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date: 01 December 2022

Australian Travel Writing, 1900–1960free

Australian Travel Writing, 1900–1960free

  • Anna JohnstonAnna JohnstonUniversity of Queensland


Travel writing has been an important form through which Australians learned about their own culture and their place in the world. Indigenous cultures of place and travel, geographic distance from the imperial metropole, and a long history of immigration have each made travel a particularly influential cultural practice. Nonfictional prose narratives, based on actual journeys, have enabled travelers in Australia and from Australia abroad to explore what was distinctive and what was shared with other cultures. These are accessible texts that were widely read, and that sought to educate and entertain their audience. The period from the inauguration of the Australian nation in 1901 to 1960, when distance shrank because of technological innovation and new forms of identity gained ascendance, shows the complex ways in which Australians defined their country and its global contribution. Writing about travel to Britain and other European locations helped authors to refine the Anglophone inheritance and a sense that Britain was Home. Northern-hemisphere travels also made some writers intensely feel their national identity. Participation in global conflicts during this period shifted Australian allegiances, both personal and governmental. At the same time, a new tourist industry encouraged Australians to travel at home, in order to learn more about remote areas and the Asia-Pacific region. Travel writing both abroad and at home reveals how particular forms of emotional allegiance and national identity were forged, reinforced, and maintained. This has been a particularly influential genre for a nation based on colonial migration and indigenous displacement, in which travel and mobility have been crucial.


  • Oceanic Literatures
  • 20th and 21st Century (1900-present)
  • Non-Fiction and Life Writing

Writing Australia: Place, Travel, and Mobility

Australia is uniquely defined by the experience of travel. Home to a diverse range of indigenous peoples—among the oldest of continuous world cultures, with a 40,000-year history—the largest island continent was marked by deep attachments to place that were formed in relation to traditional forms of internal travel: the “songlines” that mark the land with stories of culture and mobility. Ocean travel enabled both near neighbors and distant voyagers to connect with land-based indigenous groups. Trade across the northern seas opened links to Indonesia, Japan, and the archipelago of islands that link northern Australia and the Pacific region. Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English voyagers crossed the beaches from the 17th-century onward, and from 1788 new colonial populations arrived after long sea voyages. Early convict ships transported Britons, and others caught up in the intense mobility of the British Empire. Both penal and settler communities regularly traversed the 19th-century Australian and New Zealand colonies, the Pacific and Asian regions, and the British world. British travelers flocked to the antipodean settler colonies, and on return, their travel accounts flooded the periodical press and book publishers.1 The British appetite for information about the Australian colonies was intense: prospective emigrants were eager to learn which colony was the most welcoming, and what to bring. Broader political and cultural questions about the future of the British Empire came to occupy much attention, and many travelers, including James Froude, sought to “correct [their] impressions” by spending time in the settler colonies.2 Print cultures were, as James Belich suggests, “the nervous system of Greater Britain, and . . . they could carry identity as well as information.”3 With this history of travel, it is unsurprising that Australians are among the highest international travelers globally, and that writing about travel has been instrumental to how Australians have come to understand themselves and their place in the world.

In the period 1900 to 1960, travel writing negotiated key modern social and cultural matters. With federation in 1901, the interlinked but formally discrete Australian colonies became a nation (with New Zealand choosing to remain separate), and Australians sought to consolidate their distinctive national identity and their relationship both to the Asia-Pacific region and their historical ties to Britain. Having been the focus of British and other overseas travel itineraries since colonization, Australian readers were sensitively attuned to the perception of their country, customs, and nascent identity by outside commentators. As Kathleen Lambert lamented in her travel account The Golden South (1890), “too many young men, when they go out from England, have an idea their mission is to teach colonials, and to show feelings of contempt for them . . . [W]hen they find how mistaken they have been . . . in the worst spirit possible [they] set about to malign them. This class of traveller is well known, and their accounts are certainly unreliable.”4 Settler Australians were quick to condemn hasty or unflattering representations of Australia by short-term visitors, and refuted erroneous opinions of their country. They also sought to take charge of their own image.

At home and abroad, then, Australians have been shaped by travel and writing, as intertwined cultural practices. Outsiders’ views of Australia have been highly influential, if contested. Through travel, Australians sought to form their own perspectives on global culture and to understand their local environments in comparison with world cultures. Australians are “intricately enmeshed with the world, bound by ties of allegiance and affinity, intellect and imagination.”5 Mapping the period 1900–1960 by tracing the journeys and writings of Australians discovering the world, and discovering their own homeland, explores the ways in which travel writing both domesticates the foreign, and makes the local unfamiliar. In 1960, changes in transport had democratized access to travel and also changed the understanding of distance “as a sensory experience.”6 Travel writing appeared in a variety of forms (letters, magazine articles, and books) linked by their nonfictional prose style, based in the actual experience of travel for a variety of purposes, which may include leisure, art, or work, revealing the dense textual environment through which Australians learned to feel at home in the modern world.

Traveling to Home: Australian Travelers Abroad

Many Australians traveled to Britain and Europe and wrote accounts in the early decades of the 20th century: some traveled to make their mark on London’s literary scene, or used London as a base for travel and writing.7 Patrick White, arguably Australia’s most important writer, was educated in England (as was common for many elite pastoral families from the colonial period onward), and found in 1930s London and New York, and 1940s Lebanon and Greece, alternative homelands that nurtured his artistic vision of Australia.8 Artists were drawn to European landscapes, training, and milieu. Tom Roberts and Hilda Rix Nicholas trained in Paris, William Dobell went to the Slade School of Art in London from 1929 to 1939, Roy de Maistre was in London from the 1920s, and Sidney Nolan was based there from 1953. These expatriate arts communities provided important social connections for short-term visitors too. Both white and indigenous Australians traveled as soldiers, either for Britain or for Australia, and war provided many with access to international travel for the first time, especially during WW1.9 Politics drew others, whether radical or conservative. Suffragists and feminists such as Vida Goldstein and Jessie Street formed worldwide links through their travels. So too did trade union leaders, Communist party members such as Katharine Susannah Prichard, and Aboriginal activists such as A. M. Fernando and, later, Faith Bandler.10 Travel often spurred writing: letters (private and public), lectures and speaking engagements, magazine or newspaper articles, and books. Some of these Australian travelers never returned, reversing the 19th-century migration pattern from Britain to Australia.11 They wrote about both their birthplace and their adopted country with an expatriate’s intensity and a traveler’s curiosity. Yet many more spent a significant sojourn overseas before returning. Many, particularly artists and intellectuals, spent their lives moving between at least two locations that felt like home.

London Calling: Australian Travelers in Britain

Travel to the United Kingdom was an essential rite of passage for many white Australians in the 20th century, and a travel book about England, Ireland, Scotland, and/or Wales was the writer’s equivalent. Given the strength of Anglo-Australian ties prior to WWII, Britain was felt to be Home for many, and a journey there was believed to provide a kind of finishing school for the individual and an affirmation of settler heritage. Since the 1840s, Richard White argues, the symbolic value of Britain as “Home” became evident in the common use of the term, capitalized and/or in inverted commas: for many settler Australians, it was Britain that felt like “Home” rather than Australia.12 London was a particular drawcard, especially for women pursuing artistic or other professional pursuits.13 Louise Mack moved to London, where her autobiographical novel An Australian Girl in London (1902) launched her European career as a journalist, reviewer, and traveler: her later book A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War (1915) joined other travel narratives generated by the two world wars. By 1911, there were 13,000 “Australian girls” living in England and Wales: so many, one journalist noted in 1930, that “we meet ourselves everywhere.”14 Nancy Phelan wrote rapturously of her time in London in the late 1930s: “London was poetry, history, romance, mists and bare trees, lamplight on wet pavements, daffodil buds in the square. Its anonymity did not oppress me, on the contrary there was a sense of belonging to something enormous and man-made.”15 Other parts of Britain, however, bore the traces of postwar deprivation and the Depression: “The people we saw in the Wolverhampton shop were all poor and threadbare and none too clean . . . England suddenly seemed a sad grey country full of sad grey people. This was being poor, not at all the same as being hard-up. Hard-upness passed; poverty stayed.”16 Phelan’s work in Britain revealed to her (and her readers) parts of British life that were more confronting than romanticized images of Home.

