Wednesday, July 19, 2006

See Australia the tortuous way

Roff Smith decided to really get to know Australia, a place he had lived for 15 years.
How do you really get to know a place?
Smith decided to bicycle around the great southern land, even though he was not an accomplished long-distance cyclist. He wasn't even all that fit, which lends a "regular bloke" tone to "Cold Beer and Crocodiles," Smith's 2000 account of his incredible journey. I began reading this book last night.
The opening chapters speak to Australia's present: It takes Smith two days just to emerge from the sprawling Western Suburbs of megalopolis Sydney.
The irony of Australia, however, is that apart from the big cities there are only small towns -- if even that. The next stops on Smith's journey include many bumps in the road that feature a smattering of homes and the requisite pub or roadhouse. He doesn't encounter many bike trails, either. Instead, Smith spends an inordinate amount of time bumping along on dusty, red-dirt tracks.
I would recommend "Cold Beer and Crocodiles" to the armchair traveler. Smith writes with humor about what must have been the most arduous of journeys.


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