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What Does It Mean To Be Australian

Updated on February 21, 2017

What Is Being 'Australian'?

I would ask that question and out of every answer no matter how many I asked, it would most likely be slightly different.

Americans are 'patriotic', The English, French and Germans, are very 'nationalistic', yet usually a word that comes to Australians when asked how they feel about their country is 'pride'.

The Australian way of life is very similar and also very diverse to other cultures, even such as those of England (where we came from and still have close roots) and the US (whom we have close cultural and political ties)

One 'essence' of being Australian is the philosophy of each and every one of us having a 'Fair Go'. A fair go is slang for a belief of all Australians, including those emigrating to this country, of making their mark, gaining good employment, and enjoying freedoms experienced here and having a fair chance of doing so on their own terms, without potential issues from political, religious, cultural or financial prejudice of a culture.

Pardon, What Did You Say?

Since 1788, our cultural use of language has changed considerably since our first colonial settlements of primarily English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Chinese people up to the use of language in today's world.

Some words, are considered recognizable to many, and alot of other words just leave some scratching their heads and asking others if they know what was said.

Australian language does have one unique aspect of very few words being different between the major cities as well as almost no known differing (localized) accents in either the major cities or country areas. So someone who is from Brisbane will meet and talk easily with someone from Perth and will not know where each is from until they ask.

Here are a few Australian slang terms, some will be familiar, others may be your first read.

G'day - Hello
Crikey - an exclamation, as in, wow, or whoah
Off ones face - drunk, very drunk
Cozzie - shortened term for swimming costume
Bush Tellie - camp fire
Captain Cook - rhyming slang for 'a look', as in 'lets have a captain cook'
Flick - to get rid of someone, to no longer deal with an individual, such as 'give her the flick mate, she's no good for you'
Grouse - great, terrific, very good
Mates rates - to do a better price deal on a purchase, as you are dealing with a friend, rather than a salesperson.
Pozzy - shortened form of position, in reference to getting a good seat at the theatre, sporting event, concert, etc

A Brief History Of The Founding Of Australia

To know some aspects of Australia, one must first look at our tumultuous beginnings.

Even as far back as early Roman times, a place called Terra Australis Incognita was the term used for a known continent or island somewhere 'in the south'. Yet discovery and confirmation of a landmass did not happen until much later.

Prior to discovery throughout the 17th and 18th centuries from a few European explorers, it was not known by then that the land had been inhabited by the Australian Aborigines for about 40,000 years.

In 1770, Captain James Cook sailed around and mapped part of the eastern coast, which he termed New South Wales, and made claim for England.

On the 26th January, 1788 Captain Arthur Philip arrived with the 'First Fleet; and claimed Port Jackson as a Crown Penal Colony for the British Empire. This date also marks Australia day and is celebrated every year in Australia as a national holiday (very much like Bastille Day for the French and Independence Day for the USA)

Other penal colonies were founded in other (modern day) states later on;

  • Tasmania in 1803
  • Queensland in 1824

The following places were founded as colonies, but initially not as penal colonies (never received convicts direct from England), hence they started with 'free' settlers and gained convicts released as free persons settlers, later on.

  • Western Australia 1829
  • South Australia 1836
  • Victoria 1837
  • Northern Territory 1911

Modern Australia - Military Conficts And Service

Australians have also served in just about every major international conflict throughout the last century. They have served along side with Allies such as England, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

The Boer War 1899 - 1902
WWI 1914 -1918
WWII 1939 - 1945
The Korean War 1950 - 1953
The Malayan Emergency 1950 - 1966 (longest served conflict)
The Vietnam Conflict 1962 - 1972
Defense of Kuwait 1999 - 2001
Defense of Afghanistan 2001 - 2010 (and currently ongoing)

The Australian Military (usually in conjunction with the Federal Police) have also served as a 'peace keeping force' in countries such as Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Solomon Islands and Fiji, although no major conflicts have been recorded in these events.

Australia also has never had a civil war.

Modern Australia - Political System And Territories

Australia operates as a constitutional democracy with a parliamentary system of government (not too different from the Westminster system used in the UK)

Australia has 6 states and two major territories, with one additional minor third territory. The third being Jervis Bay, and local representation in government is administered by one ACT Senate member.

