Australian Dictionary

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McIlwraith Range

McIlwraith Range, Queensland

mate—this is a word found throughout the English speaking world to mean “a friend” or “a partner”. It appears to have come into English around the 14th century from a Germanic source word meaning (more or less) “companion” – making the key sense of the word unchanged over many centuries. But in Australia the word “mate” took on a special complexion. This was because of the difficulties and dangers of life in the bush during the early years of the various colonies that were to become the nation of Australia. Although “mate” is first recorded here in 1834, it was more towards the latter part of the 19th century that it took on its distinctive Australian colouring when a mate came to be “one with whom the bonds of close friendship are acknowledged; a sworn friend”. Used in this way it suggested a high level of trust: the bush was a dangerous place and it was safer to work in pairs – but you had to trust the bloke you were working with, he had to be a real mate. This is the sense in which Henry Lawson used the word in all those classic short stories. Then in 1914 the mates went to war and the word was infused with wartime suffering and heroism. Today it is probably somewhat weaker. But in Australia “mate” is still a form of address implying equality and goodwill. Some people will, today, use the word ironically, even sneeringly. But despite this, it is a stubborn little word, and refuses to die.

mates with—friendly with: e.g., I'm not mates with him any more.

mates' rates—reduced prices for goods, labour etc for friends.

mateshipmateship—the concept regarded as a particularly Australian virtue which encompasses unconditional acceptance, mutual and self respect, sharing whatever is available no matter how meagre. It is a concept based on trust and selflessness and absolute interdependence. However, the 'mate' usage is the language of Australian males. Australian society has historically been male dominated, as recognised by pollie Gareth Evans in the context of the preamble debate, in which the Prime Minister of Australia suggested 'mateship' should be in our new constitution. National identity was grounded in the writings of people like Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, and continued with Gallipoli and right through the Second World War to our social institutions such as surf lifesaving and racing and the pub. The men spent time doing blokey things, including drinking with their mates, while the women attended to domestic chores. Men normally do not call women mates. They may say, "She's a mate", or "We're just mates'. But generally they will not say, "G'day mate", or "thanks mate", or "pot a XXXX thanks mate"—this usage is strictly reserved as part of the rituals of mateship. In the hard days of convict life and of gold diggings, rebellions and floggings. A man had to stick by his mates if he was to get by as, for more than 50 years, Australia was almost entirely a masculine country. This was the heritage passed on to men and youths long after the population balance between the sexes had been adjusted. A man loves his mates, although he would rarely admit it and, should you look deep into his heart, you will see that he values them more than most things in his life. In the Japanese POW camps the Australians discarded their differences and became a tribe, a tribe which was always the most successful group. The core of this success was an ethos of mateship and egalitarianism which not only survived the ultimate dehumanising duress of the death camps, but shone through as the dominant Australian characteristic. In combat, men did live and die by its creed. 'Sticking by your mates' was sometimes the only reason for continuing on when all seemed hopeless. Mateship existed between the convicts. Mateship continued to develop among the gold miners. Mateship thrived with our diggers in the World Wars. Mateship survives, in the face of all cultural onslaught, at all levels of Australian male society, from railee to Prime Minister. We are mates.

matey—1. friendly with: e.g., Those two are very matey. 2. term of friendly address among men.

matey with—familiar or friendly with: e.g., He's being matey with the boss so that he can ask for a raise.




matilda—a swag, as carried by a tramp or a swagman.

maulers—hands: e.g., Take your maulers off my jewellery.

Maundy—the distribution of money on the Thursday before Easter.

Maundy Thursday—the Thursday before Easter.

Maung—Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.

Maurice, R T—a pastoralist who, in 1901, led a 'pleasure trip' northwards from Fowlers Bay, to clear up doubts as to the nature of the country between Giles' east-west route and that of the Elder expedition under Lindsay. In a salt lake area, they came across the plainly visible tracks of Giles' party of a quarter of a century earlier.

Mauritius—an important port of call on the trade route to India prior to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Located in the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius was known to Arab traders in the Middle Ages, was claimed by the Portuguese in 1510, and occupied by the Dutch between 1598 and 1710. (It was from here that the famous Dutch navigator Abel Tasman set out to discover the western part of Australia.) Colonized by the French in 1715 and the British in 1890, the island remained a British colony until it became an independent state within the Commonwealth in 1968, and finally, a republic in 1992. The island was named ‘Mauritius’ by the Dutch in 1598, in honour of Prince Maurice Van Nassau, the son of William Van Nassau, founder of the Republic of the Netherlands. Mauritius is located just above the Tropic of Capricorn.

mauve melaleucamauve melaleucaMelaleuca thymifolia, found along the east coast of New South Wales and southern Queensland, extending about 200km inland. It is one of the most widely cultivated members of the genus and is well established in general horticulture. The species forms a small shrub, rarely exceeding 1 metre in height. The flowers occur in clusters on the older stems and have a distinctive "claw" configuration which clearly shows the united stamens that are a feature of the genus. The leaves are oblong-elliptical in shape and about 10mm long.

