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Honey Possum

Honey Possum (Tatsipes rostratus)
John Gould [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Holocene extinction event—customarily refers to the widespread, ongoing extinction of species occurring in the modern Holocene epoch. The current extinction event may be downplayed by the traditional separation of 'Recent' (Holocene) time from the Pleistocene, or 'ice age' extinctions. Modern climatology suggests that the 'Holocene' epoch we live in is no more than the latest in a series of interglacial intervals between glaciation events, one that will perhaps become artificially extended by global warming. The rate of extinction today appears to be similar to, or perhaps greater than, the rate during the five "classic" extinction events in deep geological time, such as the dramatic extinction event that eliminated all dinosaurs except birds at the end of the Cretaceous, 65 mya. The coincidence between the appearance of modern humans and the extermination of large mammalian Ice Age biota ('megafauna') is thought significant by many authorities. The 'prehistoric overkill' hypothesis of Pleistocene extinctions was clearly formulated by Paul S. Martin, University of Arizona. The culture that has been connected with the wave of extinctions in North America is the paleo-Indian culture associated with the Clovis people ( q.v. ), which was thought to use spear thrower s to kill large animals. The 'prehistoric overkill' hypothesis is not universally applicable, and is imperfectly confirmed. For instance, the timing of sudden megafaunal extinctions of large Australian marsupials and a giant lizard, events that followed the arrival of human beings in Australia by many thousand years, need examining. Bolide is an alternative, more controversial hypothesis that claims that the Holocene was initiated by an extinction event caused by bolide impacts.


Holt, Harold—Australia's 17th Prime Minister, Harold Holt was in office from 26 January 1966 to 19 December 1967, when he was officially pronounced dead after drowning at sea. Holt won his first seat in parliament in 1935. He became Australia's youngest minister in 1939 when Prime Minister Robert Menzies allocated him a junior role. For three-quarters of his 32 years in parliament, he was on the government benches. His only period in Opposition was from 1941 to 1949. Holt held the senior portfolios of Immigration and of Labour and National Service in the 1950s, and became Treasurer in 1958. One of the most hard-working of Australia's Cabinet ministers, after 32 years as a parliamentarian, Harold Holt reached the prime ministerial office in 1966. The third Prime Minister to die in office, Harold Holt is widely remembered for the unusual circumstances of his death while swimming off the coast of Victoria in December 196—while scuba diving, he vanished and his body was never been found, despite a huge manhunt.

holus-bolus—1. completely; all of it: e.g., He ate it holus-bolus. 2. all at once.

home—(Australian Rules football) a goal scored.

home and away—(Australian Rules football) pre-finals rounds of matches.

home and dry—having achieved one's purpose.

home and hosed—pertaining to a task, project, carried out or completed successfully: e.g., After all those problems we're finally home and hosed.

home on the pig's back—certain to succeed; an easy task.

home paddock—a paddock adjacent to the homestead, usually for the horses.

home station—the principal residence on a large stock-raising property.

home truth—a fact that is usually disagreeable, painful, delicate.

home unit—a private residence, usually occupied by the owner, as one of several in a building.

Homelands Movement—since the early 1970s small groups of Aboriginal people have been moving away from larger settlements like Alice Springs, to establish outstation communities in the bush. The Homelands Movement reflects a desire by Aboriginal people to reaffirm links with their land and their culture. At outstations there are still people who hunt and gather, live in bush shelters little different from pre-contact ones, and participate fully in ritual. However, the movement does not represent a simple return to the pre-contact past or a rejection of introduced goods. People have adopted and adapted European technology and foods to suit their own needs. In 1990, a group of elders in conjunction with the Central Land Council negotiated with the owners of the Orange Creek Station leasehold and received small incisions of 1500ha apiece to re-establish their community. This community living area was granted in 1993. Since that time seven houses have been built and a power generator have been established.

honda-head—a bikie, biker, especially one interested in Honda motorcycles.

honest as the day is long—very honest, dependable.

honest broker—a mediator in international, industrial etc, disputes.

honest to dinkum—1. genuine; real. 2. expression or plea to be believed, taken seriously.

honey ant/honey pot ant—honey ants store honey dew in their distended crops for use when it is not available in their habitat. They are adapted to Australia's arid areas where rainfall is unpredictable. Honey ants also provided food for Aboriginals—the honey dew was squeezed from their crops and was eaten.

