Australian Dictionary

Help, Hints & Tips
Convert Currency
Convert Temperature
Northern Territory
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia

Search JoyZine with Google Site Search!

Australia Decoded

Dingo Fence

The Dingo Fence

de Rougemont, Louis—(1847–1921) was a would-be explorer who claimed to have had adventures in the Pacific Ocean. "De Rougemont" was born Henri Louis Grin in 1847 in Suchy, Switzerland. Eventually, he became a butler for the governor of Australia, Sir William Robinson, though he lasted less than a year. He also married and abandoned a wife in Australia. In 1898 he began to write about his invented adventures in the British periodical The Wide World Magazine under the name Louis De Rougemont. He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea and claimed to have spent thirty years living with Indigenous Australians in the Australian outback. He claimed that the tribe with whom he had lived had worshipped him as a god. He also claimed to have encountered the Gibson expedition of 1874. Grin had collected tidbits for his exploits from the Reading Room of the British Library. De Rougemont himself disappeared from the public view until July 1906, when he appeared at the London Hippodrome and successfully demonstrated his turtle-riding skills. During World War I he reappeared as an inventor of a useless meat substitute but died a poor man in 1921.

defacto—(wife or husband) a person living with another as wife or husband: e.g., Sheila's defacto this time is a beaut bloke, not a no-hoper like the last one, who shot through the minute she dropped her load.

Defence land—Department of Defence land: Crown land reserved for use by the armed forces for training, research and military installations.

DEH—(see: Department of the Environment and Heritage).

dekko—a look: e.g., Have a dekko at this!


Delamerian Fold Belt—the Palaeozoic and late Precambrian history of the interactions between the ancient Pacific Ocean and the Gondwana supercontinent are partly shown by the geology of the Tasman Fold Belt System in eastern Australia. A continuing theme of these interactions has been cratonic/orogenic detrital input into a convergent margin setting, resulting in the development of several major orogenic belts. In south-eastern Australia these orogenic belts (subsets of the Tasman Fold Belt System) include the Delamerian Fold Belt of South Australia, western Victoria and western New South Wales, and the Lachlan Fold Belt of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. The Late Precambrian and Cambrian passive margin of Gondwana is more widely exposed in South Australia, was subjected to intense deformation, metamorphism and plutonism as a result of the Delamerian Orogen when the Gondwana passive margin was converted to a new orogenic belt.

Delamerian Orogen—the break-up of Rodinia is recorded in the rocks that now form the Late Proterozoic to Cambrian (1000 to 490 million years old) Delamerian Orogen. This orogenic belt mainly occupies the eastern half of South Australia where the Adelaide Rift Complex contains mixtures of sandstones, conglomerate, shales, limestone glacial deposits and local volcanic rocks that record rift and sag phases of crustal extension. The eastern part of the Delamerian Orogen extends into far western New South Wales, where rocks north of Broken Hill form part of the Adelaide Rift Complex. These rocks were deposited in shallow water, while to the east there was deeper water in which felsic and mafic volcanic lavas accumulated at the edge of the Australian plate. Similar rocks occur to the south in western Victoria and are also found in parts of Antarctica, which at that time lay south of Kangaroo Island. The break-up of Rodinia took around 200 million years (from 800 to 600 million years ago). Stretched crust thinned to form rift basins, some with volcanics and glacial deposits in them, and thinned even more to give way to oceanic crust, resulting in sea floor spreading. Sea floor spreading changed to subduction about 530 million years ago and a convergent plate boundary formed with development of an east-dipping subduction zone and formation of Cambrian island arc volcanics and associated rocks. Rocks of the Delamerian Orogen were deformed (the mountain-building phase of the Orogen took place) near the end of Cambrian around 490 million years ago when the island arc collided with the older Broken Hill, forming the eastern margin of the Australian continent. This deformation caused the shovelling together of rocks so that they were folded, faulted, and became metamorphosed and intruded by granites.

delta—an area of sediment deposition at a river's mouth.

Demerara sugar—white cane sugar treated with molasses to produce large, slightly sticky, amber-coloured crystals. It is often served with coffee and is used for making biscuits (cookies), cakes and confectionery. It was first produced in the Demerara region of Guyana, West Indies.

demob—(of a serviceman) demobalise (release from armed forces).

demon—1. motorcycle policeman. 2. detective.

Demon Duck of Doom—a 12-million-year-old giant thunder bird called Bullockornis, which had a massive head with large, powerful jaws. Possibly the largest bird that ever lived, the last bones of the toes resembled small hooves rather than claws. The wings were greatly reduced, and breastbone that serves as the attachment for the large flight muscles was lacking. Although thunder birds were long thought to be plant-eaters, features of this bird's skull suggest that Bullockornis may have been a flesh-eater. Scientists have nicknamed this huge bird for its suspected meat-eating habits and its possible distant relationship to waterfowl—the 'Demon Duck of Doom'.

dengue fever—a viral disease transmitted between humans by the bite of infected mosquitos. The illness is characterised by a sudden onset of fever, intense headache, joint and muscle pain, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea, and rash. Fatigue and depression usually accompany recovery, which may be prolonged despite the 3-5 day illness. Cases of dengue fever are reported occasionally in both coastal and inland locations in North Queensland and the islands of the Torres Strait.

