Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Fantail Cuckoo

Fantail Cuckoo (Rhipidura spp.)

FAA—Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. The Fellowship of the Academy is made up of about 350 of Australia's top scientists, distinguished in the physical and biological sciences and their applications. Election to the Fellowship recognises a career that has significantly advanced the world's store of scientific knowledge. The Academy also elects a small fraction of its Fellows by special election, recognising conspicuous service to the cause of science.

face as long as a fiddle—a dismal face

.face fungus—facial hair, e.g. a beard or moustache.

face like a festered pickle—(to have a...) to be suffering from acute acne or pimples.

face like a fried shoe—a dismal face.

face like a twisted sandshoe—(to have a...) to be extremely ugly.

face like a yard of tripe—(to have a...) to have a miserable countenance.

face the firing squad—1. to confront an authority figure who holds one accountable for a problem. 2. to deal with the unpleasant consequences.

face up—(cricket) be the batsman on strike.

face-ache—(derog.) a mournful-looking person.

face flannel—washcloth (often shortened to flannel).

face-worker—a miner who works at the coalface.

fading away to a shadow—getting thinner.

fag—1. cigarette. 2. a homosexual. 3. drudgery; a wearisome or unwelcome task.

fag-end—1. a cigarette-end/butt. 2. an inferior or useless remnant.

fagged out—tired; exhausted.

fagus—(see: turning of the fagus).

fair—a considerable amount or degree: e.g., He's a fair idiot!

fair cow—anything exasperating, unpredictable or a nuisance: e.g., This thing's a fair cow!

fair crack of the whip!/shake of the dice!/suck of the sauce bottle!—insistent request for fair treatment, opportunity or reason.

fair dinkum—most dictionaries published outside Australia and New Zealand are unhelpful, just saying "origin unknown". But it seems very possible that it comes from an old English dialect term, which is recorded principally in Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary of 1896-1905. He found several examples of dinkum in various parts of England in the sense of a fair or due share of work. He also encountered fair dinkum in Lincolnshire, used in the same way that people might exclaim fair dos! as a request for fair dealing. But there’s no clue where this word comes from, and dictionaries are cautious because it is not well recorded. It turns up first in Australian writing in 1888 in Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood, in which it had the sense of work or exertion: "It took us an hour’s hard dinkum to get near the peak". Early on it could also mean something honest, reliable or genuine, though this is actually first recorded in New Zealand, in 1905. Fair dinkum is recorded from 1890 in the sense of fair play, and soon after in the way that Australians and New Zealanders still use it—of something reliable or genuine, as in "He's a fair dinkum Aussie".

fair dos—fair shares.

fair go—1. a request for fair treatment or reason: e.g., Fair go, mate! 2. fair, equitable and just conditions: e.g., I don't think he was given a fair go.

fair hike—a long distance to travel, especially by walking.

fair name—a good reputation.

fair to middling—average; so-so; tolerably satisfactory; feeling in average health or spirits.

fair to muddling—an informal, humorous take on 'fair to middling', usually used in describing one's own efforts.

fairies apronsUtricularia dichotoma, a small, carnivorous herb of wet areas (ditches, swamps, bogs etc), which is only likely to be seen when in flower. Purple flowers with broad lower lips (about 1 -2 cm broad) on long slender scapes. Traps are small bladders which suck in prey through a vacuum-like effect when hairs surrounding the trap door are touched. These traps are usually produced under the soil or in the water. Also known as bladderwort.

fairly—1. nigh unto; e.g., We’re fairly close to the strain station. 2. nearly complete, e.g. to have completed a considerable amount (of something).

fairy basslet—true bass family members, family Serranidae, subfamily Anthiinae. These small, at times breathtakingly beautiful little basses (15cm) lack many serranid specializations and may have a pseudochromid (dottyback family) affinity. Small and elegant, fairy basslets float over the reef in waves of bright color. Fairy basslets live in large groups above the coral ledges, caves and crevices on steep outer reef slopes of patch reefs at depths of 5 to 70 m. They are diurnal or active during the day and seek shelter within the reef at night. In fairy basslets, the males have the highest social status, are larger, and will be surrounded by many females. Those that are farthest from the male have a lower social status. Each male has its own territory within the larger groups of fairy basslets. In order to keep their social status, males and large females will harass, chase and even bite the smaller females. Fairy basslets school in clear water areas where there is a strong current, which brings their food, zooplankton or tiny animals and phytoplankton or tiny plants, directly to them. Fairy basslets all born as females with the potential to change sex to male. If a male dies, the largest female undergoes a sex change to take the male's place. Fairy basslets live together in large groups, up to the thousands, which are mostly females. In order to attract mates, male fairy basslets are more colorful than the females. When he is ready to mate, a male darkens his coloring and does a courtship dance. Bicolor fairy basslets breed in harems.

fairy bread—white bread lightly spread with margarine or butter, and then sprinkled with either sugar or, more commonly, hundreds and thousands. Fairy bread is served almost exclusively at children's parties in Australia and New Zealand as a sweet yet more filling alternative to lollies. Slices of the bread are typically cut into triangles and stacked tastefully on the host's paper plate. It was originally made using finely chopped rose petals for colour and scent instead of the sugary lollies that are used today.

fairy cake—a small, iced, sponge cake.

fairy floss—spun sugar, usually coloured pink and wrapped onto a stick; cotton candy.

fairy lights—small coloured lights especially for outdoor decoration; Christmas lights.

