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John M Brown

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Return to Oz
by John M Brown   

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Publisher:  Exposure publishing ISBN-10:  1846855179 Type: 


Copyright:  November 2006

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Barnes &
John Brown Info

No 5 in the Amazon Aus Travel Charts.
This is a book of two parts. the first part details my original stay in Australia of the late 1960s. the second section covers the Oz of today.

For a city that just a couple of decades ago had few crossing points over its harbour area, Sydney it now seems has endless options. There’s the ever present Bridge, a road tunnel, a second bridge downstream and more ferries and floating transport than you can shake a stick at. Some of the more recent additions to the water conveyances are sleek to the point of flashy and will carry you from one inlet to another barely causing a ripple along the way. But all these ‘Johnny come latelys’ pale into insignificance when compared to the green and cream tug-style ferries which every day disgorge their passengers at Circular Quay. At least eight of these proud little boats carry the names of vessels from the first fleet to land in Oz. The vessel names easily recognised from those who first sailed into Port Jackson, ‘Sirius’, ‘Scarborough’, ‘Friendship’ etc. The first Manly ferry is documented by timetable to have run as early as 1854. As the harbour population increased so did the services, reaching Rose Bay, Watson’s Bay, Old Cremorne, Parramatta, Kiribilli, and dozens of other equally evocative place names around the many coves and inlets that form Sydney’s huge harbour. There have been few real disasters considering the sheer volume of people these craft carry. Some of the minor incidents have only added to the affection in which these craft are held - like the ‘Freshwater’ a huge ferry which overshot the quay at Manly and ended up placing her bow on the beach. She was there long enough to be photographed and some unfeeling cad even sold post cards of the event. No sooner had this incident dimmed in the Sydney-siders’ collective consciousness than her sister ship the ‘Narrabeen’ repeated exactly the same manoeuvre almost twelve months to the day. So it will come as no surprise to you that I chose one of these delightful cream and green craft for my trip to East Balmain.
The water was calm, the sun was high in the sky and here I was passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the aquatic equivalent of Thomas the Tank Engine! Had this ferry been able to talk it would have said – “Do you know how many times I’ve crossed this harbour? I won’t let you down or sink.” It felt indescribably safe, even the livery seemed the embodiment of post-war municipal smugness – it was great. In less than twenty minutes I alighted at East Balmain 
All of life’s events had in a strange way led me full circle to this eventuality, and on a bright summer’s morning, I stood alone looking out across the glorious blue waters of Sydney Harbour.

Professional Reviews

C4U Review
"If you only ever read one book about Australia, make it this one. John Brown has that rare gift of combining incisive wit with just enough pathos. I felt as though I was carrying his luggage

BBC Collective
BBC Collective
Return to Oz by John Brown, is one book but has two parts. Part one describes what it was like to land in Australia as a 'Ten Pound Pom'. The second part is a direct, up to date comparison.
John Brown has a wicked eye for the absurd and his work is obviously researched as well as funny. I would recommend this book to anyone about to visit Oz, or any body who just loves a good travel read - if you like Tim Moore or Bill Bryson then you'll love this.

Barnes & Noble
Once in a while you come across a book that lifts the spirit and brightens your day.This is one of those books. It details the original time spent by a young teenager in Australia , and the long overdue return, as the title suggests, to OZ.
I found his descriptions of people and places enchanting, and the warmth with which he talks of Australia almost magical - this is a great travel book.

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