Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

The Annual Red Crab Migration on Christmas Island

Chillagoe—a town in the Atherton Tablelands, 140km west of Mareeba, Queensland. It was first settled in 1887 after the discovery of copper ore, and the district has a long history of mining for gold, silver, copper, lead and marble. Today, however, the population hovers around 150 and the only industries in the town are cave tours and a small gold mine nearby. Electricity and sealed roads only came to Chillagoe In 1970.

Chillagoe-Mungana Caves—a limestone-karst area that was once a coral reef. During the Devonian period (around 380 million years ago), parts of present-day tropical Queensland were covered by shallow seas. As sea levels dropped and the earth's crust moved, the reefs' continuing exposure caused it to concertina, forming a towering landscape of limestone bluffs (karst landscape). Over hundreds of millions of years, many of the high ridges eroded deeply, gradually moulding into spectacular, serrated towers. Some now rise 70m above the surrounding plain. Below ground, the continual action of rainwater on the limestone has carved out an extensive systems of caves. Some caves have yielded important fossil deposits from the Pleistocene era of an ancient terrestrial crocodile (Quinkana), giant rat-kangaroos and wombats. About 290 million years ago (during the late Permian era), volcanic activity changed some of the limestone to marble and was responsible for the formation of many minerals.

chiller—thriller; a horror movie.

Chiltern—proclaimed a municipality in 1862, this small country town is now distinguished by its historic streetscape. The neat rows of well-preserved brick buildings and old-fashioned timber verandahs has drawn filmmakers on several occasions, most notably for the filming of Walt Disney's Ride a Wild Pony in 1974. Originally a mining town, the first council consisted entirely of representatives from the miners' group. Gold mining continued to turn a profit until the early 20th century; the last reef was abandoned in 1911. Mine director Charles Harkin formed the Chiltern Vineyard Company in 1912 to provide employment for those made redundant. Located 270km north-east of Melbourne, Victoria.

Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park—21,565ha of land reserve protects box-ironbark forest of the sort that once covered much of north-east Victoria. The park includes the striking Mount Pilot Range and Woolshed Falls, and contains several historic gold mining sites. Either short or day-long walks can be made on vehicle tracks through open forest, and a 25km historic drive is marked from Chiltern through the forest and goldfields. The trip covers land to the immediate north and south-east of town and is noted for its profuse bird life (including the rare turquoise parrot). The White Box Walking Track (8.5km) is a circular track around the Cyanide Dam Picnic Area in the south-eastern section. Located between Beechworth and the low hills surrounding Chiltern.

chin-chin—1. form of farewell; good-bye. 2. toast, salute drink to someone's good health.

china plate—(rhyming slang) mate.

China syndrome—melting-down point of a nuclear reactor.

Chinaman's luck—uncanny or habitual good luck or fortune.

chine—mate, pal, friend.

Chinese Immigration Act 1855 (VIC)—this document is the Assent original of an Act of the Victorian Parliament which restricted the entry of Chinese people into the Colony, the first such law in Australia. The discovery of gold near Ballarat in 1851 was followed by further discoveries of very rich alluvial deposits. In the next five years more than 200,000 people flocked to Victoria from Europe, America and China. The Chinese attracted particular hostility and Governor Hotham was pressed on all sides about the issue, as revealed in the records of his inwards correspondence, as well as in newspaper cuttings of the time. Governor Hotham, whose signature is on this document, warned of the dangers of the 'traffic in slaves' in his despatches to the Colonial Secretary in London. The Act limited the number of Chinese passengers on a vessel to one for every 10 tons, and appointed protectors to regulate their activity and shield them from attacks. The new law did not end the entry of Chinese immigrants, many of whom landed instead in South Australia and travelled by land to the goldfields along tracks still evident today. Nor did the protection system avert violent assault, and there was a major race riot at Buckland River in 1857. The Victorian legislation was followed by a similar law in New South Wales after a major race riot there at Lambing Flat in 1860-61. This statute, and the explanatory commentary in the despatch with which it was sent to the Colonial Secretary, are revealing documents about the erratic and separate paths of the ideas of liberty and democracy in Australian history. The Victorian Act foreshadowed further measures to restrict Chinese immigration in the colonies, and the new Commonwealth Parliament passed an Immigration Restriction Act in its first year.

Chinese Immigration Restriction Act 1861 (NSW)—(hist.) attracted by the discovery of gold, the Chinese in the latter half of the 1850s rapidly increased in New South Wales, and at the taking of the census in 1861, they numbered nearly 13,000. This influx resulted in the passing of a Chinese Immigration Restriction Act in November, 1861, on similar lines to the measure passed in Victoria six years earlier. By this Act a vessel was not allowed to bring more than one Chinese immigrant for every 10 tons register; a residence tax was imposed, and the right to naturalisation was withheld from natives of China. Later on, owing to the gradual decline in the number of Chinese immigrants, it was considered safe to remove all restrictions, and the Act of 1861 was repealed in 1867. The corresponding Acts in Victoria and South Australia had already been repealed several years earlier. In 1880 and 1881, at the instigation of the Government of New South Wales, an Inter. Colonial Conference was held in Melbourne to discuss the question of Chinese immigration. As a result of this conference, which terminated its sittings in Sydney in the following year, uniform restrictive legislation was introduced by all the colonies except Tasmania. The steps taken in 1881 resulted in a considerable reduction in the arrivals of Chinese. Nevertheless the restrictions were evaded to some extent, and large numbers landed in the Northern Territory, which was outside the barriers raised against them. In 1888, therefore, another Conference was held, and further restrictions were introduced. In New South Wales the passenger limitation was fixed at one immigrant to every 300 tons register.

