While we’re all stuck inside and travel is at a standstill, enjoy these Australian reads to transport you to the land down under.
Explore the sunburnt country from your bedroom via this collection of Australian literature. The list offers a fascinating insight into the history, culture and landscape of a country through the eyes of writers who describe it best.
1. Breath – Tim Winton
Actually, we could include any Tim Winton book from his extensive canon, but we had to choose one. The beloved Australian author captures a sense of place and describes the Australian landscapes with a reverence like no other. This story follows two young boys as they discover surfing and push their bodies and fear to the extreme in coastal Western Australia.
2. Down Under – Bill Bryson
Follow Bill Bryson as he discovers Australia’s top attractions and describes his experiences through quirky stories and observations. It’s a light-hearted read in which the best of Australia shines through with sunny optimism.
3. Carpentaria – Alexis Wright
In this international best seller, indigenous writer Alexis Wright describes the land of her people, the Waanyi, and the realities of Aboriginal life in remote northern Queensland.
4. A Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsey
Set in 1900 rural Victoria near Macedon, the novel describes an Australia that was still firmly linked to British rule and is yet to forge its own national identity. The story is a mystery about a group of boarding school students who disappear on a school picnic at Hanging Rock, and while commonly believed to be based on a true story, the work is completely fictitious.
5. The True Story of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Despite its misleading name this book is another work of fiction, though loosely based on the life of Australian bushranger/outlaw/hero Ned Kelly. The tale is told in first person through the voice Ned Kelly himself, writing in a characterful style devoid of punctuation and grammar and language influenced by his Irish heritage.
6. Looking for Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
Most Australians of a certain age will remember reading this coming of age novel at school. Depicting the life of Australian Italian girl Josephine Alibrandi in her final year at high school in Sydney, it offers a fascinating insight into the experiences of second-generation immigrants caught between the old world of their family and the new world of Australia.
7. Poor Fellow My Country – Xavier Herbert
Get comfortable because at 1463 pages long, this is the longest Australian fictional book ever written, perfect for combatting lockdown boredom. The novel is set in Northern Australia in the 1930s and 1940s and loosely follows the custody battle over an Aboriginal child, raising themes about Australian identity and culture that are still valid today.
8. My Place – Sally Morgan
This classic of Aboriginal Australian literature explores the experiences of three generations of Aboriginal Australians – the author, her mother and grandmother – as Morgan discovers her heritage and the secrets of her family.
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