Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Coastal Pigface

(Coastal Pigface)Carpobrotus virescens

coachwoodCeratopetalum apetalum, a medium-sized tree to 25m in its natural habitat. Flowers are seldom seen from the forest floor since they are high up in the canopy but the sweet perfume is very evident. A widespread species in warm temperate rainforest on poorer soils, also in cool temperate rainforest and occasionally sub-tropical rainforest, from the McPherson Range, Queensland, to near Batemans Bay, NSW. Commonly cut as a timber tree.

Coal Creek settlement—(hist.) a secondary penal settlement and the site of Newcastle's first coal mine. Thirty rebels involved in the Battle at Vinegar Hill—the first recorded uprising in Australia—were the first inhabitants of the newly installed settlement at Coal Creek.

Coal Mines Historic Site—Tasmania's first operational mine, the site was developed both to limit the colony's dependence upon imported coal from New South Wales and as a place of punishment for the ‘worst class’ of convicts from Port Arthur. Port Arthur is on the southern side of the Tasman Peninsula, but it’s worth taking a drive to the other side of the peninsula, past the tiny farming community of Nubeena and up along the western edge of the Norfolk Bay to the Coal Mines Historic Site.

Coal River—(hist.) informal but widely used name for the Hunter River, in colonial times.

coalie/coaley—a wharf labourer who loads coal into ships.

coalition/coalition party—a combination of two or more political parties in parliament, in order to gain a majority on the floor. Overall, coalition arrangements between the conservative parties at the federal level have been extremely successful in maximising the conservative vote. The current Australian government is a coalition party comprising the Australian Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia.

coals to Newcastle—something bought or sent to a place where it is already plentiful; superfluous.

coast ashEucalyptus seeberi, a rainforest tree, also known as silvertop ash, silvertop, black ash and, in Tasmania, ironbark.

coarse-haired wombatVombatus ursinus, a marsupial that looks like a small, stout bear, standing between 70cm and 120cm tall and weighing between 15kg and 35kg. The coarse-haired wombat's head is more rounded than that of the hairy-nosed wombat and it has a large, bare nose which is shiny black with granular skin, much like that of a dog. The ears are relatively small, triangular and slightly rounded. Its fur is coarse and thick, bristle-like, with little or no underfur; to the touch, it feels like horse hair. Longer than the hairy-nosed wombat's fur, it is better adapted to its colder, wetter, forest habitat. Coloration ranges from yellowish or sandy, to brown or black, to grey. The fur can sometimes be streaked or flecked, and the belly and throat areas are usually lighter in color. Their true color, however, is often masked by the color of the dirt in which they've been digging. Native to Australia and Tasmania, they were once found throughout south-east Australia, but their range is now restricted to the coastal regions. In addition, coarse-haired wombats used to be native to all the islands of the Bass Strait, but now are restricted to Flinders Island. Habitat includes woodlands, shrub-lands, heath, coastal regions, and hilly and mountainous regions. In favorable conditions, coarse-haired wombats can have a population density of 0.3 to 0.5 per hectare. Each wombat will have a home range of about 5 to 27 hectares (12 to 65 acres) which will encompass a number of burrows and will overlap the territory of other wombats. The size of their home range depends upon the location and quality of their feeding areas. Coarse-haired wombats are considered solitary except during the breeding season, but there have been reports that they visit each other's burrows on occasion. Also known as the common wombat, naked-nosed wombat, forest wombat, the island wombat and Tasmanian wombat, its nickname is "bulldozer of the bush".

coast banksiaBanksia integrifolia, a tall shrub to a small tree with yellow flowers. The leaves are shiny dark green above, silvery beneath and broadly elongate; the margins are usually smooth, though sometimes irregularly serrated at the top. New growth is covered in short, silvery hairs. Grows in sandy soils along the cost and inland in open forest. Flowers summer to winter, but some flower at other times. Found along the coast from southern Queensland to Victoria. There are three subspecies which occur in different areas within this range.

coast beard heath—a hardy, slow growing shrub reaching about 4m, it forms dense coastal scrub on sand dunes and cliff tops. It has masses of small, fury, white flowers in winter and spring and small green to white berries, which are a favourite food of seagulls and silvereyes.

