Book Bloggers Abroad (6) – Australia

Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country will be featured who will talk about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.


Our guest blogger for today is Amanda from Australia. Her book blog is called Desert Book Chick. She reads and reviews forensic crime, fantasy, travel literature and contemporary world literature. So, go and have a look and discover some new books!



I live a life that many people would find exotic, adventurous, scary and strange. I live in the Australian Outback, I’m an anthropologist and I work for a small government agency who’s role is to protect Aboriginal sacred sites.

I spend a lot of time working with Aboriginal Elders, recording stories, songs and mapping sacred sites. I do lots of four wheel driving, camping and hiking in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth.

I have a partner who’s a national park ranger – he manages Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, and between us we have three children: two girls (Rhiannon and Hannah, 20 and 19 years, respectively) are studying at university. We have a boy, Ben, who’s 13 and still at high school.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

I live in a very famous literary town called Alice Springs, which is located right in the middle of  Australia. Alice Springs was immortalised in Nevil Shute’s book, A Town Like Alice, but it really doesn’t  feature much in the book at all.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is a big country town with a population of 28,000. As it’s the ONLY large town in an area that’s half the size of Europe, it has to have everything that a city has because a lot of people in a vast area depend on it.

An interesting fact about Alice Springs is that the town is actually 660 metres above sea level and set in ancient mountains, called the MacDonnell Ranges in English, or Tyurretye by Aboriginal people (pronounced chor-IT-chah). People often think it’s all sand dunes and desert out here, but as you can see from the pictures, that’s just not true!



We have two bookstores in Alice Springs (plus Kmart and Target), and an amazing local library. I also buy a lot of books online from The Book Depository. Usually, I can get the books I want to read within a couple of weeks.

As I work full time, do a lot of running and gym classes, I blog in the evenings and weekends. This means that I have to be very strict, set goals and have a schedule for blogging.

When it comes to reading, I read anywhere – even when I’m out running, as I count audiobooks as ‘reading’. We have beautiful clear weather here and very low rainfall – although it’s freezing in the winter time at night- so I can sit outside and read most of the time. But my favourite reading place is on the lounge with a glass of red wine!

An Australian author that I recommend is Adrian Hyland. He’s a crime writer who write thrillers set in the Australian Outback. They are most authentic fictional representations of the Outback I’ve ever encountered. If you want to learn about Aboriginal life in the 21st Century, Hyland’s books area  must read. His books are: Diamond Dove and Gunshot Road, released in May 2010.

Mt Gillen

Mt Gillen

I’d like to say thank you to Judith for the opportunity to write about my home town. Please come and visit Outback Australia because it’s everything and nothing like you’d expect it to be. It’s vast, beautiful and inspirational. I’m looking forward to seeing you here!

Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks, Amanda for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. How amazing that a town of 28,000 can be the biggest place in an area half the size of Europe! Is there enough work? And what about further education (university, etc.)? I would love to visit sometime, it seems a little mysterious to me.

Don’t forget to take a look at Amanda’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Amanda, just leave them in the comments section.

Next week Charlotte from France will be visiting us for the seventh Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

27 Responses to Book Bloggers Abroad (6) – Australia

  1. Oh, fantastic to met you, Desert Book Chick! I’ll be sure to follow your blog as I love crime fiction and thrillers, etc. Great insight into your life, and your life reminded me a bit of Hannah Heath in People of the Book (I just finished and reviewed it, so it sprang to mind!). Love your pictures and am quite jealous of your disciplined regimen! I need to apply a dash of that to my life! 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Consistency is the secret to my success! I haven’t read People of the Book but I will now!

      Thanks for your kind comments,

  2. Novroz says:

    Those are great pictures Amanda 🙂

    I couldn’t listen to audiobook because I love music as much as I love reading, tho I found people who love audiobook fascinating.

    A town half the size of europe with only 28000 people…WOW!! that many people will cover an area smaller than one european country here in Indonesia. Hmm I guess we have too many people lol.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Novroz,

      Everytime I visit Indonesia, I’m amazed how there are so many people -so much humanity- in one place. However, I love Indonesia because of her people. I always feel at home when I go back each year.

