Lost in Translation – The Billabout Dictionary

This is a fun, free-form glossary of sorts for us to help out the Yanks, Canucks and other non-Aussies who are baffled by some of the Dingo Lingo or more obscure sayings and expressions from Down Under.

Note: This is in no particular order, and is certainly not alphabetized, and is to be thought of as a living dictionary. Meaning: check back for updates!

Pie & Sauce: Pie refers to the meat and potatoes, er nuts and bolts… It’s what makes someone tick; their background, peers, heroes, influences and what motivates them to stay on the journey. Sauce is the icing on the cake, a means for Swagmen to shout out to fellow Aussie pioneers in the U.S.

Swagman: A travelling worker with their life on their back and heart on their sleeve. It’s actually an old Australian term from our unofficial national anthem “Waltzing Matilda” describing an transient temporary sheerers and workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag (waterproof bedroll). The updated definition means an aussie creative pioneer looking for an adventure.

Fruit Cup Crush Cordial: This is basically the Aussie version of fruit punch, but more concentrated. The idea is to “season” your water with it, kinda thing.

Chilli Salt Squid: Just what it sounds like. Apparently, quite good!

Molly Meldrum: Ian Alexander “Molly” Meldrum, popular Aussie music journalist, broadcaster, radio host and personality. Think Dick Clarke, Casey Kasem and Ryan Seacrest fused together and then tossed on the barbie. Speaking of…

Barby: Not the doll, unless you plan to grill barbie on the barby, a.k.a. barbecue, and season with sauce.

The Good Weekend: Sydney Morning Herald’s weekly magazine, as opposed to a last-minute getaway to Vegas on someone else’s expense account — although, I suppose that could qualify, too.

Sausage Rolls: Sausage meat stuffed in tubes of puff pastry and deep and baked. Think pigs in a blanket, but better. Not for vegans. Do they even allow vegans in Australia?

The Big Prawn: One of Australia’s 150+ Big Things, which are random and, well, big structures or sculptures. The Big Prawn, as you might imagine, is a very large, very pink prawn stuck atop a building in Ballina, New South Wales. Looks like? Um yeah, it’s an Aussie thing.

Flat whites: No, not small-chested blond women. This is Australia’s answer to the latte, but stronger and less fluffy and milky.

Cockatoos, Lorikeets: Wacky Aussie birds. Look them up.

Greengrocer: The place where you get your fruits and veggies. Contrary to the sound of it, they are not restricted to only selling green food.

NSW: New South Wales, not a punk band. It’s Australia’s most populated state, located in the SE of the country. The state’s capital city is Sydney — you know, from the Olympics.

Uluru: Also known as Ayer’s Rock, in the southern part of central Australia’s Northern Territory. It’s a large sandstone rock formation, considered sacred to the Aborigine people of the region. It’s also jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Cheeky Red: A robust red wine — as opposed to, say, Lucille Ball.

TAFE: Technical and Further Education institute. Basically, this is Aussie for Community College.

Glasser: A bus boy, as opposed to the bar fight battle cry of a pissed off Sheila à la “Glass ‘er!”

Sheila: Slang for a chick, a.k.a. human of the female persuasion.

Arvo: Afternoon. And of course….

Arvo nap: An afternoon nap!

Hammer and Tongs: Very hard and fast — wonder how that works with adult film titles? The mind reels.

Bannas: Crazy. Not a comment on the slang: it really means “crazy.”

Brekky: Breakfast.

Avo: Avocado, because we’re too lazy to pronounce the whole word.

Brown Bread: Dead – this would be an example of the Aussie version of Cockney rhyming slang.

Sluggos/Budgie Sumgglers: Speedos, tight Y front revealing swimwear for men.

Muppet: Idiot – no offense to Jim Henson.

Good Sort: An attractive woman.

Top Bloke: A good guy.

Drop Kick: A bad guy. Because you want to drop and kick them.

— Melissa Henderson, honourary Aussie and bad ass editor-at-large

Contributions from various and sundry Swagmen (look it up — it’s there!), including, but not limited to: Bob Miller, Pete Maiden, Pete’s mum …

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