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Australia Decoded
'G-5'


Grey-headed Flying Fox

Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)



grey—British spelling of 'gray'.

Grey, Sir George—born 1812, Lisbon, Portugal; died 1898, London, aged 86. Grey spent some time in Australia where he was leader of two expeditions in Western Australia in 1837-39. He was a resident at King George's Sound, Albany, Western Australia in 1839 and Governor of South Australia in 1841. intelligence from New Zealand indicated that the current administration there was not successful. The Colonial Office, alarmed at the tension between the natives and whites, turned to Grey. He landed at Auckland on 18 November 1845, immediately headed for the Bay of Islands, and on 1 January 1848 assumed office as Governor-in-Chief of New Zealand. Grey died in London on 20 September 1898 two weeks after the death of his wife.

grey and brown soils of heavy texture—uniform clays ranging from grey to brown and becoming mottled with depth. They are slightly acidic neutral or slightly alkaline at the surface, becoming moderately to strongly alkaline with depth. Gypsum is often present in the subsoils and excessive salinity may occasionally be a problem. They occur on alluvial deposits of Pleistocene and Recent age as well as on contemporary alluvium and on sedimentary rocks of varying ages in a great arc from the south-east of South Australia through eastern Australia to the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory, with smaller outliers in the Kimberleys. In Queensland and northern New South Wales considerable areas carry a tall scrub of brigalow. Where this occurs on old alluvium more than half the soils show the unusual feature of having a neutral to alkaline surface soil overlying a strongly acidic subsoil. They are generally of moderate fertility but the phosphorus contents are very variable. On the wetter fringe, as in the Wimmera district of Victoria and the Namoi and Macquarie regions of New South Wales, these soils are used for wheat growing. In Queensland, with moisture conservation by bare fallowing, a wide range of summer and winter crops can be grown. Elsewhere they make up a high proportion of the better natural pasture lands used for cattle and sheep grazing. Where they occur in the irrigation areas of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers in New South Wales and Victoria, their low infiltration rate poses some difficulties in the irrigation of pastures but makes them particularly suitable for rice. Most of the soils are gilgaied to some degree and strongly so on the wetter fringes.

grey boxEucalyptus microcarpa, a tree growing 6m - 20m in height and distinguished by its dark, rough bark, olive-green coloured eucalypt leaves and small fruit.

grey box woodlands—consist of the dominant grey box trees generally occurring on red-brown earths on higher sites not subject to frequent flooding. The natural structure prior to European settlement varied from shrubby woodland to open grassy woodland. Grey box occurs naturally with a wide range of other tree and shrub species of varying densities and a diverse understorey of shrubs, native grasses, orchids, lilies and the endangered small scurf pea. Grey box woodlands now generally exist only as scattered remnants or isolated paddock trees in need of regeneration understorey replacement and active management. Grey box woodlands are identified within South Australia's top five most threatened plant associations. Only 10 per cent of the original distribution remains in scattered areas along the Hills Face Zone and the western base of the Adelaide Hills.

grey butcherbirdCracticus argenteus, found in a wide range of woodlands and open forests and quite common in some urban parks and gardens. Grey butcherbird,s like Australian magpies, may swoop if they feel threatened. Their flight-feathers are black with a white stripe and they have a white patch between the beak and eyes. They have a beautiful, melodic warble and a discordant chortling call. They build a strong cup-like nest made of fine twigs, grass and other plant material, and breed from July to January. Their distribution ranges from mid-eastern Queensland through southern Australia to northern Western Australia. Isolated populations are also found in the Kimberley and the northernmost parts of the Northern Territory (the Top End) as well as in Tasmania.

grey currawongStrepera versicolor, a bird species endemic to Australia that occurs as 6 subspecies in the southern half of the continent, where they occupy a range of woodland and forest. They are ground dwellers feeding primarily on insects that they forage from leaf litter, and are recognised by their distinctive loud, ringing call. Although their distribution is widespread these birds are not common anywhere and are classified as critically endangered in the Northern Territory.

