Travels in the Australian countryside gave us an opportunity to learn some of the local vernacular. Picking up the hire-car in Sydney, we forgot to check the petrol, worried as we were about setting off on the left side of the road. Sixty kilometers later found us looking for a petrol station. Finding a convenience station, we put 30 liters of regular in the tank at AUD$1.30/ltr.
In the rural outback, we drove nearly 2000 kilometers before seeing a stop light. Intersections are controlled with “Give Way” (as in yield) signs and round-a-bouts that circle to the left. Everyone told us to watch out for the road trains (triple or quadruple trailer rigs that deliver goods and farm supplies to the rural outback) as they tend to take up the greater share of the road. They also told us to watch out for the roos in the early dawn and evening hours.
In the morning, we would stop for a sausage or franklin (as in hot dog) roll before taking to the road. Take away could be found at small cafés, bistros, McDonalds, KFC, or Happy Jacks that seemed to be the Oz Burger King. Many of the smaller, rural outback towns all had at least one bakery, some had two or three. Eating at the local sports club, we have ordered, among other things, fillet (pronounced fill-it), rump steak, burger with mince (ground beef), always with chips (French fries) or mash.
To drink, we would have lemonade (sprite), tap water served in a liter wine or beer bottle, or a pot of beer. We had to check the trading hours to see when we could have dinner. We could usually find a toilet in many of the towns, but not always at the café. We could always get directions to a public toilet somewhere in the town.
A few other terms we’ve experienced along the way:
Fossicking – to look for gems or semi precious stones (and rocks or shells as well)
Righti-o, a north Queensland term for okay, it works, thank you, and just about any time!
No worries – the Aussie answer to no problem and okay
No drama – the Custom’s agent’s response to our declaration of bringing chocolate into the country
Sealed or unsealed road – road surfaced with bitumen or just a plain, dirt road
Stubby hole – the foam cup used to keep one’s can or bottle of beer cold
Pot and schooner – sizes of beer from the tap
Cellar House – a winery tasting room
Pokies – poker or pull tab machines
Youse – for a form of you
G’day – not used everywhere, more common the farther you get away from the cities
And of course, the very common Mate! – the general term of familiarity.