Denmark—began as a timber town in 1895, waned economically, and was boosted by the establishment of the Group Settlement Scheme in the early 1920s. The Great Depression caused the population of Denmark to again decline. At the end of World War II, the dairy farming established by the Group Settlers gave way to an emergent cattle enterprise. Now, tourism plays the major role in the town’s economy. Located on the south coast of Western Australia.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs (Cth)—a federal agency and custodian of the records of the Aborigines Protection Board and the Aborigines Welfare Board (NSW). The Department of Aboriginal Affairs is the successor agency to the Board, and consequently retains the right to set the access conditions for the records. It does this in consultation with the Archives Authority, specifying that any person who wishes to see the records must consult with the Department first. These decisions on access are made by Aboriginal people within the Department of Aboriginal Affairs after consultation with Aboriginal organisations, the responsible Minister and the Archives Authority.

Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs (Qld)—(DAIA) the most intransigent against reform of any of the government agencies dealing with ‘native affairs’ issues in Australia, during the 1960s and 1970s. However, in 1982, the Queensland government decided that Aboriginal reserve and mission lands should be handed over to the control of Aboriginal councils in the form of a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT). As effected by the Commonwealth’s Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (Land Holding) Act 1985, the Deed of Grant in Trust grants an estate in fee simple to local Aboriginal councils who could operate as trustees for the Aboriginal inhabitants of that settlement.

Department of the Environment and Heritage—(DEH) a government body that provides ongoing support throughout the year for local groups promoting biodiversity. DEH seeks to facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of freshwater resources by progressing the development and implementation of water policy. The Department also works together with Indigenous communities in providing support with land management projects, managing the Indigenous Protected Areas Program, and through the joint management of Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta, and Booderee national parks.

depasturing license—(hist.) permitted colonial settlers to graze stock on Crown lands ‘beyond the limits of location’.

Derby—the first site of the pearling industry in the Kimberley region, and now an important administrative centre. The town is set on a peninsula of slightly elevated land above the surrounding flat tidal marshland. The soil is predominantly 'pindan'—a reddish brown, sandy clay. This supports a natural tropical savannah vegetation, with an understorey of grasses, and a midstorey of woody shrubs (chiefly acacias), and an upper storey of eucalypts and boab trees. Derby is also home to the Mowanjum Community and the renowned Mowanjum Wandjina artists. Located in Western Australia on King Sound near the mouth of the Fitzroy River.

Dergholm State Park—set among rolling hills in Western Victoria, the park has diverse vegetation communities including woodlands, open forests, undisturbed heaths and swamps, varied wildlife and geological features. For thousands of years the Dergholm-Chetwynd area was inhabited by Aboriginal people of the Kanal gundidj clan. This was one of 37 clans belonging to the Jardwadjali language group, which once covered a large part of western Victoria. When European settlement began in the late 1830s, the traditional lifestyle and social and cultural structures of the Aborigines were profoundly affected and their numbers rapidly declined. Currently there are only three known Aboriginal sites in the park and these are scarred trees that show evidence of Aboriginal activity. The area was used for grazing and timber cutting until Dergholm State Park was proclaimed in September 1992.

dermosols—occur as moderately deep and well-drained soils in the wetter areas of eastern Australia. They may be strongly acid in the high rainfall areas or highly alkaline if they contain calcium carbonate. Dermosols support a wide range of land uses, and cereal crops, especially wheat, are commonly grown on the more fertile examples. Also known as prairie soils; chocolate soils; some red and yellow podzolic soils.

dero/derro—a derelict; a socially forsaken person; a homeless vagrant, characterised by slovenly, unkempt appearance and, in many case, alcoholism.

Derwent—the port at Hobart Town, as used in shipping reports and clearances, rather than the town it supported (similarly, Port Jackson was used rather than Sydney); gradually, the city names supplanted the old port names. The Derwent is located in Tasmania.

Derwent River—the site of Australia's second-oldest city. The original explorers of Tasmania (including the French) had largely concentrated their attention on the south-east and, in particular, on the sea approaches to the Derwent. Faced with the necessity for establishing a settlement to assert British sovereignty, Governor King had a number of possible sites to consider, including King Island, Port Phillip and Port Dalrymple. His eventual choice was the area of the Derwent. Hobart was settled in 1804 at the mouth of the Derwent River, in Tasmania.

Derwent Valley—north-west of Hobart, home to hop fields, orchards, lovely villages and old oast-houses. The Lyell Highway is known as 'The Wild Way' and follows the course of the Derwent River past poplars and willows, towards Tasmania's mountains and wilderness. It's a rugged part of the island and you have to admire the explorers, bushmen and farmers who decided to settle and make a living from the land. The lakes and streams which flow into the glaciated valleys of Mount Field National Park have created the spectacular waterfalls and lush fern valleys of this undisturbed habitat, proclaimed Tasmania's first national park in 1916.

desert banksiaBanksia ornata, usually a rounded shrub up to 3m tall. The leaves are up to 100mm long and 20mm wide and are of an elongated wedge shape with serrated edges. The cylindrical flower spikes are 50mm—140mm long by 60mm—120mm wide and are yellow or greenish-yellow in bud, aging to bronze and, like all banksias, are attractive to honey-eating birds. Flowering occurs in winter and spring. This species does not develop a lignotuber and is killed by fire. It relies on seed for regeneration. B. ornata has been cultivated successfully in hot, dry climates but is less successful in cool or humid areas. It requires sandy, well drained soils in full sun or partial shade. It is is moderately frost hardy. Found in mallee and heathland in western to north-western Victoria and South Australia.

