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Down Under

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  78,242 ratings  ·  5,023 reviews
Alternative cover editions for this ISBN can be found here, here, here and here

As his many British fans already know, bearded Yankee butterball Bill Bryson specialises in going to countries we think we know well, only to return with travelogues that are surprisingly cynical and yet shockingly affectionate. It's a unique style, possibly best suited to the world's weirder de
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Paperback, 394 pages
Published August 6th 2001 by Black Swan (first published June 18th 2000)
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Allan Langdale Yes, same book. I first experienced this book as a book on tape, read by Bryson himself. It was just fantastic. I liked it so much I wanted to go…moreYes, same book. I first experienced this book as a book on tape, read by Bryson himself. It was just fantastic. I liked it so much I wanted to go through it all as a book as well. I would say that it's still my favorite travel book by Bryson. You learn so much about this unique country's history, geology, politics, and natural history; and yet it's so much fun to read. Reading this book inspired me to write my own travel book. (less)
Wm. A. "A Walk in the Woods" is funnier - I remember it as almost a pure humor book, utterly hilarious. I found "In a Sunburned Country" to be more of a…more"A Walk in the Woods" is funnier - I remember it as almost a pure humor book, utterly hilarious. I found "In a Sunburned Country" to be more of a straight book highlighting many notable features of Australia, with quite a few good laughs thrown in. So it's either better or not as good, depending on what you're looking for. (less)

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Miranda Reads
Lovely little adventure a la Bill Bryson
No one knows, incidentally, why Australia's spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space.
What an absolutely stunning endorsement. As with his other traveling books, Bill Bryson hip hops his way across a country - visiting monuments and interviewing natives.

We meet quirky ch
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Jason Koivu
I love Bill Bryson. Yep, it's a full-blown, one-sided bromance. Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it (he did and I did)! So, when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia, I knew I'd found my next good read!

In a Sunburned Country takes in the Land Down-Under, from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings. You expect and get a look at modern Australia, its UK-c
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Jeff
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Bryson never seems to use the same approach to each of his books. Is this book going to be snarky Bill? Is this going to be funny Bill? Is this going to be funny, yet informative Bill? Is this going to be snarky, yet informative Bill? I could go on, but my hands would start to cramp up with the unlimited combinations.

This one is reverential, informative, and mostly self-effacing humor Bill. Bill loves Australians, but he hates the fact that the country is over-run with hordes of killer spec
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Martine
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I developed a taste for Bill Bryson last year when I read his Short History of Nearly Everything, an ambitious attempt to trace the history of life, the universe and everything in just 574 pages. While many of the scientific discoveries outlined in the book were a little beyond me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's descriptions of the larger-than-life personalities behind the discoveries, which really brought the science described to life. So when I found out that he had also written a travelogue of ...more
Collette
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that yearn to see the world.
Shelves: history
Ok! First of all I'm here to tell you that non-fiction is normally not my bag. I think I got this book because I forgot to send in the "do not send" notice in a book club. That said..... I'm soooo happy that I didn't and I "made" myself read this. OMG!!! I lost track of how many times I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and how many smiles and chuckles it rang out of me!
This is a book about Bryson's trips (I believe he combines a few trips to "Oz" into this one book) to the
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Andrew Smith
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having travelled briefly through parts of Queensland and New South Wales several years ago, I'd been waiting to catch up with Bryson's book ever since. I now wish I'd read it before I travelled or even during the trip itself. It's full interesting information and ideas for places to visit and gave me loads of laughs. A really good read whether you're planning a trip or just looking to enjoy BB's hilariously entertaining anecdotes.

I've read a few of his books in the past and I do find him to be
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Vanessa
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As expected this was a mix of fun facts and a companion travel piece. Being Australian I’m sure I enjoyed this more than the average non Australian reader but I could see that some parts especially the parts apart about politics and cricket could bore a few readers who aren’t already familiar with our peculiar sports and politicians. I enjoyed the read and found it fun when injected with Bryson’s humourous anecdotes along the way. I also realised how very little I’ve seen of my own ridiculously ...more
Diane
I love Australia, even though I have never been there. It has amazing wilderness and is the setting of beautiful movies; it exports talented actors, actresses and directors; it has that Great Barrier Reef thingy, which is apparently so wonderful that is is a Natural Wonder of the World; and it is home to the stunning Sydney Opera House. And oh yeah, Aussies gave us UGGs. So we have a lot to thank them for.