Chinese Protector—a local representative of a protectorate system set up by the Victorian government during the 1850s gold rush. Regulations were introduced to both control and protect the Chinese who came to the goldfields. Due to racial tension and the conflict over claims, the Chinese were advised to live in separate camps. The local Chinese Protector in each goldfield enforced rules for cleanliness and hygiene that were non-existent for non-Chinese.

chinless wonder—person of weak character.

chinwag—a conversation.

chinwagger—gossip; person who talks too much and at length.



chips—French fries: e.g., A favourite Aussie meal is fish and chips.


chirp up!—cheer up!

chirpy—happy; lively; cheerful.

chisel (one's) way in—win over through trickery, flattery or deceit.

Chisholm, Caroline—known as 'the emigrant's friend'. She earned this title for her work with poor migrants to Australia in the 19th century. She. was born on a farm in Northampton, England in 1808. Her parents were godly people and her father was known as a man who was generous and kind. When Caroline was only five years old, her father helped a refugee priest from France who was being abused by the villagers. While the priest lived with them he told Caroline many stories about France and other far away lands. Caroline loved these stories and was impressed with the humble character of this man. Later, she would become a Catholic, but more importantly, she would desire to carry on her father's tradition of helping others. So firm was she in her resolve to make her life's work one of helping others that she told her fiancé, Archibald Chisholm, a Lieutenant in the infantry, that she would not marry him unless he was willing to let her have the freedom to do the works of service that she desired. In 1838 Archie was transferred to Australia where Caroline really came into her own. When they sailed into Sydney it was still a convict town. Unlike other army wives Caroline didn't stay at home. She took walks around the small town of Sydney, and was shocked at what she saw. There were many women living on the streets. Forced to travel out on filthy, overcrowded ships, they'd come to Australia looking for a better life. But when they got to Sydney, there were no jobs or places to live. The government's policies for immigration were abysmal—they basically ignored their penal colony in Australia. She finally obtained a small space from the Australian government to house the young women. That first year she cared for over 1000 immigrant girls. Mrs. Chisholm was often criticised for neglecting her children. She had nine in all. The Female Immigrants' Home though, was a great success. Within two years Caroline had found jobs and homes for at least a thousand women. Caroline's home moved most of the women off the streets, but she could still see that future migrants would need help. She convinced the authorities that something had to be done about the dreadful conditions on the ships being used to bring people to Australia. She set up an employment office, and was the first person in Australia to introduce work contracts; agreements about working conditions and pay. She continued to travel the country to find jobs and homes for about 11,000 migrants, most of them young women. n 1846, Caroline Chisholm went back to England to work on another scheme for migrants. She talked the government into giving the families of former convicts a free voyage from England to Australia. She also won the hearts of the public—many began to see emigration as a real possibility for a better life. In order to help these desperate people, Caroline developed a plan whereby the émigrés could borrow the money to take the ships to Australia and pay it back later. Even though they had seven children by this time, Arty moved to Australia, taking their oldest son with him, to manage the collection of the money at the other end. Eventually he would return to England as Caroline suffered from several severe ailments, including a bad heart. They had given away a lot of their own money to help others. Caroline succumbed to bronchitis in March 1877. Many women recognized the valuable role Caroline played in reforming society, including Florence Nightingale, who later wrote that she modeled herself after Caroline Chisholm. Her portrait was on the five dollar note for more than twenty years.

chock of—to be so filled with annoyance as to have no more room for patience:, e.g., I'll have no more of this, I'm chock of your nonsense!

chock-a-block—chock-full, the equivalent of jam-packed; e.g., The stores are chock-a-block with shoppers at Chrissie.


chocker—fed up, disgusted.

chockers—1. tightly packed: short for chock-a-block. 2. overfed: stuffed. 3.drunk. 4. fed up with (a person or situation).

chockie—chocolate, or chocolate flavoured.


chocolate lilyArthropodium strictum, a slender, tussocky herb with basal grassy leaves about 1cm wide. Smooth leafless stem 30cm—60cm high, several times branched towards the top into racemes of light purple flowers, chocolate-scented, about 2.5cm in diameter. Only 1 or 2 out at once in each raceme. The three petals are broad and membranous, slightly frilled edges, the sepals narrow, a little deeper purple, and the beards on the anthers are easily seen. Flowers continue to open on branchlets for some time and the globular fruit are held erect. Flowers from October to December. Found in grasslands and open forest, New South Wales to South Australia and Tasmania. In Victoria it is widespread and common, except in the north-west and extreme east of the state. The small, starchy tubers—rather like potatoes—were eaten by the Koorie people, either cooked or raw.

chocolate soils—occur mainly on basalt on the tablelands of New South Wales. They are brown soils with a friable clay surface horizon overlying a tighter clay subsoil, with floaters of parent rock throughout. Only moderately acidic on the surface and becoming neutral with depth, they present few problems, respond readily to fertilizers, and are intensively farmed for perennial pastures and such vegetable crops as potatoes and peas.

chocolate soldier—a term used in WWII by AIF volunteers to describe the militia (part-time) soldiers in the AMF: they melted under pressure (as chocolate would in the sun). First applied following the actions of the 39th Battalion on the Kokoda Trail in 1942. The term is now seen as a badge of honour, and used with pride by part-timers.

