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This is my first national Geographic travel guide, from an interesting author. He once biked 10,000 miles around Australia, getting into remote areas where he was all alone, 100 miles from the nearest habitation just on his bicycle. As he went, his travel commentaries were published in the Australian papers, and the story was even picked up by the international newspapers at the time, making him something of an international celebrity as a travel writer. He now lives in Victoria and freelances for various Australian magazines and publications. It's more topically oriented the say, the DK guide, with perhaps fewer subjects covered but with more coverage per article. This is just my subjective impression but I offer it for what it's worth. The DK guide's look busier per page and this one is less.
I learned some interesting things from this book. To mention just a few, Australia is the oldest continent, which is why the interior is so flat, and why it contains so many marsupial species, which died out elsewhere when the couldn't compete with the more advanced placental mammals. Culturally, it is a land of contrasts, with more modern looking cities with newer buildings than most American cities, which contrasts with the primitive aboriginal lifestyle which still exists to some extent in North Australia. And the rugged, macho image of Australian settlers, outbackers, and bushrangers contrasts with the fact that Sydney has an even higher gay and lesbian population than San Francisco, and their Gay and Lesbian parade is an international event.
Before getting into the regional sections, there is a 72 page introduction that covers history, culture, the land, food, and drink, the arts, and flora and fauna. There's a lot of good info here and this is a longer introduction compared to most travel guides that I've seen.The remaining 299 pages cover the 8 major provinces or regions of Australia, including the island of Tasmania, which I was especially interested in. Each section includes the most popular sites and things to do, with beautiful photos and well written text.
I am especially interested in Tasmania, and I learned that it is easy to see the sights there, as there is a 600-mile road that goes around the entire perimeter of the island, and most of the interesting sites can be accessed from it. As I am planning a trip to Australia sometime soon, I was interested to learn this, since most of Australia is difficult to get to since the distances are so vast. Just Western Australia, still one of the most remote and sparsely settled regions, is three times the size of Texas.
Sydney of course gets a special section by itself, and you could spend the rest of your life just seeing the sites there. I was most interested in Sydney, Tasmania, and also Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Kuranda Rainforest in the north as the three other main places to visit on my trip, and this guide was very helpful for researching that. Other helpful features of this guide include an Australia map on the inside front cover, a Sydney transit map, and many regional and town maps for you convenience. There is a quick table of contents on the inside front cover also. All in all a nice done and enjoyable guide to the fascinating land of Down Under.