Mawura, (Mulgra) Jimmy Nerrimah—(born c. 1924) is an Australian Aboriginal artist and a Walmajarri man. His country is around Wayampajarti, a jila (a permanent waterhole) in the north-western area of the Great Sandy Desert. Ten years after first starting to paint, his works have been sold to overseas collectors and are represented in the National Gallery of Australia.

may as well be caught for a sheep as for a lamb—pertaining to the belief that if one is going to do something—especially something risky or illegal—one may as well commit oneself entirely, for the consequences are just the same; to behave impetuously.

may your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny door down—an insult, popularised by Barry Humphries's character, Bazza McKenzie.

Mayali—a dialect of the major Aboriginal language group Gundjeihmi/Mayali, spoken in Western Arnhem Land. Today, the Mayali people live within Kakadu National Park, NT.

Mayi-Kulan—an Aboriginal people of Gulf of Carpentaria area, north-western Queensland.

Mayi-Kutuna—an Aboriginal people of Gulf of Carpentaria area, north-western Queensland.

Mayi-Yapi—an Aboriginal people of Gulf of Carpentaria area, north-western Queensland.

McArthur River—a river in north-eastern Northern Territory, Australia, rising about 70km south of Anthony Lagoon, along the scarp that marks the northern edge of the Barkly Tableland, and flowing north-west for 240km across rugged country to Port McArthur on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Swamp and jungle border its lower course, which is navigable by barge for 64km.

McArthur River MineMcArthur River Mine—lies 900km south-east of Darwin, in the north-eastern part of the Northern Territory. McArthur River is one of the world's largest zinc deposits. Owned by a joint venture between MIM (75%) and ANT Minerals, a consortium of leading Japanese companies (25%), it was brought into production in 1995, 40 years after its discovery. The mixed lead-zinc concentrate from the mine is transported by road to a port facility at Bing Bong where it is barged to waiting ships for despatch to smelters. Local Aboriginal people have a 31% interest in the barging joint venture. McArthur River Zinc Metal Project MIM has commenced a feasibility study into producing zinc metal on site at McArthur River, using the company's Albion Process technology. The process, now being pilot tested in Brisbane, comprises ultra-fine grinding and atmospheric leaching followed by electrowinning, and eliminates smelting. The project would include expanding operations at McArthur River to produce up to 4.8 million tonnes of ore and 450,000 tonnes of zinc metal a year and would significantly reduce unit costs of production. The project has the potential to put MIM and the Northern Territory in the forefront of the world zinc industry. It would also bring many benefits to the local community, the Northern Territory and Australia. It is estimated that 1000 people would be employed in construction, and that the mine's permanent workforce would almost double to 600.

McDonald Island—the major island in the McDonald Islands group, which includes Flat Island and Meyer Rock. Also regarded as the secondary island in the Heard-McDonald Islands group, McDonald (area 1sq km) consists of two distinct parts joined by a narrow central isthmus. At its highest point it rises to about 230m. Like Heard Island, all of these islands have cliff-lined coasts and rocky shoals, which make access from the sea very difficult. McDonald Island has been landed on only twice. It lies 43.5km due west of Heard Island.

MCG—the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

McIlwraith—the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, situated at the foot of Mount Remarkable, it was named by Edward John Eyre in 1840. Located in South Australia.

McIlwraith RangeMcIlwraith Range—a wilderness area of the Cape York region that features mountainous areas as well as lowlands. Steep gorges drop from the McIlwraith to the sea, with many waterfalls and cascades. A plateau stretches between the range and the coast. The coastal area consists of sand dunes, while the ranges are formed of sandstones and granites. Rainforest and Araucarea woodlands are found on the ranges. The dunes support open heath, closed shrubland and vine forest. Where the sandstone formation occurs in valleys, a low forest of Melaleuca viridifolia usually exists. Fauna within the area is particularly diverse because of the variety of habitats. A number of interesting rainforest-dependent species, such as the Australian cassowary, are found in the area. Located on the east coast of Cape York, 300km north of Cooktown.

