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Take the long road

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Driving long-distance over the summer break? Pack an audiobook for the ride.

Alice Springs to Adelaide: 1535 km. Brisbane to Birdsville: 1583 km. Perth to Port Augusta: 2338 km. Fitzroy to Fitzroy Crossing: 4589 km. By global standards, Australian distances are pretty ridiculous. So, if you’re driving around this wide brown land over summer, you’ll need plenty of water, snacks and mental stimulation. With audiobooks, you can knock off your reading pile as you peel off the kilometres. And you don’t need to keep changing the frequency. Just for fun, here we’ve matched some cracking summer titles with some possible holiday routes.

Sydney to Byron Bay (8.5 hours)
Who’s Minding the Farm by Patrice Newell

One for the road north. In an era of rapid climate change, this vital account of how agriculture can address major issues is an Australian story with global ramifications. Newell, who has dedicated her life to land management in the Hunter Valley, explores the enormous challenges faced by farmers everywhere, from water scarcity and land stewardship to food security and the rural-urban divide. The perfect way to fire your intellect on the way to your Northern Rivers eco retreat.   

Torquay to Port Fairy (10 hours)
The Yield by Tara June Winch
One for the slow road. Interlaced narratives of people and place combine within Tara June Winch’s The Yield. In the spaces between these stories there are profound reminders of the importance of language and storytelling to understanding identity… Narrated by actor and writer Tony Briggs, let Tara June Winch’s moving and exquisitely told story wash over you as meander along Australia’s breathtaking Great Ocean Road.

Melbourne to Bendigo (2 hours)
Limelight by Solli Raphael
One for a short hop. Budding humanitarian Soli Raphael proves age is no barrier to using words to inspire social change. It’s his mission to encourage his generation to participate in conversations about issues that affect their lives, sending out the challenge: be a game changer with me! Introduce the kids to slam poetry and spark their creativity during the school holiday break. They’ll most likely demand a second listen on the way back.

Perth to Broome (23 hours)
The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh
One for the long haul. Okay, so at a smidge over 15 hours, The Pearl Thief won’t fill the entire trip from Perth to Broome, but it will certainly soak up a chunk of it. And as you’re immersed in McIntosh’s sweeping, evocative thriller, you’ll be transported to the snowy woodlands outside Prague to the Tuileries of Paris and the heather-covered moors of Yorkshire – all while en-route to pearl-central Australia.

Brisbane to Rockhampton (7 hours)
The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta
One for the family. From the bestselling author of Looking for Alibrandi comes this perfectly crafted novel about families, relationships and the true nature of belonging. When Rosie Gennaro returns to live in her family home soon after her father’s death, she must share the space with his second wife, Martha. As the battle lines are drawn, a past flame re-enters Rosie’s life and she’s forced to negotiate the messiness of grown-up life.