desert death adderAcanthopis antarcticus, Queensland' s 10th most deadly snake, found in the south-west. To .75m, stocky body, head arrow-shaped, tail tapers rapidly and bears spur-like scale at tip, back any shade of grey to reddish-brown, usually with lighter bands, belly greyish to cream.

desert gum—any of several eucalypts occurring in drier Australia.

desert oakAllocasuarina decaisneana, a tree found in the dry, desert region of Central Australia. The thin trunk of the desert oak holds a large bloom of branches and soft, feathery leaves.

desert pea—(see: Sturt's desert pea).

desert raisin—(see: bush tomato).

desert rose—(see: Sturt’s desert rose).

desert sandhill country—is covered with long, parallel sand ridges separated by inter-dune corridors ranging from 25 feet to a half-mile wide. In general the whole surface from dune crest to swale is covered by deep sandy soils, mildly acid throughout, usually bright red brown. The desert sandplains have similar soils on a very gently undulating landscape. These areas carry spinifex and some shrubs and are mainly useless for grazing. At slightly higher rainfalls on the South Australian—New South Wales border the inter-dune corridors are covered with grey clay or loam of varying depth and covered with roughly octagonal cracks in their normal dry state. After the occasional rainstorms these areas are briefly flooded. The dune corridors carry grass, but over considerable areas the flanks of the dunes carry a scrub of drought-resistant shrubs with mulga as the principal component.

desert stringybarkEucalyptus arenacea, a small tree or mallee, to 10m tall, with rough, fibrous bark on the trunk and branches. Adult leaves are asymmetric, to 10cm x 22mm, alternate, glossy green. Buds are more or less club-shaped, to 10mm x 4mm, on short pedicels, in groups of 9-15, on a stout peduncle. Fruits are cup-shaped, to 9mm x 11mm, pedicellate; valves 3-4. Was once considered to be part of E. baxteri.

Desert Uplands—a bioregion of very low soil fertility, dominated by woodlands of eucalyptus and corymbia. Large-scale cattle grazing is the dominant industry, principally on the alluvial systems. The dominant feature of the bioregion is the internal drainage patterns resulting in two lakes. A number of artesian and mound spring systems occur, and endemic species including fish and flora and snails have been recorded in these systems. Broad scale tree clearing, overgrazing and fragmentation of alluvial systems are the main threatening processes for both ecosystems and species. Located in northern Queensland.

desert walnutOwenia reticulata, grows on sand dunes in the Victoria Desert. Aboriginal people use the leaves and young stems, heated, crushed and soaked in water. The resulting liquid is then thickened and used as a poultice. Seeds are roasted and extracted, then used to rub on external sores.

desiccated coconut—dried, grated or shredded coconut, used in cooking.

devil to pay—serious trouble or consequences to face.

Devil's Lair—a limestone cave, so-called because bones of the extinct Tasmanian devil were found there. It has been determined that the many incredible rock formations in the cave are approximately 35,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations in the cave from 1972-1973 yielded some 20,000 specimens from 35 mammalian species, ten of which are now extinct—five of which were from extinct mammalian taxa. In 1975, remains were found from the upper level of the Pleistocene era. Human remains from approximately 12,000 years ago were also found within the cave, along with weapons made from bone and decorative beads—and what may be the oldest rock art on the continent. As Devil’s Lair was and still is subject to frequent surges from the ocean, it is often hard to get to. Located in the Cape Leeuwin-Naturaliste region, Western Australia.

Devil's Marbles—a group of enormous, spherical, red granite boulders scattered across a shallow valley in the Davenport Ranges. These rocks are regarded by the Warumungu traditional owners as the eggs of the powerful Rainbow Serpent. The Devil's Marbles are actually remnants of a large, single granite mass that has been eroded away over an estimated 1500 million years. The boulders range in size from massive to tiny, and appear to balance precariously on one another. The Karlarlu, as the 'marbles' are known to the Warumungu, are particularly beautiful at sunset when they glow a deep red. The Devil's Marbles occur on both sides of the highway to Alice Springs, 100km south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

devil's number—the number 87, which is 13 short of 100 in a sporting score.

devil's own job—difficult task: e.g., He's going to have the devil's own job convincing the court of his innocence.

devil's own luck—unusually good luck or fortune.

devil's pinsHovea pungens, flowering in the winter months, this plant splashes the forest with vibrant blues and purples and is often associated with the gold of the wattles. It grows to 1.5m high and its flowers are borne in masses along the stem. Loves coastal limestone and granite outcrops and can be found in jarrah forests. These lovely pea flowers turn a prickly plant into an object of beauty.

devils-on-the-coals—(see: beggars-in-the-pan).

devolution—(of politics) the decentralisation of governmental power. The parliaments of colonial Australia received their power by means of devolution from the British Crown, by means of Letters Patent.

Devon—a large bland sausage, eaten cold.

Devonian 'Great Barrier Reef'—fringed an ancient Kimberley land mass during the Devonian period, between 375 and 350 million years ago, when a tropical sea filled the Canning and Bonaparte Basins on the coast of Western Australia. Remnants of the reef are preserved in the West Kimberley as ranges of low, rugged hills extending for 300km. The reef probably extended for more than 1000km around the seaward margin of the Kimberley, and is also seen north of Kununurra, where it forms the Ningbing Range. The structure was built by lime-secreting organisms, mainly calcareous algae and extinct coral-like organisms called stromatoporoids. Though corals were present, they were much less important in reef-building than the corals of modern times. Gastropods, brachiopods, bivalves and stromatolites were also present in and around the reef. The ancient reef now forms a chain of often steep-sided, low, limestone ranges, up to 300m above sea level, which rise from 40m to 150m above the surrounding Fitzroy River floodplain. Boab trees often grow on the rocky hillsides.