coast cypress-pineCallitris columellaris, also known as Australian cypress and Bribie Island pine. A lofty tree, growing to between 18 and 20 metres tall in sandy, salt soils in full sub-tropical sun. Foresters to date have considered it to be unsuitable as a plantation species (for timber), due to its tendency to "lock-up"—i.e., each cypress tree emits an exudate through its roots and leaves which inhibits the growth and dominance of its same-species neighbours, thus stalling the overall growth of the whole population. Cypress is not a natural monoculture tree, however. When European settlers first arrived, they would most likely have found cypress species forming part of an open woodland mix with eucalyptus and other species. In such a natural forest situation, cypress would be less prone to antagonising its neighbours, because they would more than likely be of a different species and therefore not a threat to its existence.

coast disease—a diseased condition of sheep which causes wasting and a high rate of mortality; prevalent in the SA coastal region. Scientists of the SCIR (now CSIRO) discovered the cause to be a deficiency of cobalt and copper, unavailable from the calcareous soils supporting pastureland in SA coastal regions. As the native grasses are tolerant of deficiencies, the sheep rather than the soils must be treated.

coast ground berryAcrotriche cordata, a dwarf, many branched, ornamental greenhouse evergreen shrub. Flowers white, small, axillary, twin, or solitary; spikes axillary, short; corolla funnel-shaped; petals with deflexed hairs at apex. Cultivated in an equal mixture of sandy loam and peat, and propagated by cuttings made of the young shoots, pricked in sand, covered with a bell glass, and placed in a cool house. Endemic to Western Australia.

coast myallAcacia binervia, a salt-tolerant species of tree common in coastal New South Wales.

coastal blackbuttEucalyptus pilularis, a blackbutt (often referred to as coastal blackbutt to distinguish it from the tableland species), and one of the most common species of hardwood commercially available from the coastal forests of New South Wales, from Bega on the south coast up to Maryborough in Queensland. It is a tall tree, up to 75m in height. After a bushfire, the lower trunk of the tree is dramatically darkened – hence the name ‘blackbutt’. The timber has a colour ranging from a golden yellow through to pale browns. The colour range is subtle and is excellent where the colour requirement is light and neutral. The sapwood is distinctly lighter than the heartwood. Some material sourced from the northern part of its range may have a slightly pinkish tinge. The sapwood is not susceptible to lyctid borer attack. Blackbutt is an extremely versatile timber with uses ranging from poles and sleepers through to decking, flooring and furniture.

coastal cottonwood—(see: beach hibiscus).

coastal dune vegetation—communities of plants that grow on beaches and dunes. There are usually three main zones of dune vegetation that are arranged roughly parallel to the coastline. Herbaceous stabilising plants tolerant of strong winds, sandblast, salt spray and occasional inundation by seawater form the pioneer zone which is nearest the sea (e.g. pig face, beach spinifex, guinea flower and goatsfoot). Then come scrub or woodland plants on frontal sand dunes, including windswept shrubs and stunted trees (e.g. coastal Casuarina), vines and a smaller number of herbs. And behind the frontal dunes are found coastal heath or forest plants consisting of stunted trees and low shrubs (e.g., Melaleuca spp. in swampy areas and eucalyptus and Acacia spp. on higher ridges).

coastal heath—a type of closed scrub consisting of a dense growth of low shrubs. Close to the ocean in Western Australia, rolling dunes are covered by a lush growth of coastal heath, which comes to life every spring as the wildflowers appear.

coastal malleeEucalyptus diversifolia, a small tree to 8m in height, characterised by multiple branches arising at or near the base and dense, blue-green foliage. Grows on calcareous sands and limestone regions near the coast. Restricted in Victoria to the coastline near Cape Nelson, but widespread and common in South Australia. Also known as white coastal mallee and soap mallee.

coastal pigfaceCarpobrotus virescens, a succulent, ground hugging coastal plant. It is a perennial, growing to 0.5m—2m. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade, and requires dry or moist soil but can tolerate drought. The flowers are hermaphrodite, and close at night, opening when the sun shines. The juice produced by the leaves may be used to treat bites, stings or minor scalds. When the petals drop off, the fruiting base of the flower swells. They have a sweet taste and were often eaten raw or dried by Aborigines. Early European settlers used the fruits to make jam. Its known range is in Western Australia on coastal limestone cliffs and dunes on white, grey or brown sands.

coastal spinifex—(see: beach spinifex).

coastal taipanOxyuranus scutellatus, the third most toxic terrestrial snake known, exhibits a back usually unmarked, light olive to dark russet brown (rarely, dark grey to black); head usually lighter coloured, especially front of face and lips; belly cream, usually with pink or orange flecking; eye reddish under angular brow. Active during the day, also in early evening in hot weather. Inhabits open forests, dry closed forests, coastal heaths, grassy beach dunes and cultivated areas such as cane fields in north-western Western Australia; northern Northern Territory, from Normanton across Cape York Peninsula; and coastally through eastern Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales. It feeds exclusively on mammals and small rodents.

