In the 1960s, Australia needed immigrants, so the Australian government targeted other English-speaking nations, such as Britain, with an advertising campaign to entice people to move Down Under. The price was reasonable: 10 pounds.

Longtime Santa Barbara resident John C. Holman was a teenager living with his family on a farm in Sussex when he decided to join what would become the largest planned migration of the 20th century. Facing limited prospects at home and filled with a young man’s sense of wanderlust, Holman boarded the SS Australis in 1969 for the long ocean voyage that would change the direction of his life.

And fortunate for us that he did, because one result was Pom’s Odyssey, Holman’s delightful memoir of his journey and life in Australia. Part travelogue, part coming-of-age saga, and part love story, Holman’s book recounts his experiences with self-deprecation and wit, from his shock at going ashore in apartheid Cape Town and working as a deckhand on ferry boats in Sydney harbor to the complexities of making an international telephone call in the era before the wireless revolution. Australia was a rough and rugged place back then, and Pom’s Odyssey is shot through with memorable characters and touching reminiscences.


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