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For decades, the Land Down Under has served as an endless inspiration source to novelists, writers and poets. Its unusual, distinct landscape and wildlife have proven to be a perfect setting for many stories around the world. In this overview, we’re presenting 5 best books set in Australia: from historical fiction to travel memoirs.

1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

This absolute masterpiece is set in Drogheda, a fictional spot in Australia, and features a love story between a young girl and a Catholic priest. This epic tale entangles fates of several generations of characters connected to the Cleary family, who was forced to move from New Zealand to Australia. The Thorn Birds is the best-selling Australian book in history, with over 33 million sold copies. According to many critics and experts, it’s definitely one of the most important works of contemporary world literature.

2. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

This book may be the most detailed and picturesque description of Australia ever. It’s a report made by the famous traveller and travel writer Bill Bryson. In a Sunburned Country documents his astonishment with the unusual flair of Australia. He describes the friendly population of the continent, the almost-unbearable hot and dry weather and the most unusual wildlife in the world. In a Sunburned Country is a must-read for anyone fascinated with Australia. For those who aren’t, they will definitely become Australia-obsessed after reading it.

3. True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

Published in 1943, True History of the Kelly Gang is a story about the infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, one of the most known gang leaders along with Jesse James or John Dillinger. In Peter Carey’s version, Ned Kelly himself finally gets the opportunity to share his life story, describe his path of crime and clarify his family and social circumstances which led to all those murders, robberies and crimes. Take an alternative look at Australia through the eyes of one of the most sought-after criminals of the 19th century.

4. The Secret River by Kate Grenvile

The Secret River is a postmodern novel published in 2005. However, the story line is set in the early 19th century. It portrays an English thief which has been relocated to Australia because of his crimes. It an Australian alternative history fiction which explores the different courses of Australian 19th century history. In 2015, it’s also been adapted for TV as a two-part mini-series. Some critics compare to style and theme to Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang.

5. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute

Shute published A Town Like Alice in 1950, just shortly after he came to Australia. This romance follows the love story of an Englishwoman and an Australian prisoner. After they are liberated, the woman goes to Australia to be with her chosen one and tries to boost prosperity in a little town using her hefty inherited funds. The description of Australian scenery and atmosphere in this novel is unparalleled.

What do you think? Which are the best books set in Australia?

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