Nina Murdoch noticed none of the poverty and suffering, and suffered none of the usual travelers’ complaints. Her “joyful discovery of Europe” was hyperbolic:

For my part, I was scarcely sane, I think the year that I found Europe!—I had slipped, it seemed, into a fourth dimension where, disembodied and exalted, I flowed from one enchantment to another—sublimated and adoring, humble and triumphant altogether; not knowing whether I wanted more to laugh or weep, so intense was the satisfaction of making contact with the beauty and graciousness of an old civilization.17

Such enthusiasm carries her throughout Seventh Heaven (1930), from Italy, Belgium, Amsterdam, England, and France. It also made her critical of Australia: “When I came home I was able a little to see ourselves as others see us.” She concludes: “I am not of those who can contentedly say: ‘Australia’s good enough for us.’”18 She finds sentiment sadly lacking in the Australian character, and the book demonstrates her affective mode of engagement and writing.

Ethel Turner’s Ports and Happy Havens (1911) followed her trip to London and Europe, and built upon her reputation as author of the classic Australian children’s novel Seven Little Australians (1894). Turner’s ebullient if ironic touristic persona provides great detail of her travels in Holland, France, and Italy, but Britain attracts only a very brief account, despite forming a significant part of her trip. Richard White suggests that Australian writers were often disempowered by their familiarity: “Travel to Britain was the necessary validation of the known rather than the discovery of the unknown,” and as such failed to stimulate the adventure expected of travel writing.19 A review in The Athenaeum condemned the book’s slightness and ease, suggesting that Turner’s travel writing merely repeated tourist clichés, and damned with faint praise its agreeable writing style: “It is so easy to write a book of this sort; so difficult to write a ‘Reisebilder.’” Evoking Heinrich Heine’s classic Reisebilder (Travel Pictures; 1826–1831), the reviewer clearly made distinctions between high-quality literary journalism and popular or middlebrow forms.20 Indeed, such judgements tended to marginalize travel writing in both national and international literary spheres.

Travel writing is a versatile genre that accommodates professional and amateur writers (which made it attractive to women writers and readers, but also contributed to its critical marginalization); it often has a dual commercial and educational focus; and its contribution to literature is “collective and incremental rather than singular and aesthetic.”21 In the early- to mid-20th century, travel technologies, new cultural forms reflecting the interests of burgeoning middle classes, and commercial mass publication coalesced. Travel writing, published in both books and magazines, Faye Hammill and Michelle Smith argue, was “instrumental in forging a link between geographical mobility and upward mobility.”22 Book and magazine publishers increasingly used travel as a status symbol that could be achieved by their readers and used narratives of travel to encourage the desire for travel and to educate readers about a set of acceptable practices based around tourism.23 Middle-class patterns of consumption brought together reading, leisure, and tourism, all of which were featured in travel writing and which, in magazines, often featured vibrant and engaging text and images.

Australian travel writing about Britain and Europe both displayed and encouraged middle-class tourist practices. While Anglophile nostalgia encouraged highbrow pursuits of history, heritage, and culture, London was also one of the great centers of modernity. New and more broadly available technologies of travel opened up various itineraries for visitors. Some Australians followed the popular English writer H. V. Morton’s In Search of England (1927) and took the advice of the British-Australasian magazine to undertake self-drive explorations farther than London and the standard tourist route.24 Others preferred an Australian guide, and the prolific writer Frank Clune provided Land of Hope and Glory (1949), graced by the same cheerful vernacular tone that typified his Australian travel books.

Traveling to and living in Britain often made Australians acutely aware of their nationality. Despite their Anglophilia, travelers often found themselves patronized, quickly derided as “colonials,” and excluded from the class system. Even Nina Murdoch noted that her nationality invoked British curiosity only in “what mark of savagery I bore.”25 So too expatriates were acute critics of the ways in which their country performed Australian-ness in Britain. Writing a “London Letter” for the important cultural magazine Meanjin in 1951, the writer, reviewer, and editor Florence James was mortified at the representation of Australians in political circles, on Australia Day, and on radio. She critiqued the “partial and sentimental” broadcast of Catherine Helen King, a visiting West Australian broadcaster who had spoken to 3 million radio listeners on BBC Woman’s Hour: “One is familiar with the pattern: traditions of England and ‘Home’ cherished in Australia, brought up on nostalgic and literary recreations of the English countryside and seasons, nourished on English poetry, and at last the great trip.”26 James tartly concluded that King would return to Australia with a permanently cricked neck “through trying to keep her eyes turned backwards towards England.”27 A. A. Phillips’s 1950 influential Meanjin essay “The Cultural Cringe” had reached London, and Phillips’s diagnosis of the colonial mentality—its sense of inferiority and “assumption that the domestic cultural product will be worse than the imported article”—was acute.28 Australia’s insecure self-representations, James suggested, resulted in a cultural vacuum, neither fully British nor unapologetically Australian.

Traveling Outside Britain

While London and the United Kingdom more broadly provided many Australians with working holidays and ways to understand the Anglophone tradition, it also provided a familiar departure point for more exotic locations. Doughty travelers such as Mary Gaunt conducted wide-ranging travel to China, Africa, and Jamaica from her London base in the early 1900s, even if the independence of the “woman alone” of her titles is exaggerated, downplaying the local guides who enabled her travel, as David Walker notes.29 Nina Murdoch echoed the travel trope for her breathless title She Travelled Alone in Spain (1935). Murdoch finds herself the frequent object of attention, in a reversal of the tourist gaze.30 Spanish women have little sympathy for Murdoch’s independence, and the only “Spanish woman with charm” she encounters in her three-month visit is the maid at a family pensione in Madrid.31 Undermining the traditional Grand Tour, at Prado Murdoch happily confesses her dislike of Goya, whose work over-emphasized “everything in the Spanish character that is commonplace and in bad taste.”32 By the 1960s, much had changed. Colin Simpson’s avowed motivation for Take Me to Spain (1964) was to write the book he could not find in London (“and also the kind that could take me to Spain if the only way I could go was by armchair”).33 He noted, “We do not travel Spain any more, as Borrow and Ford did: we tour it.”34 He advocates party tours, and enthusiastically writes as a tourist, though noting “a writer has to travel the tourist track intensively, and then do a lot of homework.”35 Writers such as Simpson celebrated midcentury modes of travel and created a popular style of travel writing explicitly designed for tourists. They were stridently democratic. Richard White suggests that for Frank Clune and Simpson being “a tourist was simply being Australian: ordinary, egalitarian, unpretentious.”36 Through such modes of travel, types of national identity were formed and privileged.37

European locations also attracted semi-permanent expatriates. Charmian Clift and her husband and fellow writer George Johnston had moved to London in the early 1950s to work on Fleet Street, but by 1954 they had moved to the Greek island of Kálimnos. Surrounded by a vibrant but challenging local culture, and gathering around her a mobile community of artists, Clift wrote her part-autobiographical account of expatriate life on Kálimnos (Mermaid Singing [1956]). Her popular travel book Peel Me a Lotus (1959) accounted for the family’s move to Hydra (Ídhra) with a newly born son. A newspaper columnist, script writer, and essayist, Clift’s rich evocation of idyllic island landscapes—together with her struggles to maintain independence and her vocation for writing amongst a young family and competing artistic careers in the marriage—proved popular with readers, especially women. Different struggles faced Patrick White and his partner Manoly Lascaris after meeting during WWII: Australia seemed to offer Lascaris freedom from the judgment of his family and the conservative morality of Greece and Alexandria, while White felt the lure of permanent expatriation. Ambivalently, both couples eventually returned to Australia.38