Devonian Reef National Parks—comprises the Geikie Gorge National Park, the Tunnel Creek National Park and the Windjana Gorge National Park. All of the parks started off as a reef, around 350 million years ago, and now feature rocky landscapes, deep gorges and abundant wildlife. Located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Devonian reef system—an ancient barrier reef developed during the Devonian Period, about 350 million years ago. The reefs began to the east of Kununurra and swept around in an arc to the north of the Kimberleys, before crossing the current land mass near Derby and becoming exposed to the south and north of Fitzroy Crossing. The waters of the Lennard and Fitzroy rivers have cut through these ancient reefs, exposing them and forming beautiful gorges, including the Geikie, Windjana and Tunnel Creek gorges in Western Australia.

Devonshire tea—scones split in half, spread with strawberry jam and topped with whipped cream.

dewogging—the act of becoming an Australian citizen through naturalisation.

dewy-eyed—1. naive; innocent; trusting. 2. close to tears.

Dhalwongu—an Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.

Dharawal—an Aboriginal people of the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Their territory covered a region from Botany Bay south to the Shoalhaven River and inland to Camden. The Dharawal People were those people who spoke the Dharawal/Thurrawal language and were one of a number of major Aboriginal language groups within Sydney, the others being Dhar, Gundungarra and Kurringgai. The clans or bands (often referred to as ‘tribes’) belonging to the Dharawal/Thurrawal language group were the following: Gweagal, Norongerraga, Illawarra, Threawal, Tagary, Wandeandega, and Ory-ang-ora. Applications for native title were rejected in 1999 and 2000. The Dharawal people are forever linked to the Australian national heritage as the people of first recorded contact with the British when they encountered Captain James Cook and his expedition at Kurnell in 1770.

Dhar—1. an Aboriginal people of the Sydney area, the first to be encountered by English settlers in 1788. But it was the expansion of the British into the Hawkesbury region north-west of Parramatta in 1794 that began the true dispossession of the Dhar people. Sadly, within just a few years of white settlement, the Dhar were all but wiped out by disease, mainly smallpox, brought by the settlers. 2. The extinct Pama-Nyungan language of the Dhar. Once, the language was spoken in large areas of the Sydney region. There were dialects within this area, the coastal dialect sometimes referred to as eora (yura) and an inland dialect. It was eventually overwhelmed by the invading English language, although words from the Dhar language entered English than from any other Australian indigenous language. Loan words: boomerang, dingo, koala, wallaby and wombat.

Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area—located in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, this IPA was declared in November 2000 and covers an area of approximately 100,000ha within the Arnhem Coast Bioregion, with significant natural and cultural features and strong and continuing Aboriginal culture and land management practices. The major land management issues involve managing visitor pressure on a number of 'recreation areas', rehabilitating damage from past uncontrolled access, and wildlife protection and research including monitoring the impact of marine debris on threatened turtle populations. Dhimurru employs traditional owners as rangers to undertake activities on the ground and engages in participatory planning with senior community members to develop and implement management strategies. Gorruro Beach on-ground management activities specified in the plan of management for Dhimurru include: weed and feral animal control; revegetation programmes, interpretation activities for visitors, visitor management and maintenance of visitor facilities. New weed control legislation in the Northern Territory has prompted moves to establish a regional weeds committee. The new committee assists in coordinating weed identification and control measures in the region.

Dhurga—Aboriginal language that was spoken from the Jervis Bay area to Wallaga Lake, New South Wales, now extinct. Yuin is the name referred to for the Aboriginal tribal group occupying the coastal areas between Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay.

dial—the face (from WWI digger dialect).

Diamantina National Park—formerly a pastoral holding, Diamantina was dedicated as a national park in 1992. The park sweeps across highly weathered sandstone ranges in the east and down to the floodplains of the Diamantina River and its tributaries, then across Mitchell grass plains to dunefields reminiscent of the deserts further west. Located in Channel Country, far south-west Queensland.

Diamantina River—part of an extensive, braided river system within the region of south-west Australia known as Channel Country. This river system includes the Georgina River and Cooper Creek. Excess water from this area feeds a vast drainage basin in Australia's arid interior, the Lake Eyre system.

diamond firetailEmblema guttata, a species of grass finch that has exhibited a marked decline in the grassy woodlands of south-eastern Australia. The species frequents open habitats with native grasses and scattered trees, and can be found feeding in small groups, often foraging on the ground for grass seeds. Diamond firetails will feed from some introduced grass species, but these only offer a food source for a very short space of time. When this expires, the birds have to forage over greater distances in search of suitable food supplies (native grasses). This tiny finch has a bright crimson rump that it shares with the red-browed finch but has striking black and white underparts. The crown is light grey; red eye (with black pupil); red bill; black patch between eye and bill (lores); brown back and wings. Throat is white; contrasts strongly with broad, black breast band that extends onto flanks; black flanks spotted white; lower breast and belly also white, giving bird a pied appearance. Its most common call is a disyllabic twooo-heee. The species is also associated with water in more arid environments, and consequently may be found along water courses on occasion.

