One for the Road: Revised Edition
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"A high-spirited, comic ramble into the savage Outback populated by irreverent, beer-guzzling frontiersmen." --Chicago Tribune
"A fascinating insight into what we're all about on the highways and byways along the outback track." --The Telegraph (Sydney)
Swept off to live in Sydney by his Australian bride, American writer Tony Horwitz longs to explore the exotic reaches of his adopted land. So one day, armed only with a backpack and fantasies of the open road, he hitchhikes off into the awesome emptiness of Australia's outback.
What follows is a hilarious, hair-raising ride into the hot red center of a continent so desolate that civilization dwindles to a gas pump and a pub. While the outback's terrain is inhospitable, its scattered inhabitants are anything but. Horwitz entrusts himself to Aborigines, opal diggers, jackeroos, card sharks, and sunstruck wanderers who measure distance in the number of beers consumed en route. Along the way, Horwitz discovers that the outback is as treacherous as it is colorful. Bug-bitten, sunblasted, dust-choked, and bloodied by a near-fatal accident, Horwitz endures seven thousand miles of the world's most forbidding real estate, and some very bizarre personal encounters, as he winds his way to Queensland, Alice Springs, Perth, Darwin--and a hundred bush pubs in between.
Horwitz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of two national bestsellers, Confederates in the Attic and Baghdad Without a Map, is the ideal tour guide for anyone who has ever dreamed of a genuine Australian adventure.
"Lively, fast-paced and amusing . . . a consistently interesting and entertaining account." --Kirkus Reviews
"Ironical, perceptive and subtle . . . will have readers getting out their maps and itching to follow Horwitz's tracks. . . . The internal journey is his finest achievement; he allows the reader into his heart, to go travelling with him there, sharing his adventures of the spirit." --Sunday Times (London)
a third group, somewhat outside the mainstream, gathers in the beer garden: young, shaggy and colorfully clad—the women in sarongs, the men in tropical shirts with earrings and bandannas. Sweaty and sunburned and carrying a rucksack, my place is clearly with the Untouchables in the beer garden. Before I can so much as squeeze in at one of the picnic tables, a beer, a home-rolled cigarette, and five different conversations have been thrust in my direction. “You’re a Yank? I thought you were
locked cage and a sign warning that anyone who pilfers from an adjoining ice supply is subject to prosecution. Not much of an oasis. We water instead 120 miles farther on, at a roadhouse called Sandfire. It is well named, sitting as it does in the middle of a burning semidesert. And it is well placed, like the pubs in the Northern Territory, to scoop up thirsty cars and drivers coming from either direction; as a sign near the roadhouse announces, there’s no more petrol for 170 miles. The
a pickaxe somewhere out West.” Gavin suffered from a different fantasy. His catering business in Perth went bust, then his marriage did the same. He figured a few months of hard labor in the bush would “set the boat straight again.” At the moment, though, he’s about as straight as a plumber’s snake. And things aren’t going to get any clearer. Mark has just caught the eyes of “The Man”; it seems some dope deal may transpire after all. Mark follows him out of the bar. Gavin perks up; maybe his
through the dark. But the gas station is closed and there’s no truck stop in sight. Slowly, as I hike to the pub through the twilight, I ponder a contingency I have dreaded, and thus far avoided: catching a bus. If there’s a bus tonight, I’ll take it as far as Katherine and hitch the last leg to Darwin. If there’s no bus until tomorrow, and I still haven’t caught a ride by then, I’ll hide my face in shame and ride it straight through to the Top End. If there’s no bus at all, I’ll just have to
Darwin, listening to the air-conditioner drip at 2 P.M. on a Monday afternoon, when the recognition comes. It is a thought that has played at the fringes of my consciousness for the past seventy-two hours; now, with my defenses down, it congeals into a simple declarative sentence. My career as a hitchhiker has come to an end. Someday there may be the stray itch like the longing for a cigarette, resurfacing years after kicking the habit. And certainly there will be other travels, other