Australia also has full or partial administration over the following islands;

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos Island
  • Ashmore Island
  • Cartier Island
  • Heard Island
  • McDonald Island
  • Coral Sea Islands
  • Australian Antarctic Territory

Modern Australia - Cultural

Australia is home to a very diverse representation of almost every culture in the world. People have emigrated from countries such as Sudan, Somalia, South Africa, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Jamaica, China, Ethiopia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Peru, Mexico, and many others.

The Chinese have been emigrating from since at least the Second Fleet (possibly the First Fleet) which arrived in 1789 (the next shipping fleet to provide more, settlers, convicts and goods to the original Sydney Cove colony At Botany Bay)

Since World War II, many emigrants from Europe arrived from then up to the early 1970's mainly from the UK, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain.

This period had a somewhat dark era as well, as white Australians and those predominantly from the UK, were suspicious and fearful of these new arrivals, with initial name callings such as 'wogs' and 'derro's' used as well as occasional violent clashes on the streets.

Each decade seemed to help each new type of immigrant eventually become 'accepted and tolerated' into Australian culture over time. Muslims, Indians, Pakistani's and East Africans residing in Australia may currently experience this type of intolerance. Over time, understanding and finding out about the uniqueness of each new culture, through dance, food, discussions, friendships even inter-relationships, help ease initial fear and loathing to become tolerance and then acceptance.

Although racial intolerance still happens (unfortunately) in Australia, it has rarely broken out into major civil disobedience.

Australians love their sports such as Cricket, the Football codes of Australian Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer, Swimming, Diving, Athletics, Gymnastics, Hockey, Netball, Basketball, Formula One, and have so many represented, and are a dominate force that they have major wins in most world wide competitions including the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

Advance Australia Fair - Official Version

Advance Australia Fair

Up until 1984, the national anthem of Australia, was 'God Save The Queen (King)'. Oddly enough the Scottish composer, Peter McCormick created 'Advance Australia Fair', and was even played for the first time in 1878. It was not until 1984 and up against stiff competition of 'God Save The Queen (King)', Song Of Australia and Banjo Patterson's ' Waltzing Matilda' did it become the new national anthem.

Unofficial National Anthems

There are many songs that Australians consider the official 'un-official' versions of what they believe should be the national anthem in place of Advance Australia Fair, again the main contender being Waltzing Matilda .

Yet one song that will bring tears to ex-pat Australians and I brook no apology here is Peter Allen's 'i Still Call Australia Home', written and performed by Peter Allen as something of a catch-cry for Aussies abroad and longing for home.

More To Come!!!

There will be more information regarding 'What Does It Mean To Be Australian' on this hub, coming soon!

What Does It Mean To Be An Aussie

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  • Rod Marsden profile image

    Rod Marsden 

    4 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

    Not bad. As you say most Australians look forward to spring and summer. We love our beach life and most Aussie males like to see women wearing bikinis on our beaches. Of course it is up to them what they wear. Some years ago a group of young men from a different culture tried to impose a strict dress code for religious reasons on our women. They even picked on girls as young as eleven for wearing bikinis. The result? After months of abuse a riot broke out. Us Australians haven't had a strict dress code on our beaches for over a hundred years and we will fight to make sure one isn't imposed. What's more, we care about our life guards and life savers. They are our peace time heroes along with our fire fighters. Our beaches can be dangerous at times and we need people trained to save lives in wild surf. Like our fire fighters they are tops and deserve our respect.

  • profile image

    Shayne Powell 

    4 years ago

    I read an interesting (and somewhat laughable) article in the newspaper the other day that British employers are concerned with the emerging characteristics of the Australian accent within the young population of Britons because of Australian television being shown over there. Apparently job applicants were a third less likely to get a job if they exhibited the 'Australian Question Intonation' where the pitch of your voice increases towards the end of the sentence to make it sound like a question rather than a statement.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    4 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Great hub Jase, about what it is to be Aussie. Good one mate.

  • motherinthemaking profile image


    6 years ago from Australia

    Great hub. Thought there were a few slang terms to add to your next hub. Eg. Dead horse, crack a fat, and daks.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Great article Kangaroo_Jase. It would be interesting to hear more about the social justice issues of immigration and intergration policies in our history....

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    @Shari, lol you make me chuckle & thats always a good thing.

    Ooooo, I haven't left out what it means to be a Carlton BLUES fan on purpose, thats just a great and wonderful topic for an entirely different hub!

    Cozzies, bathers, 'kini's, Speedo's, boardies, funderwear, are all good grouse terms for 'swimming costumes'. Most likely because the word costumes changed to -- cozzies sounds like Aussies.