Diamond Gorge—carved by the Fitzroy River, Diamond Gorge is sacred to the Gidya people, who meet there for sacred ceremonies, fishing, hunting and trading amongst one another. Diamond Gorge was created by Narangunny, the Gidya Rainbow Serpent. Later, the Gidya Wandjina came from Daiwul and spread the Gidya language. During his travels, Narangunny made Diamond Gorge a Gidya tribal boundary. Located in the Fitzroy National Park, Western Australia.

diamond python—a distinctive, large, black snake with cream to yellow markings; a fearsome-looking yet placed and non-poisonous constrictor that preys on small mammals and lizards. It is found in large bushland areas and national parks of Sydney, but often goes undetected because of its nocturnal, slow-moving habits. During the day, it may be seen basking in trees and occasionally is found in roofs and rafters.

dibblerParantechinus apicalis, a tiny, spotted marsupial mouse. Rediscovered after having been presumed extinct following a long period in which there hadn't been any sightings or signs of continuing existence. Inhabiting only small pockets of south-west Western Australia. and two islands off Jurien Bay, the dibbler is a critically endangered animal.

dibs—marbles, pertaining to sanity: e.g. He's lost his dibs.

dice—1. reject; throw out or away: e.g., Dice what you don't want. 2. (motor-racing) situation where two cars jockey for position.

dice with death—to act dangerously.

dicey—1. chancey, uncertain. 2. fraught with danger.

dickory dock—(rhyming slang) cock; clock.

dicky—unsound; dicey; shaky; risky; difficult: e.g., He's in a dicky situation.

dicky-bird—bird (particularly in children's speech).

dicky-dirt—(rhyming slang) shirt.

Dicynodonts—mammal-like reptiles resembling pigs or hippos, but with a powerful beak, like a turtle, and a pair of tusks, like a walrus. These bizarre plant-eaters flourished worldwide before declining to extinction in the Late Triassic, about 220 million years ago. However, dicynodont skull fragments in the Cretaceous rocks of Queensland reveals that dicynodonts were still alive and kicking in a remote corner of Gondwana 110 million years after their supposed extinction. Dicynodonts survived well into the Mesozoic (age of dinosaurs), and the Australian fauna seems to have been just as distinctive then as it is today.

diddle—1. cheat; swindle. 2. tinker with: e.g., Don't diddle with it!

diddler—a cheat or swindler.

diddums—1. (in children's speech) did he/she/you?: e.g., Diddums wet your little pants? 2. used to express one's scorn at someone who is acting in a childish manner. 3. affectionate, pet name.

diddy—the toilet, lavatory.

didgeridoo—a wind instrument that was originally found only in Arnhem Land in northern Australia. It is a long, wooden, tubular instrument that produces a low-pitched, resonant sound with complex, rhythmic patterns but little tonal variation. The name didgeridoo is not an Aboriginal one but seems to have been coined by Herbert Basedow in 1926 on the basis of sounds made by players practising on the instrument. The didgeridoo (perhaps less than 1000 years old) was originally used from the Gulf of Carpentaria across northern Australia to Derby, the most southerly point being Wave Hill. It spread to southern Cape York within the last 200 years and further into Central Australia only in the 20th century. It may have evolved from an 'emu decoy', a short hollow branch blown to lure birds, such as emus and brush turkeys, by imitating their calls. The didgeridoo is made from a log hollowed out by fire or termites and cleaned out, or from bamboo with septa removed, with a mouthpiece of wax or resin is moulded to one end. The inside diameter measures about 30mm at the end that is blown, and about 50mm at the opposite end. Different tube lengths (normally 100-160cm) produce different sounds, and a player will normally have a number of instruments to choose from to suit the voice of particular singers who are being accompanied. The didgeridoo is played by blowing through vibrating lips directly into the mouthpiece, air reserves being held in the cheeks and replenished by rapid sniffs through the nose which do not interrupt the continuous blowing. There are two playing styles. In Arnhem Land (and Groote Eylandt) an 'overblown' or upper tone is used, the end of the instrument rests on the ground or in a baler shell, and the right hand is left free to tap the tube. Elsewhere there are usually no upper tones, the end of the instrument is above ground or resting on the foot, and the right hand gives additional support. The didgeridoo provides a constant drone on a deep note, somewhere between D flat and G below the bass clef. This drone is broken up into a great variety of rhythmic patterns and accents by the skillful use of the tongue and cheeks. Many different tone colours are achieved by altering the shape of the mouth cavity and the position of the tongue and by shutting off various parts of the anatomy which act as resonating chambers for the human voice. The greatest skill of a didgeridoo player lies in the use of two entirely different notes, which are alternated in rapid succession to form complex cross-rhythms. These two notes are pitched a major tenth apart, the upper note being the first overtone.

didn't bat an eyelid—showed no emotion; didn't notice (or pretended not to): e.g., He didn't bat an eyelid when I took my clothes off.

didn't come down in/with the last shower—a claim that one is shrewder, smarter than one is given credit for.

didn't run the drum—the horse didn't perform as tipped.

didn't see (someone) for the dust—pertaining to (someone) who has departed in great haste.

didn't touch the sides—(of a drink such as beer, tea) wasn't sufficient to quench the thirst, desire.

died in the arse—(something) was not a success: e.g., Wally came out with what he thought was a better mousetrap, but it died in the arse.

diehards—men of the final parties in the evacuation of Anzac; or the men who worked to stay until the last (digger dialect).

