Didn’t have the time or money to get away this summer? Don’t despair! A good read can take you anywhere. Here are our suggestions for travelling by the book.


In Troppo, City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award winner Madelaine Dickie takes you on a surfing trip to the Indonesian islands. Think sleeping on the beachfront, black magic, hot sex, monster waves and growing tensions as cultures collide.


Written by Hungerford Award winner and Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Alice Nelson, The Last Sky opens in the markets of Hong Kong, on the cusp of the UK handover, and moves to the colonial mansions of Shanghai during the last days of World War II. This is a beautiful love story with some surprising historical details.

South America

Jim Richards’s youth as a clueless would-be miner diving for diamonds in the piranha-infested waters of Guyana in South America is just the start of an adventure that takes him to Laos, Indonesia and the Australian outback in search of precious things. Spoiler alert: there’s a reason why Gold Rush: How I Made, Lost and Made a Fortune features a large tarantula on the cover.

New Zealand

Alan Carter’s new thriller Marlborough Man is set in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, where police have to inspect crime scenes by boat and where local crims try to get away with hot roasted chickens down their daks. Told with Carter’s usual laconic humour, the book is also about finding your piece of paradise, only to hear someone start up a chainsaw.


Okay, so most of Ron Elliott’s crime mini-novels in Now Showing aren’t set overseas, but the excruciating and cinematic detail with which he describes a diamond smuggler excreting his wares at gunpoint in the Scottish countryside makes Now Showing worth the price of admission.

Round the world ticket

Dame Lena Gaunt is not a real person but by the end of this novel you sure wish she was. She’s the world’s first theremin player (a theremin is the instrument that plays the spooky Midsomer Murders theme song just before another member of the village dies a horrible death). The book recounts Lena’s life, from growing up in Perth to falling in love in South-East Asia. Lena finds fame in Sydney as Music’s Most Modern Musician and obscurity in Dunedin. She watches musicians from the sidelines in Paris and London before a second bout of fame in the 1960s heralds her professional heyday. Living in a small cottage in St Ives and an apartment in New York City, she crosses the Atlantic Ocean between teaching gigs in the summer and performances in the fall.

Where else can you go? Perhaps Pakistan with Wayne Ashton’s Under a Tin-grey Sari, Papua New Guinea with Jon Doust’s To the Highlands or France with Goldie Goldbloom’s latest novel Gwen.


Books discussed
Gold Rush: How I Made, Lost and Made a Fortune
The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt
Under a Tin-Grey Sari
The Last Sky
Marlborough Man

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