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Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. Despite being the most desiccated, infertile and climactically 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 ten most deadly poisonous snakes on the planet, fluffy yet toxic caterpillars, seashells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish.
Wherever Bryson goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted and unfailingly obliging -- the beaming products of a land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.
Bill Bryson's many books include The New York Times bestseller A Walk in the Woods and, most recently, I'm a Stranger Here Myself. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire with his wife and their four children.
"In the late afternoon, I stopped at a roadhouse for gas and coffee. I studied my book of maps . . . Then, having nothing better to do, I leafed through the index and amused myself, in a very low-key way, by looking for ridiculous names, of which Australia has a respectable plenitude. I am thus able to report that the following are all real places: Wee Waa, Poowons, Borrumbuttock, Suggan Buggan, Boomahnoomoonah, Waaia, Mullumbimby Ewylamartup, Jiggalong, and the supremely satisfying Tittybong." From the Hardcover edition.