Saturday, 2 March 2019

Book Review: Stranger Country by Monica Tan 



Monica Tan is a former reporter for The Guardian, and in 2016, at age 32, she decided to leave her job and travel solo around Australia.
The 30,000 km journey took Monica 6 months, and Stranger Country documents her experience. 
The majority of her trip was spent in the central and northern parts of Australia, before making her way to the tropical north of Queensland, then finally heading home to her mum's place in a north-west Sydney suburb. 
Monica recorded her travels in a total of 18 journals, along with several hundred photographs. 
Stranger Country is broken up into seven parts; each for a region of Australia that Monica visits. 
Along the way, we are introduced to many landmarks and interesting locals who, for the most part, seem to be helpful, kind and accommodating to Monica. 

We get to know more about who she is as a person as the story goes on, and when I read that she picked up a male hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere, I thought that she was really brave - it's not something I'd ever consider doing!
I also admired her determination in completing a 72-kilometre hike over the course of nine days, and for camping out in remote locations, often in freezing temperatures at night (the trip began in June - wintertime in Australia).
Unbelievably, she had no SAT phone, toolkit, car snorkel, air compressor or even a proper spare tyre! Some would say she was asking for trouble being so unprepared, but her happy-go-lucky attitude, teamed with common sense, definitely helped her along the way. 

Her love of the land is evident, and she shares a lot of information about Aboriginal culture and history throughout her story.
She also talks about her own culture, being born to Chinese Malaysian parents, and uncovers her sense of belonging in Australia. 
This story has a lot of factual information, and a lot of heart, and I would recommend it, especially for those with an interest in Australian history and travel.
And on a final note, I must mention the book cover - the stunning hues of red earth and watermelon sky are so captivating!

Stranger Country by Monica Tan (Allen & Unwin $32.99) available now. 




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