grey falconFalco hypoleucos is apparently rare throughout its extensive range over much of inland Australia. It is perhaps most easily and frequently seen in the Victoria River region of the Top End. Identification is relatively straightforward, though confusion with the brown falcon or even the brown goshawk is possible. Look for the black tips to the flight feathers, the fully uniform grey underparts and, with reasonable views, the yellow cere and yellow legs.

grey fantailRhipidura fuliginosa, a small insectivorous bird. It is a very common sight in all parts of Australia bar the deepest deserts in the west. It is plain in colour: mid to dark grey or grey-brown above, lighter below, with a white throat, white markings over the eye and (depending on the race) either white-edged or entirely white outer tail feathers. The grey fantail's hallmark is movement as during waking hours, the bird is almost never still. It flits from perch to perch, sometimes on the ground but mostly on the twigs of a tree or any other convenient object, looking out for flying insects.

grey ghost—1. a parking officer (NSW—from the colour of the uniform worn). 2. a hundred-dollar note.

grey goshawkAccipiter novaehollandiae, this bird is a bold and persistent hunter, with a length of 60cm and a wingspan of 110cm. It flies swiftly and directly in pursuit of its food, suddenly striking, taking its prey by surprise—small birds, mammals, snakes and other reptiles, grasshoppers, cicadas and other insects. A pure white plumage form occurs in all populations, although in Tasmania all are white but in north Queensland this form is scarce (about 15%). During the white phase the plumage is completely white. In the grey phase the upper parts and outer web of flight feathers are light to mid blue-grey. Breeds from July through to December. During courtship the male and female perform elaborate aerial displays, with the white and the grey goshawks commonly interbreeding. They construct a nest of sticks lined with twigs and green leaves. While nesting, the female has the larger share of incubation and brooding the young while the male does most of the hunting. Loud ku-wit swee-swit or soft repeated queet are the grey goshawk's musical cries. A repeated weep-weep is used as a contact call. Found from Derby in Western Australia across the northern coastline and south to Tasmania and South Australia. Usually found in heavily timbered country. Also known as the white goshawk.

grey grasswrenAmytornis barbatus, a cryptic, ground-dwelling, passerine bird that occupies swamps and areas of inundation in north-western NSW. It was first described in 1968 and has two recognised subspecies, both confined to the swampfields of the lower Eromanga (Lake Eyre) basin. Amytornis barbartus diamantina is found along the Cooper and Diamantina drainage systems, both in Queensland and South Australia. The other form, Amytornis barbatus barbatus, is confined to the Bulloo River drainage system in south-western Queensland and north-western NSW, where the area of occurrence is estimated to be less than 100sq km. The habitat used by grey grasswrens is dominated by lignum canegrass and old man saltbush but habitat use may be quite specific within these broad vegetation types, depending on levels of floodwater. During dry periods the grasswrens congregate in the high-quality habitat of tall, dense lignum at the northern end of its range and then disperse into other marginal habitats to the south when there is flooding.

grey honeyeaterConopophila whitei has just been reclassified as nationally threatened. An inhabitant of acacia woodlands in central Western Australia and central Australia, it is a mobile and unobtrusive bird. Little is known of its habits or the threatening processes affecting it.

grey kangarooMacropus giganteus, a kangaroo with a small head and large ears; short, slim forelimbs; long, powerful hind limbs; a long, strong tail; and is mainly grey with whitish underparts. Typically 1.5m in length and weighing up to 91kg, with a life span up to 18 years. The grey kangaroo, sometimes known as the great grey, is one of the best-known of all kangaroo species, along with the similar-sized red kangaroo. Its closest relative is the western grey kangaroo. The grey kangaroo is a sociable animal by nature and lives in a mob. An average mob is made up of a mature male, two or three females with young and two or three young males. Many mobs often graze together. They feed mainly late at night and early morning, resting during the heat of the day. If necessary, the grey kangaroo can travel fast, bounding along using only the two hind feet with the tail held almost horizontally for balance. In this way, the kangaroo can leap over obstacles, and the length of a jump can be as much as 13.5 metres. The grey (as well as the red) has become a serious competitor with sheep because of its grass-eating habits. Despite heavy annual culling by farmers, there are more than 1.5 million grey kangaroos and, for the time being at least, there is no danger of extinction. Distribution: Mainly in eastern Australia and Tasmania in open forest.

