11 Must Have Books on Australia for the Tourist!

1.Eyewitness Travel Guide to Australia by DK Publishing: As a result of spending a summer in Australia, I own numerous travel guides about the country, and this one is one of the best. If you, like me, need color pictures in your travel guides, then you won’t want to miss out on this guide. The photography is extensive and wonderful. The book is divided into multiple sections, each covering a specific region of Australia.q? encoding=UTF8&Format= SL160 &ASIN=0756660823&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=vishaalslair 20&ServiceVersion=20070822ir?t=vishaalslair 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0756660823

There is a brief overview of each region, and then the book lists multiple attractions in that region, with a brief description of each one. At least half of the attractions listed have photographs, and buildings such as museums and government buildings usually have photographs of the interior and the artwork inside. Each attraction also lists the telephone number, opening and closing hours, and the rail/bus/subway stop that you will need to use. At the beginning of the book, there is a brief history of Australia, and information on traveling around the country, money, food, etc. is at the end.

The book does list some hotels and restaurants, but does not really cater to the budget traveler (buy Let’s Go for this). The book also does not have extensive maps, so don’t count on finding those in here either. I always buy multiple guides when I travel, so this was not a problem for me, but I can see how it would be for some people. Even though the price is a bit more than some other guides, I would not miss out on buying this book, or any other Eyewitness Guides. I consider them an absolute necessity for travel, and one of the best series out there.

2. Fodor’s Australia 2008 by Fodor’s: This book is not for backpackers. There is no section on hostels and all of Fodor’s choices (highest recommendation) are extremely pricey. This includes restaurant recommendations as well.

3. Frommer’s Australia 2011 by Marc Llewellyn: I love Frommers. They don’t cover every town, but on the ones that they do cover they do a good job. The narrative is relaxed and colloquial, and they often have tips and off-the-beaten-track suggestions that don’t make it into other travel guides. I like their “best of” ratings. I value their budget suggestions, which (the hotels) are sometimes a little classier than Rick Steves (whom I also love). This travel guide for Australia is as good as I expect from Frommers.

4. Insight Guide Australia by Jeffrey Pike: One of the best of guides to Australia. I have a 1998 edition and it is pretty impressive!

q? encoding=UTF8&Format= SL160 &ASIN=031236086X&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=vishaalslair 20&ServiceVersion=200708225. Let’s Go Australia 9th Edition by Inc. Let’s Go: ir?t=vishaalslair 20&l=as2&o=1&a=031236086X
I feel that what other guides lack, this makes up for and then some. There is even a “Beyond Tourism” section in each guide that details how to fully appreciate the place you are traveling to through studying, working, and even volunteering. Each writer for the guides is someone who has first hand eyewitness experience with the country in question, so there is little need for interviews, although it certainly wouldn’t detract from the guide for some to be included. No matter what type of trip you want to experience, as long as you want to stretch your dollar and have a good time, Let’s Go is unlikely to let you down.

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6. Lonely Planet Australia by Paul Smitz et al (old editions)/ Backpackers Ultimate Guide (BUG) Australia : Since the late 90’s Lonely Planet have been dwindling down the number of destinations and hostel listings in these guides and replacing that space with more five star hotels, fine dining and other useless information backpackers will never use. In this edition Lonely Planet lists the most expensive Hotel in Australia, Palazzo Versace in their Gold Coast accommodation listings. They are so out of touch with their target market now it is not funny.

Buy the Backpackers Ultimate Guide (BUG) Australia instead as it is what Lonely Planet and Lets Go used to be. A comprehensive coverage of all hostels in a destination, not just the one or two that pay to be listed and no weight increasing space taking up useless information that we backpackers do not want to lug around an entire continent.

If you can find an old copy from ten years ago buy it otherwise give Lonely Planet a miss!

7. National Geographic Traveler: Australia by Roff Martin-Smith

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ir?t=vishaalslair 20&l=as2&o=1&a=07922636508. Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Smith:  Cold Beer and Crocodiles (crocodiles barely feature at all!) is an excellent travel adventure which will appeal to anyone who cosily enjoys the vicarious experience of someone else battling to survive in an extreme landscape: in this case, the Australian Outback. Having lived in Australia for 15 years without developing any emotional attachment to the country, Roff Smith quit his job at Time magazine to undertake a mammoth 10,000 mile round trip of Australia, his rationale being a desire to try to find the ‘real’ Australia and ‘real’ Australians, engage emotionally “with the country I’d lived in as a stranger all these years”. His chosen mode of transport, a 21 speed touring bicycle would let him get close to the land, experience Australia, its sights, sounds and smells.

9. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson: This is a terrific read. Bryson has, mercifully, gone well and truly off the beaten track to explore many different parts of Australia – the cities, the outback, the tropics, and everything else in between. But as ever with a Bill Bryson book, more than the destination itself, the pleasure is in getting there. Laugh-out-loud moments abound, though perhaps more in the restrained way of “A Walk in the Woods”, as opposed to the guffaw-fest that is “Neither Here Nor There”.

You don’t have to be at all familiar with Australia to appreciate and enjoy this book.

10.The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

11. Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson: This 1980 book by Robyn Davidson, then 30 years old, is now considered a classic. She did it alone, with four camels, a loyal dog, and all the self-doubt and introspection that make her very human.

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