fairy penguinEudyptula minor, a small (43cm) penguin; Fairy penguins breed across southern Australia and the islands of New Zealand, and it is estimated that their world breeding population is approximately 350-600,000 birds. The species is not endangered. In Australia, their breeding distribution extends from the Shoalwater Island Group (Penguin and Carnac Islands), near Perth in Western Australia, across the southern coast (including Bass Strait and Tasmania), and up the east coast as far as South Solitary Island in New South Wales (near Coffs Harbour). Bass Strait, with c. 60% of the known breeding population, is the stronghold for the species in Australia. Most fairy penguins do not breed until they are two or three years old. Most breeding sites are adjacent to the sea, with burrows in sand or soil or under vegetation, but in some areas the birds nest in caves or crevices in rock falls. The type and structure of vegetation in the breeding areas varies from sparsely-vegetated caves and rock screes through grass-, herb- and scrublands, to woodland and forest. For birds frequenting most areas, relatively little is known of their foraging areas at sea, either during the breeding season, when they return daily or every few days to the breeding colony, but may still range more than 100km from their burrows. Clupeoids (Pilchards Sardinops neopilchardus, Australian anchovy Engraulis australis and sandy sprat Hyperlophus vittatus) are their major foods. People have been watching fairy penguins come ashore at Summerland Beach on Phillip Island since 1928. This nightly event is known as the "penguin parade" and it currently attracts almost 500,000 tourists each year. Also known as little penguin, little blue penguin.

fairy ring—a ring of darker grass caused by fungi which feeds on rotting matter (such as dead tree roots).

fairyland—1. the imaginary home of fairies. 2. an enchanted region.

fairywrens & grasswrens—an Australasian family comprising 14 fairywrens (three genera but 12 are in Malurus), three emu-wrens (Stipiturus), and 8 grasswrens (Amytornis). Most are active, cock-tailed, territorial, non-migratory foliage-gleaning "wrens"; many have brilliant plumage patterns. Five species are malurids and are found only in New Guinea and adjacent islands, but twenty are restricted to Australia. Australia has nine Malurus fairywrens scattered in habitats from arid scrub in the interior to swampy undergrowth in the south-west, and three emu-wrens with spiky tails, but perhaps no group is as elusive and fascinating as the eight species of grasswrens. Clad in often striking patterns of black, white, gray or chestnut, each species is difficult to locate in its preferred and often isolated habitat.

Faithfull Massacre—in April of 1838 a party of some 18 men in the employ of George and William Faithfull were searching out new land to the south of Wangaratta. Then, in the vicinity of the present townsite of Benalla, a large number of Aborigines attacked the party's camp. At least one Koori and somewhere between eight and thirteen Europeans died in what became known as the Faithfull Massacre. Local reprisals lasted a number of years, resulting in the deaths of up to 100 Aborigines. The reason for the attack is unclear, although some sources claim that the men took shots at local Aborigines and generally provoked them. It also seems they were camping on a traditional hunting ground. Interestingly, the Reverend Docker then came to live in the area and lived in harmony with the local Aborigines.

fall about—be helpless, especially with laughter.

fall flat on (one's) puss—to fail in an enterprise.

fall foul of—1. quarrel with; be on bad terms with: e.g., I've fallen foul of the boss for coming late to work. 2. to be apprehended for a crime: e.g., He fell foul of the law when he stole that ute.

fall in a heap—1. disintegrate into tears and a state of self-pity. 2. collapse through exhaustion or over-work.

fall in with—1. become better acquainted with; join: e.g., I've fallen in with a beaut bunch of people at work. 2. meet by chance: e.g., You'll never guess who I fell in with at the greengrocer! 3. agree with.

fall into—become the victim of a joke, trick, hoodwinker: e.g., I really fell into that one!

fall off the back of a truck—pertaining to something that has been stolen or is of questionable origins: e.g., Don't ask where it came from—it fell off the back of a truck!

fall off the twig—die.

fall over backwards for (someone)—go to a great deal of trouble and effort for; equivalent of 'bend over backwards'

.fall pregnant to—get pregnant by: e.g., She fell pregnant to her defacto.

fall-back—emergency, especially (of wages) the dole payment when no work is available.

Falls Creek—an alpine region of Victoria located near the Bogong High Plains. Inhabited by Aboriginal tribes in spring and summer, prior to European settlement; the area contains rock art and artefacts dating back more than a thousand years. The surrounding district with its lush alpine grasses became home to drovers and pioneering farming families at the turn of the century. The high plains were first visited by John Mitchell, who climbed from the Kiewa Valley in 1843. In 1851 they were approached and traversed from the Buckety Plain spur by Brown and Wells. A hydro-electric scheme 1961, opening up the Bogong High Plains to skiers. Some of the best cross-country ski routes in Australia are at Falls Creek.

false acaciaRobinia psuedoacacia, widely used as a street tree and in suburban gardens because of its small size (to 20m/60ft). A suckering, deciduous tree native to the United States, now naturalised in many parts of Europe, Asia and Australia (Brisbane to Perth and south and mountain areas). Also known as the suckering robinia.

false baeckeaAstartea fascicularis, a medium-sized shrub of the tea tree family. It has a neat and fresh appearance throughout the year and flowers during most months except those of extreme heat or cold. In habit it may be upright or spreading with an open framework of slender, tapering branches. The plant can reach a height of 1m with a spread of 1.5m at 3 years old. It is a plant which will withstand frost, drought and wind, although in harsh situations it tends to become a stiff shrub with a few main branches. Main branches are set with short, lateral stems pointing upward. Clusters of small narrow leaves—also pointing upward—along the stems give an effect of spires. The waxy leaves are about 1cm long and, like the pinkish stems, have a spicy scent when bruised. Each lateral produces up to eight buds which open to small, flat flowers like those of any tea tree. The flowers are 1cm across with five rounded, white or pale pink petals, often tinged with a deeper pink at the base, and a green eye. The 'baeckea' referred to in the common name of this plant is a genus of Australian native plants.

false-hearted—treacherous; deceitful.

Family Allowance—a form of Social Security which assists low-income families with the expenses of raising children. The funds provided are considered by the Australian federal government as an investment in the county's future, as well as a sound economic policy: prevention of illiteracy and crime is both cheaper and more effective than corrective or punitive action.