Other travelers explicitly sought a political pilgrimage, especially to the Soviet Union, to affirm their progressive ideologies.39 This was another kind of international “home” to the one sought by nostalgic Anglophile travelers, but no less imbued with sentiment. Significantly, though, these were visits in search of a progressive future, and they brought left-leaning Australian writers into connection with a rich international milieu.40 If in Britain, Dymphna Cusack found that “Time Runs Backwards” (1950), in the Soviet Union travelers such as Frank Hardy made a Journey into the Future (1952).41 Katharine Susannah Prichard’s The Real Russia (1934) provides a rapturous picture, inspired by the writer’s 1933 visit across 30,000 miles of Soviet Russia and Siberia: “I want to write about [Soviet places and peoples] in splashes of colour, gouts of phrases as Walt Whitman would have, or Mayakovski; paint them after the manner of the French symbolists, images seething and swarming over each other, as they lie in my mind.”42 Like many “fellow travellers,” Prichard now stands accused of over-dependence on the government agencies that controlled travelers’ itineraries and interlocutors (and in so doing sanitizing the suffering under the Communist regime), and she disclosed little of this influence in her account: “The criticism is sometimes made that people who visit . . . under the auspices of the Intourist Agency are not free to go about as they wish. But all the tourists I spoke to, said that this was not so.”43 P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins) was disparaging about the role of official guides: “I wish one could go about Russia along. Being with a party and in charge of a guide is most demoralizing. One becomes lean and humble, and for one so entirely uneducated as myself the constant infliction of culture can be very tiring.” Travers laments that “The real Russia . . . is as carefully concealed from the vulgar eye of the tourist as were the contents of the sacred Ark from the ordinary Israelite.”44 Certainly Prichard masks the extent of her reliance upon translators, and her keen enthusiasm for the cause results in a hyperbolic account of a Communist utopia. In contrast to the shocked accounts by many Australian writers about the British poor, Prichard approvingly quotes her Russian informant Tanya who claims, “Is there anywhere else in the world where young people of the working class could look so healthy, happy—and ready to defend the future for their children?” Prichard agrees: despite the hardship, suffering, and sacrifice (“the miracles of self-abnegation and fortitude”) of the older generation under the Five Year Plan, the next generation of young Soviets “will surpass all others in fitness and physical beauty.”45 Other Australian travelers were less sanguine, even if politically sympathetic. Betty Roland, traveling with her lover Guido Baracchi in the Soviet Union in the same year, noted more disturbing signs of Soviet society, deplored the hardship and lack of wholesome food, and the horrific communal toilets, even as she extolled the 1933 May Day celebration as “the most stupendous spectacle on earth.”46 She also chronicles her impression of Prichard, a friend of Baracchi’s whom she had first met in Australia en route to Europe, then again in Moscow: Prichard is “tremulous with happiness” in Russia, finding “the fulfilment of her dreams.”47 Yet she also records Prichard’s discomfort with the level of personal self-advancement evident in the Communist bureaucracy.48 Significantly, Prichard’s boosterish account was published immediately in 1934, while Roland’s more personal and reflexive travel writing was not published until 1979, and later revised.49 The historian Manning Clarke’s Meeting Soviet Man (1960) provided another, more philosophical, and less personal consideration of what the Soviet Union offered: he aimed “to persuade people in Australia to take Soviet Man seriously,” although he returned home with a nostalgia for “the tragic grandeur of Russia—and for Russians.”50

Traveling Abroad to Travel Home

Randolph Bedford’s travels to Britain and Europe show a revealing recursive trajectory. A mining speculator, Bedford sought finance in London to float a major mining project in 1901–1904, and his travel notes were published at the time in the Bulletin magazine (a key site of Australian identity formation from the late 19th century onward) and later in book form. Like many Australians, Bedford encountered Asia en route to London, and was astonished by the color and beauty of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon): “I cannot forget the rapture of that first knowledge of this new world . . . The atmosphere and color are so new and different that any new comer with any imagination must see it all the time. The color is more the color of the litterateur than of the painter.”51 Yet Bedford’s first vision of England is the dirty grey of the white cliffs of Dover, far from the often eulogized vision of arrival by sea. This chromographic contrast colors his impression of London: he finds the city fog-bound, depressing, and full of pretension. Misled by a variety of dishonest speculators, Bedford’s commentary on the people and the environment is caustic. An interested and unpretentious investigator, Bedford talks to wealthy (and otherwise) investors, street vendors, and expatriate Australians. He is shocked by the disparity between decadent wealth and abject poverty: he considers that the environment corrupts people, and that society is hidebound by privilege and class. He makes two important reversals of classic colonial stereotypes. Two Australian women “who have become English [l]oafed in fluffy tea gowns in a heated sitting-room where the air was unnatural as chiffon. I was so depressed by the change from healthy women to demoralised dummies that I left the house feeling the shame of a cat going home in the dawn.”52 Here, currency lasses (native-born white Australians) have been corrupted not by colonial society and environment—as was feared in the early to mid-19th century—but by their exposure to England. Mining interests lure him to Italy, which he adores. He makes repeated trips, finding Europe in general much more appealing than London: in Pisa, he extolls “my luck that had sent me from the fog of the antipodes of Australia into an imitation of my own land.”53 (In 1922, Martin Boyd experienced a similar transformative attachment to Pisa).54 London is reconfigured here as the aberrant opposite of Australia, and Pisa as the appealing imitation. This is a strategic reconfiguration of the world from a southern-hemisphere perspective, and it drives Bedford homewards with renewed appreciation:

I had thought that having once felt the beauty of the art of Italy that never again should I be satisfied with a country that is sordid in many ways. But art merely imitates the beauty of primitiveness; and my land is beautiful in its every rock and tree—even if only because of its illimitable spaces. And all are of equal value in their kind; Ghiberti’s doors and Freeling Heights; Giotto’s tower and Pichi Pichi Pass, the brown walls of Florence and the hills at Patsy’s Springs; Fowler’s Gap and the Simplon Arch that dominates Milan.55

London disappointed and demoralized travelers such as Bedford, and made them feel proudly Australian. European experience shows him new ways to understand Australian cities as cosmopolitan places; but the real Australia, for Bedford, is found “somewhere near the centre of the continent—north of Lake Frome.”56

Traveling at Home

From the 1930s onward, a concerted effort was made to encourage Australians to travel home, that is, to understand their own country, especially its remote areas, and its proximity to the Asia-Pacific region. Influential advocates such as the Australian National Travel Association sponsored Walkabout magazine, which across 1934–1974 published many of the nation’s best writers, featuring particular regions, historical tours, and distinctly Australian peoples and cultures.57 Aboriginal, Torres Strait, and Pacific Island cultures were central to the picture of Australia presented to readers. The magazine provides important insights into debates about Australian identity during the mid-20th century, and the ways in which these were played out in accessible forms. Key to these debates were settler Australian attachments to place. Walkabout provides insights into the ways in which white Australians negotiated their relationships to landscapes, both literal and emotional, including those marked by Aboriginal occupation and belonging. The magazine’s title invokes Australian Aboriginal travel within country for customary, religious, and practical purposes. Deborah Bird Rose defines the Aboriginal concept of country as “a living entity with a yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a consciousness, and a will toward life.”58 “Walkabout” was an Anglicized term for indigenous practices, and understood by settlers from early colonial times as a form of travel specific to Aborigines. The term was often used derogatively to indicate irresponsibility, particularly in labor relationships, as part of a generalized discourse about presumed “nomadism” that could be used strategically to deny Aboriginal claims to land and to facilitate settler possession.59 The use of the term to brand the 1930s travel magazine marks both increased interest in, and positive valuation of, Aboriginal culture by some settler Australians of the time; yet it was also, arguably, an appropriation.60

Walkabout circulated internationally through government agencies to encourage emigration and travel. It was the preeminent travel magazine, fulfilling a similar function as National Geographic in the United States.61 A raft of similar, mainstream magazines began in the 1920s and 1930s, which as Victoria Kuttainen notes predated most literary journals and a strong local book-publishing industry.62 Magazines such as MAN and BP Quarterly regularly used travel as a theme for their fiction and published some travel writing.63 These magazines collectively provided an important opportunity for writers, and their efforts to define Australian writing.64 A group of midcentury writers used journalism, magazines, and new media forms to create innovative travel-writing careers, creating and cultivating enthusiastic readerships. These writers published a substantial body of travel writing across the 1930s to 1960s.