honey bushRichea scoparia. Life is tough on top of Hobart's Mount Wellington; temperatures frequently drop below zero, bitter-cold winds blow year round, and snow can fall any time. It's no wonder that the honey bush carries its delicate reproductive organs inside secure capsules formed by fused petals (calyptra). This solution to the weather, however, does not allow insects to get in to pollinate the plant, nor seeds can't get out. But the honey bush ingeniously overcomes this problem with the aid of a small reptile, the snow skink. Snow skinks occur in large numbers on Mount Wellington, where for most of the year they scavenge mainly for insects. In summer however they feed almost exclusively on honey bush nectar, which they obtain by ripping open the calyptra along the plant's flower spikes. In so doing, the skinks expose the honey bush's reproductive organs to pollinating insects, as well as provide an escape route for the seeds that later develop. To optimise pollination in a place with such severe and unpredictable weather, it's best for mature calyptra to be opened when conditions are mildest. That is exactly when lizards and insects, being 'cold-blooded' ectotherms, are out and about. And, not surprisingly, lizards overwhelmingly prefer mature calyptra (brown and laden with nectar) to those that are unripe (pinkish red in colour and offering much less of a reward).

honey possumTatsipes rostratus, a mouse-sized, delicate possum with a very long, whiplike prehensile tail which is sparsely haired with a naked tip. Its short, coarse fur is grayish-brown with three dark longitudinal stripes down its back, and light on the belly. It is a tiny marsupial weighing 6-12 grams,and the only non-flying mammal to depend entirely on flowers for its survival. As specialised nectar and pollen feeders, they are equipped with a pointed snout and a brush-like tongue. They live in banksia heathlands of south-west WA, where they feed principally from species of Proteaceae, Epicridaceae and Myrtaceae. With no known close relations, its skull is elongated and narrow, its teeth degenerated, and its lips have overlapping flanges that form a straw-like tube through which it can suck nectar, pollen, and minute insects. The tongue is specially adapted to reach inside flowers with bristles and a tuft at the tip, and it can extend an far beyond the tiny animal's nose. The nocturnal honey possum may move seasonally in colonies to favored plant species when in flower. By day it sleeps in a grass nest in thick shrubbery or in an abandoned bird's nest. The breeding season is probably June to August, with litters containing one to four young (usually two). At four months the young leave the pouch but continue nursing for two more weeks.

honeyeatersMeliphagidae, a very large family of birds almost entirely restricted to Australasia. At least one species occurs in every terrestrial habitat in Australia, from tropical rainforest to arid shrubland, from mangroves to suburbia. All honeyeaters have a brush-tipped tongue that functions like a paint brush, collecting fluids by capillary action. Most feed by inserting the tongue in the nectar of a flower, extending and retracting it about 10 times per second, squeezing out the liquid against projections in the roof of the mouth, and allowing the liquid to flow along the grooves into the throat. The alimentary tract is also adapted for nectar in an arrangement that lets the liquid pass directly to the intestines whilst separating things that require more digestion, like insects caught during the feeding, to be retained in a separate chamber of the stomach. In Australia, many species of honeyeater are adapted to eucalyptus blossoms. But both on that continent and elsewhere in Australasia, a wide variety of flowering plants are visited. Honeyeaters are among the most successful of the families that arose during the great Australasian radiation, during which many types of birds evolved in isolation for eons. Australia remains the heart of honeyeater country, with 61 species. They range from colorful, like the eastern spinebill, to rather dull, like the yellow-plumed honeyeater. Fruits are taken by many species in the jungle, and some woodland honeyeaters are specialists. The painted honeyeater, for example, specializes on mistletoe berries and is therefore somewhat nomadic throughout the interior of east Australia. Whatever the species, honeyeaters have a close mutual association with the Australasian flora. They are important pollinators of many Australasian trees and bushes (e.g., eucalyptus, banksia, callistemon, correa, epacris, etc.) and they disperse the seeds of various acacias and mistletoe, among others. There are obscure and fascinating species galore.

honey-parrot—a lorikeet.

honeypot—a dive-bomb into a swimming pool.

hoo-ha(h)—1. nonsense; rubbish; lies; worthless, insincere talk. 2. an argument or fuss; noisy row.


hood around—move about socially; associate with.

hooded parrot—the gregarious Psephotus dissimilis is endemic to the Top End, occurring from around Mataranka, north into Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. Closely related to the golden-shouldered parrot, same breeding and feeding habits and look similar. Feeds mainly on small grass seeds and occasionally eating berries and vegetables matter. Habitat: Dry open eucalypt forests and grasslands. Breeding: Two to six eggs are laid between April and July and the nest is a hollow in a termite mound.

hooded plover—a smallish wader about 20cm in length with a black head and throat, a broad white collar, silver grey-brown back and white underside, an orange-red bill with a black tip, and a red eye ring. There is evidence that the population is declining.