Family Court of Australia—a federal court, established in 1976, to deal with family law (divorce, custody of children, visitation rights, etc).

fan palmLicuala ramsayi, widely distributed throughout the lowland rainforests of North Queensland, but in a few locations where conditions are particularly suitable, they can form dense stands which have their own unique character. Fan palm forest is typically very dark at ground level and has little leaf litter. The soil is poorly drained—waterlogged but not submerged—and has a greasy, slippery feel to it. Overhead the large, corrugated leaves bob and weave on the slightest breeze, rattling and scraping against one another, producing strange, eerie sounds. The fan palm yields masses of red fruit, rather like cherries but without much flesh. They are a favourite food of cassowaries and large fruit-doves, such as the wompoo dove. Among the few trees that can stand the dark, waterlogged conditions in a fan palm forest is the primitive Zamia palm (Lepidozamia hopei).

fancy dress—fanciful costume, especially for masquerading as a different person or as an animal etc at a party.

fancy dress ball—a costume party.

fancy man—1. (derog.) a woman's lover. 2. a pimp.

fancy woman—(derog.) a mistress.

fancy-work—ornamental sewing etc.

fancypants—1. a homosexual or effeminate man. 2. (of children) the equivalent of 'smartie-pants'.

fandangle—1. nonsense; rubbish; trivia; baloney. 2. an elaborate and trivial piece of dangling ornament.

fandangled thing—annoying contraption: e.g., I can't get this fandangled thing to work properly!

fandangs—trivial ornaments or trinkets.

fanging—short for 'fanging for a feed'.

fanging for a feed—to be hungry.


Fanny Adams—1. nothing at all: e.g., He doesn't know sweet Fanny Adams about his job. 2. tinned meat; stew. 3. an Australian rock band from the '70s.

fantails—a homogenous group of distinctive Old World flycatchers found from India to Australia and many Pacific Ocean islands. All the fantails are closely related and belong to a single genus: Rhipidura. The most familiar in Australia is the misnamed willie-wagtail. Most species of this family have characteristic, easy-to-whistle or trilled vocalizations. But whilst willie-wagtail is found in open areas, most of the family are birds of the dark shadows inside the forest. Nearly all of them are very active, with splayed-open tails swishing as they work through the mid-canopy or understorey. A few are found in more open woodlands or mangroves, such as the grey fantail of Australasia and Melanesia.

Fantome Island—church influence: Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Located near Palm Island, Queensland, Fantome Island was a leprosarium.

far gone—1. advanced in time. 2. in an advanced state of illness, drunkenness, etc.

Far North (the...)—the tropical north of Australia.

Far North Queensland—the tropical north of Queensland, an informal appellation designating the area between Cairns and Cooktown. The fame of this area derives primarily from the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree rainforest, and the crocodile.

Far West region—an area of New South Wales larger than Victoria and Tasmania combined. It stretches from the Murray River at Balranald in the south, to the Barwon River at Mungindi in the north, and west to the South Australian border. It includes an exceptionally large number of important wetlands, including the four terminal drainage basins that drain from southern Queensland into NSW. They are the Narran River, which drains into Narran Lakes; the Warrego River, which terminates into swamps; the Paroo, which drains into the terminal Paroo wetlands; and the Bulloo which drains into the Bulloo Overflow. The region also includes a number of other terminal drainage basins such as Cobham Lakes and Lake Bancannia. The region is particularly significant to Aboriginal people, with over 790 sites in the region listed in the Aboriginal Sites Register of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The region also includes the Barwon-Darling River system, which although not formally regulated, has flows that are greatly affected by storages and water extraction on its major tributaries in both NSW and Queensland.

far-away—detached; dreamy; not quite with it; remote.

farewell (someone)—bid (someone) goodbye—Everyone farewelled the students leaving for overseas.

Farm—(the...) 1. in political jargon, 'Australia'—in the sense of buying it back from overseas investors: e.g., It's time the Government starting buying back the Farm instead of selling out to interests overseas. 2. (Victoria) Monash University, as distinct from the University of Melbourne, which is called the 'Shop'.

farmyard confetti—nonsense, rubbish; foolish talk.

farrier—farriery, or the shoeing of horses and similar animals, is an ancient craft, believed to have been practiced first in the Roman Empire. It is defined in the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 as ‘any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon, the fitting by nailing or otherwise of a shoe to the foot or the finishing off of such work to the foot’. A farrier is a skilled craftsperson with a sound knowledge of both theory and practice of the craft, capable of shoeing all types of feet, whether normal or defective, of making shoes to suit all types of work and working conditions, and of devising corrective measures to compensate for faulty limb action. Farriery is hard work and it is practiced on animals, some of which may be fractious. A Livery Company of the City of London, known as the Worshipful Company of Farriers, was established in 1356 during the reign of Edward III by the Court of Aldermen of the City, and it was given statutory responsibility for securing adequate standards of competence and conduct among farriers by The Farriers (Registration) Act 1975, together with advancement of the art and science of farriery and education in connection with it. The Farriers Registration Council, through its investigating and disciplinary committees, exercises a continuing surveillance of professional conduct. A ‘farrier’ should not be confused with a ‘blacksmith’. A farrier works with horses but needs training in blacksmithing in order to make the shoe properly. A blacksmith is a smith who works with iron and may never have any contact with horses.

fart a crowbar!—expression of amazement, annoyance, exasperation.

fart fodder—food likely to cause flatulence or farting.

fart sack -1. bed. 2. sleeping-bag used for camping.

fart-arse—waste time with inconsequential activity: e.g., I wish he wouldn't fart-arse around so much and get on with the job.

fast as a cut cat—very fast.

fast operator—con-man; swindler; cheat; fraud.

fastie—(see: fast one).

fat's in the fire—(the...) the commencement of difficulties as a result of some action taken: e.g., The fat's in the fire now, with those harsh words!

fathom—1. to work out; puzzle out. 2. to understand: e.g., He couldn't fathom her reasons for going.

fatties—large-tread tyres for a car.

Faunal Emblem of the Australian Capital Territory—the gang-gang cockatoo, which is a beautiful, small grey cockatoo with wispy crests. Adult males have a red crest and head. I was adopted as the Faunal Emblem for the Territory on 27 February 1997.

Faunal Emblem of New South Wales—the platypus and the kookaburra, both proclaimed in 1971.

