Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia

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In 1996 Roff Smith set off alone into the Australia outback on a 10,000-mile bicycle trek. Over the next nine months, he stayed at remote sheep and cattle stations, old pearling ports, mining towns, Aboriginal communities, quiet rain forest villages, occasional big cities, and many solitary desert campsites, often hundreds of miles from the nearest dwelling.

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Based on the authors nine-month, 10,000-mile bicycle trip around Australia, described in a 3-part series in National Geographic Magazine.

Author gets deeply into the heart of the country, describing with great verve the people he meets, the towns, the landscapes and the hardships, loneliness, and self-discovery.

In America, especially, Australia is seen as a last frontier and a younger, sunnier, and more innocent reflection of itself. More than 4 million people visit each year; 2000 will be a banner year for tourism.

Despite interest in Australia, very little narrative, book-length treatment of the country in the travel genre.

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia is an American journalists immersion into an exotic land, where he had lived for years but never come to know. In 1996 Roff Smith set off alone into the Australia outback on a 10,000-mile bicycle trek. Over the next nine months, he stayed at remote sheep and cattle stations, old pearling ports, mining towns, Aboriginal communities, quiet rain forest villages, occasional big cities, and many solitary desert campsites, often hundreds of miles from the nearest dwelling. And so I wandered the country for more than nine months, living a more magnificent adventure than I could possibly have imagined at the start of the journey. I rode along the Tropic of Cancer into the dusty heart of the Queensland outback, through the rugged and extremely remote Kimberley region, crossed Western Australians Great Sandy Desert and ventured out across the sub-blistered immensity of the Nullabor Plain in the height of summer. I had to carry as much as 22 liters of water to survive these lonely distances, carefully conserving each precious drop as there were no opportunities to fill my canteens. It was a grueling journey. What with headwinds, dust, flies, searing heat, steep mountain grades, icy gales off the Southern Ocean, and long days of hard riding, I lost more than 30 pounds by the time I returned to Sydney. But somewhere in those thousands of miles I had gained a new home. It was the people I met more than anything else that opened my eyes to what it meant to be an Australian and instilled in me a deep and new found pride in my adopted country. Gracefully written, filled with insights, and teeming with discoveries, this lively narrative will find a place on the shelf alongside.

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