Australia, Community, History & Traditions

She’ll be right, mate? Won’t she? This is Australia!

Moreton Island – Tangalooma Resort

January 26: Australia Day. The only National Day of celebration Australia observes, that has any strong evidence of tradition.  Most Australians will relax by going to the beach, or at a pool party with family and friends most likely with a hearty outdoor barbeque. Given that we are such a new country, in Western eyes, is it the only tradition we observe?

Cormorants on Tangalooma

In the past, the British might have thought us uncouth(?) colonials, living in a faraway, dry and dusty place, a sun-burnt land of uncultured outcasts and white sandy beaches. And, if truth be told, as a small colony, we really didn’t have much that could constitute a national identity, in the modern Western sense. (The Indigenous people could quite correctly argue this point).

After all, we sang the British National Anthem, “God Save the Queen” in clubs and schools; the Queen of England’s Privy Council held final sway over our laws, (although the Queen has never exercised this Veto); our troops fought battles for distant Commonwealth countries, in conflicts unfamiliar to us; our flag was in part, the flag of Britain and lastly, our cuisine, until recently, was very much based on British/European dishes. ‘Aussie’ Culture? Hell, we didn’t even have our own language, did we?

Stradbroke Island Australia
Thirty Mile beach

In much the same way that isolation fosters the evolution of biology and art, geographical isolation has allowed Australia to develop their own lingo or slang.  For while we don’t technically have any dialects as such, in Australia, I would wager that not everyone would be capable of understanding the true meaning of the following passage, without prior experience in Australian ‘slanguage.’

Keep ya’ shirt on! You don’t want to get the raw prawn at the Barbie, this arvo. It’s a scorcher Straya Day, and every man and his dog will be heading to the beach, so it’s better to fill ya’ esky with a few tinnies, ditch the Reg Grundies and wear your budgie smugglers under ya’ boardies! Don’t forget your slip, slop, slap!  She’ll be right, mate! Fair Dinkum!

Translation: Hold your temper! It is not worth fighting about! You don’t want to end up in a compromising position at the outdoor meal prepared over a outdoor grill this afternoon. The weather is very sunny and extremely hot this Australia Day, and there will be a large group of people, of all kinds, visiting the beach. So it is wise to purchase an insulated portable picnic box, used for keeping food at a safe temperature, and fill it with ice and tins of cold beer, whilst dressing in the appropriate attire. That is: wearing ‘minimalist’ lycra swimming bathers underneath knee-length board-shorts, and leave the regular cotton underwear at home. Wear sunscreen, a hat and a thin cotton shirt to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun! This will be well accepted with the populace and everything will work out okay, without any harmful effects. You will have a fun time. That is the truth, friend!

I like you below me!

As you can see, Australian speech focuses on being terse or using rhymes, when speaking ‘slang’, as it takes twice as many words if you use the Queen’s English.  When it is 44 degrees Celsius in the shade, I guess there is a reason to be concise! Talking takes energy. Energy that is zapped by the ridiculous heat of the Australian summer.

Whether it was Australia’s colonial history or the sense of mate-ship, (stemming from convict times), that forged the development of Aussie Slang, all Australians know and understand it as if it was their birthright, even if they don’t ALWAYS use it. But Slang makes the job of understanding Australian speech, so much harder for foreigners, even if that person was already proficient in English as their first or second language. Learning a little ‘Slang’ will stand you in good stead with your Australian friend!

rural australia

What’s in a name?

And slang is not the only distinguishing tradition of the Australian language. Aussies love to shorten names, or at least, to give you a pet nickname, the more derogatory the better. This is not meant, in any way, to offend, but rather given as a sign of acceptance and great affection.

If your name is Matthias, you will most likely be called ‘Matt’, ‘Matty’, ‘Matt the Rat’, or some other derivation, but never Matthias. Sharon is always ‘Shazza’, Karen: ‘Kaz!’ Laurence will not be known as Laurie, but ‘Loz’, ‘Boz’, or anything in between!

If your name is a short one, like Todd, you may be called, ‘Toddy’, or ‘Noddy’, or maybe even ‘Slugger!’  If you ever do hear someone address you by your official name, especially in Australian male circles, you can be suspicious of that person’s intentions! They may not end up as your friend!’

So Happy Australia Day everyone, wherever you are in the world. It is time to get the tucker ready for tonight’s barbie!  I am Australian, after all, and if that’s our tradition, then I must continue to uphold it. “No Worries?”

In the words of the song by Gangajang, “This is Australia!”

Out on the patio we sit, and the humidity we breathe,

We watch the lightning crack over the cane-fields,

Laugh and think that this is Australia

This is our country, Australia!

Like it or Lump it!

Traditional Slang to Ponder About

“I’m Only Yanking Your Chain!”

45 thoughts on “She’ll be right, mate? Won’t she? This is Australia!”