Faunal Emblem of Northern Territory—wedge-tailed eagle and the red kangaroo The wedge-tailed eagle, with an average wingspan of two and a half metres, is Australia's largest raptor. This bird is clearly recognisable for its huge, broad wings and the long wedge-shaped tail. The general colour is dark brown with a chestnut hind neck. Their legs are covered in feathers right down to the feet. Its hooked beak and strong talons clearly mark the wedge-tailed eagle as a bird of prey. They are found throughout Australia. In the Northern Territory they are more common in the arid centre than on the coastal plains of the north. The red kangaroo is the embodiment of most people's concepts of our unique fauna. It is the largest extant marsupial, with adult males standing more than 2m tall and weighing up to 75kg. Their long, thin limbs give red kangaroos the mobility to travel large distances under adverse conditions. Most males are a rusty-brown and females a smokey-grey and both have paler under-surfaces. Their thick, pale fur allows these kangaroos to reflect a great deal of radiated heat. Despite the harshness of their environment red kangaroos have one of the widest distributions of any of the macropods. They are found throughout inland Australia wherever the annual rainfall is less than 375mm, an area of perhaps five million square kilometres.

Faunal Emblem of Queensland—the koala was officially proclaimed the faunal emblem of Queensland in 1971 after a newspaper poll showed strong public support for this endearing marsupial as the state's animal ambassador. The koala is commonly distributed throughout eastern areas of Queensland south of Townsville, although it has been found as far north as Cooktown and as far west as Cunnamulla. The species is reputed to be shy; however, colonies of koalas often thrive near built-up areas if there are sufficiently large tracts of bushland to provide a suitable habitat.

favourite—a horse or dog which is tipped to win a race.

Fawkner, John Pascoe—the co-founding father of Melbourne. In an independent decision similar to that of John Batman, Fawkner determined to settle Port Phillip. To this end, he formed a syndicate in Launceston that purchased the 55-tonne schooner, Enterprize. Fawkner and his party of six set sail from Launceston but due to sea-sickness Fawkner had to return to shore, and the party sailed without him. On 29 August of 1835, the Enterprize sailed up the Yarra River and anchored at land the site chosen earlier that year by John Batman for the same purpose. Fawkner’s party went ashore, landed stores and livestock, and proceeded to erect the settlement’s first home. The Enterprize then returned to Launceston to collect Fawkner and his family, who eventually arrived at the settlement on 10 October that year. Contention still exits regarding the true founder of Melbourne.

fawn-breasted bowerbirdClamydera cerviniventris, a dull brown bird that builds an intricate structure involving an extensive platform of twigs into which the main bower is incorporated. In the bowerbird family, the more insignificant the males' colouring, the more elaborate the bowers (and vice versa).

feathertail glider—the most notable characteristic of Acrobates pygmaeus is the feather-like tail, which no other mammal has. It has molars suggestive of an insectivore, but also a brush-tipped tongue typical of a nectar-feeder. Its large forward directed eyes are for nocturnal binocular vision, large serrated pads on each toe that aid in adhesion to smooth surfaces, and a somewhat prehensile tail that provides grip on twigs and small branches. The feathertail glider is normally active at night except when rearing young. Groups of A. pygmaeus have been observed in practically any available enclosed space, from hollow tree trunks to telephone interchange boxes to bird nests or possum dreys. They form spherical nests (dreys) of vegetation, usually eucalypt leaves, bark and tree-fern fibre. Restricted to mainland Australia, but has a wide distribution through most of the open and closed forests of eastern and south-eastern Australia from Cape York to the south-eastern corner of South Australia. Also found in river red gum forests associated with inland rivers, particularly the Murray River. Also called pygmy glider.

feathertop spinifexTriodia schinzii is primarily restricted to deep red sands, most commonly in the northern parts of the Centre, where it is often the dominant plant on large, featureless plains. Associated species include small trees of dogwood, corkwood, and various acacia, grevillea and senna shrubs. Termite colonies never protrude above the ground surface, as low clay content doesn't allow the construction of termitaria able to withstand the effect of fire and rain.

federal—having to do with the national Parliament or government rather that state parliaments or governments.

federal capital—Canberra.

Federal Constitution—(see: Australian Constitution).

Federal Court of Australia—a superior court of record and a court of law and equity, it sits in all capital cities in Australia—and elsewhere in Australia from time to time. The Federal Court began to exercise its jurisdiction on 1 February 1977, assuming jurisdiction formerly exercised in part by the High Court of Australia and the whole of the jurisdiction of the Australian Industrial Court and of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy. The court's original jurisdiction is conferred by over 150 statutes of the Australian Parliament. The court has both original and substantial appellate jurisdiction. It is able to hear appeals from single judges of the court as well as from the Federal Magistrate's Court in non-family law matters. It also exercises appellate jurisdiction in criminal and civil matters on appeal from the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island. The Federal Court also deals with native title claims and consent determinations. It was established by a Commonwealth Act of Parliament (the Federal Court of Australia Act) in 1976, The court also provides a forum to deal with special areas of federal law, including social welfare entitlements, family relationships, native title, privacy, intellectual property and discrimination.

Federal Court of Australia Act 1976—established the Federal Court of Australia, and provides that the court consists of a Chief Justice and other judges as appointed. The Chief Justice is the senior judge of the court and is responsible for ensuring the orderly and expeditious discharge of the business of the court. The Federal Court's jurisdiction now covers almost all civil matters arising under Commonwealth legislation, as well as some summary criminal matters. The court also has a substantial and diverse appellate jurisdiction.

Federal Executive Council—a branch of government consisting of the Governor-General and the Ministers. Established by section 62 of the Australian Constitution, the function of the Federal Executive Council is to 'advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth'. Any functions or powers vested in the Governor-General-in-Council must be carried out or exercised with the advice of the Federal Executive Council. All Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries are sworn as members of the council, though not all of them attend all meetings. The council is concerned with a wide range of business, mostly involving powers given to the Governor-General-in-Council in Acts of the Commonwealth. This includes the making of regulations and statutory appointments, and the creation and abolition of government departments through Administrative Arrangements Orders. The Executive Council is supported by a Secretariat located in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary to the Federal Executive Council, who attends all Executive Council meetings.

federal government/federal system—a system of government in which powers and responsibilities are divided between a national government and provincial or state governments, allowing each political entity/state to retain its independence. In Australia, this was achieved in 1901 through the creation of the Federal (Commonwealth) Parliament and government, with the six states giving up some of their powers, but remaining independent. Each of the six states retains its own constitution, parliament and government. Both the State and Commonwealth systems of government derive from the British Westminster system, although many features of the Commonwealth Constitution (including the federal structure) are based on the United States Constitution.