choof off—depart; leave; go: used to announce one's own intention to leave, or as a gentle admonition for someone else to do so.

chook—the common expression for a chicken, a domestic fowl. The only citations in the Oxford English Dictionary come from Australia and New Zealand and start from the 19th century. Although we spell the word with a double-O today, it used to be spelled with a U. The earliest citations in the Australian National Dictionary have the “U” spelling (C-H-U-C-K). But because it began life as a north of England dialect word, it might even so have been pronounced as we pronounce chook. Dr Johnson, in his dictionary, says that chuck or chook was a familiar term of endearment applied to husbands, wives, children and close companions. Chuck or chook was a dialectal corruption of chick (the abbreviation of chicken). The word chuck is used this way by Shakespeare in Love's Labour's Lost. It seems never have caught on in the south of England, and to have largely died out by the late 19th century. But by that time the word had been carried to Australia and New Zealand.

chook raffle—ready-to-cook chooks as prizes in Australian pubs.

choom—an Englishman, used especially when addressing one.

chop—1. dismissal; the sack. 2. to dismiss; fire.

chop and change—vacillate; change direction frequently.

chow tucker—Chinese food.

chowchillaOrthonyx spaldingii, a bird endemic to the wet tropics of northern Queensland. An insect eater, it scratches through the leaf litter in groups and lays a single egg in a stick-and-debris nest on the forest floor after the wet season has finished. A most unusual characteristic of this medium-sized upland species (usually above 450 metres) is that the quills of its tail feathers end in a short spine. Also known as the northern logrunner.

Chrissie—Christmas. In Australia, the traditional date is just three days after the Summer Solstice. In Queensland, expect to see Santa Claus dressed in shorts.

Chrissie card—Christmas card.

Christmas beetleAnoplognathus ssp., a scourge of eucalypt trees. There are about 35 species of Christmas beetles, which emerge close to the Christmas period. As larvae, they spend one or two years underground feeding on the roots of grasses before emerging as adults to feed on leaves of eucalypt trees. They can defoliate whole trees in days, and are responsible for much of the dieback of eucalypts which has occurred along the tablelands of south-eastern Australia. Clearing for farming and pasture planting has been a huge boon to these beetles. Trees on farms, in open woodland or on the edges of forest are most vulnerable to Christmas beetle attack.

Christmas bells—the genus Blandfordia (Christmas bells) is very distinctive, and is recognised as a monogeneric family Blandfordiaceae. There are four species in the genus: B. grandiflora R.Br; B. nobilis Sm.; B. cunninghamii Lind.; and B. punicea Labill Sweet, all endemic to eastern Australia. They are distributed along the eastern coast of Queensland, NSW and Tasmania, with B. grandiflora occurring on the mainland and Fraser Island from 24°S to 34°S, and B. nobilis occurring from 34°S (Sydney) to approximately 36°S. B. cunninghamii occurs in the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains regions (34°S) and B. punicea is endemic to Tasmania. The natural habitat of the genus has been disappearing since the time of European settlement, and it would seem that the whole genus may be under threat in the wild, since its distribution along the eastern coast of Australia includes some of the most heavily populated and rapidly developing areas of the continent. The genus has been exploited as a bush-picked seasonal cut flower crop for many years on the domestic market, and increasingly for overseas markets. Blandfordia is among many members of Australia’s indigenous flora which are now beginning to be cultivated commercially for international and domestic markets. Blandfordia is a very attractive focal flower, with a wide range of colours, an attractive shape and a long vase life. Eleven types of the flower colour (from red to yellow) and eight different shapes have been identified. Blandfordia grandiflora is a very slow-growing crop, taking at least 3 years to produce its flowers. It has quite specific requirements for soils, water and nutrients. It is also subjected to weed infestation, and requires close husbandry. At present, the growers from eastern Australia (Port Macquarie area, see map) are the only world suppliers of this novel cut flower variety.

Christmas card—1. (rhyming slang) train guard. 2. Chrissie card.

Christmas (Kiritimati) Island—an Australian Territory which lies at the southern edge of the equatorial low pressure belt that moves north and south of the equator during the course of the year, which confers a typical tropical, equatorial climate with a wet and a dry season. The 135sq km island is believed to be on a tectonic plate that is moving northwards a few centimetres a year. Named for the fact that its first recorded sighting was made by William Dampier in Christmas Day, 1643, the British Admiralty annexed the island in 1888, when evidence of mineral wealth was put forward. By the following year, a settlement was established to collect timber and supplies for the growing industry on nearby Cocos Island. The island existed as a Crown Colony until its transfer to Australia was finalised on 1st October 1958. In the two months leading up to this transfer, the British government exploded four nuclear devices over the island. Mining then recommenced. Christmas Island supports a wide range of unique and unusual species and habitats, and although it has been mined for phosphates for much of the past century, most of the natural ecosystem remains intact. Located approximately 2800km west of Darwin, 2600km north-west of Perth, and 360km south of the western head of Java.

