A Sideways Glance at the Hidden Meaning of Aussie Place Names

There are many place names around the world that cry out to tell you their true meaning. Well, perhaps not their ridgey didge true meaning, but who has ever looked at the name Footscray and not felt that it probably also exists as an entry in a medical dictionary? Or Patchewollock, or Humpty Doo? Exactly.

This work attempts to do for (or to) Australian place names what Douglas Adams and John Lloyd did for Britain and the rest of the world, in The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff.

Words by Duncan Waldron, illustrations by Matt Davis.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.


See Why am I doing this? for something approaching a motive.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The word is ... on a t-shirt

Not content with just reading the word? Now you can wear it as well. Starting with Alyangula, there is a choice of style, size and colour, featuring the talents of Matt Davis in capturing the essence of the gangly teenager. See here for more.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Haydens Bog - Humpty Doo

Haydens Bog adj
The condition of the toilet in an all-male flat with no occupant over 22.

Hazelmere adj
The serene and dreamy quality of the light on a slightly misty autumn morning.

Heathcote n
The covering of detritus on the family dog, after it has been out exploring the wide open spaces on a damp day.

Hebden adj
Descriptive of the weary trudging of occasional bushwalkers, who wandered too far for comfort, with inadequate footwear, and really wished they had stayed at home with a good book.

Higher Macdonald n
The walking style of a kilted bushwalker after encountering Upper Macdonald (qv).

Hornsby n
Any unwelcome erection that inexplicably develops in the presence of the wife of a clergyman.

Humula n
An unnatural and unhealthy interest in fridges.

Horrane n
The almost paralysing fear that you will turn up at a fancy dress party, find someone else wearing a similar disguise, and realise that theirs is the better one. cf Gypsy Point.

Humpty Doo n
The attitude of a person who, after having it pointed out that a stated intent would be foolish, unhelpful or just downright dangerous, proceeds anyway, because his mind is made up. This attitude is most often found in drunks and teenagers, but often also in politicians.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Haast’s Bluff - Hampden

Haast’s Bluff n
(1) An obsolete term, describing the action of someone who was one of the first to own a mobile phone, talking in a loud and animated fashion, in a conspicuous location, with no-one on the other end. cf Rabbit Island.
(2) The pretence that you have understood the travel directions just given to you while on holiday in a foreign country. 50 percent of the time it won’t matter anyway, as the other person will have misunderstood your question, and will just have explained the best method of catching the local seafood delicacy.

Hadspen n
A ball-point or similar pen that seems still to have ink in it, but refuses to write. Banks and Post Offices are required by law to provide at least one Hadspen for public use.

Hagley n
A disreputable stall-holder in a busy weekend market, who tries to avoid giving change under the pretence that he has lost track of who he was serving.

Haines Saddle n
The process of silently justifying your not giving up a seat to a needier person. In the process you only increase your feelings of guilt, to the point that it becomes a matter of principle that you remain precisely where you are.

Half Moon Flat n
A puncture suffered after dusk, when it is still light enough to see the wheel and operate the jack, but too dark to find the wheel nuts that you just kicked into the grass verge.

Halifax n
The bloody-minded determination of a person not to answer the phone in their lunch-hour, because that’s the only real power they enjoy.

Hallora n
A hearty back-slapping greeting in the pub, given by someone who enjoys making a great show of how many wonderful friends they have. Osteopaths and chiropractors are always grateful for the business generated by repeated Halloras.

Hampden n
The grubby mess that accumulates around and under sofas, TVs etc, from the relaxed eating habits of toddlers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Glossodia - Gypsy Point

Glossodia n
A technical term for a technique used by lawyers, plumbers, devious spouses, etc. A combination of ‘to gloss over’, and ‘odious’, this is a nasty practice - the verbal equivalent of hiding important details in the small print. Salient facts will not be lied about, but will not be raised unless the customer brings them up. By such means, invoices may sometimes be inflated as much as threefold.

Gnotuk n
A shirt tail that steadfastly refuses to stay inside the trousers. Some scientists can maintain a Gnotuk for many years, without ill effect.

Gnowangerup v
To secure a nut and bolt using any tool other than a spanner of the correct size, damaging the nut in the process, and rendering it irremovable. This archaic procedure is now taught only to plumbers.

Gobondery v
To be driven nearly insane by the mere thought of your having a substantial sum held as a bond, while you live in rented accommodation. A cure for this near insanity would be the assurance of even a modest rate of interest on the sum held, but pigs will almost certainly learn to fly first.

Goondiwindi adj
Descriptive of the sort of sporadic nuisance breeze that blows gently and infrequently enough to be almost unnoticeable, but which scatters the papers you are just about to pick up.

Grafton n
Any part of a project completed by an amateur handyman, which is obviously a "make-do" component. This always arises after the hardware shops have closed for the weekend, but when there is a desperate desire to see the job finished before Monday.

Greenmantle n
The need to own alternative colour schemes for a mobile phone. cf Bimbimbie.

Gritjurk v, n
1. v To search out and eat all of the broken biscuits in the tin first, just to ‘tidy up a bit’, before you actually eat the single biscuit that you intended to have at the start.
2. n The erratic walking motion of a person who is trying to dislodge a tiny piece of gravel in their shoe to a less irritating spot, without actually stopping to remove the shoe and empty it.

Gulargambone n
A deceptive piece of roasted animal that appears to be a succulent and appetizing morsel, but which turns out to be a knee joint liberally coated in well-fired juices, fat, skin, etc., with not a scrap of meat at all.

Gypsy Point n
The instant at which Horrane (qv) becomes no longer fear, but horribly apparent fact.