grey mangroveAvicennia marina, a medium-sized tree or occasionally a shrub with a well-defined trunk and numerous vertical peg (aerial) roots (pneumatophores). Leaves are green above and greyish below. The underside of the leaf has special glands for secreting excess salt. It bears small, pale orange flowers that are pollinated by bees and other insects. The fruits are almond sized, green and slightly furry. They mature in two months, ripening in summer. The bark is a smooth, grey-white to green that is sometimes flaky. The grey mangrove is the most widely distributed mangrove species in Australia mainly due to its tolerance of cool conditions. On the east coast it occurs as far south as Corner Inlet in Victoria, while on the west coast its most southerly occurrence is Bunbury. It is commonly found on the seaward edge of the mangroves in northern Australia, but can be found in almost all mangrove environments.

grey meanie—(see: grey ghost).

grey nomad—elderly caravan travellers who travel to northern regions of Australia during winter: e.g. There goes another grey nomad.

grey nurseOdontaspis arenarius, a shark of SE Australian waters and one of Australia's most endangered marine species. They are stout bodied, with conical snouts, long, slender teeth, small eyes, two large dorsal fins, a tail with a upper lobe longer than the lower one, and metallic brown blotches and paler undersides. Despite not being a threat to man it was hunted almost to extinction during the 1960s due to its fierce appearance. In 1985 they became the first sharks to be protected in Australia. Recent research has indicated that without additional protection the grey nurse shark could be extinct within 40 years. Like most sharks, the grey nurse is slow to mature and has relatively few young; only two pups are born at a time. Over several months, the females produce millions of tiny eggs packaged in capsules. Inside each egg, a strong embryonic shark feeds initially on its own egg yolk, but once it develops teeth (which happens when it is around 10cm long), it gobbles up the other eggs in its capsule. It then breaks the capsule and hunts down and eats its siblings, so that only one baby shark in each uterus survives. This ensures that only healthy, well developed sharks that are capable of looking after themselves after birth are born. At birth they are about 115cm—150cm long but grow up to 5.5m at maturity. The grey nurse feeds on small sharks, as well as rays, bony fish, squid, crabs and lobsters, and sometimes hunts in groups. They swallow air at the surface and hold it in their stomachs to give themselves just enough buoyancy to hang almost motionless above the sea bottom in their feeding site. Between these extremes are species like the Grey Nurse which pumps water over its gills at rest, but switches to ram-jet ventilation when swimming to save energy. They are harmless to humans unless provoked. Also known as sand tiger shark and ragged-tooth shark.

grey petrelProcellaria cinerea, a large, plump, distinctive petrel with grey upper surface and white underparts. Breeds on sub-antarctic islands in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, nesting in burrows—laying in May with the young flying in November. They are an offshore species and are unlikely to be seen within 5 miles of the coast. The grey petrel is a inquisitive bird and will put is head underwater and energetically swim around fishing boats looking for food scraps. Can dive using its wings underwater to depths of up to 10 metres.

grey shrike-thrushColluricincla harmonica, possesses a rich, melodious call which varies throughout its range and between individuals, but typical phrases include pip-pip-pip--pip-hoee, pur-pur-pur-kwee-yew and a sharp yorrick. The lyrebirds aside, the grey shrike-thrush is often regarded as the finest, most inventive songbird of them all. It is found in forests and woodlands through all but the most arid regions of mainland Australia and Tasmania. It is a common and familiar bird although some decrease in numbers has been noted around human habitation, particularly in the west of its range. The grey shrike-thrush searches for food on the ground, generally around fallen logs and on the limbs and trunks of trees. It has a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, small mammals, frogs and lizards, and birds' eggs and young, and some birds have been observed feeding on carrion. Fruits and seeds may also be eaten on occasion.