McKillop, Blessed Mary—Mary was a troublemaker—a woman who stood up for what she believed, which brought her into conflict with religious leaders. The tension escalated into conflict over educational matters and as a result Mary was excommunicated for insubordination in 1871. The excommunication placed on her was lifted 6 months later. In 1973, Mother Mary became the first Australian to be formally proposed to Rome as a candidate for canonization and she was beautified by Pope John Paul II at St Francis' Church on 27th November, 1994.

McKinlay, John—in 1861-62, led a party from Adelaide in search of the missing Burke and Wills expedition. After finding what was thought to be the body of Gray, a member of that expedition, in the Cooper Creek country, they reached the Gulf of Carpentaria.

McLean Report—recommended the establishment of an Aborigines’ Welfare Board with an assimilationist objective, modelled on the NSW Board. Most of McLean's recommendations were reflected in the ensuing Aborigines Welfare Act 1957 (VIC). The McLean Report was undertaken in 1995 when the Victorian government appointed a retired magistrate, Charles McLean, to inquire into the circumstances of Aboriginal Victorians. McLean was critical of conditions at the two remaining reserves, Lake Tyers and Framlingham, but returned to the spirit of the Aboriginal Protection Act 1886. The report concluded that the policy of segregating full-descent people at Lake Tyers and dispersing those of mixed descent had failed, noting that most of the people remaining at Lake Tyers were of mixed descent. He suggested that Indigenous Victorians of mixed descent should be removed and assimilated, thereby reducing the populations of the reserves.

McMillan, Angus—explorer and pioneer pastoralist, was born on 14 August 1810 at Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland. He emigrated to New South Wales, arriving in January 1838 with letters of introduction to Captain Lachlan Macalister, who made him a manager on Clifton station near Camden. McMillan was 'disgusted at the inhuman treatment of the convict labourers', and requested a transfer away from the settled colony. Macalister appointed him manager at Currawang in the Maneroo (Monaro) country and he began there in February 1839. In this year he learned much bushcraft, befriended Aboriginal tribes and after an eventful journey in May climbed Mount McLeod (The Haystack) and glimpsed the plain and lakes country of Gippsland. In 1840 McMillan set up a station at Nuntin near the mouth of the Avon River for Macalister and selected his own property, Bushy Park, farther up-stream. McMillan took a sympathetic interest in the welfare of the Aborigines. He was elected as the first representative for South Gippsland to the Victorian Legislative Assembly on 22 September 1859 but resigned after fourteen months. McMillan had invested heavily in cattle and his properties were deeply mortgaged. Disastrous fires and unsuccessful speculations depleted his resources and all his properties except Tabberabbera passed to mortgagees in October 1861. In 1864 he was offered the leadership of the government's Alpine Expedition to open tracks in the mining areas of Omeo, Dargo and Matlock. Over 354km of track were cut by the Alpine Expedition in the next twelve months. In May 1865 the party was disbanded and McMillan set out alone to complete the last task: blazing a trail from Dargo to the Moroka River. One of his pack-horses fell and rolled on him causing severe internal injuries. He set out for Bairnsdale but reached only as far as Iguana Creek, where he died in Gilleo's Hotel a few hours later on 18 May 1865. McMillan pioneered Gippsland and spent the rest of his life contributing to its welfare. His popularity was testimony to the change wrought by the country in the narrow, bigoted young man who had originally arrived in the colony.

McPherson Range—eastern spur of the Great Dividing Range, eastern Australia; its crest constitutes the Queensland-New South Wales border from Point Danger to Wallangara (140 miles (225 km]). Occupying a well-dissected and rainforest-covered region, the range rises to its highest point at West Barney Peak, 4,459 feet (1,359 m). There are various National Parks within the McPherson Range, all offering their own walking trails and activities.

meadow cake—cow pat, dung.

measure (one's) length—fall flat on the ground.