Dieri—1. a subregion characterised by three main features: a large expanse of red sand dunes of the southern Simpson and Tirari Desert; concentrations of pans, with cracking clay soils in the southern Simpson Desert; and two large, ephemeral salt lakes (Lake Eyre North and Lake Eyre South). The Dieri subregion is in the driest part of the continent, with an annual rainfall of 100 to 150mm. 2. Aboriginal people of Cooper Creek south to Lake Gregory and Clayton River and low country north of Mount Freeling, South Australia. Tradition indicates that Dieri formerly lived in what is now Wongkanguru territory, themselves having been displaced by Wongkamala. Five named hordes are listed by Howitt (1904). They practiced both circumcision and subincision as male rites of initiation.

different kettle of fish—an altogether different story, matter, thing, person, or situation from that which is being discussed.

dig in deeper—become more stubborn, firm: e.g., Every time I try to reason with him he digs in deeper.

dig it in—persist with sarcasm or knowledge that is embarrassing or belittling.

digger—1. on the Australian goldfields, a miner. 2. an soldier in the First World War, a term which the men applied to themselves and each other to indicate mateship. After the war, ‘digger’ became an official name for a veteran. 3.mate, friend. The importance of the term digger in Australian myth derives from its First World War associations, but its appearance in that war owes much to the analogy drawn between the digging of holes in search of gold, and the trenches which the soldiers had to dig.

digger dialect—Australian soldiers' slang from WWI.

digger hat—the felt slouch hat worn as part of the Australian soldier's uniform. An emergency issue due to a shortage of helmets led to the introduction of the Tyrolean-styled hat worn by the Victorian Mounted Rifle Regiment in the 1890s. The hat featured a high-domed crown and narrow brim. The right side of the brim was turned up and held in position by a cord attached to a hook that protruded from a gilt lion's head boss, fastened high on the side of the crown. The hat included a two-piece buckled chinstrap and a prominent three-plait of puggaree. Intended for insulation, the puggaree was a traditional Indian head-wrap, adapted by the British for head-dress worn in hot, sunny regions.

Diggers' Rebellion—(see: Eureka Rebellion).

digging stick—an Aboriginal food-gathering implement made from a piece of wood sharpened at both ends.

digs—one's place of abode; residence; home.

dill—a silly person; often used affectionately.

dillon bush—the salt-tolerant plant of all mainland States but not the Northern Territory, Nitraria billardierei, a rigid spreading shrub bearing edible fruits.

dillpot—1. a fool or simpleton. 2. the victim of a trickster.

Dillwynia—an endemic genus of 20 or more species which are found in all Australian states. Grows in open woodlands and forests, mallee woodlands, heaths, and swamps on oligotrophic soils, and from coastal areas to alpine regions. All are small to medium-sized shrubs having typical pea-like flowers, usually in shades of yellow or orange.

dilly—1. terrific, amazing, excellent or first-rate. 2. silly; crazy; mad.

dillybag—a hand-woven, fibrous bag made by some Aboriginal tribes for toting items; worn in the manner of a backpack.

dim sim—dim sum; a small roll of steamed or fried meat cooked in thin dough.

dim-sim allowance—term coined for any restrictive work practice, and based on the case where workers on a building site near Sydney's Chinatown were paid extra because they objected to having to work with the smell of Chinese cooking in the air.

Dimboola—a small town located on the Wimmera River and adjacent to Little Desert National Park. Selectors began to take up the land in 1873. The majority were Germans moving from South Australia, and they initiated the shift from grazing to wheat cultivation. Their presence placed pressure on the squatters, who were finally driven out by drought and the rabbit plague that began in 1880. The farmer-selectors remained and thrived, but their hard work pushed the Aboriginals from their traditional lands. Destitute Aboriginals turned to the Ebenezer Mission, which was established in 1859 by Moravian missionaries. Dimboola is located in Victoria, 35km north of Horsham.

ding—1. minor accident between two vehicles; 2. a dent in a car or vehicle. 3. an argument. 4. a fool. 5. a successful and noisy party, happening or event. 6. backside or bum. 7. to smash, break or damage.

ding-dong—1. a noisy argument. 2. silly, foolish person.

dinger—backside; bum.

dingo—1. Canis familiaris dingo, the native dog of mainland Australia. These typically tawny-yellow dogs are thought to have arrived in Australia about 5000 years ago with seafarers from Asia or possibly India. The oldest known fossil, carbon dated at 3450 years, coincides with the appearance of dingos in Aboriginal rock art. According to the latest DNA testing, dingos evolved 135,000 years ago and were the world's first domestic dog, predating the wolf. A 'marker' has been identified that is not present in the wolf, confirming the dingo as a separate species. The dingo is believed to be the ancestor of all dog breeds, the base stock of the 600 true dog breeds. Whatever its origins, the dingo was a highly valued companion to the Aborigines—they lived, ate and hunted with their human keepers. They were their bed warmers, camp cleaners, hunting companions and guard dogs. The Aborigines took puppies from wild litters each breeding season, but most of these dogs reverted to the wild lifestyle upon reaching maturity. In his natural state, the dingo lives either alone or in a small family group. dingos have a clearly defined territory they rarely leave, but that may be shared with other dingos who co-operate in hunting larger prey. The size of the home territory varies according to the food supply. Dingos have never been on the island state of Tasmania, which separated from the mainland some 10,000 years ago. 2. term of contempt for a person considered to be treacherous. 3. an ugly woman.