grey ternletProcelsterna cerulea, a small, delicate tern. The sexes are alike and there is no plumage variation during breeding season. This species is blue-grey above with a pale grey head underbody and underwings. The tail is short and deeply forked. The bill, eyes and legs are black, and the feet are black with paler webs. Individuals have large black eyes with a ring around them. The grey ternlet occurs through much of the tropical Pacific Ocean from Australia east to Hawaii and San Felix and San Ambrosio Islands off the coast of Chile. The bird is listed as a Vulnerable Species on Schedule 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW).

grey-breasted silvereyeZosterops lateralis, a very small (110mm), greenish bird with grey breast and white eye ring, common from Queensland through eastern Australia to southern South Australia. Feeds on insects, native fruit and berries. Lays three eggs in a small, cup-shaped nest composed of fine grasses, horse-hair and other soft materials, fastened with cobweb and placed in a horizontal fork of a bush or small tree at up to 5mm from the ground. Breeding season: September to January.

grey-crowned babblerPomatostomus temporalis, a once-common bird in woodland areas of south-eastern Australia. In the last 40 years this species has become extinct in many parts of Victoria, south-eastern South Australia and the ACT. Most grey-crowned babblers now live on the Northern Plains in remnant habitat on roadsides and private land. Eighty percent of all surviving babblers occur in just six shires. Grey-crowned babblers live in family groups of 2-15 individuals that include a breeding pair and some non-breeding 'helpers'. The two most distinctive characteristics of the species are its bulky stick nests and its loud yahoo yahoo calls. Like other communal breeders the survival of grey-crowned babblers is closely linked to the number of 'helpers' in every group, as helpers assist with both raising the young and with defence. They spend much of the time on or near the ground in communal groups feeding on insects and playing chasey in and around trees calling to one another, chattering loudly and huddling together when disturbed. Sometimes two or more females lay in the one nest with the eggs being buried in the thick lining when the sitting bird leaves. Their sociable habits have earned them nicknames such as chatterbox, yahoo and happy families. Also known as apostle bird because they congregate in family flocks of around twelve in number.

grey-headed flying foxPteropus poliocephalus, one of the largest bats in Australia, with a wingspan of over 1m. Mostly dark brown except for a grey head and orange-red mantle encircling the neck, it spends much of its time hanging from the branches of trees in forests or mangroves. Groups known as 'camps' can be made up of many thousands of animals. At night the grey-headed flying fox searches for food and may travel 50km to its feeding areas. It eats fruit from a range of native and introduced species, and is especially partial to figs. It also feeds on nectar and pollen from native trees, especially gum trees. It inhabits urban areas as well as forests, woodlands and intertidal mangroves in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

grey-headed robinPoecilodryas albispecularis, 17 cm. Unlike most robins in Australia the grey headed's appearance is a mottling of greys and browns. It lives in the lower levels of the rainforest, where it often perches on a low branch or sits sideways on a tree trunk and then darts down onto prey below; it also hops over the forest floor looking for food. The pair together build their fragile nest of moss and tendrils from 1m—4m above the ground, usually on lawyer vine stems. When the female is incubating the eggs the male often feeds her with worms, insects or small lizards. The breeding season is from July to March. The bird has one of the most obvious, distinctive, constant and ultimately annoying calls of the forest—a series of high whistles: whi…whi…whi…whi…. In Australia the grey-headed robin is restricted to rainforests of the Wet Tropics region of north-east Queensland, and there only in the higher altitude rainforest.

greyback—a one-hundred-dollar note.

gridiron—American football.

Griffiths, John—a whaling station was established on the island at the river mouth by Penny and Reiby off the coast of Victoria, near present-day Port Fairy, and in 1835 it was purchased by John Griffiths. The island now bears his name. The whalers were so successful during those years that by the 1840s the supply of whales was exhausted and the whaling station closed.

Griffith University—in little more than 25 years, Griffith University has earned a reputation as one of Australia's most progressive and dynamic universities. It consistently ranks as one of the nation's top ten universities, with teaching and research focused on issues of prime importance to the Australian community. The interdisciplinary nature of study at Griffith is one of its hallmarks. Positioned in Queensland's burgeoning Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor, Griffith has six campuses: Gold Coast, Nathan, and the Queensland College of Art. The Queensland College of Art and the Nathan campus, the university’s main campus, are located in Brisbane. In addition to traditional strengths in environmental science, international business and education, Griffith has been quick to take the lead in other new disciplines, including biomedical science, information technology and microelectric engineering.