Federal Immigration Restriction Act (1901)—this first major Federal Act established the 'White Australia policy' by giving the government power to exclude immigrants on the basis of a dictation test. The test was abolished by the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1958.

Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs—within the scope of native title grant, the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs recommends to the Governor General whether to grant all or part of the land under claim, based upon information received from the Aboriginal Lands Commissioner.

Federal Parliament—the Parliament of the Commonwealth, as distinct from state parliaments. The Federal Parliament was created under the Australian Constitution when federation took place on 1 January 1901. The first Act passed by the Federal Parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act. This Act instituted what became known as the 'White Australia' policy, which prevailed until the 1960s.

federalism—a system of government in which powers and responsibilities are divided between a national government and provincial or state governments, allowing each political entity/state to retain its independence. In Australia, this was achieved in 1901 through the creation of the Federal (Commonwealth) Parliament and government, with the six states giving up some of their powers, but remaining independent. Each of the six states retains its own constitution, parliament and government.

federation—the forming of a nation by the union of a number of states, each of which retains some power to govern itself, while ceding some powers to a national government. In Australia, federation in 1901 created of a single nation by the joining together of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. Federation was granted by Britain via the Colonial Laws Validity Act (), which did not include independence from the Crown: when federation was achieved in 1901, Australia simply moved from limited colonial self-government to limited national self-government. The association of the Australian colonies in a federal union is known as the Commonwealth of Australia.

Federation Drought—(see: Great Drought).

fee simple—a title of property ownership based upon a contractual agreement bearing a government seal, between the present owner and the previous owner, involving neither a third nor other parties. The holder of an estate in fee simple holds the land as tenant of the Crown, but free of any feudal incidents or services and of any quit-rent. It grants the owner the rights to: give the property away; sell the property for a price; transfer the property with a will; use the land for whatever purpose the owner sees fit. Third party interference is prohibited to a property held in Fee Simple Title. A fee simple is extinguished by the death of a holder without anyone entitled, as the fee simple then passes to the Crown.

feed the chooks—give scraps of information to the press. An expression of contempt, coined by former Queensland Premier, Jo Bjelke-Peterson.

feed the fishes—1. be sea-sick. 2. to drown.

feeding time at the zoo—1. any disorderly, noisy event. 2. an enthusiastic mealtime.

feel a bit off—feel ill, unwell; short for off-colour.

feel cocky—feel elated, confident.

feel crook—1. feel ill, unwell. 2. feel annoyed, angry: e.g., I can't help feeling crook after what he did!

feel like a gig—feel foolish, ashamed.

feel like a pick-pocket in a nudist camp—feel nervous, out of place, disoriented.

feel the draught—suffer from adverse (usually financial) conditions.

feeling chipper—feeling elated; having a sense of well-being.

feet of clay—weakness; frailty; failing; cowardice.

feet-first—impetuously; thoughtlessly; without thinking: e.g., He went feet-first into it and now he's in trouble.

fellmonger—to remove wool from a sheepskin; a person who removes wool from a sheepskin.

female factory—(hist.) a colonial prison for women convicts. They were ostensibly places of punishment, but in reality served as profitable textile factories and agencies for domestic labour and marriage. Many only remained a day or so before they were assigned to settlers to work as domestic servants. Many were married soon after arrival. The idea was that any man wanting to marry one of the women would apply. They were lined up at the factory, and the man would drop a scarf or handkerchief at the feet of the woman of his choice. If she picked it up, the marriage was virtually immediate. The system of selection of servants often meant that the gentry and officers would choose the pretty, young convicts. Instead of iron gangs, troublesome and hardened female prisoners were sent to the female factory. Children of convict women either stayed with their mothers or were moved to an orphanage.

Female Factory at Parramatta—the first female factory was established in 1804 at Parramatta in New South Wales, and initially consisted of a single long room with a fireplace at one end for the women to cook on. Women and girls spun and carded wool and made rope. Their accommodation was very basic—they slept on the piles of wool. A three-storey barracks and female factory was built in 1821 and was mainly used to house women who had committed local offences, convict women with children and convict girls who were unsuitable for work with the settlers. In time, the work done in the female factory became less difficult and needlework and laundry became the main duties.

feral—1. (of an animal or plant) wild, untamed, uncultivated. 2. (of an animal) in a wild state after escape from captivity: e.g., Feral goats have made drought-stricken areas much worse. 3. brutal.

feral camels—the one-humped dromedary Australian (non-native) camels were imported to provide transport through inland Australia, and they have since made it their domain, roving in the only feral herds of their kind in the world. Between 1894 and 1897 alone, 6,000 camels were shipped from India directly to Western Australia, mainly to serve the booming gold camps. Numbers peaked around 1920 with some 20,000 in harness. But from the '30s on, in all but a few long-distance, off-road cases, the camel was a museum piece. Many camel men had abandoned their beasts to the wild. But the feral camel thrived in the bush. Recent surveys show wide camel ranges extending from the Northern Territory and South Australia in the center of the continent well into Western Australia, with pockets of animals also reported in Queensland. Once the backbone of outback exploration, the nation's camels could be on their way to a desert abattoir. Wild camel numbers double every eight years, experts say. If the trend continues unchecked, there could be two camels to every person by 2053. They are already problem enough. In remote settlements, camels have ripped out taps and toilets for water. They are a hazard on outback roads and have been known to ransack tourists' cars for food. On stations, they trample fencing and compete with cattle for water. One farmer estimates the cost at $30,000 to $40,000 a year. In the bush they defoliate shrubs and trees and compete with native animals at waterholes and they damage swamps. Up to a million roam the outback. The growing camel industry has its own solution—an export-licensed, halal-certified abattoir to produce camel meat for export. However, in very, very remote areas of Australia, culling probably is the only option.

feral kids—brats; juvenile delinquents.

ferals—people living in small communities without electricity or running water; often, young itinerants inhabiting national parkland.

