Experts in Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific

The simple Austravel guide to Aussie slang

Posted 31 October 2014
Think they speak English Down Under? Well, sometimes, we’re not so sure!

With creative additions and adaptations, the Aussies have truly made the English language their own, sometimes so much so that we’re left wondering what was actually said…

While you won’t often hear the outdated phrases “fair dinkum”, “drongo” or “bonza” as often as you think, you’re sure to come across a few new words you won’t hear at home.

Since they don’t do phrasebooks for Aussie English, we’ve decided to share a few of our favourites Aussie-isms you might hear on your next holiday. 

Arvo – afternoon 

"We’re hanging at the beach this arvo." 

This is a great example of how Aussies love to lop off syllables then add an ‘o’. Less syllables, less effort… sounds sensible to us! 

Barbie – barbeque

"Come round for a barbie on Sunday arvo." 

You knew this one, right? 

Bities – biting insects

"Watch out for those bities, they’ll eat you alive!" 

Makes mosquitoes almost sound cute, no? 

Bottle-o – the off-license 

"I’m off to the bottle-o to pick up some beers."  

The bottle-o is closer to the American liquor store than your British corner shop. It stocks everything for all your drinking needs, but won’t help you with your groceries. 

Boogie board – a short, light surfboard ridden lying down 

"Never surfed? You better start with a boogie board, mate." 

This is the antidote to disheartened beachgoers after too many failed attempts to stand up on a surfboard. And it’s so much fun!  

Dunnie – toilet 

"Which way to the dunnie?" 

Knowing this one saves confusion (and precious seconds) when you’re desperate for the loo.

Esky – cool box 

"Help yourself to a cold beer from the Esky." 

Like the Hoover or Kleenex (i.e. vacuum cleaner and tissues), Esky is a brand name that’s so popular it become more common than the generic term. If you have a cool box in Australia, it’s probably an Esky. 

Hooroo – goodbye

"Hooroo! See ya tomorrow!"

On its own, quite confusing but in this context, quite self explanatory we think.

Macca’s – McDonald’s

"Let’s just get lunch on the run; we’ll stop off at Macca’s." 

Pretty obvious when you know it. 

She’ll be apples – everything will be all right

"Don’t worry, mate, she’ll be apples." 

In laid-back Australia, almost everything is apples. 

Schooner – a beer

"Just a schooner for me, ta."

Technically this isn’t slang as a schooner refers to the type of glass the beer is served in. A schooner is two-thirds of a pint in size. 

Scull – to down a drink 

"Scull it!" 

This is normally shouted in noisy bars. 

Shout – round of drinks

"It’s my shout, what you drinking?" 

Saying this phrase is a quick way to make friends in Australia. 

Thongs – sandals or flip-flops 

"I think I left one of my thongs down by the pool." 

Best to get this one right. 

What’s the best Aussie slang you’ve heard on your travels? Let us know on our Facebook page