Explore Australia 2007
$89.95 hardback, $75 paperback.
If you reckon you might be making a few trips to Australia over the next few years then this whopper of a book should be the only guide you need.
At $90 for the hardback version I reviewed, it's not cheap but you do get your money's worth: 400 pages of glossy paper, measuring 28.5cm by 21cm and weighing 3.2kg (if there's a criticism, it's that this is a lot of book to lug across the Tasman, though the paperback version is apparently lighter).
Included in the bulky volume are:
* A basic guide to the main attractions, both nationally and in each state, with good maps of the tourist regions, nice photographs and plenty of useful information.
* Descriptions of about 800 cities and towns and what they have to offer visitors.
* A 143-page road atlas (189 pages if you include the index) plus route maps, reasonably detailed city maps and a distance calculator.
As a test I used it to run through a trip I did a year or so back, picking up a rental car at Sydney Airport and making my way south down the coast to Batemans Bay and then inland to Canberra.
I could have done with a bit more detail for the escape from Sydney but there probably was enough information to take us safely on to the Princes Highway.
For the drive down the picturesque south coast of New South Wales Explore Australia was the ideal companion, providing adequate route information and details of all the main attractions, such as Carrington Falls near the town of Jamberoo, Kiama with its blowhole and the magnificent Boodooree National Park.
I'm sure I would have had no difficulty using this book to navigate my way from Batemans Bay, via the picturesque Kings Highway and the historic town of Braidwood to Canberra, where this time the detailed map did extend to my destination.
If you're looking for a single volume guide to take on a drive round Australia this is about as good as it gets. The publishers say it has been "Australia's bestselling travel guide for 25 years" and I can see why.
The company produces two companion volumes,
Explore Australia By 4WD: Adventure Treks
Explore Australia by Caravan and Motorhome
, $59.95 in paperback.