Oi you! Lost in Sydney bar conversation? Applying for Aussie citizenship? Master these 33 terms and you’ll be fair dinkum.
33. Fair go, mate. Fair suck of the sauce bottle. Fair crack of the whip
Made famous by the ill-fated former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who enjoyed using Australian slang to speak to the electorate and often pleaded for a “fair suck.” The phrase generally means that you want to be treated fairly.
“Fair suck” was coined by struggling Australian families who shared droppings of tomato sauce to flavor their meat. Such was the hard life that all they wanted was an equitable suck. In the fields, they needed a “fair crack of the whip.” Fair go, mate.
32. No worries, mate, she’ll be right
Reflects a national stoicism that suggests everything (she) will turn out fine in the end. This being the case, there’s no real point in worrying about anything.
31. Have a Captain Cook
A look, a brief inspection. In apparent honor of the first Brit to map eastern Australia, Captain James Cook, who skippered the HMB Endeavour. After landing at Botany Bay he sailed on past Sydney Harbour. He had a Captain Cook (a look) and liked it.
30. What’s the John Dory?
John Dory is a fish found in Sydney Harbour and it’s great grilled with lemon and pepper, or deep-fried. It also rhymes with story. So when people want to know what’s going on, or they’re requesting the “goss” (gossip), they ask what the John Dory is.
29. A few stubbies short of a six-pack. A few sandwiches short of a picnic
A six-pack has evolved to mean anyone with fit abdomens, but long ago the six-pack was (and still is) a group of beers. If one is perceived as being a little slow – more than feeling “under the weather,” they’re actually quite dumb – they’re a few stubbies short of a six-pack. They’re not the “full quid.” For those who don’t speak about money or alcohol, they’re “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”
28. Tell him he’s dreaming
Given air time by Michael Caton in “The Castle:” when you advise someone involved in a business transaction to tell their counterpart that he’s “dreaming,” you’re suggesting that the other side is not offering a fair deal.
27. Dog’s breakfast
Messy, but doesn’t refer to food. Often used by parents to describe their kids’ chaotic lives. Not in order, a shambles, no thought, just a bit of everything. A “dog’s breakfast.”
26. Wrap your laughing gear ‘round that
While some suggest you can laugh on the inside, your main laughing gear is your mouth. So when you wrap your laughing gear ‘round something, you eat it.
Someone playing a good game of sport (having a “blinder”), or something that’s exceptionally good. Can also be “bonza” or “beaut.”
24. Better than a ham sandwich. Better than a kick up the backside
Something that is better than nothing. Even if you are paid peanuts – a pay rate that usually attracts monkeys – it’s better than a kick up the backside. You’d prefer a “fair whack.” As things become more worthwhile, they may even be better than a ham sandwich.
23. Buckley’s chance
William Buckley was Australia’s very own Robinson Crusoe, a man who escaped a convict ship during the first attempt to settle Melbourne in 1803. Three decades later, colonials returned to find a tattooed, two-meter tall, long-bearded man with half Aboriginal children who spoke tribal tongue. He picked up English within days.
They soon realized it was Buckley, who was given a pardon and used as a peacemaker between whites and blacks.
Buckley’s local knowledge led settlers to indigenous tribes throughout modern-day Victoria. He advocated cooperation with Aboriginals. After the 1840s decade of indigenous slaughter saw locals massacred, it was said that he had “Buckley’s chance” of making peace.
Buckley spent the latter part of his life as a poor loner in Tasmania. There was a concerted lobby for the government to give him a pension for his service to the colony. Once again, he had “Buckley’s.”
22. Pull the wool over your eyes
Similar to “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the jockey,” this one derives from the bush. A history of “earning a buck” around woolsheds meant people had to give an honest day’s work (“eight hours’ work, eight hours’ play and eight bob a day” chanted the union movement).
Australians had to be genuine with each other so they could all get their “fair share” of “spuds” (potatoes). If someone is being a little “sheepy,” dishonest, or “spinning a yarn,” they are trying to “pull the wool over your eyes.”
21. Dog’s eye
There’s much conjecture about what really goes inside the national staple, a meat pie. Is it beef? Kangaroo? The important thing is that it rhymes. So when you’re having a pie, it’s looking back at you, in a canine kind of way. It’s a dog’s eye. Could that really be the runny meat filling?
Often used to refer to the British, or anyone who doesn’t play fair. The last Australian to be shot by an English firing squad in the Boer War, Breaker Morant, famously shouted his last words: “Shoot straight, you bastards!”
During the infamous 1932-33 Bodyline cricket series, English captain, Douglas Jardine, walked into the Australian dressing room to complain about being called a bastard. An Australian cricketer supposedly asked his team: “Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”
In politics, a third party, the Australian Democrats, was formed in the 1970s to “keep the bastards honest.”
19. Toads, banana benders, cockies, sandgropers, crow eaters
These are favorite ways Aussies disparage those who live elsewhere. Tropical Queensland has many more bananas and cane toads than people, so they’re branded banana benders or cane toads. Queenslanders get their own back, calling Sydneysiders cockroaches in honor of the omnipresent, nuclear-immune pest found around the harbor city. South Australians – particularly early settlers – partake in the delicacy of crow eating, while Western Australians spend their lives groping sand (sandgropers).
18. Ocker, yobbo
The loudmouth who’s a larrikin, who likes the sound of his own voice, is a yobbo – often a bit of a troublemaker. A yobbo typically has a deep Australian twang to his accent, in which case he’s an “ocker.”