Deliciously funny, fact-filled and adventurous, In a Sunburned Country takes us on a grand tour of Australia. It’s a place where interesting things happen all the time, from a Prime Minister lost — yes, lost — while swimming at sea, to Japanese cult members who may (entirely unnoticed) have set off an atomic bomb on their 500,000 acre property in the great western desert.
Australia is the only island that is also a continent, and the only continent that is also a country. Its aboriginal people, a remote and mysterious race with a tragic history, have made it their home for millennia. And despite the fact that it is the most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with life. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else: sharks, crocodiles, the planet’s ten most deadly poisonous snakes, fluffy yet toxic caterpillars, sea shells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish (don’t ask). The dangerous riptides of the sea and the sun-baked wastes of the outback both lie in wait for the unwary.
Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide. In a Sunburned Country offers the best of all possible introductions to what may well be the best of all possible nations. Even with those jellyfish.