Half a World Away: Surviving the Move to a Land Down Under by Alistair McGuinness
|Half a World Away: Surviving the Move to a Land Down Under by Alistair McGuinness|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: We left Fran and Alistair as newcomers to Australia in Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure. Now they're settled in Western Australia and McGuinness delivers a lively story of their life there along with some excellent advice for anyone who might be thinking of heading down under.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 151||Date: July 2015|
|Publisher: Bongo Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Sometimes you read about a particularly exciting time in an author's life but later you find yourself wondering how they're doing, how life worked out for them. Since I read Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure by Alistair McGuinness about eighteen months ago I've often wondered how he and Fran were doing in Australia and I was delighted when Half a World Away landed on my desk. When we left Ali and Fran they'd had an exciting and eventful year during which they'd travelled through Central and South America and then on to Africa, but they were planning to settle down in Australia. Don't worry if you haven't read Round the Bend as both books read well as stand alones and you can always go back to the first book later, can't you?
Ali and Fran decided to settle in Perth in Western Australia and living within a few kilometers of the Indian Ocean does sound idyllic, but McGuinness is realistic about the downsides of the life as well as the upsides. Yes, the summer weather is wonderful and it's great to have glorious beaches so close, but initially it was difficult to find a house to buy at a reasonable price. Buying land at one point was a bit like being involved in a gold rush. The lifestyle is wonderful, but finding a suitable job is not always easy. You could end up, as McGuinness did at one point, working in a chicken processing plant or as a FiFo worker. That's one of the workers who fly in and then fly out of the work site, doing eight days on and six days off - with the consequent effects on family life.
If you're thinking about emigrating there's lots of excellent advice tucked away in the book - delivered with a light hand and in a non-preachy fashion. Don't look to be doing a job at the same level when you get to Australia - think in terms of moving yourself up a step. Be proactive about maintaining relationships with friends you left in the UK as it's very easy to allow relationships to drift. And don't go out there thinking that you're going to find the old Australia with walkabouts and bush tucker: that sort of thing is very difficult to find nowadays. Because he's not shy of telling you about the times when he got things wrong the book is very approachable.
It's also a very easy and entertaining read too. I loved the pictures. Well, to be honest, I drooled over them and they brought the way of life off the page. The book is a glorious mixture of autobiography (no - I'm not going to tell you what happens to them, you'll have to read the book), travelogue and life coaching. This is a man who must feel very glad that he was made redundant when the Vauxhall car plant in Luton closed. I'd like to thank him for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
If you haven't read Half a World Away: Searching for a Gap Year Travel Adventure I'm sure that you'd enjoy it if Surviving the Move to a Land Down Under appeals to you. For some fiction set in Western Australia, we think you might like Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres. For the story of someone else who came to Australia, this time from India, try Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.
You can read more book reviews or buy Half a World Away: Surviving the Move to a Land Down Under by Alistair McGuinness at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Half a World Away: Surviving the Move to a Land Down Under by Alistair McGuinness at Amazon.com.
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