coastal tea-treeLeptospermum laevigatum, a tall, bushy shrub or small, twisted tree, to 6m. Leaves are grey-green, obovate, to 2cm. Flowers are white, to 1.5cm diameter, in spring or early summer. Found on coastal dunes of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia (naturalised in north-east NSW, south-east Queensland and...

coastie—affected by coast disease.

coat-hanger—Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Cobar—an outback town between Dubbo and Broken Hill, and the largest producer of copper and zinc in New South Wales. It is said by the local Aborigines that gubar, their word for red ochre, was anglicised to 'cobar' and applied to the entire area in which it is found. Just outside Cobar, at Mount Grenfell, are some of the finest examples of rock art in Australia.

Cobar Peneplain bioregion—undulating plains and low hills on Palaeozoic rocks; earths, lithosols; poplar box and gum-barked coolibah woodlands with mulga in the more arid areas. Semi-arid climate. It is one of only two of New South Wales's bioregions to occur entirely within the state, the other being the Sydney Basin bioregion. The bioregion extends from just south of Bourke to north of Griffith, has a total area of 7,334,664ha, and occupies 9.2 per cent of the state. The bioregion is bounded to the north and east by the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion, to the east by the South Western Slopes bioregion, and by the Riverina and Murray Darling Depression bioregions to the south and west. The north-western part of the Cobar Peneplain bioregion falls in the Western Division.

Cobargo—a rural community in New South Wales, noted for its handicrafts. Cobargo was once known as Wattle Town because of its wattle bark industry—the bark was stripped and shipped to Sydney, where tannins were extracted for use in the tanning industry. This industry continued on until 1964. Located 386km south of Sydney, and just north of Bega on the Princes Highway.

Cobb & Co.—a stagecoach delivery service, established in 1853 to service the Victorian goldfields. As new settlements sprang up, the service was expanded to accommodate passengers and mail delivery. Became the official mail carriers within Australia in 1864, travelling over millions of kilometres of unmade outback roads to provide vital communication links for many isolated communities. At its peak, 7,000 horses were running coaches in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. But nowhere was its influence so widespread as in Queensland, where the company operated horse-drawn coaches from 1866 until succumbing to the motor vehicle in 1924.

cobba-cobba—a corroboree.

cobber—a companion, a mate, a friend. The meaning is not the least bit obscure; however, the origin is. Possibly, cobber is one of those English dialect words that survived here in Australia after it had died out in England. And there is an old British dialect word “cob”, meaning “to take a liking to”. All the citations in the dictionaries for cobber are from Australia and New Zealand, and the earliest is from Sydney in 1893. Cobber is now nearly defunct.

cobber-dobber—one who informs on a colleague.

cobbler—1. an iced drink of wine etc, sugar, and lemon. 2. the last sheep to be shorn. 3. the freshwater catfish Tandanus bostocki of Western Australia.

cobblers—nonsense, rubbish (especially in the phrase: load of old cobblers).

Cobourg Peninsula Aboriginal Land and Wildlife Sanctuary—Australia's first recognised Ramsar Wetlands Area, and a major destination for migratory birds to Australia. There are also 250 recorded endemic species of fish. The Aboriginal inhabitants still hunt protected species (dugong, marine turtle and crocodile), using traditional weapons. Swimming is not recommended in these waters, as there are crocodiles, stonefish and box jellyfish (sea wasps) to contend with. The number of vehicles travelling through Arnhem Land is restricted, and application for a permit must be obtained beforehand. The area is accessible only by air charter or boat during the Wet season . Charter flights take 30 minutes from Darwin. Otherwise, access is also available by 4WD from Oenpelli via Jabiru. Located in the Northern Territory.

cock a snook/snoot—to make a rude gesture of contempt with thumb to nose and fingers spread.

cock-a-hoop—extremely elated, happy.

cock-eyed Bob—old-timers on the Australian west coast often used the term to refer to severe tropical cyclones.


cock-up—a balls-up: total disaster.

cockatielLeptolophus hollandicus, a small, delicately coloured, crested parrot. An inland bird with a wide distribution, the cockatiel is indigenous to Australia alone. It is a popular cage bird, second only to the budgerigar. Lacking the screeching quality of the larger cockatoo, it can be taught to 'speak'.