Christmas Island National Park—the park covers approximately 85sq km, which is 63% of Christmas Island. In addition to this terrestrial area, the park includes a marine area extending 50m seaward of the low water mark where terrestrial areas of the Park include the coastline. It took millions of years for the island to emerge from the immense depths of the Indian Ocean. Isolation has limited the number of plants & animals able to reach these distant shores and survive. As a result, the island's ecology has developed in a distinctive way. Some species can only be found here while others are threatened or considered to be endangered elsewhere. The Park contains the last remaining nesting habitat in the world of the endangered Abbott's booby and also supports the world's largest remaining robber crab population—and probably contains the largest and most diverse land crab community anywhere. Indeed, the terrestrial fauna of Christmas Island is dominated by land crabs. Most of the native terrestrial vertebrates, including all the land birds and three of the sea birds, are endemic and all occur in the park. Of the five native mammals, two have become extinct since the arrival of humans. Maclears rat (Rattus macleari) and the bulldog rat (Rattus nativitatus) apparently became extinct within a few years of the introduction of exotic rodents by early human colonisers. The Christmas Island shrew (Crocidura attenuata trichura) was thought to be extinct before two specimens were found in 1984 and 1985, and it is now listed as Critically Endangered. The Christmas Island pipistrelle (Murray's pipistrelle bat, Pipistrellus murrayi), which is an endemic small, insectivorous bat, was previously common and widespread but is now classified as Endangered. It is not fully understood what has caused this rapid decline.

Christmas pudding—a type of pudding traditionally served on Christmas Day (December 25) as part of the Christmas dinner. It has its origins in medieval England, and is sometimes known as plum pudding or just "pud." Prior to the 19th century, the English Christmas pudding was boiled in a pudding cloth, and often represented as round. The new Victorian era fashion involved putting the batter into a basin and then steaming it, followed by unwrapping the pudding, placing it on a platter, and decorating the top with a sprig of holly. The plum pudding's association with Christmas goes back to a custom in medieval England that the "pudding should be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, that it be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honour the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction". Recipes for plum puddings appear mainly, if not entirely, in the 17th century and later. In 1714, King George I (sometimes known as 'the Pudding King') requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast in his first Christmas in England. It was not until the 1830s that the cannon-ball of flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance, becoming more and more associated with Christmas. In 1747, London food writer Hannah Glasse had given a recipe for Christmas plum porridge, but it appears that East Sussex cook Eliza Acton was the first to refer to it as "Christmas Pudding" in her cookbook. Traditionally, every member of the household stirs the pudding, while making a wish. A Christmas pudding is traditionally flamed after brandy has been poured over it. Traditionally, everyone in the household, or at least every child, gave the mixture a stir and made a wish while doing so. It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year. Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).

Christmas treeNuytsia floribunda, a tree up to 10m high of upright habit. In summer it becomes covered in spectacular golden flowers which occur in clusters on branched inflorescences over several months. Nuytsia is a monotypic genus which occurs naturally only in Western Australia. The plant is at least partly a root parasite in that its roots attach themselves to the roots of other plants and gain part of their growth requirements from the host species. It is reported that plants up to 150 metres away from N .floribunda may be parasitised. Endemic to Western Australia from Murchison River to the western end of the Great Australian Bight in sandy or granitic soil in open forest, woodland and heath.

chromosols—these soils have an abrupt increase in clay content down the soil profile – they do not have high levels of sodium and are not strongly acidic in the subsoil. They occur in most districts and are common in the cereal belt of southern New South Wales and Victoria. Many chromosols have hard-setting surfaces with structural degradation caused by agricultural practices. These soils may have impeded internal drainage. Also know as non-calcic brown soils; some red-brown earths and a range of podzolic soils; some ironstone gravel soils.

Chubb—brand name of a patented lock that contains a device that sets the bolt if the lock is picked.

chuck—1. toss or throw carelessly. 2. to perform or do something with speed, force or flamboyance: e.g. chuck a mental. 3. vomit.

chuck a lefty—turn left (usually in a vehicle).

chuck a mental—display sudden anger.

chuck a seven—to die.

chuck a spaz—display sudden anger.

chuck a uwie—turn around and go in the other direction (in a car); make a U-turn.

chuck a wally throw a fit.

chuck a wobbly—throw a tantrum.

chuck off at (someone)—criticise (someone).


chucklehead—foolish or stupid person.

chuditchDasyurus geoffroi, the largest carnivorous marsupial in Western Australia. The chuditch is distinguished from other native quolls by the absence of spots on its 25cm tail, and a first toe on the hind foot. Chuditch has no spots on the tail, usually five toes on the hind feet and granular foot pads. Genetically, the chuditch is most closely related to Dasyurus spartacus, which is one of two Dasyurus species that occurs in New Guinea. The chuditch is Western Australia's largest endemic carnivore: at maturity it is the size of a small domestic cat. It is reddish-brown to grey in colour, with distinctive white spots and a long tail with a black brush on the distal half. Females are smaller than males, weighing 900g on average compared to 1300g for males. Chuditch formerly occupied nearly 70% of the Australian mainland, occurring in every State and Territory. However, it is thought that Chuditch have always been uncommon outside of south-west Western Australia. The last specimens were collected in NSW in 1841, Victoria in 1857, Queensland between 1884 and 1907, and in South Australia in 1931. The species disappeared from central Australia around the 1940s-1950s, and had disappeared from the Swan Coastal Plain by the 1930s. The chuditch is now known only from Western Australia where it predominantly occurs in jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest. The species has been translocated to Lane Poole Conservation Park, Julimar Forest, Lake Magenta Nature Reserve (NR), Cape Arid National Park (NP), Mount Lindsay NP and Kalbarri NP. There is recent evidence of a return of the species to Walyunga. Precision in defining locations in which chuditch occur is difficult for this taxon. The species can travel large distances, has large home ranges and is sparsely populated through a large portion of its range. Also known as the western native cat or western quoll.

chuff off—go; depart.

chuffed—pleased; delighted.

chuffnuckle—affectionate name for a fool, friend.

chum—an Englishman, used especially when addressing one.

chunder—1. vomit. 2. to vomit.