Many focused on remote Australia. Ernestine Hill published short newspaper travel pieces, and longer magazine articles in Walkabout, and brought these together into important travel books such as The Great Australian Loneliness (1937) and The Territory (1951). Hill characterizes herself as a “wandering ‘copy-boy’ with swag and typewriter, to find what lay beyond the railway lines,” and her books thrill with romance and love of country: “Australia is like its own unique and glorious jewel, the opal. A great jagged square of colourless crystal, you must hold it up to the light to catch the flashing fires of romance.”65 Despite upholding the idea of a white Australia, Hill records a rich multicultural community in the northwest. During her visit to Darwin’s central court, Hill describes the week’s sessions: Japanese divers, Chinese jewel and gold traders, white miners, opium addicts, and tribal murderers. Although she rails against miscegenation, Hill records a case in which a white man is charged for procuring alcohol for his Aboriginal wife. Hill’s writing evoked these communities for both urban Australian and overseas readers, encouraging travel, migration, and reflection. A keen and curious reader herself, Hill connected Australian colonial mythologies to other countries: “Covered-wagon pioneers of America travelled like the Children of Israel in a great community pilgrimage of caravans together, roads and railways soon to follow. Pioneers of Australia rode along, or with wife and babies in a spring-cart, out of the world’s ken.”66 Hill wrote travel into the core of Australian identity, concluding her ambitious history of the northern territory with the hallucinatory voices of white bushmen that evoke Cortés, the Armada, and Fontainebleau, alongside the bush poets Henry Lawson and A. B. (“Banjo”) Paterson. For Hill, these “knightly figures” are the erudite, philosophical elite: “if you seek intellectual converse in Australia, you will find it, not in cities, where they are obsessed with petty commerce, shows, racehorses and the daily gossip of each other, but out in the haze of the opal hills of the Centre, or by an unknown river of the north.”67

Hill’s Australian travel writing proved popular internationally. The New York Times gave the American edition of The Great Australian Loneliness a full-page review (by Hartley Grattan); so too the Herald Tribune. The reviews were very gratifying: Hill mused that “they are making Australia, through my little book—a wonderful story.”68 Grattan praised Hill’s reportage: “Probably no Australian writer has better conveyed to armchair readers just what kind of men and women give the Australian frontier a ‘go’ and keep alive the extremities of a continental economy.” He did express reservations about her vivid speculations and enthusiasm for future development, especially in the harsh and remote Northern Territory.69 The Pacific Review (Washington, DC) praised the “travelling knowledges” Hill embodied: “The descriptive parts of Mrs Hill’s book are as good as anything written on the subject. She spent five years travelling fifty thousand miles over some of the world’s worst land to get the material for her book.” But her judgments are “much too emotional . . . It will take more than an injection of the warmth Mrs Hill bears for the few thousand hardy characters who populate this vast desolation to give life to the Dead Heart of Australia.”70 Yet this affective appeal mobilized the imaginations of readers and encouraged an international and domestic tourist market.

The Australian interior was a resonant image for the nation and its identity, as we have seen evoked by Randolph Bedford and Ernestine Hill. Frank Clune wrote a series of cheerfully adventurous travel accounts of Australia in the 1930s. Try Anything Once (1933) recalled his youthful travels at sea, as a soldier in both the American cavalry and for the Australian Imperial Forces at Gallipoli in World War I, and diverse experiences both overseas and in Australia. A series of books followed Clune “rolling down” important Australian rivers or “roaming around” particular regions.71 Ion Idriess—another prolific writer of travel and adventure fiction—wrote of his 1934 experience in Broome and Derby in far Western Australia in One Wet Season (1949). He eulogizes the rugged pioneering life of men in the Kimberley back country, cataloguing a wide variety of regional industries from cattle droving to gold and opal mining to feral donkey mustering to remote police patrols.72 These narratives of industry accompany the constant traveling within country undertaken by itinerant workers, and also by Idriess as a writer. Like Hill, he considered his writing important as a testimony of a vanishing phase of (white) Australian life, and he developed many resonant legends of Australian identity.73 But the outback is also a modernizing culture, such that in Across the Nullarbor: A Modern Argosy (1951), Idriess drily represents himself as a strategically incompetent innocent who must be chaperoned by car enthusiasts who pillory his determined resistance to automobile travel. And in all his books, Idriess effortlessly demonstrates that these are regions where settler and Aboriginal Australians work in daily intimacy, which despite political asymmetry is characterized by profound familiarity and mutual accommodation. For MAN magazine, too, Idriess edited an “Australasiana” section for many years, cultivating a range of writers focused on outback and Pacific themes. For these authors, travel writing became a form in which to record the stories and cultures of the colonial past, which appeared to be fast vanishing in the modern era. These were often ideologically conservative stories that sought to stave off new ideas by invoking colonial stereotypes of race and nation.74

Some writers, such as Arthur Groom in I Saw a Strange Land (1950), reflected thoughtfully and with concern for remote Aboriginal communities. Groom links his experience working on a large cattle station on the Northern Territory–Queensland border between 1922 and 1925—when he experienced groups of remote desert people “coming in” to rural settlements for the first time, as well as foolhardy settlers taking sheep out west for new pastoral experiments—to his return visit in 1946. Cast in the contemporary (now dated) language of Aboriginal “protection,” which dominated midcentury government policy, Groom’s investigations nevertheless sought to reveal the effect of modernization in the interior for indigenous people and the landscape. Staying at the Hermannsburg Mission presided over by Reverend F. W. Albrecht, Groom had his expectations confounded: “This was no dying race—there were too many children.”75 Such forms of travel writing are far from radical critiques of colonization, but they do reveal the attention paid by commentators during this period to race relations, and the engagement of the general public with accessible writing that considered some of the complexities and contradictions of settler colonialism.76 Such writing also reveals the longevity of imperial travel traditions and their influence upon 20th-century modes of mass travel and communication: as Anthony Carrigan suggests, contemporary “mass travel practices frequently exploit uneven distributions of wealth, remapping colonial travel patterns.”77

Travel Technologies and Environmental Writing

New travel technologies opened up the country for both actual and armchair travelers. The novelist Eleanor Dark wrote about the new long-distance tourist coaches who made outback Australia accessible, lamenting their speed, which introduced a “jarring note”:

A landscape in which [the traveler] should be still to feel its stillness is branded forever on his memory as a straight ribbon of road endlessly unrolling, and on either side of it a whizzing streak of colour in which the aboriginal reds, browns and ochres of the earth and the dull greens of the low-growing vegetation run together in a blur.78

Here Dark provides the antidote to Florence James’s critique of attitudes that “Australia is a continent that one flies over but scarcely lives in.”79 Recognizing her fortune to travel differently in this distinctive landscape, Dark considers Central Australia “not only the geographical heart of the country” but also of great spiritual significance.80 Many midcentury writers shared her feelings, making interior pilgrimages. These mostly sought to reimagine what had been coined The Dead Heart of Australia (1909) by geologist, explorer, and prolific writer J. W. Gregory. Books such as H. H. Finlayson’s The Red Centre: Man and Beast in the Heart of Australia (1935) and anthropologist C. P. Mountford’s Brown Men and Red Sand (1948) changed Australian understandings of the center. Mountford’s four-month expedition from Ernabella to Uluru in 1940—with his wife Bessie, Lauri Sheard, and the cameleer Tommy Dodd—led to a detailed survey of the art and mythology of Uluru and the Olgas, with photographic exhibitions and a prize-winning 1940 film from which the book’s title and subject matter were drawn.81 Typical of the “modular and portable” nature of travel writing, film, and lecture tours during this period, the films Mountford made in Central Australia led to a lecture tour to the United States in 1945, which eventually resulted in the American-Australian Arnhem Land Scientific Expedition (1948).82 Mountford’s writing, among others of the period, prefigured later studies such as T. G. H. Strehlow’s Journey to Horseshoe Bend (1969) and arguably augured in late-20th-century classics such as Stephen Muecke, Krim Benterrak, and Paddy Roe’s Reading the Country: Introduction to Nomadology (1984) in which travel becomes explicitly a collaborative, cross-cultural exploration of settler, immigrant, and Aboriginal participants and perspectives.

20th-century travel modes impacted in a variety of ways Australian domestic travel and writing. On the one hand, coaches, trains, and motor cars enabled more people to travel more broadly, and this underpinned the new tourist industry.83 This was particularly important given the sheer distance and size of the continent, highlighted by writers such as E. J. Brady in Australia Unlimited (1918). Even the endurance cyclist Francis Birtles, who had published Lonely Lands: Through the Heart of Australia (1909) about his extraordinary interior trip by bicycle, later turned to the motor car. Companies sponsored popular travel writers to write about journeys using the new technologies: Ford sponsored and distributed Birtles’s 3,500 Miles across Australia in a Ford Car: From the Gulf of Carpentaria to Port Phillip Bay (1913). Frank Clune was notorious for his deals with airlines, mining companies, and other industries, as well as government departments, agencies, and colonial administrations. As John Tebbutt notes, effectively Clune “was a propagandist for businesses, selling an early form of ‘product placement’ by providing favourable mentions of supporting companies in his books and articles.”84 Even Ernestine Hill—herself not adverse to publicity—expressed scepticism at what Robert Dixon calls “The Frank Clune Industry,” when she learned of Clune’s sponsorship by car maker Holden for the book Land of Australia: Roaming in a Holden (1953):

Clune dashed off with a new Holden free and all his petrol from C.O.R. [Commonwealth Oil Refineries], probably a good little nest-egg too, on a Round Australia in 100 Days Along turn-out. He sent for his son on the Nullabor Plain, made streamer-advertisements in Perth, then darted spectacularly off [. . .] and came back. “A good bushman never turns back.” He’s gone up the Queensland coast—bitumen all the way—I hear.85

Mirroring Eleanor Dark’s qualms about the effect of coach travel on the experience on the interior, Hill’s commentary reveals concern about deleterious outcomes of modern travel practices. These hasty and strategic experiences of place are far from the slow, embodied lives of the bushmen that Hill celebrated in her writing.

