Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Classic Australian songs: Along the Road to Gundagai

Now this is a track I can picture in my mind! Growing up in rural Australia means that songs like this classic really speak to my heart.

Sometimes music these days is just a bunch of utter rubbish where people sing nonsense lyrics that some other bugger wrote for them to make them another million bucks.

Let's wind that clock back a bit and check out some lyrics from an Australian classic.

Typical country "track" with a homestead visible amongst
the gum trees ahead (to the right). Moggill Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane 1921.
Photo credit:
Along the Road to Gundagai was written way back in 1922 by a true blue Aussie bloke tickling the ivories in a Melbourne music store.

Jack O'Hagan worked for Allans Music store (which is still around today!). He was a talented musician who played the sheetmusic that customers were interested in buying. In the meantime, this young'n was crafting a little masterpiece of his own that would eventually become an Aussie favourite.

Check out the lyrics and we'll discuss what some of the more obscure phrases mean.

There's a track winding back
To an old-fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai 
Where the blue gums are growing
And the Murrumbidgee's flowing
Beneath that sunny sky 
Where my daddy and mother
Are waiting for me
And the pals of my childhood
Once more I will see. 
Then no more will I roam,
When I'm heading right for home
Along the road to Gundagai.

And it's that simple!

I dunno about you, but I reckon that's gold. Jack obviously had a love for the countryside and the simple things in life, like his old family shack, the big Aussie gum trees and his schoolmates. Those are the things memories are made of, ay?

Jack's mate, Peter Dawson, recorded this song a couple of years later. The song sold around 50,000 copies in 3 months and both blokes probably made a motza!

Have a listen to Peter Dawson's recording. Sing along if you want to!

I hope you enjoyed this Aussie classic. I'll end with an explanation of some of the lyrics used. Feel free to comment below and ask me any questions about other words you don't understand.

Til next time, see ya!

Track: a narrow country road, usually dirt
Shack: Old rugged house (not a fancy, expensive one)
Gundagai: a country town in rural New South Wales (wikipedia)
Blue gums: a type of eucalyptus tree native to Australia
Murrumbidgee: a major river in New South Wales

Other words...
Bugger: idiot, jerk
Bucks: dollars
True blue: genuine, real
Bloke: a man, guy
Tickling the ivories: playing the piano
Young'n: young guy, young lad
That's gold: that's great, awesome, amazing
Ay: often used at the end of a sentence, meaning "don't you agree?"

Sunday, 11 January 2015

What's your story?

It's time to hear from YOU!

So I've been doing a bit of thinkin. You know, just lying there on my back watching the clouds float by. The question is a pretty big one:

Does anybody really give a brass razoo about Aussie English?

I think that's something you could answer, because I need to know.

Here's some more questions for you, and I encourage you to post a comment and answer them:

  • Are you ever going to Australia, or have you been there?
  • Do you watch any Aussie TV shows? Which ones?
  • When you hear Aussies, can you understand them?
  • Have you done or wish to do any formal study in the English language?
  • Would you be interested in a short video course in understanding and speaking Aussie English?

Once again, these are pretty big questions. As a dad of five tin lids (see previous blog), I have bugger all spare time, but I'm willing to invest it into one or two important things if I know it's helping someone like you!

So... please comment below, or at least share this post on FB, G+ etc. Good on ya mate!

Friday, 9 January 2015

10 Aussie Rhyming Slang phrases you might hear

WARNING: Ancient cryptic secrets are about to be unravelled!

Well, it could almost be considered a secret code. So consider yourself quite lucky that I'm sharing this with you!

Have you ever heard of "Rhyming Slang"? Well the idea originally came from Cockney England, but considering the Poms sent a lot of their dodgy codgers to Australia in the early colonial days, we soon adopted the idea of rhyming slang. In fact, I reckon we perfected it (like most things we Aussies get our hands on!)

So what is it?

The idea was to take a word that you kinda wanted to disguise, or encode, and use a two-word phrase in its place that rhymed with it.

Clear as mud? Let me give you some examples with rhyming slang in place. See if you can guess what the phrase represents before you scroll down and check out the answers.

  1. Can't watch the footy without a pie with dead horse.
  2. My missus did the Harry Holt with the local plumber.
  3. I heard there was a prang up the road. Might go have a Captain Cook.
  4. Get off the dog 'n' bone and mow the lawn!
  5. It's getting late cuz, I better hit the frog 'n' toad.
  6. Could I have a dozen roses for my beloved trouble 'n' strife?
  7. The billy lids / tin lids always give us grief at bed time!
  8. Woh, check out that paint job. Looks like the painter had a Barry Crocker that day!
  9. We're heading to steak 'n' kidney at the crack of dawn.
  10. Don't bother telling me a porky pie, cos I'll find out!

How'd you go? Didn't sneak a Bo Peep did you? Well, are you ready for the answers?