Churchill Island Marine National Park—a part of the Westernport Ramsar site. The park extends from Long Point south of Rhyll township to the north point of Churchill Island and along the island's western shore to the bridge, encompassing approximately 670ha. Habitat types include seagrass beds, mangroves, sheltered intertidal mudflats, sandy beaches, subtidal soft sediments and rocky intertidal shores, which provide habitat for a range of important marine fish and invertebrate species. The intertidal mud flats extending from Rhyll to Newhaven are of state significance. The area from Rhyll Inlet to Churchill Island is of national significance, as part of a group of primary foraging sites for the 32 migratory waders found in Western Port (especially whimbrels and bar-tailed godwits). The Churchill Island Marine National Park is located south of Rhyll, on the eastern shore of Phillip Island, in Western Port.

churchy—1. devoted to religion and church-sponsored activities. 2. one who attends a private Catholic college (high school).

chuttie/chutty—chewing gum.

chyack—1. heckle; insult the opposing team members, in hopes of adversely affecting their performance. 2. jeer, taunt, deride.

Chytrid fungus—scientists think the decline and disappearance of some frog species in Australia and overseas may be partly due to a disease caused by a Chytrid fungus. The fungus attacks the parts of a frog's skin that contain keratin. Since frogs use their skin in respiration, this makes it difficult for the frog to breathe. The fungus also damages the nervous system, affecting the frog's behaviour. A sick frog may have discoloured skin and be sloughing on the outside layers, which can vary from obvious peeling (particularly on the feet), to a roughness of the frog's skin that you can barely see. It may also sit out in the open, not protecting, be sluggish, have no appetite and have its legs spread slightly away from itself, rather than keeping them tucked close to its body. In more extreme cases, the frog's body will be rigid and its back legs will trail behind it. Chytrid fungus is probably transferred by direct contact between frogs and tadpoles, or through exposure to infected water. The disease may not kill frogs immediately, and they can swim or hop to other areas before they die, spreading fungal spores to new ponds and streams.

cicada—there are just under 2000 species of cicada around the world. In Australia around 220 species have been identified, most of which belong to the one large Cicadidae family. Their sudden appearance in the summer months, mysterious feeding habits and striking song have attracted attention to cicadas for thousands of years. Most children in Australia have climbed backyard trees to collect these noisy insects and kept them in an old shoe box lined with leaves. They don't bite, they aren't regarded as a pest and they're harmless to humans. The common names for cicadas vary widely around the world. In Australia, children were the first to coin the common name for many cicadas—names that have been dutifully passed down from generation to generation of cicada hunters. Probably the best known and most mysterious is the black prince, followed closely by the green grocer. Other popular names include the double drummer, cherrynose, floury baker, and redeye. Two other common names becoming more widely accepted are bladder cicada, Cystosoma saundersii and hairy cicada, Tettigarcta tomentosa and T. crinita). The exact origin of most of these names is unclear, but the yellow monday and green grocer were in popular use as early as 1896. Cicadas are the most efficient and loudest sound-producing insects in existence. The green grocer, yellow monday and double drummer each produce noise intensity in excess of 120dB at close range (this is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear). Some small species, on the other hand, have songs so high in pitch that the noise is beyond the range of our hearing. Only the male sings—as a mating ritual to attract the females—and different species have different songs, to avoid attracting the wrong females. The males of many species tend to congregate when calling, which increases the total volume of noise and reduces the chances of being eaten by birds, as the noise actually repels some birds. In addition to the calling or mating song, many species also possess a distress song, usually a broken and erratic noise emitted when an individual is captured. A number of species also have a courtship song, which is usually a quiet call produced only after a female has been attracted using the calling song.

ciggie—fag; cigarette.


Cinderella—an ignored item; neglected or despised person.


Cisticola—very small insectivorous birds, with about 40 species in the genus. They are widespread through the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Old World as well as Australia. Africa has the most species, and is probably the ancestral home of the group. Cisticolas are usually non-migratory. They occur in a variety of open habitats, including grassy wetlands and drier grasslands. They are sometimes called fantail-warblers because of their habit of flicking their tails conspicuously, or tailor-birds because of their nests. Cisticolas are quite common within what remains of their preferred habitat—grassy swamps, weedy areas bordering water or irrigated pasture, and (in the tropics) the edges of mangrove swamps, though they are more easily heard than seen, and because of their small size (about 10cm) not always easy to recognise, particularly in winter when they seldom emerge from their grasses. In summer male Cisticolas make spectacular display flights and perch in prominent places to sing lustily. Despite his size and well-camouflaged, brown-streaked plumage, the male golden-headed cisticola of Australia produces a small, brilliant splash of golden-yellow colour in the dappled sunlight of a reed bed. Male Cisticolas are polygamous; the female builds a discreet nest deep in the grasses, often binding living leaves into the soft fabric of felted plantdown, cobweb, and grass: a full dome for the golden-headed species, which is widespread in Australia.

citron-crested cockatooCacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, a subspecies of Cacatua sulphurea, the sulphur-crested cockatoo. The citron-crested cockatoo really stands out with the orange feathering in its crest and cheeks. Sometimes referred to as the "apartment-sized cockatoo", it is a smaller cockatoo. It is a pretty bird with graceful movements and a delicate appearance. This is Initially a rather shy bird but once it is used to being around people, the citron-crested cockatoo will love attention and can be very affectionate. When excited it will lift up its crest like an Indian headdress, bob up and down, and even dance, though they are generally very docile. They can learn to speak and are easy to teach all kinds of tricks.

