A LITTLE FLIGHT READING
A Walk in Old Hobart Charles Wooley and Michael Tatlow (Walk Guides Australia, $15) THE title page photograph gives an idea of what fun these two may be. Charles Wooley and Michael Tatlow wrote this book to ‘‘ overcome a crying need for a reliable and entertaining guide’’. Their aim is to get people out on the streets of Hobart and beyond: AWalkinOld Launceston will be out soon.
They cover headstones and heritage museums, parks, pubs and people (with tales of merchants, governors and a cannibal convict), all arranged in a numbered stop-by-stop walk enumerated on a clear foldout map inside the back cover. Small, light, anecdotal, with colour photographs, the book invites you out on to the streets, where the enthusiastic authors say they ‘‘ have walked the waterfront and the point countless times for the sheer pleasure and fascination of the place’’. www.walkguidesaustralia.com. Judith Elen
The Travel Book Lisa Allen with Fiona Carruthers (Random House Australia, $24.95) ‘‘ A MUST for the wannabe pro traveller,’’ screams the publicity for this book by journalists Lisa Allen (in capitals) with Fiona Carruthers (lower-case and smaller type). I prepare for the worst.
This sort of unrealistic hype is unfair on a book, and this one is not that bad. It’s crammed with useful holiday tips, though many inevitably fall into the bleeding obvious department. On cheap internet deals: shop around. On packing: travel light. On hotel rooms: book at the last minute for best rates. On personal security: don’t carry a lot of cash.
Most of the websites are basic, too. There’s a rundown on the top 10 destinations for Australian travellers. (More publicity hype: ‘‘ You’ll be surprised.’’ I wasn’t.) The information here is fairly basic, too.
The strength of TheTravelBook is putting together all these tips, obvious or not. The only way to access them, though, is to wade through all 242 pages. The weakness is the revelatory tone. On the other hand, if it ends up saving you money or helps you score that exclusive hotel room, it could be the best $24.95 you’ve spent. Barry Oliver Brolga Country: Travels in Wild Australia Mitch Reardon (Allen & Unwin, $39.95) WITH Christmas a scary 11 and a bit weeks away, it’s not too early to look for lovely gift books. And birdwatchers, surely, are always happy recipients of beautifully photographed tributes to all things feathered.
Mitch Reardon is a top wildlife snapper and he has chosen the elusive, leggy brolga as the topic of a well-priced and gorgeously presented volume. One of the reasons he opted for the mysterious brolga as the focus of his travels, he says, is because of the 15 crane species endemic to Australia it was the one referred to as ‘‘ the native companion’’ in colonial times and ‘‘ said to accompany Aboriginal people on their wanderings’’. The male birds perform stylised dances, particularly during courtship rituals, and Reardon witnesses many permutations of these joyous displays as he travels in Victoria, through the Grampians and across outback Queensland, up to the Cooktown region.
Wetlands, rainforests and desert habitats are also caught by Reardon’s accomplished eye, and other birdlife comes into the frame, including pied cormorants perched on bare branches by Clancy’s Lagoon in the Mareeba wetlands. They look for all the world like Christmas tree decorations. Alexandra James
Chasing Bohemia Carmen Michael (Scribe, $32.95) PRETTY soon there will be no single women left in Australia. Whether young and frisky or of a certain age and frazzled, more women than you could poke a Frenchman at have taken off for new pastures and the promise of foreign romance.
Not many blokes seem to be following course; one recent exception is Bryce Corbett with his upcoming life-changer ATownLikeParis . Corbett falls for a Lido showgirl; Carmen Michael for samba musician Fabio, ‘‘ a gypsy of Rio’’.
Michael’s account of ‘‘ a year of living recklessly in Rio de Janeiro’’, where the social classes are ‘‘ the poor, the very poor, the sort of poor and the rich’’, is a cut above the typical transplant genre. She is engagingly self-deprecating and there are lively moments aplenty; her descriptions of the characters she meets (especially her high-society mentor, Gustavo) are well-realised and often highly amusing. Michael writes with pace and panache; how long’s that flight from Sydney to Rio? Susan Kurosawa