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Downunder Dinkey-Di

Updated on June 24, 2014

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!

Ten Questions

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?

See results


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.

Coolgardie Safe

Pre-Refrigator Technology

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."

In 1981 Barry Blake in his Australian Aboriginal Languages: spelled out the etymology in more detail:

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.

Waltzing Matilda

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

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!

Those Convicts

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. .

Get your copy for Aus $16.95

All comments are much appreciated. You don't have to be a Squidoo member to leave yours

Drop a line - Or a hook and sinker ...

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      6 out of 10 and that was only 'cos I asked my hubby one of them. However, I'm an import from NZ, only 10 years here, more learning to do obviously :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm an aussie and I still didn't get them all right. BTW, if you ever visit WA, watch out for the hoop snakes. Drop bears are only in the East.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. I will come back and try the quiz when I get a bit more time. :-)

    • snazzy lm profile image

      snazzy lm 

      8 years ago

      I'm as mad as a cut snake now, only got 80% and thought I was true blue! Now I'm standing like a bandicoot on a burnt ridge;-) Thanks for featuring my lens!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      Angel Blessings and Happy New Year!

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @Spook LM: Bewdy Mate!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      9 years ago

      Funnily enough having just been there it was refreshing to know what people were talking about. Aye it's a harsh land and all and God save us but they actually make reasonable sportsmen and women, Had a bonza time, Blessed by an Angel.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Fun Quiz and I passed with a 70. I sure was glad to have all the info to do a quick study. This is super and I sure learned a lot. Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      haha number 8

      i got 40% just like everone else

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      3 out of 10 lol that was tough

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I failed. 4/10 ouch

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      At least I scored with everyone else 4 out of 10.

    • pkmcruk profile image


      9 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Oh dear 4 out of 10 - must learn more LOL


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