City Council—a municipal body that can pass ordinances and appropriate funds etc.

City of Churches—sobriquet for Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, which gives a clue to its history—many of its early inhabitants were religious refugees from Germany.

City of Four Seasons—Armidale, NSW.

civil law—1. the law pertaining to disputes between private citizens (as distinct from criminal law, administrative law or industrial law), as in civil proceedings, civil remedy, civil wrong; 2. law pertaining to civilians, as opposed to military law; 3. (in comparative law) a system of law based on Roman law, typified by the codification of large areas of law and a relative freedom from the constraints of precedent, in contrast to legal systems developed from the English common law.

clagged out—1. tired; exhausted. 2. broken down; worn out; not functioning.

clagged the bag—1. ruined; broken; worn out. 2. dead; to have died.

claim-jumper—someone who takes the credit for someone else's work.

clancy—any overflow or overflowing, such as of water. From Banjo Patterson's bush poem, Clancy of the Overflow, where Clancy (surname unknown) lived somewhere in the outback, by the only river in the area, known simply as the Overflow—which of course is what it did during every wet season.

clanger—a glaring or embarrassing mistake or remark.

clapped out—1. broken down; in a state of disrepair; worn out. 2. tired; exhausted.

clapstick—a traditional Aboriginal musical instrument. A singer holds a pair of wooden sticks, one in each hand. One stick, long and slightly flattened, is generally grasped in the middle and held flat. The other stick, more rounded and held towards the end, is brought sharply and cleanly on to the first to make a percussive rhythm. These were once the most common and important musical instruments throughout Australia (except in the Torres Strait, where drums provided the rhythmic accompaniment). In many areas they were often the only musical instrument, with voices providing all the melody. Clapsticks may be single and beaten against some other object (e.g. the ground, trees, weapons, bark) or paired and beaten against each other (in some areas stones are used instead of wood). There are two basic kinds of clapsticks: sticks, sometimes shaped according to the song items they are used for, with the smaller one beaten against the larger, and boomerangs, either used in separate hands or held in one hand so that the extremities can meet alternately, giving a rapid beat. Both forms were widely used, boomerang clapsticks being common in recent times in the north, where they were not in use as weapons and were obtained by trade. Clapsticks could be played by the lead singer, but also as a general accompaniment and often by women.

Clare Valley—one of Australia's oldest wine regions, best known for Riesling wines. It lies in the mid- north of South Australia, approximately 120km north of Adelaide. The valley runs north-south, with Horrocks Highway as the main thoroughfare. The original inhabitants of the Clare Valley were the Ngadjuri people. It is believed that they had major camping sites at Clare and Auburn, as well as other areas outside the valley. The first European to reportedly explore the region was John Hill, who arrived in South Australia on the HMS Buffalo in 1836. He was a surveyor who explored the Clare Valley district in 1838, discovering and naming the Hutt River. Its nearby twin, the Hill River, was later discovered and named in his honour. On returning to Adelaide, he reported his findings of potentially good farmland to his friend and associate, Edward John Eyre. Eyre in turn informed John Horrocks, who had only arrived in the new colony in March 1839. Eyre later explored the Clare Valley on the return journey from his second 1839 expedition to the northern regions of South Australia. Horrocks set out with his servant, John Green and established himself in the area now known as Penwortham. This became the first permanent settlement in the valley. By 1840, Edward Burton Gleeson had set up the Inchiquin pastoral run to the north, and which was later developed into the town of Clare. Settlers from England and Ireland, as well as more diverse places such as Poland and Silesia continued to progress into the region during the 1840s, producing a rich heritage of architecture and villages, which remain largely intact. Vineyards were planted alongside those first villages and winemaking has continued ever since. The wines are planted from 400 to 500m. The climate is moderately continental, with cool to cold nights and warm to hot summer days. The higher altitude, compared to other wine regions in South Australia, ensures cool nights even during the heat of summer, allowing the fruit to ripen more slowly evenly . Rainfall is predominantly in winter to spring (June - September) with an annual average of around 630mm. Summers are dry and make irrigation desirable but also ensure a minimum of fungal diseases. Varied soil types throughout the valleys are another feature, ranging from red to brown-grey over basement rock. Principal red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. They make a range of styles of varietal wines, reflecting different approaches to winemaking as well as the influences of the various sub-regions and micro-climates in the valleys. Many other lesser varieties are also grown, including Chardonnay, Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Grenache. The Clare Region contributes around 2% of the Australian national grape crush, but wins over 7% of all medals awarded for Australian wine.

Clarence Galaxias—this endangered freshwater fish is now restricted to the Clarence Lagoon and its tributaries in central Tasmania. It is only found in remote locations, where it lives in the rocky margins of streams and lagoons.

Clarence River—the largest river on the NSW coast, with a catchment area encompassing 22,000sq km. The Lower Clarence is a coastal floodplain wetland of significant economic importance to the region. Virtually all areas of the floodplain are grazed, cropped or reserved as drought pastureland.