cockatoo—1. the most intelligent and longest-lived of all parrots. The cockatoo is from the same order as parrots, but from the family of Cacatuidae. It is distinguished from other parrots by the prominent, erectile crest on its head and a strongly curved bill. They range in size from 30cm to 60cm. Cockatoos keep the same mate for life; in the absence of a mate, they will bond closely to and socialise with their human owners. Their native habit consists of forest, grassland and rainforest. They are most often observed in large, noisy groups, sometimes numbering in the hundreds. The cockatoo originated on the islands of the South Pacific: Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, New Guinea and Australia. There are over 40 varieties of this bird, of which the most widely recognised are the sulphur-crested, Major Mitchell and rose-breasted cockatoos. The rose-breasted cockatoo is more commonly known as the galah, the Aboriginal name for the bird. 2. a look-out posted by those engaged in an illegal activity (esp. playing two-up). 3. (hist.) a convict sentenced to Cockatoo Island. 4. a small farmer, originally with reference to tenant farmers settled in the Port Fairy district. 5. to perch on a fence.

cockatoo fence—an improvised fence (the name of an island in Sydney Harbour, formerly a prison for intractable convicts).

cockatoo gate—any rough make-shift fence or gate made of logs, branches, etc.

Cockatoo Island (NSW)—Sydney Harbour's Cockatoo Island was first used by the British as a convict jail and became home to some of the early colony's worst offenders. Later—when it was known as Biloela—the island prison housed wayward and destitute girls. For the last century, Cockatoo Island has been the site of Australia's first naval dockyard, where many of the country's most important shipbuilding and repair has taken place. Now preserved as a historic site.

Cockatoo Island (WA)—known as Warrianbah by the local Aboriginal peoples, the result of 40 million years of gradual erosion along Australia's north-west coast by lashing tides, and one of the more than 100 islands forming the Buccaneer Archipelago. Just 5.6km long and 1.4km at it's widest, yet the island held one of the world's richest ore bodies. Located in a huge sea cliff 2kms long and 40m thick, mined ore was loaded directly from the face, with the ingenious use of gravity to accommodate the 10m tides. Located 130km from Derby, 198km from Broome, Western Australia.

cockatoo powder—in a healthy cockatoo, powder will be produced as the birds feathers dry, and this will become apparent by the dust on its beak as it preens after a shower.


cockles of the heart—innermost feelings and emotions.

cockrag—a loincloth, especially as worn by an Aborigine.

cockroach—someone from or living in New South Wales.

cocky—1. cockroach. 2. cockatoo. 3. a small farmer: e.g., cow-cocky, wheat-cocky. 4. the farming interest generally (e.g., cocky vote). The name is an abbreviation of "cockatoo" which was used about 1850 to denote a small farmer who "Just picked up a living, like a cockatoo does maize."

cocky applePlanchonia careya, a small tree to six metres, the only member of its genus in Australia (related to freshwater mangroves (Barringtonia spp.). One of the most common trees around Townsville, Qld and across large areas of northern Australia. Once an important source of bush tucker by the Aborigines because of its edible yellow fruit. The bark was extensively used as a fish poison. It was pounded and thrown into pools of water, killing fish which could then be eaten without ill-effect. Aborigines used a concoction made from the bark to clean wounds, such as burns and ulcers. As a result of grazing or as regrowth after clearing, the trees can regenerate so thickly that they significantly reduce the quality of pasture and ease of mustering in many areas.

cocky chaff—wheat chaff.

cocky country—small farming country.

cocky's delight—(see: cocky's joy).

cocky's gate—an improvised gate.

cocky's joy—golden syrup; treacle—one of the basics that swagmen used to carry with them. It had many uses like sweetening billy tea, spreading on damper or pouring over puddings.

Cocopara Nature Reserve—the 4647ha park was created in 1963. The principal vegetation communities include black cypress, currawong, Dwyer's gum and red stringybark, with box woodlands on lower and more fertile slopes. Vulnerable and threatened fauna include the painted honeyeater, superb parrot, turquoise parrot, glossy black-cockatoo, chestnut quail thrush, Gilbert's whistler, shy hylacola and pink cockatoo. Cocoparra Nature Reserve has the primary management objective of maintaining the biodiversity and scenic assets of the area. Located in New South Wales.

