Will the real Australia please stand up

I don’t know which is more manic at the moment – work or my three energetic, little boys – but in any case it’s only at the weekend or at 10pm at night that I have headspace or free time to flick the switch and return to “writing mode”.

Australian culture - more than just Rolf Harris

So now that we’re preparing for the launch the week of Anzac Day (April 25th), this St Patrick’s day weekend finds me preparing for the upcoming publicity rounds.  I’ve written the book but now I’ve to tell people why they should be so kind as to read it. So now I’m working on the stories to convey why TWB so convincingly (and compellingly though I say so myself) recounts the experience of a young person working and travelling in Australia

In talking to some friends recently, one said that the ideas she had of the country before travelling down proved to be so completely misplaced. In almost all cases, she said the reality was much more intriguing and impressive than her original misconceptions. One person told me he was so taken with just how sophisticated and modern Sydney was. Its “wow” factor. Another told me how surprised he was at the level of culture and history there was in Australia when all he’d ever thought it could lay claim to were convicts, boomerangs and Rolf Harris.

Tropical Australia

What knocked the socks off me as I travelled so widely in Australia was just how different it was to the empty, red desert I’d always imagined. Being so large, Australia has three time zones, is cut by the Tropic of Capricorn and has vastly different temporal climates. The outback blooms and changes colours dramatically – from red to yellow and at times even to verdant green. And how could it possibly be as uniform as I’d thought given that the continent is the same size as the US and Tasmania is as large as Ireland? The very north of the country is tropical rainforest (Darwin is nearer to Indonesia than to any other Australia state capital) while Tasmania and the southern states have winds that come whipping up directly from the Antarctic.

Sunrise over Nullarbor desert (author's photo)

I found Australia endlessly fascinating, the landscape bewitching – so much so that on two occasions I had what can either be described as mirages or hallucinations while travelling.

But I’d love to hear what others think? And how did your conceptions of Australia match with the reality? What did others make of the fabled “land down under”?

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