In response, Australian travelers turned to different ways of experiencing place through travel. Nature writing was a major form of travel writing from the 19th century onward, and can be traced from the moment of colonization through explorers’ diaries that were influenced by both natural history and Romantic travel discourses.86 The early 20th century featured closely observed accounts of particular regional places, such as E. J. Banfield’s Confessions of a Beachcomber (1908), which evoked island life on the Great Barrier Reef in far North Queensland, as did the marine biologist T. C. Roughley in Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef (1936). (Roughley wrote ten articles for Walkabout between 1937 and 1956.) Alongside his scientific writing, Charles Barrett wrote travel books such as Koonwarra: A Naturalist’s Adventures in Australia (1939) and Coast of Adventure: Untamed North Australia (1941), as well as writing for Walkabout and other magazines. (During World War I, Barrett had served in the Middle East, when he edited the service magazine, the Kia-ora Coo-ee, for which he wrote a regular “Nature Studies in Palestine” column among other travel and history articles.) Such scientifically informed accounts educated readers about environmental subjects as well as intimately observed regional places. Others turned to bushwalking—long hikes in remote locales—as a way to avoid the speed of modern travel and to experience place differently. After 1910, walking clubs encouraged urban dwellers to explore their nearby regions: the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Cradle Mountain and the Western Tiers for Hobart and Launceston residents, the Lamington National Park and Glasshouse Mountains near Brisbane, and so on. As Melissa Harper notes, recreational walking became a popular craze by the early 1930s.87 It influenced writing too—such as Arthur Groom’s One Mountain After Another (1949)—and reinforced the link between travel writing and the environmental ethos of the natural historians.88

Australians in the Asia-Pacific

Other writers saw opportunities beyond Australia. Writers such as Beatrice Grimshaw regularly traveled in and published about the Pacific—following 19th-century writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson and the Australian Louis Becke—in well-read classics such as In the Strange South Seas (1907) and Isles of Adventure: From Java to New Caledonia but Principally Papua (1930). Popular magazines like Walkabout, and other more scholarly or professional journals about with the Pacific region, “invariably promoted the cause of ‘understanding’ among Pacific nations.”89 Although the complaint that Australians knew little of the outside world already existed by the 1930s, as David Walker shows there was in fact “a sustained commentary on Asia-Pacific themes, not least the merits of forming closer political, economic and cultural ties with the region.” The 1910s and 1920s saw an increased awareness of the Pacific, encouraged by “a trans-Pacific community of writers and intellectuals who charted the commonalities of the region and its many lines of division and potential conflict.”90 The mechanization of mobility and the extensive travel infrastructure after World War I made both regional and trans-hemispheric travel increasingly accessible. Ocean liners regularly plowed the shipping routes that had expanded from the late 19th century, and leisure cruises became popular.91 Aviation opened up opportunities, between the wars, for adventure: Australian aviators such as Charles Kingsford Smith captured the public imagination through newspaper and media accounts, and books such as Bill Taylor’s Pacific Flight: The Story of the Lady Southern Cross (1935).92 Travel writing was crucial in engaging everyday citizens with Australian regional relationships.93

Frank Clune’s travel experiences positioned him well for new interest in Asia-Pacific regions during and after the Pacific War. His frankly commercial approach led to a vast output (fifty-nine books, both travel and Australian history), and introduced Australian readers to Europe, the Pacific, and Asia. In self-promoting fashion, Clune described his prewar efforts: “I believe that no other Australian writer travelled as widely or wrote as persistently about this zone as I did in the immediate pre-war years.”94 Australian and international readers needed to become more “Pacific-minded.”95 In Clune’s typically boosterish way, he claimed to have anticipated this shift with his series of travel narratives about Japan, China, Malaya, Indonesia, Papua, and Queensland: “Then came the war; and I’ll bet that from now on there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books written in Australia and the U.S.A. about the Pacific—its peoples, its places, its problems, its history and its legend and lore.”96 Robert Dixon describes the commercial arrangements with airlines and mining companies that Clune enthusiastically sought for the books Prowling through Papua (1942) and Somewhere in New Guinea (1951), and rightly condemns Clune’s replication of colonial relations of power and prejudice.97 Yet settler Australian knowledge about the Pacific changed Australian self-perception as much as ideas about the region. As Chris Dixon and Prue Ahrens argue, “Understandings of what was ‘modern,’ ‘primitive,’ ‘foreign’ or ‘familiar’ were unstable and became more so with each cultural encounter.”98 Increasing technologies of travel, representation, and education made 19th-century South Seas fantasies increasingly untenable, as well as rigidly compartmentalized categories of self and other, modern and premodern.

Agnieszka Sobocinska suggests that since the 1940s it became common to characterize Asia as Australia’s “neighbourhood,” and best-selling writers such as Clune continued this in popular travel writing about Asia from the 1950s and 1960s. She argues that the term personalizes international relations, “by inviting ordinary people to draw parallels between their private lives and the sphere of international relations.”99 Clune was part of this, but by no means the only figure. Walkabout had a light but consistent coverage of Japan throughout the magazine: mainly focusing on the pearling industry in northwest Australia, but also incidental articles on Japanese, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander cross-cultural interactions; a 1937 account of climbing Mount Fuji; and stories about post–World War II reconstruction in the Pacific Islands. Many Walkabout articles in the 1930s discussed Japanese pearl luggers in Northern Australia. The opinions expressed vary considerably, but across the spectrum the pearling industry made Australians aware that the Pacific was part of Japan’s neighborhood too. The educational agenda of Walkabout, and its advocacy for travel, was crucial in these social changes. The Asia-Pacific region was imagined into being for Australian readers during this key period by such cultural forms.100

In the postwar period, returned servicemen and -women took a particular interest in the region, having experienced both the Pacific and conflict with Japan, and developed strong opinions, ongoing connections, and personal engagement. Colin Simpson’s Japan: An Intimate View (1959) introduced Australian readers to a culture that, post-WWII, seemed compellingly close but very foreign. His was a personal and humanizing portrayal of a culture with whom Australians had only recently been fighting in the Pacific Islands that stretched between the two countries. Simpson convinced his readers that people could not be understood by looking from a car window, nor land truly felt by flying overhead: “You have to get out and be with them on common ground, literally, rub shoulders with them, go along with them, be alone with them.”101 Such accounts provided new ways for Australians to learn about their region, and augured in an enormous amount of travel from Australia to Asia during the 1960s and 1970s.

Australian Travel Writing and Scholarship: Overview and Discussion

Early- to mid-20th-century travel writing sought to make white Australians at home in the world, and familiar with their island home. 1900–1960 was a pivotal period in which the nation was formed, old allegiances to Britain and Europe were both maintained and questioned, and two world wars expanded the role that Australians could play in global theaters. National identities were negotiated, building from their colonial, 19th-century counterparts. Like many Anglophone countries, the early 20th century provided an explosive increase in technology that both literally and figuratively brought the world closer. By midcentury, Australian individuals and government were aligning themselves with the United States as a global power: Anne Rees shows how Australian women travelers looked to the United States for modern professional self-fashioning, for example.102 After the Pacific War—in which Australians had to assert themselves against regional threats and some limited territorial incursions—both Asia and the Pacific regions became increasingly important as part of Australia’s imagined neighborhood.