        1. That is significant! When I was at University, back in the 80’s, we learnt about the catastrophic and unpredictable effects of increasing global mean temperatures. And now, it seems to be starting to happen for real….

          Liked by 1 person

      1. He is a first class “richard cranium.” Tina!! I don’t like the way this country is heading under his control. But there are rumblings within his own ranks of late, so that could provide some hope of change?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Let’s hope so. It’s dangerous to all live on the same balloon, carrying needles. It’s not like you can choose to poke a hole only in your part. He is very selfish. I hope the Aussies vote him off! Some day..

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey, Tina, I love your saying. It really illustrates a great point, and very pertinent re political and environmental issues. May I use it on my next Proverbial Thursday post? I post proverbs, sayings and quotes of profound wisdom and this one fits the bill!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. You may 😀 Although It’s not really mine. It’s from a Norwegian children’s song, where the refrain goes:
              Balloons are things you have to be careful with, because they break so easily if they’re not left alone. And how could someone say that half of it is mine, and I’m gonna poke a hole in your half! It’s cute. 😀


  1. I really enjoyed reading the historical detail and the sections about Aussie slang. It may have taken time, but Australia certainly has its own identity today. I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday there ten years ago and met some lovely people, too. I hope you all had a great Straya Day. I envy you your sunshine and barbees right now. Thank you for the great post, Amanda.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome, Millie! I am glad that you think we do, in fact, have our own identity. Perhaps it will continue to develop in time. You can have the sunshine anytime you like! I quite like rain, fog and overcast days = cooler temperatures. Have a great day too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. G’day mate, how yer doin???? Great post love the Aussie “strine” I’m sure our other mates from around the world would be pleased you put in the translation.
    It’s very noticeable that when world meetings put on cultural displays Australia trots out the Aboriginal culture, dance etc. and it is a great, and in many cases unappreciated, culture. Could the western society possibly live in this hot and arid land with no mod cons and survive for 40000+ years. The pioneers created a what we have today, but it was at the expense of the existing indigenous people.
    Thank you for the link to my post. Despite all the controversy it is always a great day and we are starting to build a national tradition, as you said, the only one we have… (apart from maybe footy fever, and the great race that stops the nation!!!!))

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, strewth, you are right! The dancers are trotted out as you say. I always feel that it is a bit hypocritical given the way the government has treated the Aboriginals in the past. And thanks for reminding me of the other few traditions we do have.


  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a barby on Australia Day, ever. And it would have been a bit cool for swimming – we’re having a cool week or so in central Victoria. Melbourne just had the coolest 4 January days in a row since 1924. We’ve had to put the heater on a few times! Been a few years since we did that in January – last fire usually Christmas eve. Traditionally, it will come out ‘stinking hot’ when the kids go back to school. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, there you go. I like challenges to stereotypes. It would be silly to have a barby outside when the weather isn’t kind. I might have to move to central Victoria. Those temps and climate seem to suit me much better. Weird weather we are having. Stinking hot up here in Qld, and it was so nice in Melbourne last week when I was there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It will probably be 42 by time you get here! The weather is odd. It feels like autumn. I’m eyeing off the leaves waiting for them to turn! Next week is no better. I have the woodheater on today, as the outside isn’t going to warm up in the house. I’m sick of being inside a borderline cold house all week! I’m finding it scary as you can feel the intense heat from the sun on your skin, but the air is cold in the shade. Not summerish at all.


          1. Oh, at the moment the temperature is only in the low 20s and it takes more than that to heat our home up past the insulation. The sun’s radiant heat feels normal, but there is a chill factor going on. The wind is too cold to leave the windows open. I try and avoid using the electric heater, so we just wear socks and a warmer tshirt.


  4. My other half is a cricketer and it always amused me greatly to watch them shorten every long name and lengthen every short one. So Colin became Col but Tim became Timbo.
    And yes, cool Australia Day for us down south, more suited to a lamb roast than a barbie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t lamb what they are trying to sell us on the tele, now, with that “what’shisname?” Lamb can be your own take on Australia day traditions. 🙂 Whatever works for you. I have to confess, it was chicken this year and not the usual snags…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved reading this. Our billy lids would screw up their collectives noses at that piece not understanding a word. Even me trouble and strife would be speechless. Back in the day me cobbers an me would have a dad n dave, don a bag o’ fruit and head out for a night on the turps. Apologies if over the top. It’s late, I’m tired and strike me purple, that’s what happens. Who sez we ain’t got culcha? Love it. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you found this post. I was wondering what you would make of it when we spoke about slang.
      Reaction time just comes into practice, Snow. If you heard it often enough, you would be able to react appropriately, I think. It is a bit like me with Norwegian – takes a while to process in my head, much slower than the normal reaction time. By which time the conversation has moved on…..

      Liked by 1 person

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