Lost in translation: How to speak Aussie slang

So you’re wanting to scrub up on your Aussie slang? You beauty mate!

If you’ve watched Crocodile Dundee or caught an episode of The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, you may have discovered that we do things a little differently down under.

We don’t walk around wrangling 200-million-year-old pre-historic reptiles for fun, nor do we ride our pet kangaroo to work. What we do have though, is our very own unique strain of the English language referred to as Strine, which is how ‘Australian’ sounds when pronounced by a true-blue Aussie.

It is widely believed that Australians speak English, but this turns out to be an exaggeration. Australian’s sometimes speak English and when they do they can speak it like Will and Kate over tea and crumpets at Buckingham Palace. But, when you switch the palace for the local pub, you can witness firsthand the unique lingo rolling off an Aussie tongue, and you’re going to want to bring your Stine-ictonary.

How can it be that different you’re thinking? Take a look at this quick guide to nailing Aussie slang.

Tips for scrubbing up on your Australian slangSteve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter

Remember these tips for engaging in conversation with an Aussie. Once you can comprehend the lingo, the easier you will find it to speak.

  1. Wherever possible, shorten nouns and add an “ee” to the end of the word
    E.g. Presents become pressies, tracksuit pants are trackies, sunglasses, you guessed it, sunnies and if you’re bitten by a mosquito at a barbeque. Aint nobody got time for that. You were bitten by a mozzie at a barbie.
  2. When you don’t add an ‘ee’ add an “o” to the end of the word
    E.g. You saw an ambulance at the petrol (service) station after you went to the liquor store. Correction, mate. You saw an ambo at the servo after you went to the bottle-o.
  3. Slow it down, and imagine you are sitting on the couch talking to a mate. Aussies are laid back, and our conversational tone and pace reflects this.
  4. Channel Aussie legends Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin at all times.

Aussie lingo to add to your vocabOutback-Queensland-Tub

Here are a few token phrases to pull out of your Akubra and throw into a sentence on your travels down under.

  • G’day mate = hello friend
  • Fair dinkum = it’s the truth
  • You beauty = that’s great
  • Better hit the frog and toad = better get going
  • Flat out like a lizard drinking = very busy
  • Bog in and have some tucker = eat dinner
  • What a stinker of a day = it’s a hot day
  • I reckon! = absolutely
  • Take a squiz at this = have a look

Put your Aussie slang into practice in QueenslandBirdsville Hotel

Now that you’ve got it, flaunt it at these five token Aussie experiences in Queensland.

  1. As the Pet Shop Boys would sing- Go West! And grab a coldie (beer) at the Birdsville Hotel in Outback Queensland
  2. No prior koalifications necessary to get up close and steal a cuddle from our friendly marsupials at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
  3. Spend a day with a local Aboriginal tour guide in the Daintree Rainforest, sample some tucker and learn about indigenous culture and traditions with Walkabout Cultural Adventures
  4. Just keep swimming along with Dory, Nemo and Crush as you explore over 345,000km of the world-heritage listed Great Barrier Reef
  5. Crikey! Visit the playground of Steve Irwin and his family and catch a croc show in the Crocoseum at Australia Zoo.

A typical Aussie conversationKangaroo

Say what? Still wondering how one can work that much slang into one convo. Take a gander (look) at a typical Aussie conversation you could hear on your travels.

Sheila = Woman
Bloke = Man

Sheila: G’day mate
Translation: Hello friend

Bloke: Fair dinkum, I haven’t seen you in yonks!
Translation: Wow, I haven’t seen you in ages

Sheila: I reckon! I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking
Translation: I agree, I have been so busy.

Bloke: Struth, you should come over for a barbie, a chinwag and a few coldies on Saturday arvo.
Translation: My goodness, you should come to my place for a barbeque, a chat, and some beers on Saturday afternoon.

Sheila: You beauty. It’ll be a stinker of a day. Need me to grab a slab from the bottle-o?
Translation: Sounds great! It will be a very hot day. Need me to pick up some beers from the liquor store?

Bloke: Nah mate, the eski’s chockers, but bring your togs.
Translation: No thank you, the fridge is full, but bring your swimming costume.

Sheila: Ripper! Better hit the frog and toad
Translation: Fantastic. I best keep moving.

Bloke: Yeah get a riggle on. Give us a bell when you’re on the way. Catch ya.
Translation: Yes, you better keep moving. Call me on the phone when you are on your way. See you later.

Sheila: No wuckers, Hoo Roo
Translation: Not a worry, I will do that. Goodbye

The next step

Practice makes perfect! You’re now well equipped to knock the khakis off the Irwins with your impressive lingo skills. So throw on a cork hat and slide into some pluggers (also known as thongs, jandals or flip-flops) and venture into Queensland’s great outdoors to give it a go. What do you reckon?


Photo by Morrolicious

What’s your favourite Aussie slang word?

This post was originally published in 2012 and was updated on 25 January 2018.