      I guess I love Indonesia too because it is so green and different to where I live.

  3. Tes says:

    Wow Amanda is so lucky to live an adventurous life! I really wanna go to this national park. My friends told me it was an amazing place.
    What a beautiful neighborhood!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Tes,

      My ‘neighbourhood’! Lol! The next nearest town in my neighbourhood is 550km away! Quite a big neighbourhood 🙂

      Kings Canyon is awesome – in fact, I should tell you that because my partner is the boss down there, we also have a beautiful house on the park. When you wake up and look out the window, you look across the sanddunes and through the desert oaks to the spectacular walls and domes of the canyon and the George Gill Range.

      Do you think I’d swap and live in a city? Never, ever, ever!

  4. Carin B. says:

    Yay Amanda! I didn’t know you were going to do a post here! I love the pictures I’ve seen on your blog and now on Judith’s blog. The Outback landscape reminds me a little of my home (although New Mexico’s dirt isn’t as orange). I think I actually felt homesick while looking at your pictures! I have come to miss the desert!

    What is it like working with the elders? Are they very open with you? Did it take a long time to build a rapport for them to trust you with their stories? I think you might have the coolest job on the planet!’s my Animal Planet/Crocodile Hunter question…do you see a lot of camels or poisonous snakes/spiders out there? Is it scary to see them if you do?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Carin,

      Working with the Elders is much like working with other people – they’re all different. Some are great to work with, some are shy, and others are pains in the butt!

      Here’s a link to a post on our family blog that tells you exactly what a day in my life is like.

      I see many, many feral camels. Generally they run away as soon as they see people or vehicles.

      Camels are a massive, out of control problem in Central Australia. They are NOT native animals, but were introduced by settlers who let them run free once the railway was built in 1929. Now there are a million wild camels who are destroying the fragile desert landscape and destroying habitat for all our native mammals and drinking dry precious waterholes.

      My partner and his staff shoot camels on the national park. As a result, we often get a freezer full of camel meat! Camel meat tastes just like beef (in fact I’ve served it to unsuspecting visitors who never know the difference).

      Re: spiders & snakes. We have Redback Spiders here (like Black Widows) but they’re very calm spiders and I’m not scared of them. We don’t have any other poisonous spiders like the Funnelweb in the desert – they all live in the eastern states of Australia.

      Yes, I see snakes from time to time. Again, they are shy and get out of the way when people are coming. I am not at all scared of snakes and have actually picked snakes up! When I worked for Parks, I used to participate in fauna surveys and go looking for snakes so we could count & identify the species. Many snakes in Central Australia are poisonous, but because they are very scared of people, you don’t often hear of people getting bitten.

      • leeswammes says:

        Very interesting, Amanda! Can camels be shot by anyone, as they’re not a protected species? Do people can on camel safaris? Maybe it’s not quite as manly as hunting for bears or tigers, so maybe there isn’t much interest in shooting camels!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Judith,

      Yes, anyone can shoot feral camels provided they have a gun licence and have permission from the property owner. You don’t need to go on a safari to shoot a camel! You just go where they need shooting and shoot them.

      If you’re shooting them for food, then you have to be careful you don’t scare them and make them run. Otherwise, their muscles get full of blood and the meat will be tough after butchering.

      Butchering is very, very hard work and requires special knives. Generally, we would take the ‘backstrap’ -the part along the spine, and the rump – the big thigh muscle on the hind legs.

      This all might sound disgusting, but it’s no different to what happens to the beef or lamb that people buy in the supermarkets.

      Even better, camel is free (!) and it’s very lean, delicious meat.

      • leeswammes says:

        Ha ha, I like that! Hungry: pick up a camel! But seriously, it’s never a good idea to introduce foreign species – now what are the natural predators of the camel? Just humans? Shoot away, I’d say!

  5. rikkiscraps says:

    Whenever I hear Alice Springs I immediately think of Nevil Shute. I know the town didn’t feature very much in the book, but after all t was the inspiration to make something similar out of that little “village” (if you can call it that).
    Wow, an area half the size of Europe and a town of 28.000 people. I cannot imagine what that must be like. My home town has about 30.000 people; thinking it was the only town in half of Europe is inconceivable.
    Your job sounds very interesting. It must be great to be able to make sure things don’t get lost in today’s fast way of living. Thanks for this post.

