In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.
[I heard about this book from my friend, but when I went to my doctor before the Aussie trip for H1N1 precaution procedures, he insisted me to read this book. I am glad that I listened to him and I recommend anyone visiting AU to read this book before reaching there (in fact I read it in the 14 hour flight to Sydney.]
AU is the world's 6th largest country and its largest island, It is the only island that is also a continent and a continent that is also a country. It was the first Continent conquered from sea and the last. It is the only nation that began as prison.
AU has vast land, but only 18 million people. 80% of the population is living at 5% of the land.
AU has less than 1% of the population, but has more 20% of the slot machines of the world.
Bush in AU is called outback.
The train trip from Sydney to Perth will go over by rail road that goes in a straight line for 350 miles without any train stop or deviation.
This is a country that loses a prime minister (he was strolling along a beach in Victoria when he plunged into the surf and vanished). It is also vast and empty that a band of amateur enthusiasts could conceivably set off the world's first non-governmental atomic bomb on it mainland and almost 4 years would pass before anyone noticed about the incident.
It is the house of the a largest living thing on earth, the great Barrier Reef and of the largest monolith. It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures - the funded web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick and stonefish- are the most lethal of their type in the world.
Pickup up an innocuous cone shell from a Queensland beach, as innocent tourists are all too want to do , and you will discover that the little fellow inside is not just astounding swift and testy but exceedingly venomous.
All its seasons are inverted back to front (Their winter is in June -August, Summer is in Dec-Feb)..
From my personal travel diary:
We left LA on Sunday evening and landed in AU early Tue morning and we did not see sun light in between. For us, we missed August 24 completely.
While coming back from Sydney, we left Sydney on 30th Sunday 10:30am and landed in LA at 6:30 am on 30th Sunday - Something like "Back to the Future".
As per my friend in Sydney, they celebrate XMAS in June due to winter/snow feelings, School opening is in Feb,etc..
We find the Manly beach the best place to be (Sydney has many beautiful beaches - Bondi beach, Palm Beach, new Port beach... All of them with tri-color (deep blue followed by light green which is accompanied by white streams), but Manly has long miles of seqa shore for bike ride (rental available) where one street is full of shops (like a Carnival).
China Town is never to miss place as I did not find such a busy market with lots of food and partying in any other China Towns (NYC, SFO, etc..)
Blue Mountain is quite beautiful and worth a ride on the world's steepest railway journey which is a glorified roller-coaster ride.
We stayed near the Central Station and hence everything was within the reach (Town hall, China Town, George St, Queen Victoria Building...)
We took all day pass for couple of days - City hopper - which provided unlimited bus, train and ferry rides. Sunday Fundy is the cheapest ticket which is cost only $2 which allows unlimited bus, train and ferry trip, but only available on Sundays.
On the last day, we took the showboat which is not worth the $$$ spent. Instead of that, we should have spent it for a Opera performance at Opera house.
We found many Kebab restaurant (mainly Lebanese and Turkish) and Oriental dishes (Tai, Vietnamese, Chinese..).
On the first day itself, we walked 3 miles (folks redirected as if, the place is at the next block) and ate meat of Emu, Kangaroo, and Crocodile - None of them tasted good, but we did it as a point of interest.
I could find Passion Fruit and a smelly fruit which seems to be only available from Thailand(this looks like a jack fruit, but inside, it is different - even though it has awful smell, it tasted very good)
After coming back home, we changed our most favorite place from Switzerland to Australia in our personal travel world map.