Clarence River tribes—Aboriginal people of the Clarence River area, New South Wales.

Clarence-Moreton Basin—formed during Late Triassic to Early Cretaceous time as an offshoot of the Great Australian Basin. It comprises a sequence of Mesozoic sediments and volcanics, including some minor coal seams. Located in north-east New South Wales.

Clarendon—a township with a quaint village atmosphere, located just beyond the southern suburbs of Adelaide. Located on the Onkaparinga River, it is set in a valley surrounded by the Adelaide hills, and is a popular stop-over for people exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.

Clark, Manning—(1915-1991) is one of Australia's best known historians, recognised for his mammoth seven-volume work simply entitled History of Australia. He was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia's highest civil honor, in 1975, and was Australian of the Year in 1980. An unashamedly left-wing historian, Clark left behind one of the most comprehensive and influential bodies of work in the field. Born in Melbourne, Victoria, he was educated at Melbourne Grammar School, the University of Melbourne and later Oxford University, and taught at Melbourne before moving to Australian National University in Canberra for the latter part of his career.

Clarkson's bloodwoodCorymbia clarksoniana, a tree to 20m high with bark persistent throughout, tessellated, red-brown to grey-brown. Adult leaves are a dull, grey-green, thin and discolorous, 12cm-20cm long, 14mm—35mm wide. Flowers are white or cream. Fruits ovoid to urceolate, pedicellate, 4 locular, 12mm-21mm long, 10mm-15mm diameter. Valves enclosed. Seeds regular and laterally compressed, cymbiform or ovoid, shallowly reticulate, dull to semi-glossy, red-brown. Distribution: Queensland.

classers—(see: wool-classers).

Classical Winter Festival—during the month of June, an annual orchestral performance in St Xavier's Cathedral, a solo performance by a distinguished classical artist at Madew Winery, and a contemporary classical group at beautiful Bishopthorpe Manor. Other classical recitals and theatrical performances take place in restaurants, cafés and heritage buildings throughout the district.

claypan—a shallow depression in the earth floored with impermeable clay, which can hold rainwater after other groundwater has disappeared. A salt claypan forms on the floor of a dry salt lake. Gypsum (calcium carbonate) was deposited on the floors of these ancient lakes, derived from the decomposed shells of crustaceans that once lived in the waters. Salt lakes are the remnants of seas that existed when the sea level was much higher than at present.

Clayton's—any imitation, substitution, or fraudulent item or claim (from Clayton's, a non-alcoholic drink: "the drink you have when you're not having a drink").

Clayton's contract—a form of company tax-avoidance in which deals were made orally or by paying some form of deposit so there was no need to draw up documents which required the payment of stamp duty.

CLC—Central Land Council.

clean as a nun's bum—extremely clean; tidy; neat.

clean potato—law-abiding person free from guilt.

clean up (one's) own back yard—put (one's) own life and matters in order before criticising other people.

cleaner wrasseLabroides dimidiatus, feeds by scouring parasites from the mouths and gills of larger fish. After setting up a home territory, it performs a distinctive wriggling motion to advertise its services. Other fish gather around the wrasse, waiting in line to be de-infested. Even a normally hostile fish will wait patiently for its turn to be rid of its parasites. The parasites are mostly the larvae of crustaceans, molluscs and other invertebrates that settle on and glue themselves to the surface of larger animals. The cleaner wrasse is native to the Great Barrier Reef, off the north-east coast of Queensland.

clearfelling—the most intense method of forest logging, where virtually all the trees are removed at one time, leaving only habitat trees.

cleaver-headed crocodileBaru wickeni, lived 24-16 million years ago (late Oligocene—early Miocene). The cleaver-headed crocodile is one of the largest (4m—5m) of an extinct group of crocodiles called mekosuchines. It had a very deep skull, resembling those of flesh-eating dinosaurs. The cleaver-headed crocodile lived in and around pools of fresh water bounded by wet forest, where it ambushed its prey—consisting of anything this frightening reptile could catch, from insects to the largest marsupials. Relationships between mekosuchine crocodiles and living crocodiles are unclear, so it is hard to say which crocodile is the cleaver-headed crocodile's closest living relative. Fossils have been found at Riversleigh in north-western Queensland, including a partial skull, jaws and other bones.

Clever Country—(the...) political propaganda aimed at convincing Australians that tough economic conditions can be countered with frequent retraining; a form of justification for the employers' demands for "multi-skilled" workers, thereby contracting the labour market and raising the hourly work week. Bob Hawke coined the term during his term as Prime Minister of Australia, as an update on the epithet, the Lucky Country.

clever man stick—the Aboriginal yarra, resembling an upside-down simple broom, that was intended to beat the bad spirits out of the sick. It was made from human hair and emu feathers.

clever-dick—conceited, smug person.

Click Go the Shears—a sheep shearing song taught to generations of Aussie children; the Australian equivalent of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.


climb down off (one's) perch—1. come down to earth and face reality. 2. cease behaving like someone special.

climbing lignumMuehlenbeckia adpressa, a coastal flora utilised for revegetation programs. It is a tough, trailing plant that forms dense and tangled clumps in sandy sites. The wavy, heart shaped leaves are bright green. Sprays of dark red fruit follow small, greenish-yellow flowers.

clip—the total amount of wool shorn in a season.

clip-top bags—zip-lock plastic food-storage bags (equivalent to the US Baggies).

clipper—person or thing that is first-rate, classy, worthy of admiration.

clobber—clothing or equipment; gear.

clock—hit, bash or strike with considerable force. (NSW).

