Friedrich Gerstäcker, the most illustrious and prolific of German travel writers, set foot in Australia in March 1851, having walked across the Andes, traipsed the goldfields of California, and sailed over the Pacific in search of new adventures.
Gerstäcker found adventures aplenty in Australia. He rowed and trekked down the Murray, absorbed the excitement triggered by the discovery of gold, visited his countrymen in South Australia, and trained his outsider's eyes on a colonial society gripped by profound change.
In this translated edition of Gerstäcker's book Australien, his lively travelogue is made available for the first time in English. Rarely has Australia's colonial past been presented with such insight, humour and entertainment.
Publisher: Wakefield Press
Nick Mattiske, Inside Story wrote:
Well worth reading, both for its account of colonial Australia and for the author’s engaging style.
Mary Ann Elliott, The Chronicle, Toowoomba wrote:
A travel writer with a wit to rival Bill Bryson.
Katherine M Reynolds, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society wrote:
A chronicle of Australia’s rip-roaring colonial days, Gerstäcker's lively account of Sydney Town as cartloads of men and their equipment made their way to the goldfields is written with humour and insight and gives a vivid image of those times. Here is a fascinating account of what this huge country was like then with all its dangers, delights and curiosities.
Nic Klaassen, Flinders Ranges Research wrote:
Professor Monteath's book is well referenced and intelligently edited and makes a serious contribution to a scholarly analysis of Australian life through German eyes in the 1850s. A thoroughly readable and enjoyable book.
Gerstäcker's Australien offers drama, humour, suspense, excitement and a heightened sense of the exotic. Yet amid the exotic - and perhaps this feature lay at the core of Gerstäcker's genius - there was also and always the reassuringly familiar. Whether he was describing the Australian bush or the jungle of Brazil, a small piece of Germany was never far away. No other author united the familiar and the exotic as successfully as Gerstäcker did.