Dingo Fence—(the...) 32km north of Coober Pedy, the Dingo Fence is a 9600km barrier protecting pastoral properties from the wild dingos in the north. It stretches across the Australian inland, longer than the Great Wall of China. In Queensland it is called the Barrier Fence, where it stretches for 2500km. It then joins the Border Fence in New South Wales, and travels another 584km. This is finally connected to the Dog Fence, 2225km of fence in South Australia. The whole structure is known as the Dingo Fence or the Varmint Fence.

dingo stiffener—one employed to eradicate dingos.

dingo's breakfast—nothing at all.

dink—1. an abbreviation of “Dinky”, which was a proprietary name for a maker of toy model motor vehicles, etc. Thus it took its place alongside other proprietary names that became standard words: e.g., “Sellotape”, “Hoover” or “Hills hoist”. 2. to give someone a lift, especially on the handlebars of your bike, is recorded from 1934, and is a distinctively Australian expression. However, there is an earlier use of the word “dinky” to mean “a clever contrivance” (this was, in the 19th century, often applied to boats, and is thought to be a corruption of “dinghy”). This may have been the source of both words. The British “Dinky” company may have chosen the name because it meant “clever contrivance”, and giving someone a double on the handlebars of your pushbike may have been seen as a “clever contrivance” and, hence, a “dinky” or “dink” for short.

dinkum—1. genuine; authentic. 2. truth or truthful: e.g., Are you dinkum? 3. excellent or admirable: e.g., That was a dinkum party. Often used in the combination (see: fair dinkum, dinkum oil).

dinkum Aussie—a patriotic Australian; someone motivated by genuine values. Originally applied to the second division of soldiers to enter the First World War (not the Anzacs who fought at Gallipoli).

dinkum oil—reliable and truthful information or advice (first appearance in print, 1916, The Moods of Ginger Mickin).

dinky-di—an intensified version of dinkum, entering the language by the end of WWI. By the late 1970s the phrase 'dinky-di Aussie' had become so firmly established that the 'Aussie' bit could be omitted as superfluous.

dinky-di Aussie—(see: dinkum Aussie).

dinnies—dinner; tea.

Dinosaur Cove—approximately 100 million years ago, the Dinosaur Cove area at the southern tip of mainland Australia was well within the Antarctic Circle, more than 40 degrees closer to the South Pole than it is today. Dinosaurs found in most other parts of the world are believed to have lived in temperate or tropical regions, but these Australian species, popularly called polar dinosaurs , seemed well adapted to cooler temperature conditions. They apparently had keen night vision and were warm-blooded, enabling them to forage for food during long winter nights, at freezing or sub-freezing temperatures. Fossil-bearing rock layers are dated to around 106 million years. During the Early Cretaceous, the area around Dinosaur Cove was a floodplain within a great rift valley that had formed as Australia drifted northward from Antarctica. Sand, mud and silt was deposited by streams and rivers, covering the remains of dead animals and plants. The deposits were buried by up to three kilometres as the rift valley sank, and the immense pressure exerted by the deposits converted the sediments into stone. In the last 30 million years, these rocks have been uplifted to form the Otway and Strzelecki ranges, bringing the fossil remains to the surface. Dinosaur Cove is located in the south-east of the Australian continent, where the Otway Ranges meet the sea to the west of Cape Otway, along the Great Ocean Road between Johanna and Glenaire in Victoria.

dip—a pickpocket.

dip in—help financially; donate money towards.

dip (one's) lid to—congratulate, salute or greet someone; show a gesture of respect.

dip out—1. fail: e.g., He dipped out badly in his exams. 2. stay neutral; refuse to become involved; renege; withdraw. 3. miss out on.

dip south—spend money; reach into one's pockets: e.g., I've had to dip south in a big way this week—all my bills seem to have come at once.

dip your left eye in hot cocky shit!—a remark of contempt, dismissal.

Diprotodon australis—the largest marsupial that ever lived in Australia, weighing over two tonnes, Diprotodon's closest living relatives are the wombats and the koala. Diprotodon's closest living relatives are the wombat and koala. Extinction came with the end of the last Ice Age, before which it lived alongside Aboriginal people for millennia. Diprotodon have been found in many places across Australia, and are especially well-represented at the Riversleigh fossil site. It is rarely found even in these cave deposits, however, because its sheer size prevented it from falling through most cave openings.

dipso—dipsomaniac: an alcoholic.

dipstick—someone deficient in intelligence and personality.

Director of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs (Qld)—replaced the Director of Native Welfare in Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands. This change was brought about as a result of the Aborigines' Act 1971 (Qld), which repealed the Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act, 1939 (Qld). The new position of Director carried with it much the same powers as previously held. The major change was the addition of a similar authority over Torres Strait Islanders, as conferred by the Torres Strait Islander Act 1971 (Qld).

Director of Native Welfare (Qld)—the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children in the state of Queensland, whether or not their parents were alive (1939-1965). This power was transferred from the Chief Protector under the Aboriginal Preservation and Protection Act, 1939 (Qld). Under the Native Welfare legislation, Aboriginal people were effectively confined to reserves and banned from towns. Every aspect of Aboriginal life was controlled, including the right to marry, the right to work outside reserves, and the management of assets, as well as the guardianship of children. This legislation was highly influential in the framing of similar laws for South Australia and the Northern Territory. Queensland’s Director of Native Welfare was replaced by the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, in 1965.

