Philip Brooks visits family and friends on a journey to the Tasmania of his childhood and Melbourne, the setting of his wild youth. Through their conversations he tries to discover what made Australia so bad that he had to flee. He uses his own personal story to depict Australia from the mid-50s to mid-70s and relates his personal confrontation with the past to the overall issues of the Australian identity.
The insights on a nation presented through his friends reveal an Australia whose main difficulty is reconciling with its European past, which originated from a population of English convicts. According to one friend, this feels so burdensome that self-discipline is strongly revered yet it simultaneously breeds intolerance to deviant behaviour.
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