hooded robinMelanodryas cucullate, a black and white bird with a bold black hood pointing down into the white breast. The female is duller, with light brownish-grey upper parts. It occurs throughout Australia except Cape York Peninsula, Tasmania, wetter coastal areas and the driest deserts. Throughout its range, the species is uncommon to rare, and is usually observed as an isolated pair or sometimes in small family groups. The species occupies drier eucalypt forest, woodland and scrub, grasses and low shrubs, as well as cleared paddocks with regrowth or stumps. It uses stumps, posts or fallen timber from which to locate prey on the ground. It avoids dense forests and urban areas.

hooded scaly-footPygopus nigriceps, a slender, broad-headed, legless lizard, to 55cm long. Upper surface is a greyish rusty-brown, individual scales often with dark edges, giving the animal a reticulated appearance. Head and throat usually with ragged, black bands and striations. Head with a narrow black band across forehead and down through the eyes, and a second, much broader band on the nape. Head is relatively broad, distinctly wider than the neck, snout rounded. Tail about twice as long as body and tapered. Hind limb scales present and well-developed (hence common name). Lays two, long, flexible-shelled eggs in summer. Principally eats arthropods (spiders and scorpions may make up the bulk of the prey). Found in lowland woodlands and grasslands of low rainfall areas, often on alluvial soils. Mainly nocturnal and possibly diurnal and crepuscular on occasions.

hooer—term of abuse, especially among men: e.g., Why don't you get lost, you drunken hooer!

hoof—1. the foot. 2. a kick or to kick. 3. (Australian Rules football) a long kick.

hoof off—go; depart; leave.

hoojar/hoojarpiviss—temporary name for something for which one cannot immediately remember the real name.

hook—1. (cricket) play (the ball) round form the off to the on side with an upward stroke. 2. (rugby) secure (the ball) and pass it backward with the foot in the scrum.

hooley—a wild party.

hoon—1. a hoodlum; rowdy, tough, rough, unsavoury youth; member of a street gang; hooligan; 2. foolish show-off; 3. one who lives off the earnings of prostitutes; pimp.

hoop—a horse-racing jockey.

hoop pineAraucaria cunninghamii, grows to 60m—70m and lives up to 450 years. Growth is so slow that it can take over 200 years for a tree to begin to produce cones. Male and female cones are usually found on the same tree, producing wind-dispersed seeds. The bark splits horizontally at regular intervals, giving the common name, hoop pine. It grows on drier sites in rainforests, in places that are rocky or have soils with relatively low fertility. Their distribution spans Macleay River, NSW to north Queensland and New Guinea. Historically, this was an important timber tree. Today it occurs in both native hardwood forests and plantations, established over many years west of Casino and further to the north-west around Kyogle, Urbenville and the Acacia Plateau. The timber is used for veneer and plywood, light construction, joinery, panelling and furniture.


hoot around—play around; fool about.

Hoover—1. a vacuum-cleaner. 2. to clean the floor with a vacuum-cleaner: e.g., I Hoover the carpet once a week.

hop bushDodonea triquetra grows in open forest. The four-winged, purplish fruit appeared from August to December, and were eaten raw by the indigenous population. As medicine, the leaves were soaked in water and sponged on the body and forehead to bring down fever. Leaves were chewed for toothache and chewed leaves were also placed on stingray wounds. A decoction from the roots was also used for open cuts and wounds. The common name of hop bush comes from the fact that early settlers, when looking for something to brew beer from, chose the seeds because they looked like the hops used in England to make beer. It seems they were successful.

hop it!—go away! get lost!

hop wattleAcacia stricta, an erect shrub to 3m. Phyllodes are narrow, elliptical, to 12cm and dull green in colour. Flowers are in yellow balls held close to stems and appear in spring. Widespread on the coast, tablelands and north- and south-western slopes of New South Wales and across southern Victoria, extending into south-east South Australia and southern Queensland, and in the north and south of Tasmania and the islands of Bass Strait. Appears to be very adaptable and occurs in a variety of habitats including eucalypt forests, woodlands and heaths, on clays, stony clays and sandy soils.

Hope Vale Mission—an Aboriginal community on Cape York Peninsula about 46km west of Cooktown, and about 10 km off the Battlecamp Road that leads to Lakefield National Park and Laura. The population (in 2005) is approximately 1,200. established as a Lutheran mission in September of 1949, for housing relocated Aboriginal people from the Hope Valley and Cape Bedford Missions. In 1986 the community became the first to receive a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT), and a Native Title determination was made concerning the lands of the Hope Vale DOGIT in 1987. The Hope Vale Community area comprises a number of clan estates, including the Dhuppi, Ngal, Binthi, Thitharr, Dharrpa, Ngayumbarr-Ngayumbarr, Dingaal, Ngurrumungu, Thaanil, Gamaay, Ngaatha, Burunga. In addition to these clans, the Community is made up of the Ku Yimidhirr-speaking peoples—the Yiidhuwarra, the traditional owners of Barrow Point, Flinders Island, and the South Annan, the Bagaarrmugu, Muunthiwarra, Juunjuwaara and Muli peoples, plus the Gan Gaarr and Bulgoon peoples to the south, the Kings Plain's Thuun Warra and the Sunset Yulanji peoples in the Maytown area. Visitors requiring access to the Hope Vale area, including Elim Beach, can obtain a permit from the Hope Vale Council administration office. Located in Far North Queensland.