Griffiths Island—by 1836 there was a whaling station on the island, and one of the partners running it was one John Griffiths, after whom the island is named. The construction of a breakwater in the late 19th century resulted in heavy siltation, which has caused one part of the island (at the lighthouse) to become connected to the mainland. Griffith's Island is also home to the short-tailed shearwater (mutton bird) colony numbering many thousands—at dusk, they return home to feed their young. The birds arrive every year in the fourth week of September, give or take 3 days, from the Aleutian Island near Alaska. In mid-April the birds head off on their annual migration around the Pacific. Griffith’s Island is located just off the coast from Port Fairy, Victoria.

Griffiths Island lighthouse—with its imperial tower lighthouse rising 25.8m above the waters of Georgian Bay, Griffiths Island has been a striking landmark for mariners since 1859. built in 1859 and named after John Griffiths, this small but beautiful structure stands on a rocky point just a stones throw from the town of Port Fairy, in south-west Victoria. Easily accessible to visitors, the lighthouse demands to be photographed but a point and shoot approach does not do justice to the moods that can be captured. This folio displays some of the images obtained during 3 monthly visits to the lighthouse, at different times of day. You have to be there to appreciate the beauty but hopefully these images will wet the appetite... The outline of the lighthouse station is marked by Norfolk Island pine rows, and there were two bluestone keeper's cottages standing by the causeway to the lighthouse until 1956. The gardens established by the lighthouse keepers can still be seen. The lighthouse was built in 1839 of local basalt and still stands on the eastern tip of the island but today it's beacon is solar powered and assisted by a small wind generator.

grill—broil. griller—broiler.

grim and gory—(rhyming slang) story. (from WWI digger dialect).

grin and chronic—gin and tonic.

grist to the mill—something that can be used profitably to (one's) advantage.

grizzle—complain under one's breath.

grizzle-guts—a person who whinges constantly.

grog—originally a mixture of rum and water. It is named after Admiral Edward Vernon, who first ordered the dilution of the British Royal Navy's daily rum ration. His sailors gave him the name of "Old Grog" because his waterproof cloak was made of grogam fabric. The term is now applied to almost any unsweetened mixture of spirits and water, hot or cold, and it is sometimes used for any intoxicating drink.

grog on—drink to excess; indulge in alcohol.

grog shop—bottle-shop; bottle-o: a drive-through liquor store.

grog-on—party where large amounts of alcohol are consumed.

groggy—1. a state of confusion or reduced alertness as the result of alcohol. 2. dopey; sleepy.

Groonki marks—curved vertical lines in a row in Aboriginal rock paintings they symbolise a spiritually significant area. This special marking could have been done by a "clever man" (miikika), said to be more than any other tribe member in contact with the Dreamtime, and a spiritual leader.

Groot Eylandt—the Dutch gave the name (meaning "Big Island") to this largest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and although all of it belongs to the local Anindilyakwa people, it is still called by its old Dutch name (but often shortened to "Groot"). Near the Aboriginal community of Angurugu is the large manganese mine that pays royalties to the traditional owners of this land. The ore is shipped from the harbour at Alyangul,a a modern town where most non-Aboriginal employees of the mine live. On the east coast is the small Aboriginal community of Umbakumba.

Groot Eylandt tribes—an Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.

groover—trendy person.

groper—person from Western Australia (contr. of sandgroper).

grot—1. a dirty, slovenly or dishevelled person. 2. dirt; mess; filth.

grotty—exceedingly dirty or in any manner disgusting.

ground lice—sheep.