Fergie/Fergy—an early model Ferguson tractor, usually grey in colour.

Fern Gully Nature Walk—a rainforest walk located in the Tarra Bulga National Park. The walk is a 500m circuit that takes approximately 30 minutes and leads to the graceful Corrigans suspension bridge. Originally built in 1938 and replaced with a replica in 1982, the bridge gives views of a lush fern gully, the home of lyrebirds, whipbirds, rosellas, bats and other mammals.

fern-leafed grevilleaGrevillea pteridifolia, a medium-sized, slender tree with long, narrow, silver foliage. It is a widespread species with a number of different forms. The flowers are bright orange and appear from May to August, and contain a lot of nectar which is an important food source for birds and animals. The Aborigines also used the nectar, either taken directly from the flowers, or as a sweet drink produced by soaking the flowers in water. A prostrate form from coastal headlands may spread to about 5m and there is also a silver-leaved form from Kakadu National Park which grows to small tree proportions. The species is tolerant of a range of soils; in nature it is sometimes even found in swampy areas.

fernwrenOreoscopus gutturalis is endemic to the Wet Tropics region. It is restricted to upland rainforests, where it forages in moist leaf litter. It produces very high-pitched whistling and scolding notes, yet is difficult to see unless the observer is patient. It feeds by turning over the forest litter and has been seen following larger birds to forage in patches already disturbed by them (e.g., orange-footed scrubfowl). It has a fine, tweezer-like bill to use when probing for animal food. Its breeding season is from August to February. The solid, domed nest is often placed against a tree trunk or small earth bank, and is made from numerous rootlets and mosses. Two eggs are usually laid here, and both parents raise the young.

ferrosols—have high free iron and clay contents. They occur along the eastern coastline, in northern parts of Western Australia and the Top End. In high rainfall zones they may be very deep and well drained. They are not found widely in grain cropping regions. Despite being amongst the best soils for a wide range of agricultural pursuits, ferrosols may be degraded by erosion and compaction caused by cropping practices and may also suffer from acidification. Also known as krasnoszems; chocolate soils.

Festival of Arts—(see: Adelaide Festival of Arts).

Festival of Light—A non-denominational group of Christians. The institution purports to "inform the public of current social and political issues, (and] to stimulate prayer and action". A self-styled "Nationwide Consumer Movement for purity, love and family life", formed in 1973 and supported by donations.

fetch up—1. to end up; reach a certain state as a final conclusion: e.g., He'll fetch up in trouble with the police. 2. to vomit.

fête—1. an outdoor function with the sale of goods, amusements, etc, especially to raise funds for charity. 2. a great entertainment; a festival. 3. honour or entertain lavishly.

fever barkAlstonia constricta, the genus Alstonia comprises about twelve species, seven of them being given in Bentham's Flora of Australia. They are milk-bearing shrubs or trees, with large, entire, generally whorled leaves, and terminal cymes of white flowers. Alstonia constricta, F. Mueller, is a lactescent, smooth tree, found growing only in Australia, and has large, opposite, entire oblong leaves about 4 inches long, borne on slender leaf-stalks. The flowers are small, white, numerous, and disposed in corymbose cymes. The fruit consists of a pair of slender, smooth pods, from 3 to 8 inches in length, and containing numerous, flat, pubescent seeds, the upper margins of which are fringed with long hairs. The bark is used in Australia as an antiperiodic. The exposed surface of the bark is of a dingy grey-brown, and of an ochre color where fresh layers of cork are exposed. It is of spongy texture and friable. The powder of the bark is of a dingy yellow, and possesses a faint, not unpleasant odor, and a lasting, purely bitter taste. The active principles are contained chiefly in the middle and inner bark. The inner bark of Alstonia constricta is said to possess marked antiperiodic properties, while the outer bark is stated to have been efficacious in curing certain forms of rheumatism. Also known as: native quinine of Australia, Australian fever bark, bitter bark, Alstonia bark.

fibro/fibrous cement—1. a building material composed of asbestos fibres mixed with cement, commonly used as sheeting for the construction of interior walls. The 1950s saw a massive building program in response to the rising demand for public housing. To overcome the continued shortage of building materials, "fibro" became a common component. 2. a house built with fibrous cement: e.g., They live in a fibro on the edge of town.

fiddle the books—falsify; interfere with or alter illegally the documents or account books of a firm.

fiddle-arse about—waste time with inconsequential activity. Polite version of fart-arse.

fiddle-faddle—1. rubbish; nonsense. 2. trifle with; fidget aimlessly.

fiddler—a cheat, swindler, crook.

fiddly—awkward to do, use or handle: e.g., Fixing that tiny thing was so fiddly.

fiddly-dids—(rhyming slang) quids, formerly one pound notes but now taken to mean dollars; money: e.g., That fancy car must have cost a fair few fiddly-dids!

field berets—cow pats, dung.

field umpire—(Australian Rules football) the umpire (or umpires) in overall control of the game.

fifty to the dozen—fast; in haste; quickly.

fig tree—one of the most important flowering trees in the Wet Tropics rainforest is the fig—in fact, figs are considered to be a "keystone species". They produce fruit at different times of the year, providing a reliable food resource for many animals and birds throughout the year. One interesting fig is the round-leaf banana fig (Ficus crassipes). It occurs at high altitudes in closed forest. With its dense, rounded canopy, familiar rubber-tree shaped leaves and squat, colourful fruit, it is attractive and easy to identify.

figbirdSphecotheres viridis flaviventris, a parrot that lives in pairs or small flocks within littoral rainforest and coastal scrubs, and in solitary native fig trees in coastal parks and urban areas. All recorded sightings have occurred within 5km of the coastline.

fight like Kilkenny cats—to fight ferociously.

fight shy of—avoid on purpose.

