Australia Through the Eyes of an Ordinary Man


I grew up as an eighties child, so one of my first memories of the land “down under” is a place where women glow and men plunder. Of course, at that time, I had no idea what Men at Work […]

Australia Through the Eyes of an Ordinary Man
Australia Through the Eyes of an Ordinary Man

I grew up as an eighties child, so one of my first memories of the land “down under” is a place where women glow and men plunder. Of course, at that time, I had no idea what Men at Work meant by that phrase. I’m not sure I even do now.

Around that same time, Mel Gibson came on the scene with his sexy swagger and Aussie accent, and I knew that one day I would have to visit this faraway, foreign place. The vastness of this country/continent and being on a plane for almost an entire day has deterred me from going all these years. “Visiting Australia” now sits about halfway down my bucket list.

Since I have not been able to cross the world to get to Australia, I live vicariously through others. Paul Elliott’s book, Travels of Ordinary Man: Australia certainly put me on the scene.

With his adventurous jaunts from Cairns to Sydney, I felt I have lived the trip right there with Paul. In his debut book, he describes his daily experiences in Australia and all the interesting characters he meets along the way. Just like any backpacking experience, you will always meet interesting characters. Often, this is what makes the travel experience so memorable.

Paul’s dry sense of humor and ramblings may tickle the ribs of some and roll the eyes of others. The book is truly through the eyes of ordinary man, without the fluff of a travel book. This Englishman states how it is and what he is thinking along the way. Sometimes in full detail.

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This book is not a travel guide nor does it purport to be; it is a first person travelogue. But he does capture glimpses of the various towns and stops that make you feel you are right there beside him. There were many beers consumed along the way and Paul shares the numerous bar stories with the reader. And I am dying to know what Paul’s hair looks like (if you read the book, you will see why)!

The ground Paul covered in four months is astounding. While he hung out in Cairns for some time, after that, he hit the ground running. His dizzying adventures took him through the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, the Northern Territory, South Australia, on to Adelaide, Melbourne, and the small beach towns that dot southern Oz, many times only stopping for a night or two.

Whew! It felt like a whirlwind, as if he barely caught his breath. I would have preferred to travel at a slower pace, but when people land on this huge country that floats between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, they often feel the need to see it all. After all, it is so far away for Americans and Europeans. The likelihood we will visit again is pretty slim.

Then again, there are plenty of small towns (or even states) in the U.S. that I would breeze through in a minute or two. The author is not a fan of big cities, so you will not learn much about Melbourne or Sydney. To each their own.

Since Paul covered so much ground, I did get an introduction of the layout and how vast Australia really is. Even though the United States covers more square miles, Australia has so much unoccupied land, making it seem much larger.

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Not many people can take four months off, especially well past the college years. This book could help those who can’t physically see a large portion of the land down under to live vicariously through Paul. That is if you are the beer-drinking small town, hostelling type.

A good read for those who enjoy to travel off the beaten path.

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