Sure Australians speak English, but between the Aussie accent and a ridiculous amount slang and shortcuts, it’s easy to find yourself lost in translation.
While we can’t help with the accent, we’ve put together a list of a bunch of words that all backpackers should know when coming to Australia.
Cheers to HannahP945 for the image
Alcohol in Australia is pricey as all hell (expensive)! Unless you want to go without, you might want to become acquainted with an Aussie legend, the goon bag (also known as the goon sack). These magical silver bags are filled with cheap wine and also double as a pretty sweet travel pillow. If you’re keen to give goon a go but not sure what to choose, the classic is Fruity Lexia (also known as sweet fruity white).
If you’re lucky enough to have a Hills Hoist at hand (A spinning clothesline invented in Australia) you can stock up on some goon bags and experience the aussie past time, Goon of Fortune. The rules are as follows:
“A number of goon sacks are pegged around the outside of a Hills Hoist, and players sit or stand underneath it at the edges. One player spins the hoist, and when the clothesline comes to rest any player underneath a bag must drink directly from the sack. Players may not touch the clothesline, and if you refuse to drink or leave you’re out. The winner is the last one standing.” - Cheers to Wikipedia for the rules.
Cheers to The Inertia for the image
When you’re super disappointed about something.
“My board broke, spewin!”
This is something you have to know before you buy this tour:
Cheers to Arena Music for the image
If you're looking for directions and someone says it's in woop woop, chances are you have a fair way to go. Woop Woop means something is in the middle of nowhere.
Surprisingly, Woop Woop was once actually a place. Woop Woop was actually a mill town southeast of Perth that was founded in about 1925, before being abandoned and sold for scrap in 1984.
Taking the Piss
Cheers to Today Tonight Adelaide for the image
Taking the piss has nothing to do with urinating. Instead it’s about having a joke, usually at someone else’s expense.
For example: at the expense of Bogans
How’s it going (or garn)
Cheers to ABC for this image of Aussie Legend, Russel Coight.
Translation: How are you?
Example: Hey mate, how ya garn?
Cheers to HealingFeat for the image
In Australia, thongs are what you wear in the hostel shower so you don’t catch a bunch of foot diseases, not what you’d see in a Sisqo film clip. You probably know them as flip flops or sandals. If a tour guide tells you to wear thongs we promise they’re not being creepy (well probably not). In some places they’re also known as double pluggers, and if you plugged your thongs it means the plastic part has come out of the middle.
Chuck a Sickie
Cheers to NBC News for the image
For anyone looking to work in Australia, you’re probably going to need to know this phrase. Chuck a sickie is basically when you don’t want to go to work that day (everyday) so you pretend to be sick to have the day off. When you’re going for job interviews, it’s probably best to pretend you don’t know this one yet.
Cheers to BasedKiwi for the image
“Do you want to go to work today?” “Yeah, nah”
The opposite is Nah, Yeah
If you want to test your skills on deciphering which is which, check this video out. (Heads up, the language in the video gets a bit hectic, wouldn’t recommend watching this one at work)
Cheers to LifeHacker for the image
Many travellers have gotten confused, thinking Old Mate must be the life of the party that everyone knows but really Old Mate is a friendly Australian term to describe basically anyone. It’s especially handy if you’ve forgotten someone's name.
Cheers to Vice for the image
The surf can be going off, a party can be going off, even dinner can be going off (and we don’t mean mouldy)… going off means something is really, really good.
If you purchase one of the following tours, we guarantee that you will say they are going off!
Cheers to Ciggy Butt Brain for the Image
It’s a cigarette. Also known as darts and durries. If you have a pack of cigarettes it’s a deck of durries (or ciggies etc.), if you’re having a smoke you’re punching darts.
Cheers to The Chats for the image
Smoko is a short break at work, mostly for when someone’s hankering for a ciggie, particularly used for tradies (tradesmen). You’ll want to try and nab as many of these as possible if you’re working in Australia. It’s also the featured subject in this new Aussie classic.
Cheers to Trinity Triumph for the Image
Yeew is like an exclamation mark out loud. It’s used when something is really good or you’re really stoked (excited).
Cheers to @josheynickelson for the image
To froth something is to say you really like it. Backpackers usually froth goon, cheap meals and a sunny day at Bondi.
Cheers to ABC for the photo
Having a couple of bevvies means you’re having a few drinks, or maybe you’re having a whole goon bag to yourself (we won't judge you).
Cheers to CARP for the image
Hoo-roo is a pretty old-fashioned way of saying see you later. If you’re ever in the country (rural Australia) you’re more likely to hear it.
Head over to our Facebook and tell us, what Aussie slang have you gotten stuck with? Hoo Roo Tata, See ya later!
Also, don't forget to check out the east coast tours!
About The Author:
Ben is a traveller first and a writer second. He first caught the travel bug in his childhood, where once a year his family would travel to a new place so they could get closer together and explore the world. Since then he has dedicated the small budget he has to adventuring to new places. His goal in life is to visit every country there is, or at least as many as he can.