Hopkins River—the Hopkins River mouth, or Blue Hole, is popular for fishing. Beautiful cliffs, rock formations and plenty of rock-pools. Good surfing and surf fishing at the river mouth. Just up from the river mouth, boating, water-skiing and swimming are possible. Nearby is the National Trust-classified Hopkins River Boat-house, now a sporting club, tearooms and riverside restaurant.

hopping-mouse—any of about ten different Australian native mice in the genus Notomys. They are rodents, not marsupials, and their ancestors are thought to have arrived from Asia about 5 million years ago. All are brown or fawn, fading to pale grey or white underneath, have very long tails and, as the common name implies, well-developed hind legs. Around half of the hopping mouse species have become extinct since European colonisation. The primary cause is probably predation from introduced foxes or cats, coupled with competition for food from introduced rabbits and cattle.

Horn Island—church influence: London Missionary Society up until 1915 when the Anglican Church assumed responsibility. Horn Island is known as Nurapai to the Muralag/Kaurareg people. After the 1871 massacre on the Prince of Wales Islands (Muralag) remnants of the people settled here for a short while, until the government relocated the Muralag people to Hammond Island (Keriri) where they remained until 1922. A community flourished here from the pearling era but was abandoned when non-islander residents were evacuated to southern towns of Queensland during WWII. Gold was mined here in the 1890s and again in the late 1980s. During World War I it was occupied by the military. In 1946, after World War II, some of the Muralag people moved back from Moa Island (Kubin) to Horn and settled here in present-day Wasaga Village at the western end of the island. In the late 1980s, Horn saw the rapid expansion of population and building activity as land on neighbouring Thursday Island became scarce. Horn Island is the site of Thursday Island's airport, which makes it a gateway for travellers to the mainland and outer islands. The present-day population consists of islanders drawn from all islands of the Torres Strait, as well as non-Islanders. Residents travel daily by ferry across the Ellis Channel to Thursday Island for work and school. Torres Shire is the local government authority, providing the island community's municipal services.

Horrocks—a sleepy little holiday village popular with people wanting to escape from the city and more boisterous holiday destinations. Located 22km west of Northampton and 496km north of Perth, Horrocks is the northernmost of a series of tiny holiday-fishing villages which lie on the coast of the Central West region. It is a village which has been untouched by modernity with simple fibro holiday houses, streets which have evolved out of the sand dunes, and a simplicity of life which recalls the 1950s rather than the 1990s. Like all of the fishing villages on the coast, the small population of Horrocks (it hovers between 300-500) increases dramatically in the rock lobster season and during school holidays. Horrocks was named after Joseph Lucas Horrocks, a convict who was sentenced to 14 years transportation for forgery and arrived in Fremantle in 1852. In Fremantle he worked in the medical section of the convict settlement and, due to a chronic shortage of medical officers in the colony, was appointed medical attendant for the new settlement of Port Gregory in 1853. He was given an unconditional pardon in 1856 and spent the rest of his life (he died in 1865) working in the Northampton-Champion Bay area running a store, agitating for improved conditions for convicts, and building a truly non-denominational church (it had separate Anglican and Nonconformists pulpits and a reading desk for anti-ritualists) in Northampton.

Horrocks, John Ainsworth—born at Penwortham Hall, Lancashire, on March 22nd, 1818. He was very much taken with the South Australian scheme of colonisation, and left London for Adelaide, where he arrived in 1839. He at once took up land, and with his brother started sheep-farming. He was a born explorer, however, and made several excursions into the surrounding untraversed land, finding several geographical features, which still preserve the names he gave them. In 1846, left his station at Penwortham near Clare, South Australia with a small party and the only camel in the colony—and the first one used on an exploratory journey in Australia. The party reached Lake Dutton, where Horrocks, being jostled by the camel, was accidentally shot. He died three weeks later of gangrene. The camel was executed at his express wish.

horror—naughty, unpleasant child or person.

horror of horrors—1. exclamation of dismay, disappointment. 2. a very naughty, unpleasant child.

horse and cart—(rhyming slang) fart.

horse feathers!—nonsense; rubbish; lies; worthless, insincere talk.

horse of another colour—something different entirely.