Directory of Important Wetlands—a database that identifies Australia's nationally important wetlands, and provides information about the wetland types and the flora and fauna that are dependent on these ecosystems. The goal of the directory project is not only to compile information on nationally important wetlands, but also to assist the states and territories in gathering data for the management of wetland sites other than those which qualify against the nationally 'important' criteria. The ultimate goal of the project is the development of a comprehensive wetland database for each state and territory in Australia. The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia is compiled by the Commonwealth government and each of the Australian states and territories.

dirt money—extra payment or wages for working under difficult and dirty conditions.

dirty ditty—lewd and vulgar song.

dirty on (someone)—angry or annoyed with (someone).

dirty rotter—underhanded, treacherous and corrupt person.

disaster area—1. any untidy, messy place, room, living quarters etc. 2. a person who is always experiencing trouble, difficulty or misfortune.

Dioscorea—a genus of over 600 species of flowering plants in the family Dioscoreaceae, native throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world. The vast majority of the species are tropical, with only a few species extending into temperate climates. It is named after the ancient Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides. They are tuberous, herbaceous, perennial lianas, growing to 2-12m or more tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, mostly broad heart-shaped. The flowers are individually inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, with six petals; they are mostly dioecious, with separate male and female plants, though a few species are monoecious, with male and female flowers on the same plant. The fruit is a capsule in most species, a soft berry in a few species. Several species, known as yams, are important agricultural crops in tropical regions, grown for their large tubers. Many of these are toxic when fresh, but can be detoxified and eaten, and are particularly important in parts of Africa, Asia, and Oceania (see yam article). One class of toxins found in many species is steroidal saponins, which can be converted through a series of chemical reactions into steroid hormones for use in medicine and as contraceptives.

Discovery Bay—Victoria's marine gateway to the Great Australian Bight and the immense seas of the Southern Ocean. The coastline is formed from the remains of a massive volcano that spewed forth lava over the last million years, cooling and hardening into basalt. The connection to the Great Australian Bight and the Southern Ocean is emphasised by the regular visits of southern right whales that migrate up from Antarctic waters in summer to breed, and sea-lions foraging from colonies in South Australia. Australian fur seals are common and attract the attention of great white sharks. Blue whales, the largest of all ocean creatures, also visit these waters on occasion. Discovery Bay was named by Lieutenant Grant in 1800 during a voyage along the south-western coast of what is now Victoria. The first Europeans to traverse the Discovery Bay area were Stephen and Edward Henry, who set out west from Merino Downs (near Portland) in June 1839 and discovered Mount Gambier.

Discovery Bay Coastal Park—a majestic 50km sweep of ocean beach, huge dunes, Aboriginal middens and coastal lakes. The main plant species found within the park include coast wattle, coast beard-heath, correa and pink and yellow flowering yellow gum. There are also reeds, bulrushes and sedges. Discovery Bay Coastal Park is excellent for visitors interested in observing bird life along the vast stretches of sandy beach. The park is an important habitat for the endangered hooded plover and many other waders migrating from overseas. Australian fur seals frolic in the waters off this coast. At Cape Bridgewater, mainland Australia's largest colony of fur seals lives in the shadows of the giant cliffs. Dolphins and southern right whales also frequent these coastal waters and can often be seen frolicking in Bridgewater Bay.

Discovery Bay Marine Park—part of the largest coastal basalt formation in western Victoria. The coastline is shaped by the remains of a massive volcano which spewed forth lava over the past million years. The basalt reefs are covered in kelps, while the calcarenite reefs abound with sponges, ascidians, bryozoans and gorgonians. There is a high diversity of intertidal and shallow subtidal invertebrates, including abalone and rock lobster. The region is well known for whale-watching, and blue whales regularly pass by the area. The cliffs of Cape Bridgewater to the east and the white sand dunes of Discovery Bay to the north frame the park. Discovery Bay Marine Park covers 3050ha and is located 20km west of Portland.

dish-licker—greyhound dog.

dishwater blonde—ash blonde.

District Court—(in New South Wales, Qld and WA) an intermediate state court between Courts of Petty Sessions and Supreme Courts, presided over by a judge.

disused—no longer in use.

Diuris orchids—the genus Diuris consists of more than fifty described species native to Australia, with the exception of one species endemic to Timor. The genus is presently being revised with many newly described species and more to come. The genus is one of the best known of Australian terrestrial orchids. However, it is with the D. longifolia complex (Western Australian, Victorian and South Australian species) that size, colour and design create some of the best orchid flowers found anywhere in the world. Diuris can form extensive colonies and take their name from the distinctive paired lateral sepals that give a two-tailed appearance. Diuris favour open habitats and have grass-like leaves (usually two or three), although a few species have up to ten leaves. The flowers are pollinated by native bees attracted to the flowers which mimic flowers of the pea family.

division—parliamentary constituency.

divvy—1. portion or share: e.g., Divvy up, Dave, give us our share. 2. an army division in the First World War. 3. dividend, profit, especially at race meetings.

divvy-van—police van used to transport arrested people.

dixie-bashing—employed in a kitchen etc washing dishes and pots—especially in the Army.

Diyari—variant spelling of Dieri.

Back Next →

Back to Top
Contact | Site Map | Links | Privacy |
Site designed & maintained by Artist Web Design
Copyright © 1996-2018