Cocos (Keeling) Island—a coral cay located 900 km south-west of Christmas Island. There are twenty-seven coral islands in the group, with a total land area of approximately 14 sq. km. These Islands, which had been governed through the British colonies of Ceylon, the Straits Settlements and Singapore, were accepted as a Territory of Australia in 1955. On 6 April 1984, the Cocos community, in a United Nations supervised Act of Self Determination, voted overwhelmingly to integrate with Australia. The ABS Census of 2001 recorded a total population of 618 persons, of whom about 80% are resident on Home Island. This is also where the majority of the Cocos Malay community resides. The 130 remaining residents live on West Island, where the main Commonwealth facilities, including the airport, are located. These residents are mostly from the mainland on two- or three-year postings.

codger—the word started out in life as cadger – as in someone who cadges off others. The verb cadge (in turn) started off in life related to catch but along the way came to mean "beg"—hence, a "cadger" was a beggar. This expression was gradually softened into old codger – meaning "a testy or crusty old man", often used whimsically to describe an elderly man. By the mid 19th century it was being used more generally, and any chap or fellow could be called an old codger. That's more or less the history of the word: from a beggar out to catch all he can, to a grumpy old grandfather figure, to any bloke or chap or fellow you run into. Early in its history, when the word was still "cadger" it was meant contemptuously, but now it is most often meant affectionately.

codswallop—nonsense; rubbish.

Coen—the only significant settlement between Cooktown and the tip of Cape York. A wild gold mining town in the late 1870s. Mining and pastoralism were the industries which gave birth to the townships of Coen and Laura. These communities are now significant service centers for travellers as well as home to third-generation pastoral families with historical association within the area. The area is also home to a number of Aboriginal clan groups, including Gugu Ballanji, Ayapathu, Gugu Minni, Lama Lama—Port Stewart, Lakefield Gugu Thaypan, Northern Kaanju, Gugu Warra, Olkolo, Gugu Yimithirr, Southern Kaanju, Gugu Yulanji, Umpila, Olkolo and Wik peoples. The Coen Regional Aboriginal Corporation (CRAC) serves the interests principally of the Aboriginal residents of the Coen region with a focus on title issues, outstation activities and sustainable development opportunities. Coen is located 240km from Laura, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.

coffee rock—a compacted, cemented or indurated layer within the soil profile, which is comprised of humus and iron oxides. Springs can occur in sand dunes that are underlain with coffee rock. Coastal bluffs and the erosion escarpments of sand dunes can slump, sea cliffs can collapse, and foundations can fail, where there exists a substrata of coffee rock. Also known as beach rock.

Coffs Harbour—located on the coast, about half-way between Sydney and Brisbane, the name of the town was originally Korff's Harbour after Captain John Korff, who sheltered here in 1847, but was misspelt on Sydney survey records. Legend has it that the first Europeans to enter the area were escaped convicts taking refuge on Muttonbird Island. Timber getters were the first to settle in 1841. The Coffs Harbour jetty precinct began life as a commercial wharf for the region. Shiploads of cedar and wool left here for markets in Sydney and beyond. The busy port was frequented by up to 450 ships a year until the Carywell was wrecked in 1865. With the arrival of the railway in 1915 and the completion of the link through to Sydney in 1923, the tourism industry in Coffs Harbour developed rapidly. Covering an area of 945 square kilometres, Coffs Harbour is also the largest banana-producing district in New South Wales. Today Coffs is one of the most popular destinations on the New South Wales north coast.

COGEMACompagnie Generale des Matieres Nucleaires, the main French player in uranium in Australia. Cogema is recognised as one of the world's largest uranium companies, supplying about 160 nuclear power stations worldwide. According to the Financial Times International Yearbook 1994 on Mining, Cogema's main activities are in uranium and gold exploration, production and concentration, uranium enrichment services, fuel assembly fabrication, spent fuel reprocessing, uranium and plutonium recycling and waste conditioning.

Cohen's Reef—at the height of the gold era in Victoria, more than 75 tonnes of gold was removed from Cohen’s Reef, which runs deep below the town of Walhalla.

coldie—cold glass, can or bottle of beer.

Cole's Bay—a small town in dominated by the 300m-high, red granite outcrops known as the Hazard Range. The first settler took up land on the Swan River in 1829 and established a sheep property. His shepherd, Silas Coles—after whom Coles Bay was named—lived on the shore, and in his spare time burnt shells from the middens and sold the lime for use in local construction. Declared a Scenery Preservation Area in 1916 and a National Park in 1977, the first town blocks were sold in the late 1930s. The township of Coles Bay is on a small peninsula of land that separate two beaches at the northern edge of the Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

college—1. a private high school. 2. trade school, particularly the government-run colleges of TAFE. 3. prison.

college pudding—a small, baked or steamed suet pudding with dried fruit.

