Books about/set in Australia?

Jun 17th, 2004, 08:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 327
Books about/set in Australia?

I LOVED Bill Bryson's book (much more so than several of his others) on Australia and I wanted to hear other recommendations?
I'm not looking for dry history books, but historical novel or a lively non-fiction would work. A decent book not necessarily about Australia but filled with Aussie characters would be good too. I like to see the little differences in speech, food, customs, etc.
pb_and_j is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,116
AB Facey's book "A Fortunate Life", is an incredible read. The autobiography of a man who was born in Victoria in the late 1800s, struggled as a pioneer in Western Australia and fought at the famous battle of Gallipoli in WWI. Just as entertaining as Bryson but in a totally different way.
RalphR is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 01:32 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Following is a selection of works by some leading Australian writers and set at least partly in Australia - they don't fit the category of light historical fiction, though - in that category something by Colleen McCulloch might be your best shot.

George Johnston: "My Brother Jack"
Peter Carey: "Oscar and Lucinda"
Thomas Kenneally: "The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith"
Tim Winton: "Dirt Music"
Christopher J. Koch: "Out of Ireland"
Robert Drewe: "The Drowner"
David Malouf: "Remembering Babylon"
Clive James: "Unreliable Memoirs" (non-fiction)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 04:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Not all historical, but set in Australia - here's a few more:

The Shiralee - D'Arcy Niland
The Harp in the South/ Poor Man's Orange - Ruth Park
Its Raining in Mango/Being a Queenslander - Thea Astley
The Idea of Perfection - Kate Grenville
Capricornia/Poor Fellow My Country - Xavier Herbert
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith - Thomas Kenneally
Cloudstreet - Tim Winton

Whilst not fiction, anything by or about Barry Humphries will read as if it is.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Sorry, Neil had already mentioned "The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith" - "A Family Madness" by the same author is a good red.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Sorry again - I meant a good "read".
pat_woolford is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 801
I would also addd the novels by Judy Nunn - which give a good historical background of the various cities and areas in which the stories take place. These include - Territory, Araluen, Kal and Beneath the Southern Cross.
prue is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 08:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,104
Mary Durack's book 'Kings in Grass Castles' is based on her family pioneering and settling in the Kimberleys. There is a sequel but I can't remember the name.
Tim Bowden has two books on travelling in Australia 'Penelope goes west' and 'Bungles to Broome'.
'Ordinary people, extraordinary lives' by Margaret Carroll - stories of ordinary Australians who have done amazing things.
If you want a romatic novel, Di Morrissey has written several books set in Australia.
Incidentally Judy Nunn has a new book 'Pacific'
marg is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Pat, I loved your Freudian slip. But of course one needs a good red to accompany a good read.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 04:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 669
I found "Remembering Babylon" readable but a great disappointment after the pleasure of reading his "The Great World" which is a very special book.

A good travelogue: "Travels in Oz" by Howard Jacobsen.

You might also try:

"My Place" by Sally Morgan
"Tracks" by Robin Davidson
Ruth Park's "Sydney"

A B Facey's book is a reminder of how humble we all should be. Recommended.
alice13 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 04:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
We of the Never Never by Mrs Aeneas Gunn (non fiction)
No Footprints in the Bush by Arthur W Upfield (fiction/mystery)
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 243
A few more:
Tamara McKinley- Mathilda's last waltz
Bruce Chatwin- The Songlines
Smalley is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 07:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 327
Thank you!
It looks like I'll have plenty to fill my time up until my trip!
pb_and_j is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 420

(Historical Fiction)

True History of the Kelly Gang -- by Peter Carey

scurry is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 04:22 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 955
Talk about Australian characters - I am thoroughly enjoying:

"One for the Road," by Tony Horwitz.

One reviewer said "A high-spirited, comic ramble into the savage outback populated by irreverent, beer-guzzling frontiersmen." My sentiments exactly.

I'm only a third of the way and I love it. Horwitz also wrote "Blue Latitudes" which I believe is a "must read" for any lover of the South Pacific.

Great question pb and i. Thanks for the long and I'm sure reading list.
BillJ is offline  
Jun 18th, 2004, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 67
Cold Beer and Crocodiles, by Roff Smith. The author rode his bike around Australia, very enjoyable read; has all the elements you're looking for.
sfgrace is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 266
I was moved by Stan Grant's autobiography "The Tears of Strangers." He's a successful international journalist (ABC, CNN) who happens to be Aboriginal. His explaination of the personal dilemma facing an Aboriginal man successful in white society is perceptive, powerful and disturbing.

It might be a bit heavy but it's a fascinating read and full of Australian history.
JohnInMiami is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2004, 08:27 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 158
By far the best book I've read in the past couple of years just happens to be an Australian historic novel: "Gould's Book of Fish" by Richard Flanagan. Don't get me started ... but it's a masterpiece.

I'd also endorse the earlier recommendations for just about anything by Tim Winton; "Cloudstreet" is my favourite.

For a gentle intorduction to the world of Aboriginal culture, I'd recommend "Songlines" by Bruce Chatwin.
Pumblechook is offline  
Jun 26th, 2004, 01:52 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Although I'm only a few chapters into it, I'll recommend "Mango Country" by John van Tiggelen (Pan McMillan Australia, 2003). To quote the back cover: "Journeying around North Queensland, jungle tour guide turned gonzo journalist John van Tiggelen lingers in places that tourists are ill-advised, disinclined or simply unable to visit. He goes crocodile hunting, shoots a nude calendar for charity, joins the world's wildest cricket carnival, attends the opening of the Big Mango and flits around the Torres Strait on a wing and a prayer. En route he is harassed by cassowaries, bush poets, thong collectors, falling coconuts, Bob Katter (a local politician - NC) and the alien commander of 18 million spaceships. But he also harasses them."

Can't help quoting his example of North Queenslanders' habit of tacking "ay" on to the end of sentences:
'Ay mate.'
'Sod ay.'
'Said soddiday ay.' [I said it's hot today, isn't it.]
'Reckon. Binodder but ay.'
'Yeah, See ya later ay.'
'Ay mate.'
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jun 27th, 2004, 04:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,430
I must say here that my favourite book about Australia (though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it struck a chord with me because I recognised the streets and places -- and the era --which were so beautifully described) is Clive James's "Unreliable Memoirs". I mention it here solely for anyone who's about to embark on a trip to Sydney, as this city's premier bookshop (well, one of the top three or four) Dymock's in George St, is currently having a large sale which includes about forty copies of this book for around $AUD6.. what's that, about $USD3.95. Now THAT'S a souvenir you will not throw away when you get home! (I almost thought of buying the lot and selling them by mail order through this forum, but I decided that it wasn't in the spirit of the forum).
Alan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:02 AM.