Fiji Islands—a group of more than 800 islands (100 inhabited) in the south-western Pacific; larger islands (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu) are of volcanic origin surrounded by coral reefs; smaller islands are coral Suva—the capital and largest city of Fiji (on Viti Levu island). The islands as a whole are known as the Republic of Fiji, an independent state within the British Commonwealth.

Fijian—a native or inhabitant of Fiji.

filling in the sandwich—pertaining to being caught in the centre of some argument or controversy, usually against one's will: e.g., That poor child is the filling in the sandwich in that divorce case.

filling station—gas station.

financial—having ready money: e.g., I'm not financial this week so I can't go to the concert with you.

find (one's) feet—to be able to act or do something independently, without the support of help of others: e.g., He'll eventually find his feet when he's a bit more mature.

fine—(cricket) behind the wicket and near the line of flight of the ball.

fine examples—(sarcastic) men.

fine spun—subtle (originally a wool weaver's term).

fine up—(of weather) become fine.

finger cherryRhodomyrtus macrocarpa, an elongated, cherry-like fruit endemic to Queensland. When ripe, the fruit is purple and pleasantly acidic. Mouldy fruit can cause blindness or death, resulting from a fungus (Gleosporium periculosum) which grows upon it. Also known as Cooktown loquat, wannakai.

finger fight—a fist fight.

Finke bioregion—a geomorphologically complex and varied area of low sandstone ranges, weathered tablelands and rounded metamorphic hills, laterite-capped mesas, saline depressions and sandplains. Dominant vegetation includes hummock grasslands, acacia shrublands and saltbush/bluebush open shrublands. The Finke bioregion is notable for its environmental diversity. It includes one nationally significant wetland system, it supports 13 threatened species, and endemic plants including two acacia species. Over-grazing by livestock and/or feral animals (principally rabbits, camels and horses) has degraded many areas, and especially riparian areas, natural waterholes, and fertile lowlands. Foxes and feral cats are widespread and have taken a heavy toll on the native fauna, especially critical-weight range mammals and ground-dwelling birds such as the night parrot.

Finke Gorge National Park—following the line of the Finke River, the park is home to remnants of a tropical rainforest that covered this area 60 million years ago. There are red cabbage palm trees growing here, with about 12,000 in the park, the oldest being 300 years. Sheer, red sandstone cliffs shelter the palm trees in Palm Valley. This and nearby areas hold cultural significance to the Western Arrernte people. Located about 140km south-west of Alice Springs, NT.

Finke River—one of the oldest rivers in the world, with sections of it dating back 350 million years. Sandstone was deposited in the area some 500 million years ago when it was a huge inland sea, and was subsequently tilted and uplifted. As this uplift was occurring, the Finke River slowly eroded its way through the mountain range. Now, the river runs the entire length of its course only twice a century, on average. When this does occur, the river rises in the MacDonnell Ranges and flows over 1000km until it disappears into Lake Eyre. Finke River is known to the local Aboriginal people as Larapinta, which means 'serpent'. It was a favourite meeting place for the Aboriginal people from the west and central MacDonnell Ranges.

Finke River malleeEucalyptus sessilis, a small (2-4m) tree native to Central Australia. It is a straggly mallee with grey-green leaves and yellow or cream flowers. Frost and drought tolerant. Bird attracting.

fins—the arms.

fire corals—members of the Cnidaria phylum. Though it looks like coral, it is more closely related to jellyfish and other stinging anemones. Fire corals have a bright yellow-green and brown skeletal covering and are widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical waters. Divers often mistake fire coral for seaweed, and accidental contact is common. The very small nematocysts on fire corals contain tentacles that protrude from numerous surface pores. In addition, fire corals have a sharp, calcified external skeleton that can scrape the skin.

fire management—the use of fire as an important part of Australian bushfire management policy. Eucalypt forests need fire to germinate, yet raging hot fires in the middle of summer can cause massive damage to young trees, setting a forest back many years. The intent is to have our country burnt off in winter when temperatures are low and the risk of damage to our young trees is minimal. This is referred to as a "cool burn". Ideally, the fire would rarely flair up above one meter in height, and would travel across the forest floor at walking speed. Most areas need burning off at least once in every three years to prevent the build up of fuel to a dangerous level.

fire sticks—sticks that are kept burning in order to light the next fire. Cleland noted that the Aborigine "sleeps behind a windbreak with a little fire on each side of him and another at his feet". To prevent the hearth fire from escaping, a camp site was cleared of fuel, often by preburning it. To maintain a fire through the night involved constant tending, which broke an evening's sleep into a series of lighter naps. Warmth was a necessity but the close proximity of fire and hot coals regularly resulted in minor burns to the skin. Normally, only a couple of fire sticks were required to transport fire to the next camp site. On cold days, fire sticks were often carried by all members of the tribe to provide warmth. The regular rekindling of these fire sticks in tufts of grass also provided an intermittent source of warmth.

fire-bucket—(in Aboriginal English) a bucket used as a fireplace.

fire-stick management regimes—(see: Aboriginal fire regimes).

firestick farming—the Aboriginal practice of burning off scrub near rivers, leaving only large trees spaced several metres apart. The ash fertilized the soil and the burned ground soon pushed forth fresh, green shoots of grass which attracted kangaroos and wallabies and made hunting them easier. Over time, the large trees became broader and taller from the reduction in competition for space, water and nutrients.

firing season—early Dry season fire consumes monsoon woodland in the "firing season" (April). Fire tolerant vegetation quickly sprouts new growth from roots or trunks in an annual cycle.

first cab off the rank—first to take advantage of an opportunity: e.g., He was hired because he was the first cab off the rank.

