9 Amazing Books to read before visiting Australia
Australia: “A Biography of a Nation” by Phillip Knightley
A comprehensive introduction to Australia’s history, politics and society. Combining history with travel writing, Knightley covers all major events that have helped to shape modern Australia; from its origins as British colony of convicts and jailers, through Federation times , First World War and the Great depression, to Aboriginal affairs and the relationship with the United Kingdom.
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
The Songlines is a 1987 narrative nonfiction by famous British travel writer Bruce Chatwin. Fascinated by the concept of songlines (the ancient oral maps) in Aboriginal Culture, Chatwin travels through Australia to research the connection of the indigenous songs to the man’s nomadic culture.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (also published as ‘Down Under’)
A 2000 travelogue by best-selling travel writer Bill Bryson. The book details his journey across Australia by car and train. Bryson engages with locals in conversations about the history, geography and life Down Under and in a humorous way describes his experiences and observations.
Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington
In Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence Doris Pilkington tells a story of her mother and two aunties. The three sisters escaped the Native Settlement they were taken to as part of government’s policy of removing part-Aboriginal children from their communities, known as Stolen Generations. The girls walked 1600 km home following along the rabbit-proof fence.
My Place by Sally Morgan
Australian artist Sally Morgan grew up unaware of her Aboriginal heritage, which she discovered only as an adult. In this deeply moving memoir Morgan searches for her indigenous identity and through the story of her family, uncovers the impact of the Stolen Generations on Australian society.
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
In 1977, a courageous 27-year-old Robyn Davidson sets off on an epic, nine month long journey across the hostile Australian desert with only a dog and four camels for company. In her memoir, Davidson shares her observations on the 1970’s Australian society and the treatment of indigenous population. It is also an inspiring story of a journey to self-discovery and transformation.
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
A historical novel that tells a story of William Thornhill and his family as they are deported to Australia for the crimes committed by William in Britain. The books focus on the conflict between the convicts and Aborigines at the turn of the 19th century.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
A 1977 best-selling Australian romantic novel set on a fictional sheep station in the Australian outback. It follows the story of a young Meggie Cleary and her family spanning over three generations.
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
A 1947 Australian classic about the life and struggles of the Irish Catholic family of Darcy’s, living in Surry Hills suburb of Sydney in the 1940’s, which was a slum at the time.