Travel and writing were central to these negotiations of identity, both individual and national. Justine Greenwood and Richard White concur: “Travel writing mattered: it had a social impact beyond merely entertaining the curious, since it could affect migration, investment and trade.”103 The elasticity of the travel form—which shares features with adjacent genres such as natural history and environmental writing, life writing, and popular ethnography—enabled it to be adapted for a variety of purposes. The texts are linked, though, by their use of nonfictional prose, and the lived experience of a journey. Both travel and its literature had disproportionate impact in Australia given geographical isolation from its imperial center, but also because the indigenous understanding of country was marked by deep understandings of place and movement within and across internal borders. As a consequence of poor educational and economic opportunities, Aboriginal writing in English remained limited until well after the period under investigation.104 Writing about Aboriginal Australia, though, has been central to making sense of the continent.

Since the 1960s, writing by both local and overseas writers has sought to unsettle existing preconceptions about national identity, place, and belonging. This is in concert with revisionist national histories, increased political activism by and recognition of Aborigines and land rights, and broader questioning of traditional society: “The New Australia,” to borrow Colin Simpson’s 1970 book title.105 Travel writing such as Jock Marshall and Russell Drysdale’s Journey among Men (1962) allowed a zoologist-explorer and artist, respectively, to survey Australian rural life and to correct some of the more prejudiced impressions of tribal Aborigines. Their account is framed by their return from “years of exile in Europe” to “the cold beer and red dust on the fringe of the desert.”106 This is a tour of bush “characters” of the kind mythologized by Ernestine Hill and Ion Idriess, but here the stereotypes are gently and humorously probed. Writing about Aborigines by white Australians came to seem more and more problematic as Aboriginal rights and writers came to the foreground from the 1960s onward. This certainly did not trouble overseas travel writers, for whom writing about Aboriginal cultures has been central.107 Travel writers such as Bruce Chatwin and Bill Bryson have focused almost exclusively on Aboriginal cultures and/or race relations in their portrayals of late-20th-century Australia.108 As an attractive site for travel, Australia retains its allure, even if the opinion of visiting writers sometimes clashes with local self-perception.

This continuity from the 19th century onward continues to make travel writing particularly resonant in Australia. Since the 1990s, scholarship about travel writing has been a constant, if minor, concern in cultural history and literary studies. As Mary Louise Pratt notes, the study of travel writing in the Anglophone academy became an industry from the 1990s onward, as a consequence of decolonizing movements, major publications such as Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) and Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992), and intellectual trends such as postcolonial inquiry and the widespread and cross-disciplinary study of empire.109 Previously, travel writing was a marginal form of little interest, particularly in literary studies. Indeed, the foundational anthologies of Australian travel writing were produced by a trio of cultural historians who remain major figures in Australian travel writing. The Oxford Book of Australian Travel Writing (1996) inaugurated a canon of scholarship, featuring Australians writing about non-Australian places almost exclusively. Ros Pesman’s work has foregrounded women travelers and expatriates.110 David Walker’s studies have used travel writing as a mechanism to explore the relationship between Australia and Asia, in particular.111 Richard White uses travel writing to explore various aspects of Australian identity, at home and abroad.112 The rise of travel writing in literary studies has ensured that chapters on Australia are regularly featured in broad surveys of the genre, including the important companions and literary histories published by major Northern Hemisphere presses.113 High-profile travel writers such as Robyn Davidson have also been central in drawing international attention to Australian travel writing, for instance in her edited book The Picador Book of Journeys (2001).

New scholarly fields make considerable use of past and present travel texts. Transnational studies have dominated 21st-century approaches in history and cognate fields: this approach has served Australian topics and scholars exceptionally well and brought to the fore primary texts that focus on movement and exchange. The international field of mobility studies has strong Australian representation, evident in journals such as Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies. Print-culture approaches broaden the range of texts under scholarly scrutiny, as evidenced in studies of travel writing and middlebrow culture.114 Australian topics are regularly featured in established international journals such as Studies in Travel Writing and Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing, with regular special issues on Australia or particular Australian topics.115 In diverse fields of contemporary scholarly inquiry, Australian travel writing makes an important contribution.

Further Reading

  • Bedford, Randolph. Explorations in Civilization. Sydney: Day, 1914.
  • Clarke, Robert. Travel Writing from Black Australia: Utopia, Melancholia, and Aboriginality. London: Routledge 2016.
  • Clift, Charmian. Peel Me a Lotus. London: Hutchinson, 1959.
  • Clune, Frank. Pacific Parade. Melbourne: Hawthorn, 1945
  • Dixon, Robert. Prosthetic Gods: Travel, Representation and Colonial Governance. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2001.
  • Groom, Arthur. I Saw a Strange Land. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1950.
  • Harper, Melissa. The Ways of the Bushwalker: On Foot in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2007.
  • Mountford, Charles P. Brown Men and Red Sand: Journeyings in Wild Australia. 2d ed. Melbourne: Robertson & Mullens, 1940.
  • Murdoch, Nina. Seventh Heaven: A Joyous Discovery of Europe. 3d ed. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1930.
  • Pesman, Ros, David Walker, and Richard White, eds. The Oxford Book of Australian Travel Writing. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Phelan, Nancy. Setting out on the Voyage: The World of an Incorrigible Adventurer. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1998.
  • Prichard, Katharine Susannah. The Real Russia. Sydney: Modern Publishers, 1934.
  • Rolls, Mitchell, and Anna Johnston. Travelling Home, Walkabout Magazine and Modern Australia. London: Anthem, 2016.
  • Simpson, Colin. The Country Upstairs. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1956.
  • Walker, David. Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia, 1850–1939. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999.
  • White, Patrick. Flaws in the Glass: A Self-Portrait. London: Penguin, 1981.
  • White, Richard. Inventing Australia: Images and Identity, 1688–1980. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 1981.
  • Woollacott, Angela. To Try Her Fortune in London: Australian Women, Colonialism, and Modernity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.


  • 1. British travel writing about the Australian colonies includes many well-known writers: James Froude, Anthony Trollope, and Samuel Smiles, among others.

  • 2. James Froude, Oceana or England and Her Colonies (London: Longmans, Green, 1886), 14.

  • 3. James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 461.

  • 4. “Lyth” (Kathleen Lambert), The Golden South: Memories of Australian Home Life from 1843 to 1888 (London: Ward and Downey, 1890), 71.

  • 5. Desley Deacon, Penny Russell, and Angela Woollacott, “Introduction,” in Transnational Ties: Australian Lives in the World, eds. Russell Deacon and Woollacott (Acton, A.C.T.: Australian National University E-Press, 2008), xiv–xv.

  • 6. Ros Pesman, Duty Free: Australian Women Abroad (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996), 2.

  • 7. On Australian expatriate life, see Stephen Alomes, When London Calls: The Expatriation of Australian Creative Artists to Britain (Oakleigh, Victoria: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Peter Morton, Lusting for London: Australian Expatriate Writers at the Hub of Empire, 1870–1950 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Bruce Bennett and Anne Pender, From a Distant Shore: Australian Writers in Britain 1820–2012 (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Publishing, 2013).

  • 8. Patrick White, Flaws in the Glass: A Self-portrait (London: Penguin, 1981). While part 3, “Journeys,” is explicitly travel writing, much of White’s memoir describes his early restless travel among Australia, Britain, and Europe, and the importance of Greece to his identity. Recent scholarly work emphasizes this transnational identification: Shaun Bell, “‘Greece—Patrick White’s Country’: Is Patrick White a Greek Author?,” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 14.5 (2015), 1–14.

  • 9. Richard White, “The Soldier as Tourist: The Australian Experience of the Great War,” War & Society 5.1 (1987), 63–77. On the role of guidebooks and travel accounts read by Australian soldiers abroad, see Amanda Laugesen, “Boredom Is the Enemy”: The Intellectual and Imaginative Lives of Australian Soldiers in the Great War and Beyond (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2011).

  • 10. On travel to Russia, frequently with a political motivation, see Sheila Fitzpatrick and Carolyn Rasmussen, eds., Political Tourists: Travellers from Australia to the Soviet Union in the 1920s–1940s (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2008). On Indigenous travelers, see Fiona Paisley, The Lone Protestor: A. M. Fernando in Australia and Europe (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2012); Marilyn Lake, Faith: Faith Bandler, Gentle Activist (Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 2002); and Jon Piccini, “‘People Treated Me with Equality’: Indigenous Australians Visiting the Soviet Bloc During the Cold War,” Labour History 111 (2016): 1–16.