horse mulga—(see: bowgada).

horse trams—In 1861, it was decided that pulling a vehicle along iron rails was a lot easier than pulling it through mud and potholes, and more comfortable too, so track was laid in Pitt St, in Sydney. Australia's first horse tram had arrived. But, in what seems like a bit of an oversight, the rails stuck up out of the road, which made it a tad difficult to get other carriages across the rails. Other road users were not happy, and, like the Automobile Clubs years later, they campaigned against the tram. It lasted only a few years. Despite its demise, horse trams did become established. Adelaide, for example, established an extensive horse tram system—shying away from new fangled technologies like cable and steam—but eventually going electric. Today, you can see horse trams in operation at Victor Harbor and Ballarat.

horse's neck—a drink of flavoured ginger ale, usually with spirits.

horse-breaker—cowboy, wrangler.

horse-pond—a pond for watering and washing horses, proverbial as a place for ducking obnoxious persons.

horses for courses—pertaining to the belief that no person should be expected or asked to perform beyond his capabilities or talents; a person or object should be suited to the task at hand.

Horsham—a major service and commercial centre in the Wimmera region, with the Wimmera River flowing through the town. Before Europeans arrived, the area was occupied by both the Jardwa and Wotjobal people. The first Europeans in the area belonged to the exploratory party of Thomas Mitchell, who passed to the south during the voyage into 'Australia Felix'. Horsham was declared a borough in 1882, a town in 1932, and a city in 1949. Located just south of the Grampians National Park, in Victoria.

hospitality industry—the service sector of the restaurant and hotel industry: e.g., Felicity was a school-leaver at 15 and then went to TAFE for her diploma to work in the hospitality industry.


hot and bothered—flustered; upset.

hot cock—flustered; upset.

hot up—1. to excite, stir up, inject life and vigour into: e.g., This party needs hotting up! 2. an increase in temperature: e.g., It's really hotting up now that it's almost summer. 3. to modify and tune the engine of a motor-car for speed and performance.

hotel—a tavern; pub.

hotelier—a hotel-keeper.

hottie—rubber hot-water bottle.

hotting up—heating up; e.g., Now that it's almost summer, it sure is hotting up.

House of Assembly—the lower legislative house in South Australia and Tasmania.

House of Representatives—one of the two houses comprising the Australian Federal Parliament, the other being the Senate. Members of the House are elected by a system known as preferential voting, under which voters rank candidates in order of preference. After an election, the political party (or coalition of parties) that has the most Members in the House of Representatives becomes the governing party. Its leader becomes Prime Minister and other Ministers are appointed from among the party's Members and Senators. The central function of the House is the consideration and passing of new laws, and amendments or changes to existing laws. To become law, a bill must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They may start in either house, but the majority of bills are introduced in the House of Representatives. Each House of Representatives may continue for up to three years, after which general elections for a new House must be held. At present, the main political parties represented in the House are the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia.

House of Review—the upper legislative house of Parliament under the Westminster system: the Legislative Council. A primary function of the Upper House is to closely review, or scrutinise, legislation that has already passed the Lower House. The Legislative Council has the power to approve, amend or reject any piece of legislation presented to it for review. Since the introduction of a bicameral (two house) parliamentary system in 1856, the Legislative Council has had the role of a House of Review. It is not essential for the Government to have majority support in the Upper House. Nevertheless, the Upper House exercises a significant role within the parliamentary process by acting as a House of Review.

house paddock—(see: home paddock).


Hovell, William—William Hovell (1786-1875). In 1824, Governor Brisbane asked Hamilton Hume to join forces with an English sea captain, William Hovell, to go from Lake George to the Spencer Gulf (in what is now South Australia). Hovell was older than Hume, with little bush experience, but he was a good navigator. They left Lake George on 17 October 1824, with a party of 6, enough supplies to last 16 weeks loaded onto bullock carts, horses—and dogs, which they used to hunt kangaroos. The first two weeks of the journey was through areas that had already been explored. They reached the Murrumbidgee River to find it was in flood. They waited for three days before they could cross it, using one of the carts as a boat, and then found themselves in mountainous country. Some slopes were so steep that they had to zig zag their way up. They left the carts behind and loaded supplies onto the bullocks, and continued on. It took some time to find a pass through the ranges. However, when they reached the top, they gazed at a sight that no white man had yet seen: the Australian Alps. By 16 November they reached another river, which they named the Hume, but which was later renamed the Murray. They continued on to the south-west, travelling through forest country until at last they reached the sea: they were at Corio Bay in Port Phillip, the place that is now the city of Geelong. Because their instruments had been damaged, their calculations were incorrect, and they thought they were in Westernport. The Aboriginal people in the area called the bay Jillong and the land Corio, or at least this is what Hume and Hovell understood from their attempted conversation. As supplies were running low, the expedition set off for home the next day. They arrived at Lake George on 18 January. William Hovell was born at Yarmouth, England, on 26 April 1786. He died on 9 November 1875, at Goulburn, New South Wales.