ground paintings—the Aboriginal artists creating the ground paintings are all men; inevitably, they are well into middle age, for only after extensive and often very painful ritual is one knowledgeable and competent enough to depict the designs correctly. Younger but still ritually correct men are sometimes employed as assistants, but few men involved in making ground mosaics are under forty. Women have similar styles of body markings, have limited numbers of sacred objects and dances, and may mark the sand with leaves, sticks or their hands in the telling of stories; but they are not involved in making the decorated ground paintings. No one man can create a ground design. In the complexity of the Aboriginal social situation, each site that is still 'living' has at least two men who stand in a 'keeper-owner' relationship to it, and two men called kutungulu ('inspectors' or 'policemen') who ensure that their keeper-owners maintain correct protocol. Similarly, unless given formal dispensation, men can create only those paintings over which they are recognised as having authority: there is no concept of total artistic freedom in the Western sense. Each major secret-sacred ground painting represents both an individual, identifiable geographical locality and a mythological incident that occurred there, although it is inevitable that related sites and incidents will also be recalled. As there are hundreds upon hundreds of different sites in a tribal territory, ranging from individual tress or rocks to mountains, the most learned old men may well know the details of hundreds of paintings—even possibly, of more than a thousand. The designs must be relatively static in composition and have persisted over a great many generations to allow for such feats of memory.

ground parrotPezoporus wallicus is terrestrial and largely nocturnal, also shy and elusive. It is about 30cm, including a 20cm tail. Toward nightfall it becomes active and commences calling, fluttering above the vegetation; it feeds on seeds and green shoots. The breeding season lasts from September to December. The nest is a shallow excavation in the soil, lined with chewed stalks or leaves. Nests are generally situated at the base of a tussock or small bush and are always well-hidden by surrounding vegetation. The normal clutch comprises three to four eggs. The ground parrot is known to be resident only in floristically diverse heathlands that have not been burnt for at least 15 years, though it may sometimes forage in adjacent areas that have not been burnt for at least six years. It is found in relatively isolated small groups, occurring from about Noosa in Queensland, through New South Wales and Victoria to South Australia. It also occurs in Tasmania, some islands of the Bass Strait and along the south coast of Western Australia. In Western Australia the ground parrot has been recorded from Fitzgerald River National Park and Cape Arid National Park. The total species population is not known, but the western subspecies, numbering fewer than 450 birds divided between two populations in south-west Western Australia, is highly threatened. The original distribution was as present, but continuous along the coastal distribution rather than the fragmented habitat that is now available. The western subspecies formerly ranged further north. The ground parrot is one of only three ground-dwelling parrots in the world, the others being the extremely rare night parrot and New Zealand's highly endangered kakapo.

groundcover daisy—vigorous groundcover with green leaves and small yellow flowers. Grows in most sites and situations. Frost tolerant.

groundwater—water flowing through a saturated zone of soil or rock. The water is derived from rainfall that infiltrates into and through the soil. The water then re-emerges at the surface down slope or downstream. It is the main contribution to river flow between storms and floods. As rainwater percolates through the soil or fractures in rock it fills up the pores between sand grains or fissures in rocks. Anything from none to half of the rainfall in a given area may reach the water table and thus recharge the groundwater. Geological formations such as those composed of sand, sandstone and limestone which contain useable quantities of groundwater are called aquifers. The aquifer closest to the ground surface is called the shallow or unconfined aquifer (its upper surface is the water table) but there are also deeper confined (sometimes called artesian) aquifers where the water is confined under pressure between relatively impervious layers.

Group Settlement Scheme—(hist.) a plan to resettle British servicemen who had fought in World War I, it was an ill-planned and abject failure. The Scheme was set up by the Western Australian Government with the intention of giving the rural economy a boost by opening up more land for agriculture. Most of the group settlers had no experience of farming and were faced with clearing some of the world's biggest trees with nothing more than hand tools. Many "Groupies" left, unable to handle the conditions and meet the repayments on their land and equipment and the loans they had to take out to buy stores. Those who stayed the longest scratched a living from dairy produce as they struggled to clear enough of their land to farm. The Great Depression of the 1930s heralded the end of most of the Groupies. The price of butterfat collapsed and their main source of income disappeared.

Groupies—(hist.) participants of the Group Settlement Scheme initiated by the WA Government in the 1920s.

grouse—1. excellent; superlative. 2. originally a complaint: e.g. What's his grouse?

grow legs on (one's) belly—behave in an obsequious fawning or grovelling manner.

growl on—to eat: e.g. Growl on, everybody, there's plenty of tucker!

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