Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Say What?


Australians are well known for their laid back dispositions, beer drinking and just about any Ozzie you meet with greet you with a “G’day”. I have quickly picked up on the fact that males have “mates” whether they know them or have just met them. Females are still called “sheilla” in the country, but it is not appropriate to use in the city and when you want to know where the washroom is you have to ask for the toilet!

I am Canadian, I speak English, I live in Australia, they speak English. How hard can it be to understand these people? After 8 months of living in this far off country, I am still often at a loss of what is being said.

A few months ago I was talking with an Australian woman in a clothing store and explained to her that I was off to Vegas as my daughter was getting married. “Oh”, she said, “so you’re going to need a cozzie. Do you have one?” I replied ” I have no idea, What’s a cozzie?” She looked at me like I was nuts. Another lady in the store who is Scottish explained to me that this is what Australians call bathing suits. The Australian woman thought this was funny, she commented that she thought “bathing suit” sounded so old fashioned. Cozzie is short for “costume”, which I thought sounded old fashioned. I guess it all depends on what side of the world you are used to!

The other day I was visiting a friend who owns a clothing store (different store, but you can see I spend a lot of time in clothing stores) and a shopper came in to look around. My friend asked if she needed any assistance. She replied “I am just having a squiz”. I had no idea! Did this women need to use the washroom? It turns out it means that she is “just looking”. Who knew! Apparently everyone knew, but me. I have a long way to go before I become known as a local Ozzie!

I have started attending a Bush Poets Society. If you don’t know what a bush poet is, you are not alone. I didn’t know before I met one! A bush poet is an Australian poet who writes about Australian rural life and the Australian bush. There are traditional bush poets such as Henry Lawson and modern bush poets like my friend Peter Mace. Wonderful, eloquent poetry but I usually need someone beside me to translate otherwise the meaning is lost on me. It is a great way to learn Australian vernacular. I now know that a billy is a can that you boil water in for tea. Every meeting is a lesson!

Some things come naturally for me now. I know that you will find kangaroo’s in the paddock (field) and that tyre (tire) is just spelled funny, it still means the same thing. We often have chook (chicken) for dinner, I buy my wine at the bottle shop (liquor store) and it is usually a bloke (man) that sells it to me.

The best part is, Ozzies are willing to give this Canadian a fair go ( a chance) and my life is never boring. I am not just being a galah (silly person), this is fair dinkum (the truth)!

3 responses to “Say What?

  1. Alan Brooks March 10, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Stone the crows! I knew you would be flat out like a lizard drinkin trying to learn to speak Aussie! Crikey, mate, you are doin a great job of it!!! Well, I’m dry as an Afgan’s boot so I’m off to the boozer to blow the froth off a few with a couple of cobbers!!!

  2. Judy Clark March 10, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Say what?

  3. jackie March 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    What is a cobber??? Why would you stone crows??

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