Collett's black snake—the adult colouration of the Pseudechis colletti may vary between a dark tan to almost black above, with irregular cross bands which may vary cream cream to orange-red. The belly is the same colour as the bands on the dorsal aspect of the snake, with faded dark spots or small blotches. They are quite smooth to the touch. They inhabit open grasslands and woodlands of the black-soil downs of central and western Queensland. They are active both by day and by night, feeding primarily on frogs (Crinia sp, Limnodynastes sp and Litoria sp) and the plague rat (Rattus sp). Collett's black snake is the twelfth most venomous snake in Queensland—and the nineteenth most venomous in the world.

collier—1. a coalminer. 2. a coal-ship or member of its crew.

colliery—a coalmine and its associated building.

Collingwood six-footer—a 5 foot 11 inch Australian Rules footballer.

Collins, Lt-Colonel David—arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 and, under the governor, was responsible for the administration of legal matters in New South Wales until 1797. Collins was later appointed by King George III to establish a settlement that would secure the strategic Bass Strait for the British. In 1804 he chose the site of Hobart as the base for the new settlement he had been sent out to establish, and served as lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land until he died in 1810. The colony of Hobart was moved from Risdon Cove to Sullivan’s Cove in February of 1804, and authority over the colony was transferred from Lieutenant John Bowen to Lt-Colonel David Collins. Under his new authority as lieutenant-governor of Hobart Town, Collins closed down the Risdon camp.

Collins Street farmer—state of Victoria business-man living in the city and having farming interests, usually as a tax dodge.

collywobble—the larva of an aquatic insect; pl., collywobblies.

collywobbles—1. a queasy, apprehensive feeling. 2. a stomach-ache.

Colonial Australia—the definition of a colony, from the glossary of the Australian Constitution): "a community that is subject to the final legal authority of another country". Initially, the Governors, as representatives of the British Crown, made laws and policies. By the end of the colonial period there were elected parliaments, but essentially the final legal authority for Australia remained in England until 1986, when the Australia Act was passed.

Colonial English—composed primarily of underworld terms, rhyming slang and a good many dialectical expressions straight from England, with the additions of some native-language words. From this mixture was born a new Australian idiom, though many expressions which were contemptuously labelled as colonial are in fact English: but they were not the 'sterling English' of polite society or respectable London.

colonial federation—the allocation some functions, by six self-governing colonies, to a seventh entity, a federal authority. All six colonies had representative government in place by 1890, and the heads of state met regularly to discuss matters of concern. They formed a colonial federation approved by the United Kingdom and established under United Kingdom legislation known as the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. Under section 8 of that Act, Australia remained a self-governing colony within the British Empire.

Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865 ()—(hist.) an Act passed by the British Government confirming the validity of laws made by colonial parliaments. However, colonial law was to be superseded when it was in conflict with British law that had been designed to apply specifically to that colony. The Act also included "manner and form" requirements that limited the legislative power of colonial parliaments to amend their constitutions. The Act applied to Australia until 1942.

Colonial Office—the Office of the Colonial Secretary; the Colonial Secretary's office.

colonial parliament—(hist.) any of the six individual parliaments established under the Australian Constitutions Act ( No. 2) 1850. The Act allowed for the transition in all Australian colonies to responsible self-government, with the executive drawn and answerable to the legislature. New South Wales was the first colony to establish a bi-cameral parliament with a legislative assembly elected on a broad property franchise, and an appointed legislative council. It provided for wide powers over domestic matters, including revenue raising and land. From 1856-57 South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania all opened bi-cameral parliaments in the same model as New South Wales'. The Moreton Bay district separated from New South Wales in 1859 and was renamed Queensland. This brought the total number of colonies to six, each with its own parliament. The British Government passed the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 to confirm the validity of laws made by colonial parliaments.

colonial secretary—principal assistant to the governor of an Australian colony and head of the colonial secretary's office. The colonial secretary dealt directly with England in matters concerning the colony. He was also responsible for conducting the business of the governor with the various government departments of the day as well as with the colonists, collectively and individually. His responsibilities included customs, post offices, shipping, harbours, prisons and Aborigines. After Federation the Office of the Colonial Secretary continued, although the scope of its functions were reduced as many of the CSO's responsibilities passed to the commonwealth and state governments.

