Having a good grasp on the English language doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll understand everything we say here in Australia. While our accents and barely moving lips are partly to blame, our love of Aussie slang is the main culprit. As a general rule we shorten 80% of our words to make life that little bit easier for ourselves. Afternoon? Nah mate, arvo. Garbage collector? Try garbo. What about the two-syllable sausage? Meh, snag. Most of these you’ll be able to work out yourself after a little while – it’s the longer, nonsensical phrases that are more likely to trip you up.
So, in the spirit of education and goodwill, we thought we’d help you out by providing this handy list of Aussie phrases. Master these and you’ll be conversing like a local in no time at all.
Have a good one
We’re a friendly bunch Down Under and this is our way of saying have a nice day. The key to using and understanding this phrase effectively is accepting that ‘one’ refers to nothing in particular.
A few stubbies short of a six pack
You’re probably well aware that we Aussies like our beer. So much so, it turns out, we equate them with brain functioning. This lovely phrase is used to describe someone who’s a bit on the slow side or, to be blunt, a bit dumb.
Up at sparrow’s fart
You’ve never considered the idea of birds breaking wind before, have you? Welcome to a whole new side of your imagination. This delightfully eloquent phrase refers to getting up very early in the morning, usually pre-dawn.
A fictional place that is always in the middle of nowhere and highly undesirable to visit. This little gem is often used as an insult (e.g. “he lives out in bloody Woop Woop these days”) or to slightly exaggerate the journey element of a story (e.g. “I had to go to Woop Woop to get it”). We have been known to laugh hysterically at tourists who think it’s an actual place so you’d best commit this one to memory.
Suss it out
To check something out before committing. “Committing to what?” you ask. To anything. You might get your wingman or woman to suss out the relationship status of the sexy person by the bar, perhaps you’ll employ the powers of the interwebs to suss out an event you’ve heard about this coming Friday, or maybe you’ll send a mate on ahead to suss out if there are any good patches of sand left at the beach. NB: Not to be confused with ‘sus’ which is short for suspect and means dodgy or questionable.
Just down the road
A highly subjective term meaning not too far away. Unfortunately, given the size of our country, this can mean anything from a couple of blocks away to a few hours’ drive. As a general rule, it’s a walkable distance in cities and a drivable one in rural areas, reaching its peak distance in the land-locked, sparsely populated red centre.
Flip-flops. Aussies rarely mean underwear when they say the word ‘thongs’ so don’t freak out when your new travel buddy asks to borrow yours. Interchangeable with the word pluggers, particularly if you find yourself in Queensland.
No worries, she’ll be right
We’re a stoic bunch here in Australia and can be heard throwing this phrase around after various hardships, usually in an effort to make light of the situation. Maybe we’ve lost our job, broken a leg, or suffered through another drought: whatever the circumstances our glass is always half full and we’ll persist. So don’t you be a bloody whinger while you’re over here – it’ll go down like a turd in a punch bowl (i.e. badly).
Tell him he’s dreaming
If you haven’t seen the cult classic that is The Castle, put it on your 'to watch' list ASAP. The above phrase was made infinitely more popular as a result of the iconic Aussie film and should be used when you think you’re not getting a fair deal. For example, imagine you’ve applied for a bartending job and get told the manager will take you on if you agree to work 12 hour shifts and be paid in hotdogs. The correct response, foreign friends, is to tell him he’s dreaming.
One for the road
A final drink. You’ll hear this one thrown around willy nilly (Bonus slang! This one means randomly) at pubs across the country when a member of a group suggests they might soon leave. Possibly the most persuasive phrase in Australian culture, given our aforementioned love of beer.