In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

I recently finished listening to Bill Bryon’s In a Sunburned Country. Narrated by Bill Bryson himself. It’s a fun listen, I haven’t listened to or read books that are formatted like a travel log before so this was my first time doing that. It’s very calming and pleasant to listen to someone just talk about a place they visited and throw in some facts about it. The combination Bryson’s writing and narrating it
himself made the book that much more enjoyable.

I started out looking for a book to listen to while riding on Muni for my short commute. Quickly, I realized that the book is a great summation of facts about Australia’s history and current (or current in 2000) affairs.

The book covers Bryson traveling from the Gold Coast all the around Australia ultimately ending near Perth on the south western coast. He covers a lot of topics I had not thought about, like what’s in the middle of the huge continent or how the people are.

He meets with some friends on his journey who take him to different parts of Australia, some great and some avoidable places. A fact that Bryson mentioned repeatedly, the country is huge. There have been many who have gotten lost in the middle of Australia’s Outback and never returned. A lot of Australia is still unexplored, this is kind of a nice thing, as it seems there are no parts in this world that are unexplored in the 21st century.

One thing I really liked that he covered was the history and status of
aborigines in Australia. Historically and currently, Aboriginal Australians are disadvantaged and often ignored by the Australian government. This has been evident by the misunderstood initiatives that led to things like the Stolen Generations. An inhumane act of authority in which the government started forcibly separating Aborigine parents from their children in an effort to “civilize” them but it led to a lot of orphan children not having a connection with the non-indigenous Australians as well as not really know where they came from. This was happening from 1905 all the way into the 1970s.

An Aboriginal encampment, near the Adelaide foothills, 1854 (By Alexander Schramm)

The situation for Aboriginal Australians has not improved much since the publication of Bill Bryson’s book. You can read more about recent programs that were aimed to change this: Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Stronger Futures policy.

My next book that I’m going to listen to Bill Bryson is A Short History of Nearly Everything. I’m thinking Bill Bryson might be a new favorite to listen to while walking and commuting because his voice and writing go so well together and the books are not too serious and missing a few seconds of something won’t affect what the book has to offer overall.