First Fleet—comprising 11 ships and around 1350 people, was dispatched to the unknown continent—the only information about New South Wales was that from Captain James Cook's voyage of 1770. From these records it was decided the first settlement would be at Botany Bay, and a second settlement would be established at Norfolk Island to provide wood for ships and masts. However, on arrival at Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, Captain Phillip decided the site was not suitable and resolved to look for another. He decided upon Port Jackson, the site of modern-day Sydney, and the people of the First Fleet established Australia's first settlement on 26 January 1788. The First Fleet was frighteningly underprepared for the task which faced it. Little was known about the climate, animal or plant life of the land mass, and many of Cook's encounters with the Aborigines had been hostile, at least in part. As Cook said in his diaries, "All they seem'd to want for us was to be gone".

first fleeter—person whose ancestry can be traced back to the convicts who arrived in Australia on the First Fleet in 1788.

first in, best dressed—the best advantage or opportunity is gained by the first or earliest person. Equivalent to the American expression, 'first come, first served'.

first past the post—1. (of elections) a method of voting within the parliament, in which the candidate who gets the largest number of votes wins, even if it is less than half the votes cast. 2. the first person to do, complete something.

first up—at the first try or attempt: e.g., I missed the target first up, but I hit it every other time.

fish—person: e.g., He's a strange fish!

fish in troubled waters—one who turns a bad situation to his advantage.

fish traps/wiers—coastal Aboriginal people had fish traps, which were walled cages with high and low openings which could be opened or closed by removing and adding rocks. In coastal areas fish traps were occasionally constructed by taking advantage of natural reefs and rock pools—fish entering the enclosures during high tide were trapped as the tide fell several hours later. Inland, In areas where very little rock occurs naturally, traps were constructed using earthen banks and wooden stakes. Wooden grills were constructed at the mouth of drainage channels during flood times and fish were trapped on receding floodwaters, then harvested over subsequent weeks.

fit as a mallee bull—extremely well, healthy and in good spirits.

fit the bill—fill the bill; fulfil the requirements.

fit the brief—fit the profile.


Fitzgerald River National Park—considered worthless by early settlers, this is one of the most diverse botanical regions in the world. More than 1800 beautiful and bizarre species of flowering plants, as well as a myriad of lichens, mosses and fungi, have been recorded here. This represents nearly 20 per cent of the total number of plant species in Western Australia, in an area that covers only a tiny fraction of the State. The rugged Barren Range stretches from east to west through the park, which surrounds the inlets of the Gairdner, Fitzgerald and Hamersley rivers. Located between Bremer Bay and Hopetoun on the south coast of Western Australia, 180km east of Albany and 9km west of Hopetoun. The park's fauna includes rare birds such as the mallee fowl, and marsupials once thought to be extinct, the chuditch and the dibbler. The best time to visit is during Spring, when over 80 varieties of orchids (70 of which are endemic to the area) and hundreds of other wildflowers put on a brilliant show.

Fitzroy Crossing—a small and predominantly Aboriginal settlement on the banks of the Fitzroy River. Fitzroy Crossing was built as housing for workers on the Fitzroy River bridge. Once the bridge was built, the town was virtually deserted. Lacking a town centre, Fitzroy Crossing is more like a series of loosely connected, small settlements than a single community. Located in the wilds of the Kimberley region, 2686km north of Perth and 258km from Derby, WA.

Fitzroy Falls—a celebrated waterfall in the Southern Highlands, and an adjacent village of the same name. The falls are fed by the Yarrunga Creek before dropping 80m down the escarpment, where it flows into the Kangaroo River. Proclaimed as a reserve in 1882, the 4000 acres became part of the Morton National Park in the 1960s. A boardwalk has been added alongside the creek and through restored native bushland to a lookout at the top of the falls. There are also a number of bushwalking trails provided along the escarpment to lookouts. Paths are well cut and maintained, with frequent easy stairways. There are resting areas, and signs strategically placed identifying native fauna and flora. Lookouts are well fenced for safety. Located between the highlands to Kangaroo Valley and the South Coast at Nowra.

Fitzroy Island National Park—a high continental island 29km south-east of Cairns. Most of the 339ha is protected as national park. The fringing reef and coral beaches are protected as part of the Cairns Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The island is a popular destination for many tourists and boating enthusiasts. Part of the granite mountain chain along the coast, the island was once connected to the mainland by a grassy plain. This was submerged as the sea level rose some 6000 years ago and the mountain we know as Fitzroy became an island. The island is within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority manage the island and surrounding waters as protected areas.

Fitzroy River—always prone to flooding and periodically high levels of sediment, the river now also suffers the effects of high pesticide and nutrient levels, toxic algal blooms and a widespread occurrence of exotic weeds. These problems all pose threats to native habitats, the flood plains and riparian areas. The local Aborigines resisted incursions from European pastoralists, and the area around Fitzroy Crossing was the subject of some particularly bloody battles.

Fitzroy River catchment—the second-largest catchment in Australia, measuring nearly 150,000sq km. The area is dominated by agriculture (grazing, dryland cropping, irrigated cotton and horticulture) and by mining (coal production of 100 million tonnes/year, magnesite, nickel and historically gold and silver). The catchment stretches from the Carnarvon Gorge National Park in the west to Rockhampton on the central Queensland coast.

Five Islands Nature Reserve—the islands are known as Big Island, Flinders Islet, Bass Islet, Martin Islet and Rocky Islet. These islands provide important habitat and breeding sites for sea birds. The Five Islands Nature Reserve was declared in 1960 and in 1967 the islands were dedicated as a nature reserve under the The islands are known as Big Island, Flinders Islet, Bass Islet, Martin Islet and Rocky Islet. These islands provide important habitat and breeding sites for sea birds. The Five Islands Nature Reserve was declared in 1960 and in 1967 the islands were dedicated as a nature reserve under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act in 1967.

five-finger discount/sale—shoplifting spree; an act of stealing: e.g., He got that watch at a five-finger sale.

fizz—1. soft drink; effervescent drink. 2. champagne or effervescent alcoholic drink. 3. an informer, especially for the police or authorities.

fizz-bang—an old or vintage care.

fizz-gig—police informer.

fizzer—a failure; disappointing fiasco.

fizzy drink—soda pop.

FJ—once Australia's most popular, now best-remembered, model of the Holden car; manufactured from 1953 to 1956; now a collector's car. Of the 169,000 FJs sold in Australia, probably less than 1000 have survived the wrecking yard. Fully restored FJs fetch up to $15,000 on the collector's car market.

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