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A milestone work of memoir, travel writing and history, The Bush by Don Watson takes us on a profoundly revelatory and entertaining journey through the Australian landscape and character.

While most of us live in cities clinging to the coastal fringe, 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?

Starting with his forebears' battle to drive back nature and eke a living from the land, Don Watson explores the bush as it was and as it now is: the triumphs and the ruination, the commonplace and the bizarre, the stories we like to tell about ourselves and the national character, and those we don't.

A milestone work of memoir, travel writing and history, The Bush takes us on a profoundly revelatory and entertaining journey through the Australian landscape and character.


Nothing he has written quite matches the wonders of The Bush ... There is no dull page or even lifeless sentence between its covers and my urge is that if anyone wants a full blast of what Australia is, was, or might be, thrust The Bush into their hands.

Roger McDonald, The Age

Flawlessly elegant writing ... Excellent, hard-headed history, too ... Utterly mesmerising and entrancing ... A challenge to contemplate what it really is about this country that makes us who we think we are.

Paul Daley, The Guardian (Australia)

An overwhelmingly affectionate portrait, one that's never sentimental or indulgently nostalgic ... The Bush is the crown in Watson's oeuvre, a magnificent, sprawling ode to the best in Australia, a challenge to us all to find new ways of loving the country.

The Saturday Paper

Watson's magnificent, celebratory, contradictory study of the Australian bush will challenge the national imagination.

Thomas Keneally, Weekend Australian

A loving rumination on Australia, the landmass, and those who live on it and from it ... Watson refuses to be captured by easy categorisations or received opinion ... The writing is crisp, witty and sardonic ... Watson is an original, with an authentic, prophetic voice.

John Hirst, The Monthly

Every now and again a book comes out that is so groundbreaking it causes you to think about a particular subject in a radically different light. Don Watson's The Bush: Travels in The Heart of Australia is one such work; a masterpiece of research, inquiry and poetry that challenges our basic assumptions of the Outback. Watson ... has pulled off a dazzling achievement with The Bush, blending philosophy with science and storytelling ... A beautifully written and thoughtful book.

Johanna Leggatt, Weekly Times

The power of this book does come from the way Watson positions himself as both an insider and outsider to the Australian bush ... A meditation on Australia itself through a reflection on the bush.

Frank Bongiorno, Australian Book Review

A sprawling, fascinating book ... Watson has pulled off a marvel, a book that educates and fascinates at the same time as it calls for action to preserve some things before they're lost. The best part, though, is his prose: bare and dry, with a dark sense of humour. A bit like the country he's describing.

Margot Lloyd, The Advertiser (Adelaide)

Elegant, intricate, sprawling and sometimes harsh ... [Watson] explores the bush with a mix of academic insight and campfire yarn ... In a word: hypnotic.

Jeff Maynard, Herald Sun

His romantic prose moves seamlessly through autobiographical tales to discuss the landscapes and histories that have shaped Australia.

National Geographic

One of my favourite reads this year. What a writer he is ... You find yourself sneaking off from others to be with it.

Kathleen Noonan, Courier-Mail

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    October 3, 2016


    448 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 24, 2014

    Penguin eBooks

    448 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

Awards and Recognition

  • FAW Award
  • Indie Award
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards
    Book of the Year
  • Queensland Literary Awards
  • CHASS Australia Prize
    Book Award
  • Melbourne Prize for Literature
    Best Writing Award
  • NSW Premier's History Prize
    Australian History Prize
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards
    Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction
  • Victorian Premier's Literary Award