how are the bots biting?—standard form of greeting; hello.

how would ya (you) be?—exclamation of amazement, horror, disbelief as one imagines oneself in a certain situation: e.g., That poor family lost everything in the fire—how would ya be!?

how ya goin' mate—orright?—a standard form of greeting; hello.

how's them apples?!—how do you like that?!

how's tricks?—a form of greeting; hello.

how's-your-father—1. a temporary name for a thing for which one cannot immediately remember the real name: e.g., Pass me that how's-your-father over there. 2. euphemism for something obscene, lewd.

how-de-do—1. a form of greeting. 2. a problem; a messy or embarrassing situation; fuss or bother; confusion: e.g., Felicity didn't use any birth control, and now she's got herself in a fine how-de-do!

howl down—prevent (a speaker) from being heard by howls of derision; e.g., It is traditional in Parliament to attempt to howl down one's opponents when they are addressing the assembly.

howler—an embarrassing blunder or mistake.

howling—an intensifier meaning extreme, glaring: e.g., That was a howling mistake!

hoy!—exclamation or shout to attract attention.


HREOC—Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.

HSC—high school certificate, i.e. diploma.

hubble-bubble—a noisy confusion; fuss or bother.

Hughendon—the major centre of the Flinders Shire. The town is situated on the banks of Queensland's longest river, the Flinders. The town is located above the Great Artesian Basin and relies on sub-artesian bores for its water supply.

Hughie—in the outback during times of drought it was common for struggling cockies to say, “Send it down, Hughie!” as an appeal for rain. “Hughie” (spellings vary, sometimes it's “Hewie”) was an informal outback way of referring to God, in the context of God's control of the weather (especially rain). There are many stories that try to account for the origin of the expression, but none that is clearly convincing. For instance, a 1912 citation from Narrandera suggests the name may have been inspired by an amateur meteorologist name Mr Huie (who had an unusually good record in forecasting rain). Another suggestion is that it may have come from the name of an early government Minister for Agriculture, or perhaps even from our early Prime Minister Billy Hughes. The Australian National Dictionary Centre newsletter Ozwords once printed a whole page of these stories – but none stands out above the others as the clear source of the expression.

hullo!—1. a form of greeting. 2. an exclamation of surprise, astonishment or discovery: e.g., Hullo! Look what I've found!

humbug—1. a hard, boiled, peppermint sweet or lolly with decorative stripes. 2. a cheat; deceitful, low person. 3. nonsense; rubbish; drivel; insincere and worthless talk.

humdinger—1. exceptionally good, excellent person or thing. 2. night-cart; sanitary-cart; dunny-cart (it used to ding a bell and the blowies following it always hummed).

Hume, Hamilton—Hamilton Hume was born at Parramatta in New South Wales on 18 June 1797, only eleven years after the first European settlement in the country now known as Australia. His first expedition was to the Berrima district (between Sydney and Canberra), then discovering the Goulburn Plains and Lake Bathurst. Over the next few years he was a member of several exploring parties, discovering Yass Plains and the tablelands near Braidwood. In 1824 Governor Thomas Brisbane wanted an expedition to go from Lake George to the Spencer Gulf, in what is now South Australia. He asked Hamilton Hume and William Hovell to go together. This three-month expedition of Hume and Hovell was a considerable achievement. They showed there was much open land, suitable for farming and grazing, between Sydney and Port Phillip. Hume went with Charles Sturt in 1828 when he discovered the Darling River, but his health became poor and he did no more exploring. He retired to his properties in the Yass area and died 19 April 1873.

hummock grasses—grasses in the genus Triodia dominate the vegetation over more than 20% of Australia, and occur in all states except Tasmania. They are found on low-nutrient soils of sand plains and rocky, low mountain ranges in the arid inland, but also occur on rocky outcrops along the coasts.

