We all remember a road trip from our childhood.
The boring, interminable drive to somewhere not very different to where you came from could be said to be a great Australian tradition.
With that in mind, Geoff Rissole and Rick Furphy have pitched in with a guide we can all relate to.
The Great Aussie Road Trip contains more of the same highly irregular, irreverent and downright rude material their fans have come to expect from their earlier best-seller Sh*t Towns of Australia.
Like any good guidebook, it outlines travel routes with an eye for cultural events and reviews the quintessentially Australian stops along the way.
“Packing up the ute and slogging for hours or days to get to some town that’s only slightly less sh–t than where they came from is just part of living on the sprawling mediocrity that is Australia,” the blurb reads.
With a title like ‘Great Bogan Road’, we didn’t expect the road trip review of the Cairns to Brisbane route to be overly flattering.
But the mockery sets off at a breakneck pace, like a Holden V8 on a dirt road out the back of Woop Woop.
By page 13 these two stirrers have already noted Townsville as the “car theft capital” and Ipswich as “Brisbane’s grotty basement”.
And it does not get kinder, with Deception Bay’s population described as “a clot of gronks who were pushed out of Brisbane by rising living costs”.
The book is mean, nasty, and potentially offensive to the towns it names and their inhabitants, but co-author Rissole told The New Daily he hopes readers will take it in the spirit it was meant – as “an affectionate p— take”.
“Everyone is going to have different taste levels when it comes to that sort of thing. Hopefully people understand the intent with which it was written and don’t get too offended,” Rissole said.
The reaction to their earlier book was, overall, really positive, he said, with most of the complaints coming from those upset their town was left out.
“The good thing about having the sequel was we managed to get across a lot of the towns we were unable to get through in the first one.”
Started as an inside joke, says Rissole
Rissole and Furphy, who travelled for work, began writing reviews as a joke among themselves.
Eventually they started sharing them with friends. This led to a Facebook page and, after that, to print.
The duo’s Facebook page boasts more than 500,000 followers, which Rissole said was an indication that a lot of people are in on the joke.
It took about six months to pull together all of the fan mail, images, captions and reviews that make up The Great Aussie Road Trip.
“We’ve travelled around extensively, it’s all sort of first-hand research augmented by reading into a bit of history – all based in our own travels,” he said.
“If you start delving into Aussie history there’s quite a lot of funny incidents and individuals and we’ve included a bit of that for some local flavour in our write-ups.”
Fan mail a favourite
One of funniest parts of the book is the scattering of fan mail, which is real feedback the pair have received via Facebook, with names changed.
“Some people have given us a really good roast, which I love. And some of it is borderline illegible which is also really funny. But the fan mail is definitely our favourite part of the whole thing. I think it’s the funniest bit, if I’m honest,” Rissole said.
Some of the towns’ mayors have taken it pretty seriously, but Rissole said they are just passionate about their communities.
Meanwhile others, who remain anonymous, have used the comedic back-and-forth to help raise the profile of their towns.
How to spot a contender
We have all been to a less-than-average town. Some of us were raised in one, but what do two “self-appointed experts in sociology, travel and culture” factor into their official criteria?
“There’s a lot of things that make up a sh–t town: Do you still have a Video Ezy? Has your town been the subject of a true crime podcast? Did you vote for the Nationals?” Rissole asked.
The local MP is a consideration, he said. If they wear an Akubra, it probably fits the bill.
Rissole would not reveal a name, but confirmed he “definitely” grew up in one. “You have got to have a background in sh–t towns to really be able to spot one.”
Sporting a suspiciously Kiwi accent, some fans have called for his Australian visa to be revoked, but he is yet to be run out of town.
“We try to keep a pretty low profile so people aren’t aware of who we are exactly, so it hasn’t happened yet, but who knows?” Rissole says.
Not for the overly sensitive, The Great Aussie Road Trip makes a great gift for anyone who appreciates giant bananas, koalas and other ‘big’ things, a Bintang T-shirt and a good mullet.
*Geoff Rissole and Rick Furphy are characters created as the face of Sh*t Towns Corporation.