Colonisation Commission—established in 1835 to promote settlement of South Australia. In the atmosphere of utilitarianism and reform that was on the rise in Britain, many sought a new colony, free of convict labour, where they could carve out a new prosperity for themselves. By the end of the 1830s emigration agents, appointed by the Colonisation Commission, were to be found in most towns in England. They were able to give advice to settlers about the situation and terms of tenure of available Crown land in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as on other matters. They also administered the 'Assisted Passage' schemes introduced to help those unable to afford their passage but who were considered likely to make good colonists.

colony—a group of people who settle in a distant land but remain under the political jurisdiction of their native land. Hence, the first European settlements in Australia were colonial settlements. Initially, the Governors, as representatives of the British Crown, made laws. By the end of the colonial period there were elected parliaments in each of the States. However, the final legal authority for Australia remained in England until 1986, when the Australia Act was passed.

Colony of New South Wales—the first Crown Colony, and the first European settlement, to be established within Australia. At its inception, the colony consisted of about 850 convicts and their Marine guards and officers, led by Governor Arthur Phillip. The Colony of New South Wales at various times occupied all of continental Australia except Western Australia, as well as New Zealand.

Colony of Queensland—a British-administered colony that separated from the Colony of New South Wales in 1859. The legal mechanism for this separation and for the appointment of the first governor to the new colony was affected by means of Letters Patent signed by Queen Victoria on 6 June 1859. The Letters Patent of 1859, with the Order-in-Council of 1859, are Queensland's primary founding documents. Britain further gave Queensland permission to extend its northern boundary by Letters Patent of 10 October 1878 to include all islands of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. This moved the colony's northern border to within a few hundred metres of the New Guinea mainland, the present-day boundary. The 1878 Letters Patent were then incorporated into the Queensland Coast Islands Act 1879.

colourful yawn—vomit; to vomit.

Comalco—Comalco Aluminium Corp. Pty Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto which provides about 22% of Australia's total production of bauxite, 8% of its alumina and 24% of its primary aluminium—and is the world's eighth largest aluminium company. Comalco has bauxite mining and processing facilities at in Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

Comalco Act, 1957 (Qld)—the Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation Pty Limited Agreement Act 1957 (Qld) (`the Comalco Act').

Comalco Land Use Agreement—the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement.

comb-crested jacanaIrediparra gallinacea, avoids predators by submerging itself underwater. It can remain motionless with only its nostrils and bill above the surface for up to half an hour at a time. Viewed from a distance, the comb-crested jacana appears to have the ability to walk on water. In fact, it is walking on floating plants. Its extremely long toes help it to spread its body weight over a larger area. In flight, the long legs and toes trail behind the body. It feeds on aquatic insects, which it seizes from floating vegetation or the surface of the water, as well as seeds and aquatic plants. Birds rarely come to shore; however, they will move to new locations in response to changes in their habitat, such as drought or excessive flooding. The species also occurs in New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. Also known as the lotusbird.

combi/combie/comby—a 1-tonne van: short for combination (vehicle).

come—behave like: e.g., Don't come the idiot with me!

come a buster—1. fail, often due to misfortune rather than mismanagement. 2. fail due to shady or underhanded dealings.

come a cropper—the expression “to come a cropper” means to fail at something – as in “investors in dot-coms have come a cropper”. It can also mean a fall or an accident, as in “the rider came a cropper at the final turn”. Lexicographers suggest that the origin of this word is the expression “neck and crop” – meaning “the whole thing” or “completely”. The word “crop” has been used to mean the throat (or, sometimes the throat and stomach) of a bird or fowl. Hence the expression “neck and crop” was used to mean all of, or most of, a bird or fowl. The expression “cop it in the neck” means that you have taken a hit of some kind – taken a blow of some sort. Hence, to “cop it neck and crop” is even worse. This seems to have developed into “come a cropper”.

come a gutser—come to a violent end.

come a stumer—suffer a major set-back, failure, especially financial.

come good—to improve after a bad start: e.g., The business got off to a shaky start but it'll come good.

come in on the grouter—take an unfair advantage of a situation, especially in a game of two-up where a bet is withheld until the odds are in one's favour.

come in spinner!—the call for the tossing of the coins in the game of two-up.

come off the grass!—an expression of disbelief; a plea to stop talking nonsense.

come (one's) guts—to turn informer; betray.

come right—turn out fine: e.g., No worries, mate, she'll come right!

come that on/with me—stop talking nonsense.

come the big-note—inflate one's status or achievements; boast or exaggerate.

come the raw prawn (with someone)—attempt to deceive, hoodwink or trick; e.g., Don't come the raw prawn with me!

come to a sticky end—die violently (from the sticky quality of blood).

come to the party—assist, particularly with money; agree to meet certain requirements: e.g., When we started the business the bank came to the party with a loan.

come undone/unstuck—lose credibility or rank; break down; collapse: e.g., He'll come unstuck when the police find enough evidence on him.

come-at-able—accessible: e.g., Politicians never seem to be very come-at-able.

come-uppance—just reward for reprehensible behaviour; punishment that is well deserved.

comer—person likely to be a success.

comfort station—toilets, especially public.


comic-cuts—(rhyming slang) guts.