hummock grasslands—areas of land supporting communities of hummock grasses covering 30—70% of the ground (spinifex communities on sandplains and dunefields). Otherwise, such grasslands will be distinguished as "isolated", having isolated hummock grass plants or "sparse", having 10-30% coverage. When greater than 70% of an area is covered with hummock grasses, it is classified as being "closed" hummock grassland. Large tracts of Central Australia are composed of spinifex sandplains and dunefields, with three species of spinifex being dominant on these landforms. Though sometimes overlapping in their distribution they are generally quite distinct in their habitat preferences. Feathertop spinifex is primarily restricted to deep red sands, and most common 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, low clay content doesn't allow the construction of termitaria able to withstand the effect of fire and rain. Hard spinifex is generally restricted to less deep sandy soils, which often have a gravelly basement 3m—5m below the surface. This species is most common in the southern areas of the Centre on sandplains and dunefields. Associated species include mulga, mallees and various small shrubs and forbes. The desert oak is often associated with this spinifex and below-ground termitaria proliferate in this habitat. Soft spinifex is common on sandplains with little moving sand and large, above-ground termitaria. This species of spinifex is also found on sand-dune crests, and on calcareous and saline sands. At least 16 species of birds are commonly found in spinifex grasslands. Many reptiles occur in this habitat, with the great desert skink listed as Vulnerable. Of the numerous mammal species the mulgara and the greater bilby are classified as Vulnerable. Three frog species are well adapted to this harsh area. The area covered by hummock grasslands in the Northern Territory is about 491,983sq km.

hump it—travel on foot, carrying one's possessions.

hump (one's) swag—the phrase is usually associated with itinerant rural workers of the final quarter of the nineteenth century, but there is no doubt that it arose in gold rush contexts. All of the early citations (1851–1867) use the phrase in referring to diggers, and the diggings phrase is the one which later gives rise to the phrases to hump one's drum (1870), to hump one's bluey (1891), and to hump one's Matilda (1902). Indeed, the term swag achieved its widespread use in gold mining contexts.

hump the bluey—to carry a bedroll slung on the back, while travelling on foot: the swagman’s standard mode of carrying his meagre possessions.

humpback whale—the world's fifth-largest animal, growing up to 15m in length and weighing up to 45,000kg—equivalent to 11 elephants or 600 persons each. Humpback whales are regular visitors to the coastal waters off southern Queensland. Each year, during winter, humpback whales migrate from Antarctic waters to the warm waters of the tropics for calving. Approximately 3000 humpbacks will migrate this season between Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef. The humpback whale is well-known for its complex underwater vocalisations, known as whale songs, particularly during breeding. The humpback whale takes its name from the tendency to break the water surface with a large area of its back when diving.

humpy—a Queensland name for a gunyah; any makeshift or temporary dwelling of the Aborigines, especially one made with primitive materials.

humpy back—this disease usually occurs 6-10 weeks after spring or summer rainfall in otherwise healthy sheep with full wool. Affected animals will lag behind the mob when mustered, walking with a stilted gait and arching back. Death may occur if they are forced to move. The suspected cause is ingestion of Solanum plants. The suspected cause of humpy back is consumption of plants and mature fruits of the Solanum genus (e.g. potato bush, potato weed, quena). Sheep eat the fruit of this plant, which they find palatable. The toxin in Solanum plants is unknown but when ingested by sheep, it causes degeneration of the white matter of the spinal cord and degenerative changes in the brain.

hundreds and thousands—tiny coloured sweets used chiefly for decorating cakes or making fairy bread etc.

hung, drawn and quartered—severely punished.

hung parliament—a parliament in which no party has a clear majority; a situation that can lead to a double dissolution of Parliament, at the behest of the Governor-General.

hungry as a black dog—be very hungry; have a good appetite.

hunky-dory—splendid; excellent; all right; going well.

huntaway—a dog trained to drive sheep forward.

Hunter River—a meandering river in NSW. A British naval officer dispatched from the convict settlement at Sydney Cove in pursuit of absconders first reported existence of the river in 1797. This area was to become the repository for many of Sydney Cove's more troublesome convicts. Here, they served out their sentences in brutal conditions in the timber camps and rudimentary coal mines of the Hunter. Originally named Hunter's River (for Governor John Hunter), the waterway was popularly known as ‘Coal River' for many years. The Hunter flows into the Tasman Sea at Newcastle, the largest coal-shipping port in the world. The lower Hunter estuary is a deltaic chain of islands and adjacent floodplain caused by the river meandering back and forth. Kooragang Island is the result of the man-made infilling and joining of many of these former deltaic islands. Ancestral river channels cross Kooragang Island; these channels now serve as tidal creeks to move brackish or saline water in and out of salt marsh and mangroves. The eastern third of the island is now zoned heavy industrial; the northern third is part of the Kooragang Nature Reserve administered by New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife, and the western third is part of the Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Project.