    • Amanda says:

      Yes, I have an amazing job – one that many people couldn’t possibly imagine. It’s not a job for those who want to wear high heels or skirts!

      And you have to be able to sleep in a swag on the ground, love camping and be able to change tyres! I love it

  6. Mel u says:

    Thanks so much for this post-I am doing a series of post on Australian Bush writers from the period around 1890 to 1930-I will follow this blog now-

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Mel,

      That’s great. I should pop past and check out your series.

      Are you going to feature Mary Grant Bruce -the lady who wrote the ‘Billabong’ children’s series? Or Ethel Turner? Those books (along with Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby series) were my childhood companions.

      • Mel u says:

        sorry for the delayed response-I am pretty much only posting on writers that are now in the public domain whose works can be read online and it looks like Mary Grant Bruce is still under copy write- Ethel Turner also seems under copy write-I am pretty much posting on writers from 1930 or so on back-I would love to hear any suggestions you might have

  7. Amanda says:

    Hi Judith,

    I’m just getting to answering your questions!

    About the work question. This will seem like a strange answer, but it will give you a window into the Australian psyche. Because Alice Springs is so far away from the coast (95% of Australians live on only 6% of the continent, all hugging the coast), we have a very hard time getting staff. So it is always very, very easy to find work in Alice Springs. I could leave my job and have three offers by then end of the day.

    I had to recruit 2 new anthropologists (I should point out that I’m the manager of anthropology at the agency I work for) earlier this year. It took 3 months to get people who wanted to come and live away from the coast!

    Further education: there is a small university here, but it teaches very limited subjects. Most people go away to university elsewhere. For example, my daughter is studying social science in Western Australia (in a city called Perth), 3500km away. However, there are 4 high schools and one Aboriginal boarding college in Alice Springs, so we have plenty of options for high school.

    You MUST come visit and come camping with us! We will show you places and amazing things that very few people get to see. As I’ve said -forget the cllches about the outback ou see on TV shows and in movies. The outback is so much bigger and better and so, so very beautiful. It’s nothing like people imagine it to be.

    • leeswammes says:

      It sounds like a fantastic place. I would love to come and visit if I ever get the chance to go to Australia! I’m surprised that there are problems to fill jobs but I guess you have more jobs (maybe more higher-level jobs) than is normal for such a small place (because of all the facilities it has).

      I’m living in a town of 45.000 people and am looking for a job in town, which is quite difficult as my education level is too high for most jobs. So I probably have to look further afield, but I commuted for 5 years and don’t want to do that again.

  8. Rachie X says:

    Hello fellow Aussie book blogger! Great post! 🙂 I have never been to Alice Springs. It’s on my ‘to do’ list. Looking forward to seeing the Aussie outback (other than in NSW)

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Rachel,

      I didn’t visit Alice Springs until the day I was flown here for a job interview, 10 years ago. As soon as I came here, I knew i could live here.

      I’m originally from NSW. From Bowral in the Southern Highlands. I went to uni at UWS Macarthur, then did my PhD at ANU in Canberra. My parents still live in Bowral.

      Sometimes I miss certain things about NSW, but most of the time, I’m happy living in the midst of such natural wonder.

  9. This was a fascinating post–I feel envious of this adventurous life. I’m looking forward to the next such post.

    • leeswammes says:

      Yes, learning about the Australian Outback is great, isn’t it, Lisa? We have a new guest post every week, so I hope you’ll follow the series.

  10. jvoss says:

    Terrific post – very interesting. Many thanks!!

  11. Nikki-ann says:

    I already visit Amanda’s blog, but this is a great feature. It’s great to learn more about other bloggers and to find new ones too 🙂

    • leeswammes says:

      Thanks, Nikki-ann. Well, I’m a nosey type so I wanted to know more about my fellow bloggers. And this seemed to be a good way to find out about them!

  12. Great post Amanda … thanks for pointing me to it. I don’t blame you for not wanting to live in a city when you can live there. Central Australia is fabulous.

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