Commissioner of Crown Lands—(hist.) a position created under a provision of the Crown Lands Alienation Act, 1861 (NSW). This Act provided for licences to be issued to depasture sheep and cattle on unoccupied Crown lands, and Commissioners were appointed to police these regulations. The Border Police was later established under the control of the various commissioners of Crown land, to carry out this function in the remote 'squatting districts'.

common as dishwater—1. coarse; vulgar; having low morals. 2. very common; nothing out of the ordinary.

common brown snake—Queensland's 4th most deadly snake, found throughout the state, everywhere but rainforests. To 2m, adults: back any shade of brown, sometimes black or dark grey, belly cream with pink or orange flecks.

common brushtail possumTrichosurus vulpecula, the most widely distributed possum in Australia and one of the few native mammals that share space with people in urban areas. An arboreal marsupial, they occur in any wooded area—from backyard to tree-lined rivers and creeks to woodland and forests of eastern, central and south-western Australia. They are about the size of a large domestic cat, though they vary in size as well as colour, depending upon their range. They are characterised by a pointed snout, sharp claws, a powerful grip and a prehensile tail. Solitary rather than social in nature, they shun each other except in mating season. Born in May and June after a gestation period of 17 days, the young mature for a further five months before exiting the pouch (marsupium). Females are ready for breeding at one year of age. During the 1930s, millions of these animals were killed for their skins.

common correaCorrea reflexa, a shrub with rough, heart-shaped, stem-clasping opposite leaves. The flowers are borne at the ends of the branches, and may be green or red. There is no particular geographical pattern to the green or red forms, but the two forms do not occur together. Occurs in understorey shrub in open forests on sandy soils in coastal, tablelands and slopes to Victoria and Queensland. Also in Tasmania and South Australia.

common death adder—Queensland's 7th most deadly snake, found in wet and dry eucalypt forests, woodlands, coastal heaths in central, mid-eastern and southern areas. To .75m, stocky body, head arrow-shaped, tail tapers rapidly and bears spur-like scale at tip.

common dunnartSminthopsis murina, a mouse-sized insectivorous marsupial. It has a broad but patchy distribution in New South Wales, being found most commonly in woodland, open forest and heathland, but with some records from hummock grassland, shrubland and transitional vegetation near rainforest. Populations are usually sparse, and achieve peak abundance 3 to 4 years after fire.

common heathEpacris impressa, a frequently flowering, widespread and common heath. Common heath was collected in Tasmania in 1793 by the French botanist, Jacques-Julien Houton de Labillardiere during his voyage with Bruny D'Entrecasteaux on the unsuccessful search for the missing explorer, La Perouse. Following Bruny's death in July 1793, royalist officers of La Recherche and L'Espirance, handed the ships to the Dutch in Java, where Labillardiere, a republican, was imprisoned from October 1793 to March 1795. When he returned to France he found that his plant collection of more than 4000 specimens had been sent to England as a prize of war. Through the diplomacy of Sir Joseph Banks the specimens were eventually returned to their collector. Epacris impressa was described by Labillardiere in 1805. Epacris contains about forty species of evergreen shrubs which occur mainly in temperate eastern Australia and to a minor extent in New Zealand. It is closely related to the Ericaceae, the much larger heather and azalea family which has a greater occurrence in the Northern Hemisphere. Common Heath is a slender, upright shrub which grows to about a metre in height. The rigid, alternate leaves are stalkless and fairly narrow. The tubular flowers up to 25mm long are arranged singly in the leaf axils and are often so densely packed around the stem that the cluster of flowers assumes a cylindrical, brushlike appearance. On other specimens flowers may be sparse and arranged on only one side of the stem. Flowering occurs from late autumn to late spring, reaching a peak in winter. Common heath has many colour forms including pure white, pale pink, rose pink, crimson, scarlet and rare double-flowered forms, but the pink form is the one chosen and proclaimed as Victoria's floral emblem. Common heath occurs in coastal heathlands as well as in montane and sub-alpine areas. It is distributed from Clyde River, New South Wales to the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia. In Victoria it occurs in coastal regions and adjoining foothills, the Grampians and the Little Desert. It is also common in Tasmania.

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