  • 11. On reverse migration patterns, see Carl Bridge, “Australians in the England and Wales Census of 1901: A Demographic Survey,” in Australians in Britain: The Twentieth-Century Experience, eds. Carl Bridge, Robert Crawford, and David Dunstan (Clayton: Monash University ePress, 2009), online. Angela Woollacott notes the particular attraction of London for Australian women travelers: Woollacott, “Australian Women in London: Surveying the Twentieth Century,” in Australians in Britain, eds. Bridge, Crawford, and Dunstan (Clayton: Monash University ePress, 2009), online.

  • 12. Richard White, “Australian Tourists in Britain, 1900–2000,” in Australians in Britain, eds. Bridge, Crawford, and Dunstan (Clayton: Monash University ePress, 2009), online.

  • 13. Woollacott, “Australian Women in London”; Pesman, Duty Free.

  • 14. Isabel Edgar, “Is It Fair? British Australian and New Zealander,” 11 Sept 1930, quoted in Woollacott, “Australian Women in London.”

  • 15. Nancy Phelan, Setting out on the Voyage: The World of an Incorrigible Adventurer (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1998), 185.

  • 16. Phelan, Setting out on the Voyage, 212–213.

  • 17. Nina Murdoch, Seventh Heaven: A Joyous Discovery of Europe (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1930).

  • 18. Murdoch, Seventh Heaven, 254, 56.

  • 19. White, “Australian Tourists in Britain, 1900–2000.”

  • 20. Rev. of Ports and Happy Havens by Ethel Turner, The Athenaeum 4410 (1912): 500.

  • 21. Steve Clark, ed., Travel Writing and Empire: Postcolonial Theory in Transit (London: Zed, 1999), 3.

  • 22. Faye Hammill and Michelle Smith, Magazines, Travel, and Middlebrow Culture: Canadian Periodicals in English and French, 1925–1960 (Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 2015), 1.

  • 23. Hammill and Smith, Magazines, Travel, and Middlebrow Culture, 18.

  • 24. White notes the popularity of the self-drive holiday, and how the car enabled tourists to access areas off the conventional tourist routes. White, “Australian Tourists in Britain, 1900–2000.”

  • 25. Murdoch, Seventh Heaven, 254.

  • 26. A member of the influential family that included the essayist and professor Walter Murdoch and the media magnates Keith and Rupert Murdoch, King had a long broadcasting career, including parenting programs, beginning the kindergarten of the air, and running ABC Women’s Session on radio for forty years.

  • 27. Florence James, “London Letter: The Cultural Cringe Abroad,” Meanjin 10.1 (1951): 61, 62.

  • 28. Arthur Phillips, “The Cultural Cringe,” Meanjin 9.4 (1950): 299.

  • 29. Among her fiction, Gaunt published Alone in West Africa (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1911) and A Woman in China (London: T. Werner Laurie, 1914). See David Walker, “Travelling Asia: Home and Away,” in Story/Telling: The Woodford Forum, eds. Bronwen Ann Levy and Ffion Murphy, 87–98 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2001), 94.

  • 30. John Urry, The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies (London: SAGE, 1990).

  • 31. Nina Murdoch, She Travelled Alone in Spain (London: G. G. Harrap, 1935), 235.

  • 32. Murdoch, She Travelled Alone in Spain, 257.

  • 33. Colin Simpson, Take Me to Spain: Including Majorca and with a Sampling of Portugal (London: Angus and Robertson, 1964), i. The format was transferable: Simpson, Take Me to Russia and Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1964).

  • 34. Simpson refers here to classics of English travel writing about Spain: George Borrow’s The Bible in Spain (1843) and Richard Ford’s Handbook for Travellers in Spain (1845). These two influential books were grounded in extensive travel and residence in Spain, and constructed an image of Spain as cut off and insular: Simpson’s book by contrast advocates a modern tourist culture and literary approach.

  • 35. Simpson, Take Me to Spain, i.

  • 36. Richard White, “Armchair Tourism: The Popularity of Australian Travel Writing,” in Sold by Millions: Australia’s Bestsellers, eds. Toni Johnson-Woods and Amit Sarwal (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2012), 194.

  • 37. For broader studies of Australian character, see Richard White, Inventing Australia: Images and Identity, 1688–1980 (St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 1981); Graeme Turner, National Fictions: Literature, Film, and the Construction of Australian Narrative, 2d ed. (St. Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 1993).

  • 38. White, Flaws in the Glass, 123.

  • 39. Sheila Fitzpatrick has identified forty-eight Australians in the 1930s who were hosted by the VOKS, a semi-official organization responsible for looking after foreign cultural visitors. See Fitzpatrick, “Australian Visitors to the Soviet Union,” in Political Tourists: Travellers from Australia to the Soviet Union in the 1920s–1940s, eds. Sheila Fitzpatrick and Carolyn Rasmussen (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 1–39.

  • 40. See David Carter, “Journeys in Genre: Australian Literary Travellers to the Soviet Union,” in “And What Books Do You Read?”: New Studies in Australian Literature, eds. Irmtraud Petersson and Martin Duwell (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1996), 164–1-80.

  • 41. Dymphna Cusack, “London Letter: ‘Time Runs Backward,’” Meanjin 9.4 (1950), 286–289.; Frank J. Hardy, Journey into the Future (Melbourne: Australasian Book Society, 1952).

  • 42. Katharine Susannah Prichard, The Real Russia (Sydney: Modern Publishers, 1934), 1.

  • 43. Susannah Prichard, The Real Russia, 6. John McNair is highly critical: “Visiting the Future: Australian (Fellow-) Travellers in Soviet Russia,” Australian Journal of Politics and History 46.4 (2000), 463–479.

  • 44. P. L. Travers, Moscow Excursion (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1935), 29, 8.

  • 45. Travers, Moscow Excursion, 159.

  • 46. Betty Roland, Caviar for Breakfast (Melbourne: Quartet, 1979), 29.

  • 47. Roland, Caviar for Breakfast, 78.

  • 48. Roland, Caviar for Breakfast.

  • 49. See Nicole Moore, “The Burden Twain or Not Forgetting Yourself: The Writing of Betty Roland’s Life,” Hecate 18.1 (1992), 6–26; Jeff Sparrow, “Guido Baracchi, Better Roland, and the Soviet Union,” in Political Tourists, ed. Fitzpatrick and Rasmussen (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2008), 122–145.

  • 50. C. M. H. Clark, Meeting Soviet Man (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1960), 1, 117.

  • 51. Randolph Bedford, Explorations in Civilization (Sydney: Day, 1914), 11.

  • 52. Bedford, Explorations in Civilization, 35.

  • 53. Bedford, Explorations in Civilization, 37.

  • 54. See Boyd, A Single Flame (1939) and Much Else in Italy (1958).

  • 55. Bedford, Explorations in Civilization, 240

  • 56. Bedford, Explorations in Civilization, 236.

  • 57. Mitchell Rolls and Anna Johnston, Travelling Home, Walkabout Magazine and Mid-Twentieth-Century Australia (London: Anthem, 2016).

  • 58. Deborah Bird Rose, Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness (Canberra: Australian Heritage Commission, 1996), 7.

  • 59. Gillian Cowlishaw, Rednecks, Eggheads and Blackfellas: A Study of Racial Power and Intimacy in Australia (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2014), 38–42.

  • 60. This was a common concern: see Mitchell Rolls, “Painting the Dreaming White,” Australian Cultural History 24 (2006): 3–28.

  • 61. See Anna Johnston, “Travel Magazines and Settler (Post)Colonialism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Travel Writing, ed. Robert Clarke (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

  • 62. Victoria Kuttainen, “Trafficking Literature: Travel, Modernity, and the Middle Ground of Canadian and Australian Middlebrow Print Cultures,” International Journal of Canadian Studies 48 (2014): 86. Here she considers the quarterly magazine The BP Magazine, sponsored by the Australian shipping firm Burns Philp.

  • 63. See Victoria Kuttainen and Sarah Galletly, “Making Friends of the Nations: Australian Interwar Magazines and Middlebrow Orientalism in the Pacific,” Journeys 17.2 (2016): 23–48.

  • 64. See Roger Osborne, “A National Interest in an International Market: The Circulation of Magazines in Australia during the 1920s,” History Australia 5.3 (2008): 75.1–75.16.

  • 65. Ernestine Hill, The Great Australian Loneliness (Melbourne: Robertson and Mullens, 1940), 7, 8.