  1. Dead Horse = (tomato) sauce
  2. Harry Holt = bolt (i.e. to run away or disappear)
  3. Captain Cook = look (for something, at something)
  4. Dog 'n' Bone = telephone
  5. Frog 'n' Toad = road
  6. Trouble 'n' Strife = wife (gents, use this one at your own risk)
  7. Billy Lids / Tin Lids = kids (children)
  8. Barry Crocker = shocker (an unfortunate time, lack of success, bad luck)
  9. Steak 'n' Kidney = Sydney
  10. Porky Pie = lie (untruth, fib)

Reckon that's not too hard? Sorry to say, but it gets a bit trickier. Sometimes we'll drop the second word and turn the first word into a plural.

Say what?

Check it out. Here are some new examples with rhyming slang in its short forms:
  • I haven't seen Bill all day. Methinks he's done the Harrys.
  • Be blowed if I know where me keys are. Might have a Captains in the dunny.
  • Mitch is having a Barrys today with his bowling.
  • Yeah right, sounds like you're telling porkies again.

Australian Slang I hope that made some kind of sense. Nobody said Aussie English was easy. But neither did they say it wasn't interesting! Don't you just love it?

Well, I gotta do the Harry Holt and put the tin lids to bed!


Dodgy: untrustworthy, unsafe, non-genuine
Codger: fellow, guy, bloke
Clear as mud: very unclear, doesn't make any sense
Footy: football (usually rugby league or Aussie Rules football)
Prang: a car crash
Cuz: cousin
Crack of dawn: the first light of dawn
Bo Peep: a peek, a look at something
Fib: a lie
Be blowed: to be surprised by something (Well I'll be blowed!), to be baffled by something (I'll be blowed if I know!)
Dunny: toilet

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Learning Aussie phrases

So you're scratching out a plan to visit Down Under? You've been doing some online English course somewhere, such as or If you haven't ever had a chinwag with an Aussie bloke or chick, then chances are you're in for a big surprise!

Righto, well one way to prepare would be to find a good book on Aussie slang. There's a pretty famous fellah named Kel Richards. He's a dead set Aussie, and he's written a lot of books and made a stack of radio broadcasts in Aussie English.

Kel has a bonza eBook out, which is pretty dirt cheap. It's great stuff, and I really recommend it. Click on the book title. If you've got a Kindle like me, you can easily load her up with Kel's books.

Other than books like these, you can also watch some classic Aussie movies. I will talk more about those in another blog, but for now, see if you can get your mitts on a copy of The Castle. *It's fairly family friendly (maybe the rare swear word)*, but otherwise it's a real hoot!

I'll do what I can to help you get ready for your trip to Australia. Just comment below on what you're stressing about and I'll set you straight.

Catch ya next time!

*UPDATE: Upon watching The Castle again, it turns out there are a LOT more swear words than I ever remembered! Maybe it's not such a family friendly movie!

To scratch out: write down, scribble down
Chinwag / Chin-wag: conversation, chat
Bloke: Guy, man
Chick: Lady, woman, girl
Righto: Okay
Fellah: Man, fellow
Dead set: Fair dinkum, true blue, straight up, genuine, real
A stack of: many, lots
Bonza: Excellent, outstanding, great
Dirt cheap: Very cheap, inexpensive
Load her up: Install or boot (e.g. a computer program), load onto (truck etc)
Get your mitts on: Obtain, get hold of
Swear word: Curse word, expletive
A real hoot: Great fun, exciting
To set somebody straight: To correct someone, inform someone

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The future of this blog


Hey friends!

Well, it's been a flippin' long time since my last post. I had great intentions of reviving this blog and giving you all some interesting content, but life has been rather interesting for me personally!

So now there are a couple of really big changes in my life. Firstly, I'm living in Siberia! Yep, I moved my wife and four nippers (children) across the globe to the so-called "frozen wasteland". Though, in fact, you'll be happy to know that Siberia is actually a beautiful part of Russia. We love it here.
Me and my boys in the gorgeous Siberian wilderness

Australia is still our beloved homeland. We still have our family, friends and house there. But we're having a little adventure right now.

The next huge surprise was when we had an unplanned addition to our already-big family. So now we have another baby (which we travelled home to Australia to have). She was born in June 2014, and now we are the "Seven in Siberia".

What I plan on doing in the future is making a consistent effort on producing content for this blog. It won't necessarily mean spoken podcasts, as they take a lot of effort in producing. Though I will do some recordings as time allows.

The rest is up to you. What do you want to see? What topics do you think apply to tourism and moving to Australia? I want to help you get your Aussie English up to scratch and ready for your great Aussie adventure!

Give us ya feedback!

Flippin' / Flipping: Very (e.g. I caught a flippin' huge yellow belly at the river mate!); Also used as a non-offensive substitute for that offensive expletive starting with F (e.g. You flippin' idiot!)
Nipper: A child, kid.