    Yes, I know what Halloween is, lol, yet I suspect that someone wearing a cozzie and out trick o treating would be receiving a heck of a lot LESS treats that is usual for Halloween night.

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia


    I had to laugh at your great comment, as I believe Ive not seen or heard the word sheila used since a famous dingo once stole a baby!


    haha!!! welcome back a second time !!!! You must be missing the warmer weather and Aussie BBQ's for Christmas though????? Surely??? lol Hope the weather is not too cold and Christmas is good to you and yours Kerry.

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    Hmmm more comments on this page and I have been quite slack!


    G'Day! Bonza for ya to stop on by and appreciate the great comment yer left on me page mate. The most wondeful sunset I have seen is the sun setting over Margaret River....wonderful to view from a winery as well!!!

  • wavegirl22 profile image


    7 years ago from New York, NY

    seems to me you left a very very important part out . .What it means to be a Blues fan :)

    And whats up with the 'Cozzie" - shortened term for swimming costume - -over here we call them 'bathing suits' tankinis, bikinis . .. the only vision I come up with on this one is a man who is badly dressed in a speedo (mans bathing suit) for Halloween (ya know the day in the States where everyone dresses up in COSTUMES!

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Jase, I forgot about that good ol' bush tellie lol. And I don't know about the beach, but I love Melbourne weather. They say that about Arkansas too, you know, if you don't like the weather just wait five minutes.

    Thanks, it's always worth coming back to read things a second time.

    Merry Christmas, mate!


  • Karanda profile image

    Karen Wilton 

    7 years ago from Australia

    That's one grouse hub about us Aussies. Thumbs up from one old sheila to a good bloke.

  • profile image

    Still here 

    7 years ago from Brisbane Queensland

    G'Day Jase

    Good to see a bit of the old slang being used, on ya mate. I've had the joy of being able to get around a fair bit of our great sunburned land and I'd rather see the rest of it, than take a cruise. I think the best sunset you could ever see is in Darwin and Gove. I once did a road trip from Gove to Katherine in the wet season, not too many people have done that and it was worth every second of it. Will drop in from time to time to see what gets added.

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia



    Always great to bump into fellow Aussies!

    I had a look at my earlier research and found you are on the money, SA didn't have convicts and the Hub has been amended accordingly. Appreciate that important point being picked up!

  • gramarye profile image


    7 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

    Enjoyed your hub, and great to bump into another Aussie on HubPages - One small correction, South Australia never had convicts.

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    G'day Kez,

    Thankyou. I still use the word 'grouse' often and to the chagrin of my friends. I fear it will go out of use much like flabbergasted did.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane Jase. I forgot all about grouse!


  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia


    I absolutely agree 100%, and I also love the fact that I can experience such a vast range of people who have emigrated here and brought the wonders of their stories, cultures, foods and I can engage that with them. It's a shame that due to the nasty folk who rip off those whom try to get here illegally that we cannot be more open with our borders. We are rich with giving a 'fair go' our wonderful, laconic yet hard working culture, our beautiful land and flora, we are politically stable. Its no wonder we are called 'The Lucky Country".

  • oliversmum profile image


    8 years ago from australia

    Kangaroo_jase. Hi. Wow this is a fabulous hub on What Does it mean to be Australian.

    There is absolutely no other Country on this planet, that comes close to our beautiful land, culture,and the freedom that we have to follow our dreams. (my personal opinion only). I am extremely proud to be Australian and would not wish to migrate any where else ever.

    Thank you for sharing this hub, will read it again. I loved it. :) :)

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia


    My pleasure MPG, one of the delights I am finding, is in the 70's to 90's most Australians holidaying overseas would bump into other Aussies. Now we are bumping into one another all over the internet!


    Thankyou very much, it is no surprise to us Aussies that almost one in ten international visitors come here and then want to return as an emigrant :)

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 

    8 years ago from North Carolina

    Wow! What wonderful info. I had to investigate after writing my hub today. My dad wanted to move us to Australia about when I was a teen. It's been on my list of places to visit. Thanks.

  • MPG Narratives profile image

    Marie Giunta 

    8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    You've made me feel very proud to be an Australian, great hub. Thanks KJ.

  • Kangaroo_Jase profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

    My pleasure Sandyspider, thankyou :)

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Thanks for the information on being Australian.


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