meat antmeat antIridomyrmex purpureus, members of the genus Iridomyrmex, which is the most abundant, conspicuous and ecologically important group of ants in Australia. In the same way that eucalypts dominate the tree flora of Australia, Iridomyrmex dominates the continent's ant fauna. Meat ants, also known as gravel ants, build large nests underground and often place sand, gravel, pebbles or even bits of dead vegetation on the upper (mounded) surface of the nest. Large nests are common along some of Sydney's country roadsides and a single nest may contain 64,000 ants. Sometimes a number of nests will be part of one colony and can be spread over a wide area connected by numerous ant paths and trails. These super-nests are known to stretch up to 650m. Workers of the colony are equipped with powerful jaws and communicate with each other using chemical cues. They are aggressive towards intruders, attacking other invertebrates, which they may eat, and driving off much larger animals by sheer weight of numbers. Iridomyrmex species, including meat ants, are omnivores and forage during the day while other species of ants in the area may be restricted to foraging at night. Border disputes may occur between rival colonies and are resolved by ritual fighting. Meat ants and other Iridomyrmex species are often involved in symbiotic relationships with caterpillars of different butterflies. The caterpillars supply sugary fluids to the ants, which in turn protect the caterpillars from predators. In rural Australia farmers may use these ants to remove animal carcasses from their land. A dead animal placed on a nest would be reduced to bones over a period of weeks. Found throughout Australia in sandy and gravel soils in urban areas, forests and woodlands, heath. Workers are up to 1cm long. These ants do not sting, but they bite and can discharge a defensive chemical.

meat 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 meat in the sandwich in that divorce case.

media beat-up—media over-reaction, making something seem more than it is: e.g., Tourism Minister Joe Hockey dismissed the prospect of an early election as a media beat-up.

Medicare—a Federal system of universal basic health care introduced in 1984 and partly financed by a levy on taxable incomes.

medium layered woodland/open forest—stringybark, ironbark, and scented spotted gum, growing on granitic soils in NSW.

megafaunamegafauna—large animals, particularly those now extinct. The extinction of megafauna around the world was probably due to environmental and ecological factors, and was practically completed by the end of the last ice age. It is believed that megafauna initially came into existence in response to glacial conditions and became extinct with the onset of warmer climates. Worldwide, there is no evidence of indigenous hunter-gatherers hunting or over-killing megafauna. The largest regularly hunted animal was bison in North America and Eurasia, yet it survived for about 10,000 years until the early 20th century. For social, religious and economic reasons, indigenous hunters in Australia harvested game in a sustainable manner.

Megalania prisca—a megafauna goanna of terrifying proportions, 6 metres long and able to look you in the eye. The first fossil of this goanna was only found at Naracoorte in 2000.

Megalibgwilia ramsayi—(see: giant echidna).

Melaleuca—a genus of Australian tree, commonly referred to as paperbarks. The bark is very distinctive and consists of thin, white, cream or brown parchment-like layers retain moisture while protecting the tree from extreme weather conditions. There are several species of Melaleuca, the more common varieties being the bracelet honey-myrtle, long-leaved paperbark, and swamp paperbark. The . Leaves on some species are aromatic when crushed. The flowers can be extremely profuse and come in a range of colors including white, cream, pink, mauve, red, yellow, orange and green. Aboriginals have traditionally used melaleucas as a water source (from within the trunk).

melaleuca forestsmelaleuca forests—along creeks and rivers near the sea, paperbark, or melaleuca, trees grow—even in brackish water and soil with very little oxygen. Melaleuca trees grow very close to each other, protecting land plants from salt air and coastal storms, and trapping debris and soil runoff during floods. These tangled forests act as filters to recycle the nutrients from animals and plants. Trees in the landward fringe are also very important in providing shelter for aquatic animals. The logs, snags and leaves that fall into the water are called riparian structures and are home to many aquatic animals. The buffer that melaleuca forests provide also helps protect the marine habitat from nutrient overload, which can cause algae to grow out of control. These algal blooms can kill seagrass by smothering it.

Melaleuca Lagoon—is fed by the Moth Creek and, when full, covers an area of around 59ha and is located in South West Tasmania.

Melba, Dame Nellie—Helen Porter Mitchell adopted the professional name Melba to acknowledge her birthplace, Melbourne. She began to study singing seriously after her marriage in 1882. Following appearances in Sydney and London, she made her operatic debut in Brussels in 1887. It was the start of a phenomenal 38-year career on the world stage. In 1909 Melba undertook a sentimental tour of Australia, and was greeted with adulation wherever she went. Melba was appointed a Dame of the British Empire in 1918 and elevated to Dame Grand Cross in the order in 1927.

MelbourneMelbourne—Australia's second oldest city, proclaimed just two years after its beginnings as a Port Phillip settlement in 1835. The first surveyor's plan was produced in 1837, laying out the streets of Melbourne in their present position. Within five years, the city rivalled Sydney as the commercial centre of Australia, with a population of 7,000. Melbourne's Greek community, established in 1897, is now one of the oldest and largest ethnic groups in Australia. Melbourne was founded by John Batman in 1834, having purchased the land from the Doutgalla tribe for an annual tribute of trade goods worth about £200. This provoked a rebe from Governor Sir Richard Bourke, in the famous Bourke's Proclamation, that became the basis in law for the concept of terra nullius. Although regarded as an unoccupied land, the area had been occupied for upwards of 40,000 years. Europeans settled Melbourne in 1835, when it was part of the British colony of New South Wales. Laid out in a symmetrical, rectangular grid, with wide streets and conspicuous parks and gardens, Melbourne is the celebrated Garden City, capital of Victoria.