  • 66. Ernestine Hill, The Territory (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1951), 212.

  • 67. Hill, The Territory, 421, 37–38.

  • 68. Letter from Hill to Coy Bateson, January 15, 1943 (North Adelaide: Ernestine Hill Papers, University of Queensland Fryer Library, Box 27, UQFL18. Hereafter Hill Papers).

  • 69. C. Hartley Grattan, “ʻOutback’ Australia: The Country and the People,” The New York Times October 18, 1942, 6, 32.

  • 70. Howard Daniel, “Review Articles,” Pacific Affairs 16.1 (1943): 120.

  • 71. The series began with Rolling Down the Lachlan (1935) and Roaming Round the Darling (1936).

  • 72. Other books feature other industries: Man Tracks: With the Mounted Police in Australian Wilds (1935); pastoralism in Western Australia in The Cattle King (1938); diamond mining in Stone of Destiny (1948). Idriess also published highly popular adventure fiction, which has received scholarly attention: see Robert Dixon, Prosthetic Gods: Travel, Representation and Colonial Governance (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2001).

  • 73. Julian Croft, “Idriess, Ion Llewellyn (1889–1979),” in Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1983). Available online.

  • 74. On the ideologies of adventure fiction and travel from the late 19th century, see Robert Dixon, Writing the Colonial Adventure: Race, Gender and Nation in Anglo-Australian Popular Fiction, 1875–1914 (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

  • 75. Arthur Groom, I Saw a Strange Land (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1950), 22. The phrase was later used by the influential Ernabella mission doctor Charles Duguid in No Dying Race (1963). On the history of the “dying race” idea, see Russell McGregor, Imagined Destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory, 1880–1939 (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1996) and Patrick Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800–1930 (London: Cornell University Press, 2003).

  • 76. Other notable writers include Bill Harney, with titles such as Songs of the Songmen, with A. P. Elkin (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1949); Life Among the Aborigines (London: Robert Hale, 1957); and To Ayers Rock and Beyond (London: Robert Hale, 1963).

  • 77. Anthony Carrigan, Postcolonial Tourism: Literature, Culture, and Environment (New York: Routledge, 2011), xi.

  • 78. Eleanor Dark, “They All Come Back,” Walkabout (January 1951): 20.

  • 79. James, “London Letter,” 63.

  • 80. Dark, “They All Come Back,” 20.

  • 81. Sheard later published An Australian Youth among Desert Aborigines: Journal of an Expedition among the Aborigines of Central Australia (1964).

  • 82. Robert Dixon, Prosthetic Gods; Dixon, “What Was Travel Writing? Frank Hurley and the Media Contexts of Early Twentieth-Century Australian Travel Writing,” Studies in Travel Writing 11.1 (2007): 59–81. See also Martin Thomas and Margo Neale, eds., Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition (Canberra: Australian National University E-Press, 2011).

  • 83. Georgine Clarsen has published widely on cars and Australian culture: see Clarsen and Lorenzo Veracini, “Settler Colonial Automobilities: A Distinct Constellation of Automobile Cultures?,” History Compass 10.12 (2012): 889–900.

  • 84. John Tebbutt, “The Travel Writer as Foreign Correspondent: Frank Clune and the ABC,” Journal of Australian Studies 34.1 (2010): 96. On the invidious politics of this in colonial Papua New Guinea, see Dixon, Prosthetic Gods.

  • 85. Ernestine Hill, Letter to Coy Bateson (May 22, 1953, Hill Papers).

  • 86. See Simon Ryan, The Cartographic Eye: How Explorers Saw Australia (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  • 87. Melissa Harper, The Ways of the Bushwalker: On Foot in Australia (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2007), 168.

  • 88. See Tom Griffiths, Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  • 89. David Walker, Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia, 1850–1939 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999), 214.

  • 90. Walker, Anxious Nation, 12, 210.

  • 91. See Frances Steel, Oceania under Steam: Sea Transport and the Cultures of Colonialism, c. 1870–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011) and Steel, “The ‘Missing Link’: Space, Race, and Transoceanic Ties in the Settler-Colonial Pacific,” Transfers 5.3 (Winter 2015): 49–67.

  • 92. Chris Lee, “1935: Literary Possibilities of Flight: Bill Taylor’s Pacific Flight,” in Telling Stories: Australian Literary Cultures, 1935–2010 (Clayton: Monash University Publishing, 2013), 1–7.

  • 93. See Nicholas Halter, “Searching for the Land of the Golden Cocoa-Nut: Australian Travel Writing About Commercial Enterprise in the Pacific Islands,” Journal of Pacific History (2016): 1–17.

  • 94. Frank Clune, Pacific Parade (Melbourne: Hawthorn, 1945), 3.

  • 95. Clune, Pacific Parade, 2.

  • 96. Clune, Pacific Parade, 3.

  • 97. Dixon, Prosthetic Gods, 124.

  • 98. Chris Dixon and Prue Ahrens, “Traversing the Pacific: Modernity on the Move from Coast to Coast,” in Coast to Coast: Case Histories of Modern Pacific Crossings, eds. Chris Dixon and Prue Ahrens (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), 7.

  • 99. Agnieszka Sobocinska, Visiting the Neighbours: Australians in Asia (Sydney: NewSouth, 2014), e-book.

  • 100. For a similar process in U.S. texts about the Pacific, see Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–1961 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); see also Anna Johnston, “Becoming ‘Pacific-Minded’: Australian Middlebrow Writers in the 1940s and the Mobility of Texts,” Transfers 17.1 (2017): 88–107.

  • 101. Colin Simpson, Japan: An Intimate View (New York: A. S. Barnes, 1959), 7.

  • 102. Anne Rees, “‘Bursting with New Ideas’: Australian Women Professionals and American Study Tours, 1930–1960,” History Australia 13.3 (2016): 382–398.

  • 103. Richard White and Justine Greenwood, “Australia,” in Routledge Companion to Travel Writing (New York: Routledge, 2016), 407.

  • 104. The “first” Indigenous writer has traditionally been identified as the preacher and writer David Unaipon, who began publishing Aboriginal legends in the 1920s. Recent scholarship has sought to uncover a corpus of early Aboriginal writing in diverse, often archival, modes: see Penny Van Toorn, Writing Never Arrives Naked: Early Aboriginal Cultures of Writing in Australia (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2006). In terms of travel writing, Robert Clarke persuasively reads “return to country” narratives in Aboriginal life writing—in which contemporary protagonists travel back to traditional, family country, from which they or their ancestors have often been removed—as an evocation form of travel narrative. Robert Clarke, Travel Writing from Black Australia: Utopia, Melancholia, and Aboriginality (New York: Routledge, 2015).

  • 105. Colin Simpson, The New Australia (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1970).

  • 106. Jock Marshall, Journey among Men (South Melbourne: Sun, 1962), 9.

  • 107. Clarke shows the centrality of settler–Aboriginal relationships in travel writing about Australia: see Travel Writing from Black Australia.

  • 108. Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines (London: Jonathan Cape, 1987); Bill Bryson, Down Under (London: Doubleday, 2000).

  • 109. Mary Louise Pratt, “Afterword,” in The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Travel Writing, ed. Robert Clarke (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

  • 110. Pesman, Duty Free; and Bill Kent, Pesman, and Cynthia Troup, eds., Australians in Italy: Contemporary Lives and Impressions (Clayton: Monash University ePress, 2008).

  • 111. Walker, Anxious Nation.

  • 112. In addition to publications cited above, see White’s “The Retreat from Adventure: Popular Travel Writing in the 1950s,” Australian Historical Studies 28.109 (1997): 90–105; and On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia (North Melbourne: Pluto Press, 2004).

  • 113. Most recently, see White and Greenwood, “Australia”; and Anna Johnston, “Australian Travel Writing,” in The Cambridge History of Travel Writing, eds. Nandini Das and Tim Youngs (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

  • 114. See David Carter, Always Almost Modern: Australian Print Cultures and Modernity (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013); Kuttainen and Galletly.

  • 115. See the special issues “Australian Travel Writing,” edited by Richard White Studies in Travel Writing 11.1 (2007); Robert Clarke and Anna Johnston, eds., “Travel Writing and Tasmania,” Studies in Travel Writing 20.1 (2016); “A Journey to Australia,” edited by Helen Bones, Journeys 17.2 (2016), 1–136.