Hunter Valley—Australia's premier wine district. Wine grapes were first introduced to the Valley with the arrival of the free settlers in the early 1820s. Agricultural and pastoral activities rapidly grew to rank with timber and mining in economic importance. Pioneers in the upper Hunter Valley region were getting set to move stock to the Liverpool Plains following the discovery of a suitable stock route through the Liverpool Range. However, the country started drying up in 1825 and by 1826 a severe drought gripped the colony. The mix of coal mining and wine to be found in the Hunter Valley is not a usual one. The coal was discovered first. Then came the knowledge that the red earth of the Hunter Valley produced some of the great red wines of the world. Situated north of Sydney and inland from Newcastle in New South Wales.

hunting-ground—a stretch of country which is the hereditary possession of an Aboriginal community.

huntsman spider—any of many large, long-legged, flat-bodied spiders, grey to brown in colour, of the family Heteropodidae, common throughout Australia. Bites can be painful and can cause headaches and nausea.

Huon pineLagerostrobus franklinii, a conifer that grows only in southern and western Tasmanian rainforests. Several examples of Huon Pine in southern Tasmania are believed to be over 2000 years old, making them among the oldest living things in the world. The Huon pine once existed in large numbers, but their unique qualities resulted in many being felled. The felling of Huon pine is now restricted and reserves exist along the Denison River where the Huon pine may grow freely. Natural felling still provides an amount of timber to craftsmen. The wood has a rich, golden colour, a very fine texture and an exquisite smell and touch. It is also one of the finest boat-building timbers, due to its durability and high oil content, which makes it resistant to water penetration.

Huon River—rises as a small creek deep in Tasmania’s south-west wilderness and reaches the sea as one of Australia’s major rivers. On its 170km journey, the Huon River traverses buttongrass plains and the Southern Forests before entering the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. The Huon River provided transport for produce and timber in the early years of settlement in Van Diemen’s Land. The river was named by Admiral d’Entrecasteaux in honour of Captain Huon de Kermadec, commander of one of the admiral’s ships.

Huon Valley—follows the Huon River in southern part of the state. Tasmania is known as the "Apple Isle", and the majority of apples (as well as other fruit) are produced in the Huon region. Roadside stalls selling the local products are commonplace. Huonville is the largest town in the region. The Huon also serves as a gateway to the Hartz Mountains National Park. Slightly to the west of the river is Port Cygnet, the associated town of Cygnet being the centre of local berry production.

Huonville—a small but thriving town on the Huon River 39km south-west of Hobart, serving the surrounding apple, timber and hops industries. Although it is relatively small, Huonville is recognised as the major centre in the Huon Valley. As far as can be determined the local Aborigines didn't settle in the Huon Valley. The establishment of the British settlement at Hobart Town in 1804 led to the exploration of the area by the botanist Robert Brown, but he dismissed it as unsuitable for settlement because of poor soil. This did not stop the timber getters and whalers from camping in the area while searching for stands of timber and schools of whales. It is thought that the first white man to settle permanently in the area was a 'bolter', an escaped convict, who was found by timber getters in the early 1820s. The first land grants in the district were made to John Price at the present site of Franklin in late 1834. The district began to develop in the 1840s and 1850s when both apples and hops were grown with some success. In the early days the 'town' was nothing more than the Picnic Hotel and a shop or two along the river. It wasn't until 1889 that the town became known as Huonville.

hurk/hurl—to vomit.

hurly/hurly-burly—confusion; commotion; uproar.

husband-beater—1. rolling pin. 2. long, narrow loaf of bread.

hustings—parliamentary election proceedings.

Hydraulics—nickname for a compulsive thief: e.g., Everyone calls him Hydraulics—he'd lift anything!

hypo—hypodermic needle.

hypsilophodontid—the vast majority of dinosaur remains found in the south-east of the Australian continent are from hypsilophodontid dinosaurs. These small ornithopod ("bird foot") herbivores were extremely successful, being one of the most long-lived and widespread ornithopod families. They lived from the Middle Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous (a span of about 110 million years) and have been found on every continent. The name hypsilophodontid means "high crested tooth", referring to the leaf-shaped teeth and the long ridges that ran along their length. Although hypsilophodontids had cheek-teeth further back in their mouths, most species had a toothless beak at the front of the mouth for snipping off tough vegetation. Other features that are characteristic of hypsilophodontids are elongated shins, four-toed feet and five-fingered hands. With shins longer than their thigh bones hypsilophodontids would have been among the fastest of dinosaurs. In behaviour they have been compared to gazelles—fast running browsers built for speed rather than for fighting off attackers. At least five (and may be more) species of hypsilophodontid are known from Victorian sites. These include Leaellynasaura amicagraphica, Atlascopcosaurus loadsi, Fulgarotherium australe, Qantassaurus intrepidus, and some as-yet unnamed varieties. Nowhere else in the world is such a variety of hypsilophodontid species known from about the same time period. They had enlarged optic lobes, the parts of the brain that process vision. Improved vision may indicate that these animals remained active during the long dark winters, whereas other species of dinosaur may have migrated or hibernated, or at least become less active than at warmer times of the year.

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