- Travel and Places
Arcane Australian Trivia for the Seriously Bored
Australia isn't a faraway uncharted continent, most people these days realise that we are not a country in Europe and that we definitely have nothing to do with Austria. Our actors and athletes are fairly familiar and we are mainly understood when we speak.
But forget the furry animals for a moment, overlook the Opera House and have a look at the lesser known, bizarre and curious aspects. If you can answer these questions you're dinky di.
Explore the inexplicabilities of dinkey di Arcania Australiana for odd historical and hysterical idiosyncrasies to get the. fair dinkum dirt on Downunder.
Fair crack of the whip Digger, this is true-blue trivia!
How many can you answer?
Before you take the quiz, you may like to read a little Australiana (lower down on this page) for a background on some seemingly absurd questions. They're all real questions, with real answers, even if somewhat weird.
From our colourfull colonisation to peculiarities of patois - give it a go - see how you make out
How did you go in the Quiz?
What score did you get to?
Keep it in your tuckerbag
Tucker is old Australian slang for food. Any food.
Swaggies (hoboes) who hit the track carried their tucker in a tuckerbag. The rolled up blanket, humped like a backpack, was their swag or Matilda. It was also called a bluey. When a Swaggie went bush, he would hump his bluey.
These days, we have 'discovered' Bush Tucker. Indigenous Australians have been eating bush tucker for 60,000 years but for a long time we steered clear of the mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, flowers, herbs and spices that are native to this country.
It didn't look nice. In fact it looked awful. It takes a fair amount of courage to munch on a lizard, and how about a large family sized moth? (You've heard about those grubs of course).
But we have wonderful fruits, tubers, greens, seeds and nuts on our tables now and the word Tucker is back in our vocabulary.
My grandmother had a Coolgardie Safe hanging on her back verandah. She didn't fully trust the modern invention of the ice chest, which was a standard appliance in Australian kitchens up till the late 1950s.
Coolgardie was a major site in the deserts of the West Australian goldfields. A place where you certainly needed some way to keep your food fresh. The trusty Coolgardie Safe worked on the principle of evaporation, that for liquid to change into a gaseous state, it needs energy. This energy is taken in the form of heat from its surroundings.
Using this principle, a cage of wire mesh is covered with a wet hessian bag. A tray is placed on top, and water poured into the tray.. The cage is hung up high away from wild animals, and the water drips down onto the hessian bag, keeping it damp and, as the water evaporates, the heat dissipates and the food stored inside is kept cool and fresh.
A perfect place to keep your tucker
Moomba - Melbourne's Festival
A Chinese Dragon makes its way through Melbourne streets as part of Moomba, a Community Festival which has been celebrated in March since 1955.
That name? The official translation is "let's get together and have fun."
Undoubtedly the most unfortunate choice of a proper name from Aboriginal sources was made in Melbourne when the city fathers chose to name the city's annual festival 'Moomba'. The name is supposed to mean 'Let's get together and have fun', though one wonders how anyone could be naive enough to believe that all this can be expressed in two syllables.
In fact 'moom' (mum) means 'buttocks' or 'anus' in various Victorian languages and 'ba' is a suffix that can mean 'at', 'in' or 'on'. Presumably someone has tried to render 'up your bum' in the vernacular.
And the Shearer's Strike of 1891
Waltzing Matilda is an iconic Australian song.
The song is believed to be a political statement in much the same way as classic children's nursery rhymes attacked political figures in earlier centuries. It was written by Banjo Patterson during a raging conflict between Sheep Station (Ranch) owners and the sheep shearers in 1891.
Another song, The Ballad of 1891, tells of the Shearers' Strike.
The price of wool was falling in 1891
The men who owned the acres saw something must be done
"We will break the Shearers' Union, and show we're masters still
And they'll take the terms we give them, or we'll find the ones who will"
The Eight Hour Day
First won in Melbourne, 1856
The Gold Rush attracted many skilled tradesmen to Australia, and some of them had been active in the Chartism movement. Craft Unions were more militant in Melbourne and the eight hour working day was achieved in 1856.
It took further campaigning and struggles by trade unions to extend the reduction in hours to all workers in Australia.
Rhyming slang is defined as -
A form of slang in which a word is replaced by a rhyming word, typically the second word of a two-word phrase - so stairs becomes "apples and pears". The second word is then often dropped entirely "I'm going up the apples".
This is essentially Cockney Rhyming Slang, transported to Australia in the prison ships and still with us. The association of the original word to the rhyming phrase is not always obvious to the uninitiated.
Lemonade and Sarse rhymes with the part of the body you sit on. You can get the lemonade when you lose your job.
Captain Cook is "look", "Take a Captain at that!
Language of the Prisoners
When the last shipment of convicts disembarked in 1868, the total number was a little over 162,000 men and women. At that time the population in the colony was around one million.
The cruelty was appalling. Lashings were frequent.
In 'Lags and Lashes : The vocabulary of Convict Australia,1788-1850 (PDF) , Amanda Laugesen describes convict terminology, including the Botany Bay Dozen, as revealed through records in the National Library of Australia.
Bound for Botany Bay
Bound for Botany Bay is a unique description of Australia's convict period. Prizewinning artist J.D. Shearer's gallery of impressions, meticulously researched, makes a telling comment on these times.
The paintings are accompanied by excerpts from writings of the period. Whether a passage from a ponderous House of Lords report, or the lonely wail of a banished convict maid echoed in a street ballad of the times, the effect is a startling glimpse of life in colonial Sydney Town.
A symbolic character appears in most of the paintings.He represents one of the 128 ancestors of every seventh generation Australian. .
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