Background reading: Oceania

Section of Sydney Opera House sails
If you’re heading to the Oceania region, here’s a handy list of background reading:

The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Compared to the works of James Joyce in its use of indigenous language and portrayal of consciousness, The Bone People captures the soul of New Zealand.” [New Zealand]

The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia by Don Watson
Most Australians live in cities and cling to the coastal fringe, yet our sense of what an Australian is – or should be – is drawn from the vast and varied inland called the bush. But what do we mean by ‘the bush’, and how has it shaped us?” [Australia]

Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea by Kira Salak
Kira Salak’s riveting account of her epic, solo jungle trek across the remote Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea—often called the last frontier of adventure travel.” [Papua New Guinea]

The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux
“In one of his most exotic and breathtaking journeys, the intrepid traveler Paul Theroux ventures to the South Pacific, exploring fifty-one islands by collapsible kayak.

A History of the Pacific Islands by I.C. Campbell
[This] informed and balanced perspective illuminates the development of the rich and fascinating variety of cultures of the Pacific islanders and their experience with intensive European contact during the last two hundred years.

In Tasmania: Adventures at the End of the World by Nicholas Shakespeare
Effortlessly weaves the history of this unique island with a kaleidoscope of stories featuring a cast of unlikely characters from Errol Flynn to the King of Iceland, a village full of Chatwins and, inevitably, a family of Shakespeares. [Australia]

The Island in the Mind by Rodney Hall
Through the lives of three individuals, the island of the mind plunges the reader into a world of court intrigue, and religious upheavals, bloodshed and sexual politics, empire, voyages, exotic discoveries and the new art form of the time – opera. [Australia]

The Journals of Captain Cook by James Cook
Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Leviathan: The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney by John Birmingham
Combining intensive research with the pace of a techno-thriller, John Birmingham creates a rich portrait of a city too dazzled by its own gorgeous reflection to care much for what lies at its dark, corrupted heart. Illuminated by wild flashes of black humour, violent, ghoulish and utterly compelling, Leviathan is history for the Tarantino generation. [Australia]

The Luminaries by by Eleanor Catton
Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner. [New Zealand]

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives. [Papua New Guinea]

Nowhere Slow: Eleven Years in Micronesia by Jonathan Gourlay
Jonathan Gourlay’s memoir of cultural confusion, hilarity and tragedy, and a decade of soul-searching.

The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. [Australia]

That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding… the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers. [Australia]

Wild Island by Jennifer Livett
This dazzling modern recreation of a nineteenth century novel ingeniously entwines Jane Eyre’s iconic love story with Sir John Franklin’s great tale of exploration and empire. [Australia]