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Drive-About: A Road Trip Through New Zealand and Australia    by Jeff Green order for
by Jeff Green
Order:  USA  Can
Curly Books, 2003 (2003)

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*   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Drive-About sets out to document the travels of a young, married couple through Australia and New Zealand, something it does adequately. The reader is given blow-by-blow accounts of various activities, and sometimes a little background information on historical events or local folklore.

However, by the end of the book one wonders whether the two adventurers actually enjoyed their trip, or were merely going through the paces, trying to make it around the continent in one piece. The narrative becomes repetitive, focusing on car troubles and bad sleeping arrangements, without grabbing our interest, which is a shame because there is so much more that could be told. For example, in relating a walk atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the author fails to mention the main reason they have to 'suit up' in steel grey overalls; rather than being the coverall to prevent grease and grime ruining clothes, it is in fact worn so that motorists are not distracted by the sight of brightly clothed people walking above them!

Although the travellers' search for a low-cost and reliable vehicle is interesting, it went on for too many pages (a couple of paragraphs would have sufficed) and I could not understand why the high jinx in the Australian Senate were so interesting; surely Mr. Green cannot believe that elected members of any parliament/senate do anything more than fling insults at each other during question period? And I don't quite understand why the discussion on taking showers in caravan parks was included. Any person who has traveled extensively has endured bad washrooms, bedrooms, campsites and eateries and this is rather tired fare to include in a book that, one hopes, is going to inspire others to embark on a similar adventure.

It is unfortunate that Bill Bryson has written a more entertaining, and more fact-filled, account of some of his travels 'down under', (in Down Under, Black Swan Books, 2001) with a greater sense of humour and insight than this one. Drive-About is simply a 'show-and-tell', disappointing as I would have enjoyed more background information on the sites and cities that the pair encountered. I was also surprised that this book ended with the barest details of the couple's final journey from Cairns to Sydney, which probably accounts for almost a seventh of the road trip through Australia!

Although an interesting endeavour I fear that this account is just too personal to appeal to a large audience.

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