Bill Bryson’s Down Under

2 February 2017

Bill Bryson presents a unique perspective of Australia in his text ‘Down Under’. He uses the landscape, history and people he meets, as well as the daily activities he experiences to develop his own understanding and perspective of Australia. History plays an important role in the formation of Bryson’s perspective of Australia. “You really cannot move in Australia without bumping into some reminder of his [Lachlan Macquarie’s] tenure.Run your eye over the map and you will find a Macquarie Harbour, Macquarie Island, Macquarie Marsh, Macquarie River, Macquarie Fields, Macquarie Pass, Macquarie Plains, Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (a lookout point over Sydney Harbour), Macquarie’s Point and a Macquarie town”. Bryson uses this to show and even criticise to an extent the trend Australians tend to have getting hold of a name that suits them and sticking with it.

He finds it hard to believe that one place could have so many places named after the same thing and no one see anything wrong with it, a trait exclusive to Australia.Bryson often researches the history of the areas he visits and then bases his initial impressions of the places on this information. Bryson hardly visits a town or city without first presenting the audience with an anecdote or brief history about the place. By doing this, he is putting the locations he visits into context and also shows the reader how he comes to form his first impressions about a place and what he expects to find and do there. The way Bryson makes his perspective of Australia uniquely his is that he builds upon these initial ideas of a place by experiencing them first hand.Because no one else could have exactly the same experiences as him, the audience is presented with a view of Australia that only Bryson could give. Bryson also discusses and visits the Australian landscapes to build on his perspective of Australia.

Bill Bryson’s Down Under Essay Example

Throughout the book, Bryson uses the history of the outback as well as his own experiences driving through it to describe his perspective of the landscape. At various points he emphasises the fact that the outback is a harsh and deadly place, and by the repetition of these ideas in the travelogue, Bryson is able to highlight that he believes that it is a very dangerous part of Australia. But then that’s the thing about the outback- it’s so vast and forbidding that much of it is still scarcely charted”.The language he uses when describing these sites presents a view of Australia that is very unique, because only Bill Bryson could describe them in such a way, and in no other place would you get the exact same perspective as he gives. Bryson also uses his experiences in order to highlight the positive views of Australia that he holds. “Almost at once I became acutely, and in an odd way delightedly, aware of how little I knew about the place”. By having minimal knowledge about Australia, Bryson is able to draw his own ideas about Australia and the experiences he has creates a very unique perspective.

Even the seemingly simple of tasks turn out to be a challenge, which highlights that Australia is completely different to anything he has experienced before. “I didn’t even know how to order coffee. It appeared that you had to specify a length (principally long or short), a colour (black or white) and even an angle of orientation to the perpendicular (flat or not), and these could be put together in a multitude of permutations- ‘long black’, ‘short black’, even ‘long short black’”.The use of humour reflects the light-hearted perception of Australia that Bryson has, and it also parallels the laid back attitude he believes Australians possess. Bill Bryson supports his beliefs of the typical Australian behaviour by including a number of personalities in his travelogue. Throughout his book, Bill Bryson makes several references to the friendly and laidback attitude that he believes Australians have. The friendliness of Australians- all of it quite sincere and spontaneous, as far as I could ever tell- never ceases to amuse or gratify”.

This perspective of Australians he has is supported by the inclusion of various people he meets while he travels. The inclusion of Glenn and Deirdre who accompany Bryson to Manly beach is to highlight to casualness towards danger that Australians have, a trait he finds quite remarkable. “It occurred to me that Australians are so surrounded by danger that they have evolved an entirely new vocabulary to deal with it”.Also included is a steward on the Indian Pacific named Terry, who Bryson uses to describe the typical Australian vernacular in a humorous and satirical way. “Need a glass of water? ‘No worries, mate. I’ll get right on ‘er. ’ Just received word that your mother has died? ‘Not a drama.

She’ll be apples’. ” Bryson draws from the history, landscape and people of Australia in order to form a perspective of the country and uses his unique use of language to deliver it. The perspective of Australia displayed in ‘Down Under’ is a unique one that only Bill Bryson could give.

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Bill Bryson's Down Under. (2017, Feb 11). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://newyorkessays.com/essay-bill-brysons-down-under/
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