Bill Bryson also loved Australia, so much so that he spent months touring its cities and th
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RandomAnthony
Bill Bryson is on a short-list of go-to writers when I need a thoughtful but not too taxing book. His travel works seem to follow the Bryson formula:

1. Bryson travels around a country and gets drunk in hotel bars.
2. Bryson gets pissed off at rude and stupid people but is usually forgiving and self-depreciating.
3. Bryson assiduously researches the locales beforehand and integrates history into his itineraries and narratives.
4. Bryson writes with impeccable skill.
5. Bryson balances mundane details
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Helene Jeppesen
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Bill Bryson as well as a great, educating read! I understand now, why Bill Bryson is so popular, because this non-fictional account of his trip to Australia is wonderful and humouristic from beginning till end. I already have 2 other books by Bill Bryson on hold at the library because this is definitely an author I'm curious to get much more familiar with.
Trish
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Bryson is not exactly known as an adventurer despite having written a few "travel guides". In fact, he's known for being constantly looking up and subsequently freaking out about all sorts of dangers. Him going to Australia ...

... what could possibly go wrong?

I just KNEW this would be fun. Bryson is clumsy, pale and already of a certain age so just picturing him in Australia of all places, among the boogie-board-surfing tanned Aussie hunks made me chuckle.

And I wasn't disappointed. He manag
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Roy Lotz
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every year (more or less), I take a trip up to New Brunswick, Canada, on a family vacation. To get there from New York means about 10 hours in the car; and once you’re there, it is an hour and a half round trip to get groceries—not counting time in the store—and this is a trip that must be made about every other day, since the only fridge we have is small, weak, alarmingly old, and runs on propane. The point is, we have to spend a goodly number of hours in the car.

Thus, I have gotten into the ha
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Brian
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"That is of course the thing about Australia- that there is such a lot to find in it, but such a lot of it to find it in."

“In a Sunburned Country” is a delightful read, and worth your time if for no other reason than that many of us will probably never get to Australia except in books and film and this text gets us there in its own way.
Bill Bryson has mixed anecdotal history, modern travel, biological and geographical history of the continent of Australia in an amusing and mostly quick to read
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Caroline
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books, world
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Contains spoilers



A wonderful read! From belly laughs to joy, from horror to disbelief….. in this book we have a riveting journey though this amazing and oh-so-different continent. Surely there are few authors who could begin to tackle the scope of this giant hunk of land, but Bryson is a master writer, and he tackles Australia superbly well - with enthusiasm, insight and bucket loads of his wonderful self-deprecating humour.

These were some of my favourite bits in the book:

* His trip to White Cl
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Jan-Maat
I felt that this was the flattest Bryson I have yet read. It felt slightly more engaged when he dealt with the mysterious disappearance of former Prime Minister Harold Holt while swimming, but otherwise it read as though he and his publishers were simply determined to crank out another travelogue and Australia was one place they hadn't covered so far. In my memory it compares unfavourably with a three part National Geographic series I read about a man who cycled round Australia - but then their ...more
Twerking To Beethoven
This book will teach you a lot of things that no ordinary travel guide will. Also, Bill Bryson is a funny bastard, and in a really genuine way; I mean, he's not trying to be funny at all costs, it's just the way he is, and that's why this book is so pleasant.

There are heaps of information about the geology, the animal life, the plants and insects, the history, the statistics, the folklore, etc., etc. AND the many dangers: taipan snakes, funnel web spiders, box-jellyfish, crocs, sharks, and rip
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Michael Finocchiaro
Bill Bryson is a very funny travel writer and his voyage down under is quite funny. I did not really use it when I was in Australia though to be honest. It is more for entertainment than a guide book.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
This travelogue of an American in Australia was hilarious. I had no choice; I had to give this five stars. I have this rule you see: if a book makes me think, cry, or laugh out loud, I give it top marks. I was smiling madly by the middle of the first page--at page 17 I was giggling. I haven't laughed so often or so hard since Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. Bryson gets a lot of mileage out of Australia being a "wondrously venomous and toothy country." Here's a snippet:

"You probably won't see
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David Sarkies
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Bryson in Australia
1 July 2017

I have something to admit – I’ve never been to Uluru. I have traveled to Europe, seen the Tower Brige and the Arc de Triumphe, I have wandered the gardens of Versailles and walked the plains where Hannibul slaughtered the Romans, but I have never been to Uluru, and it doesn’t seem to be all that likely I’ll be going there in the near future. The reason that I raise this is because in this book Byrson pretty much describe Uluru, a rock of which there is nothing like
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who knows how to read
How do I love this book? Let me count the ways...Better yet, read it for yourself and you'll discover your own reasons to love it. I honestly cannot think of one person to whom I would not recommend this book. It's fascinating, funny, and fact-filled. I'd bet even native Aussies could learn a thing or five they didn't know about their country.