Cloncurry—surveyed and gazetted in 1876 after rich copper deposits were discovered. It was in this remote outback town that both Qantas and the Royal Flying Doctor Service were launched. Named Australia’s hottest spot on 16 January 1887 when the temperature reached 127.5F (48.8°C). This remote, frontier mining town of western Queensland assumed the name given to a lake during the ill-fated expedition of Burke and Wills (1861). Often referred to as "The Curry", this town remains an important sales centre for sheep, cattle and horses.

Cloncurry ringneckBarnardius barnardi macgillivrayi, the smallest of the Australian ringneck parrots. Though slightly smaller and paler green than the mallee ringneck, they are quite similar in appearance. Their calls, as well as their courtship and mating habits, are also very similar. Their territory, however, is different. The Cloncurry ringneck is found mainly in river red gums, north from Cloncurry, Qld to Camooweal, NT.

clonk—hit; strike; punch.

close the tent flap—(joc.) close the door.

close to the bone/knuckle—1. indecent; improper. 2. tactless; hurtful. 3. uncomfortable revelation of the truth.

close-down—strike or general stoppage of work.

closed communities resulting from disturbance—these are closed forest communities dominated by brown salwood. These represent different stages of succession as the result of disturbance, whether by longer-term climatic changes or by shorter term factors such as fire, logging and cyclones. They exist now as marginal strips largely too narrow to be mappable.

closed forest—protective foliage cover of tallest stratum 70-100%, trees 10m—30m (formally tropical rainforest, sub-tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest).

closed heath—protective foliage cover of tallest stratum 70-100%, shrubs 0m—2m (heath—vegetation characteristic of low fertility, acidic, poorly drained soils, dominated by small-leaved shrubs of Ericaceae (heathers and heaths) and Myrtaceae (myrtles)).

closed scrub—protective foliage cover of tallest stratum 70-100%, shrubs 2m—8m.

closed sedgeland—a vegetation structure dominated by sedges, with a canopy cover of 70—100% of the ground area.

closed shop—a place of employment where union membership is a requirement of employment. The Workplace Relations Act of 1996 guarantees the right of workers to join or not to join a union (freedom of association). Therefore, closed shop agreements between employers and unions are illegal and, as a result, union power has been substantially weakened.

closed woodland—an area with scattered trees, where the portion of the land surface covered by the crowns is greater than 70% but less than 81%.

Closer Settlement Proclamation—(historical) announced the release for settlement of the previously prohibited areas surrounding the Moreton Bay Settlement. Because this settlement was a penal colony, all the area within a 50-mile radius was declared as the Prohibited Zone, in which free settlement was illegal. Although this law was not strictly enforced, it was not until 1842 that the Closer Settlement Proclamation was gazetted to encourage settlement closer to the thriving town of Brisbane.

clot—slow-witted or foolish person.

clothes pegs—(rhyming slang) legs.

clout—an open-handed blow which, unlike a clip, lands heavily: e.g., Dad gave him a clout on the ear for his insolence.

clout down on—put a stop to; enforce restrictions or apply restraints.

clown fish—inhabitants of tropical reefs from several places around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef. Also known as the anemone fish because of its symbiotic relationship to the sea anemone. In return for its sanctuary, the clown fish helps keep small animals away from the anemone that might damage its tentacles. Sometimes, as many as four and five clown fish will inhabit a single anemone. When a clown fish is in great danger, it will often swim all the way inside an anemone's mouth. It's not clearly understood why the clown fish is not stung by the anemone's tentacles. Most scientists believe it is due to a special mucus layer that covers the clown fish's body.

club in—contribute one's share of expenses.

clucky—maternal: from clucking like a hen sitting on her brood; broody.

cluey—quick at perceiving, understanding, or learning; 2. well-informed.

clumped lignumMuehlenbeckia cunninghamii, a perennial of swamps and wetlands, floodplains and cracking claypans. Often found in shallow depressions, and often in combination with canegrass. Lignum swamps can be revived by flooding following 20-30 years without water.

clumsy clot—awkward, fumbling person; maladroit.

Clyde Coast—comprises much of the catchment and adjoining coastline of the Clyde River, which rises in the hinterlands west of Milton/Ulladulla, and follows the coast south and to the east of the Budawang Ranges to its mouth at the town of Bateman’s Bay. Much of the Clyde's catchment area is within the protective boundaries of the Bimberamala National Park.

Clyde River—the only river left in New South Wales that flows uninterruptedly from its source to the sea. Arising in the rugged coastal mountain ranges, the river system flows south, through three National Parks and no less than ten State forests in the Clyde Valley, widening into a broad, navigable estuary and finally reaching the Pacific Ocean at Batemans Bay after a journey of around 125 km. Much of the Clyde's catchment area is protected by lying within the Bimberamala National Park. Protecting the upper catchment for the Clyde River is essential for maintaining its quality, as well as for scientific and environmental purposes. The Clyde is the only river in NSW that still flows uninterruptedly from its source to the sea. Much of its catchment area is protected by lying within Bimberamala Park. Protecting the upper catchment for the Clyde River is essential for maintaining its quality, as well as for scientific and environmental purposes.

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