it didn't seem to. So I ended up just putting it down and am not going to spend more time at it. There should be a not-finished status next to the rea ...more
Tim Kelley
Nov 03, 2015 Tim Kelley rated it really liked it
Great cycle touring adventure book.
Apr 17, 2015 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, place
Wonderful read. Gave me a great sense of the vastness and personalities of Australia. I appreciated the author's descriptive abilities that he used more to describe the landscape than his inner workings. Too many memoir and travel writers are self-centered to a fault. He was not.
May 16, 2012 Jeanne rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I consider myself a bicycle enthusiast, but the author's 10,000 mile bike trip around Australia seems more than daunting. He averaged 100 miles each day. If I ever rode 100 miles in one day, the last thought I'd have the next day, is let's do that again, every day, for the next six months. Many of the miles were hot, dusty and lonely. He met some of the most welcoming and generous people along the way. He fought wind, heat, dust and drenching storms. And he enjoyed the trip. ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Irene rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I need to 'fess up that I am biased- I am an Aussie and Roff writes about places and lifestyles dear to my heart!
He writes in a very amusing, honest descriptive (but not overly so) manner about his 10000 mile pushbike (get used to the Aussie slang!) ride around Oz. I love the way he includes Aussie literature - nostalgic for me and probably new and interesting for a lot of other people....
I was rooting for him all the way! Good on ya Mate!
Velimir Randic
Jan 03, 2012 Velimir Randic rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
A slow start to a mammoth undertaking of circumnavigating Australia by bike. After all's said and done, with one major mishap along the way, 10,000 miles and 10 months have gone by. An intersting way to really see a country and sometimes an ordeal completed more for the sake of doing it than doing it for the pure enjoyment. An interesting travelogue nonetheless!
Dec 19, 2010 Watashi rated it really liked it
I read this several years ago, a page turner, but the story is still stuck in my mind. An expariate moves to australia, has a really nice job. He quits his job quite suddenly after telling his friends that he is going to bike around the entire country of australia and they laugh about it and don't believe him. He does and this is his story.
Mr. Wakiki
Mar 12, 2016 Mr. Wakiki rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Very good travel book about people and travel.. not as much a travelogue though.

I think Australia to be an interesting country that I am not so interested in going to. Though the author speaks highly of the Australians, he interactions with them show many to be either racist or just not very friendly.
Feb 11, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Reading made me want to try a long-haul bike trip for myself (we'll see if that ever actually happens). I was a little disoriented by the quick chapters at first, but it makes perfect sense, as most of the stops on Smith's trek are relatively short ones and he covers distance at a good clip.
Finished this one in three days. Amazing account of a bicyclist touring the perimeters of the harsh conditions Down Under. I remembered reading a 3-part cyclist tour of Australia in National Geographic a few years ago. Brought back memories of that adventure. Highly recommend this book!
Sandra Heinzman
Mar 29, 2013 Sandra Heinzman rated it it was amazing
My second favorite bicycling adventure book. I learned so much about Australia reading it. (My favorite is Miles from Nowhere Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage by Barbara Savage).
Diane Nagatomo
Jan 18, 2012 Diane Nagatomo rated it really liked it
This is the second time I've read this book--the first time was before living in Australia for a year. This time it was more fun to read the book because I had a much better mental image of Australia. I give it 4 stars because it brings back some good memories of my year there!
Jul 17, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, australia
A fantastic look at an Australia that few tourists, much less citizens get to see and experience. The author cicumnavigates Austalia on a bike, and sees all that makes Australia unique. He also meets some wonderful people along the way.[return]This is a fantastic read.
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