Sunday, October 12, 2008

Unlikely Destinations - Book Review

Unlikely destinations
By Tony & Maureen Wheeler
Periplus Edition, Hong Kong, 2005
Lonely Planet Website

Hands up those of you who have heard of Lonely Planet books?
Hands up those of you who have NOT heard of Lonely Planet books?

Well this book is the autobiography of Tony & Maureen Wheelers who started the Lonely Planet guide books.

And this book is also the perfect guide to how to be a publisher.

Tony tells most of the story, of how they met in England (Tony is English, Maureen is Irish) and how they married and spent their honey moon on the overland trip to Australia. It took a year, but in 1973 they published their first book - Across Asia on the Cheap.

This is the story of the first 30 years of their marriage, their children (they had 2 children) and the Lonely Planet company.

Very very enjoyable books. Although I did find the first trip (from UK to Aussie) a bit long winded, but once they got to Australia, the rest of the books just gallops along.

The Wheelers waited to have children. They were married in 1972, their first child (a daughter) was born in 1980 and their son was born in 1982. Before the kids came along, both Maureen and Tony travelled around. Being a travel guide book writer and publisher is hard on a marriage. You have to vist and revisit the places you write about every two years to keep the guide books updated. It's very hard when the husband gets to travel and the wife has to stay home with the kids.

The kids grew up travelling overseas every summer. When they got back to school they never told their friends where they had spent the summer because it would have been seen as showing off. As teenagers they rebelled against their parents and really dug their heels in and refused to spend summers overseas. They just wanted to stay home in Australia and spend summers at the beach just like all their friends.

The UK version of this books is called Once While Travelling. The cover picture of Tony and Maureen was taken right where they landed on Australian sand (soil) in December 1972 just a few days after Gough Whitlam was elected Prime Minister.

It was near a remote town called Exmouth on the coast of Western Australia almost 1000 miles north of Perth. They had sailed a boat from Bali to Australia and got lost in a storm. So the Wheelers hitched a ride to Carnarvon, and from there they grabbed a ride in a truck all the way to Perth. Keep talking and keep me awake, said the driver.

Back in those days British citizens did not require any visa to live and work in Australia. Within 2 years that law was changed. Now ONLY New Zealand citizens have the privilege of being allowed to live and work in Australia without a visa, although this is not mentioned in the book.

The reason I know this is because after my own long immigration struggle, I have made it a point of becoming familiar with all the immigration details of Canada, UK, Australia and NZ. I use this knowledge to answer immigration questions on the Yahoo Question and Answers forum.

1 comment:

heather (errantdreams) said...

Sounds like a fun book and a fascinating life story!