Australia is an even more interesting place than I thought. Let Bill Bryson give you an entertaining and educational tour. He researched many books and qu
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Terri
An entertaining book in so many ways and I would recommend it to anyone. Sadly, I had some issues with the author that come from my being an Aussie and with him for being a bullshitter.
Of course, considering my origins, I should like to read a book by a first class bullshitter, seeing as Aussies are renowned for their special abilities in that department. However, in this book he is trying to pass his fabrications off as truth and I don't like that at all.
Not everything you read in this book is
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Tiffany
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like most Americans, I have never really given much thought to Australia. It's an island where the seasons are backwards, there's a famous opera house, my ex husband's ex girlfriend is expating it up there, and there are loads of gorgeous men running around shirtless, drinking Fosters and saying "No worries, mate" in a delicious Crocodile Dundee sort of accent. Nothing too exciting, right?

Wrong! Australia is fascinating, and Bill Bryson has done an excellent job of telling us why. This book touc
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Carol
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a Sunburned Country is what it is. Pure Bryson all the way and I loved every minute of it. It is not meant to be a scholarly course on Australia history but it is informative and fun. Considering Bryson's repeated mention of the many things that can kill you and the possibility of drinking your own urine, it's a wonder that we come away with a desire to see Australia for ourselves. But we do. Along with Bryson's familiar humor, he manages to capture the vastness of the land, the people, the d ...more
Bionic Jean
Alternatively titled "Down Under", this is Bill Bryson's take on Australia. Very funny in his own quirky way. I found myself learning about parts of Australia unknown to me (as well as discovering many new aspects of this huge continent) while being entertained in a very amusing way.
Jessaka
This time around Bryson kind of meets Australians, heads into a few pubs, wanders about the cities, complains, makes jokes and has some serious fears of Australia’s nature.

He is right, Australia has the most poisonous critters on earth, and he names them, while I sat and wondered how the Australians managed to make it all these years without being poisoned, without dying. Many probably did. Well, according to some articles online they don’t die from venom much anymore because they have anti-ven
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Tatiana
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to learn more about Australia
Recommended to Tatiana by: Hannahr
I almost forgot how much fun it is to read books about foreign countries and cultures. As soon as opened In a Sunburned Country, memories of reading travelogues about U.S. rushed back to me. Oh, how amazed I was those years ago to learn that apparently many Americans put their T-shirts on to swim in the pool and wear extra underwear underneath their swimming trucks (I am originally from one of those speedo countries) or that to go to a school dance you just have to have a boy-friend who is oblig ...more
Ran
Bill Bryson drives through the bush in Australia and gives his follow passengers a rundown of why he loves this country-continent, including some interesting and outright silly tidbits on history, culture, and wildlife. Having never been and not an expert myself, I wonder how much of this information (published from 2000) is dated now - not the historical parts, but rather his perspective on Australians circa 2000.

At times, Bryson seems to think that Australians are aliens (like the space kind,
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Kaethe Douglas
In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson What Bill Bryson taught me about Australia: everything wants to kill you, whether or not it is animate, let alone conscious.Everything. And all of the critters are weird, many adorably so. We’re big on quakkas at my house. And Bryson is at his funniest describing a deep and embarrassing sleep he fell into. Oh, and the country is too damn big to see more than just a tiny bit, especially since the most inhabited parts, that is, the cities, are all dotted along ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bryson fans
I really picked this audiobook only because I thought it would be mildly interesting and entertaining enough for my commute. It hadn't really occurred to me to be all that interested in an overview of Australia. But I have basically cleaned my library out of audiobooks I might want to listen to.

So, on the good, after opening with much real but mindlessly entertaining humor, the book did later bring me onboard. Bryson is Bryson and he can make stuff you didn't care all that much about become rea
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Jayme
Man, did I ever hate this book. Someone is paying this guy to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world and all he can do is bitch and moan about it. I get that he's trying to be funny, but he comes off as a prentious douchebag instead. And it's particilarly in-your-face in his self-narrated audiobook. He speaks with quite a condescending tone, going on and on about how backwater everyone is and how quaint it is that they're all stuck in 1958.

(view spoiler)
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bil
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“It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavors look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. ...It is the only sport that incorporates meal breaks. It is the only sport that shares its name with an insect. It is the only sport in which spectators burn as many calories as the players-more if they are moderately restless.” 87 likes
“As the saying goes, it takes all kinds to make the world go around, though perhaps some shouldn't go quite so far around it as others.” 45 likes
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