Melbourne Cup—(the...) Australia's best known horse racing event held on the first Tuesday of November every year. It is an annual public holiday in the state of Victoria. This event is popularly dubbed as "the race that stops the nation". It was first run in 1861 at Flemington race course and won by Archer. It has run every year since. Through wars and depression, and the good times too, the Melbourne Cup racing carnival has been one of the stayers of Australian cultural experience.

Melbourne Cup Day—At 3.10pm AEST, on the first Tuesday in November, Australians everywhere stop for one of the world's most famous horse races—the Melbourne Cup. In Melbourne, Cup Day is the peak of the Spring Racing Carnival—when champagne and canapés, huge hats and race track fashions sometimes overshadow the business of the day—horse racing. Said American writer, Mark Twain, on a visit: "Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me."

Melbourne's Royal Botanic GardensMelbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens—Melbourne is often referred to as Australia's garden city, and Victoria as the Garden State, for good reason. There is an abundance of parks and gardens close to the CBD with a variety of common and rare plant species amid landscaped vistas, pedestrian pathways, and majestic tree-lined avenues that help make Melbourne one of the world's most livable cities. The first superintendent of the Port Phillip region, Charles La Trobe, set aside large tracts of land around the city for open space, parkland and gardens. Much of this land has since been excised for public infrastructure such as sporting complexes, railways, hospitals and other public buildings, and also for residential development, but a substantial amount has remained. This allowed landscape designer Clement Hodgkinson and Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, William Guilfoyle, to landscape many of the parks and gardens into the spectacular designs that are enjoyed today.

Melbournian/Melburnian—pertaining to Melbourne (Victoria); a person from Melbourne.

melon—1. stupid, ineffectual person. 2. the head.

Melville IslandMelville Island—Bathurst and Melville Islands together are known as the Tiwi Islands. Separated from Bathurst Island by only two kilometres, Melville Island has a similar history. It was the home of the Tiwi Aborigines (it is now an Aboriginal Reserve) for thousands of years. In 1644 Abel Tasman became the first European to officially sight the island, although he incorrectly assumed that it was part of the northern coast of Australia. In 1818 Phillip Parker King, the son of NSW Governor Philip Gidley King, explored the island and named it after Viscount Melville. In 1824, convinced of the need to establish a settlement on the north coast of Australia, the British government sent a party to settle the area. A settlement was built at King Cover and named Fort Dundas. By 1826 the post was being wound down and it was officially closed in 1829. Today the site of Fort Dundas is known as Pularumpi and is home to a community of about 300 Tiwi people. Like Bathurst Island in 1978 the ownership of Melville Island was formally handed back to the Tiwi people and today the island is run by the Tiwi Land Council. It is said that the word 'Tiwi' means 'people'; 'we, the people'; or, perhaps, 'we, the chosen people'. Certainly the Tiwi people are distinctively different in both their culture and personality to mainland Aborigines.

member of the mushroom club—a person who has been deliberately kept ignorant of the facts.

memory like a sieve—forgetful.

men's business—an Aboriginal ritual open only to initiated males.

men's country/site—the site of men's business.

Menindee Aboriginal Mission—in September 1933, the Aboriginal Protection Board moved 250 or so Ngiyampaa people from their homeland at Carowra Tank to Menindee by truck and train. The move took Ngiyampaa people out of their country in to the Bankindji country. This same year saw the establishment of the Menindee Aboriginal Station by the Protection Board that consisted of 400 hectares adjacent to the Darling River, approximately 11km from the Menindee Township. The population of this 'Mission' was largely made up of Barkindji people coming from Menindee, Wilcannia, Pooncarie Reserve and Broken Hill, together with the Ngiyampaa people from Carowra Tank. Aboriginal people were forced to live in confined spaces, sharing shelters with as many as 7 to 13 people, and denied the basic necessities such as a kitchen, living areas, bathroom and fresh water. These in turn created health problems, such as the 1937 outbreak of tuberculosis. The loss of Aboriginal elder's authority has seen the disappearance of the traditional Aboriginal laws in the community. By 1938 the population of Menindee Mission was 150, 50 of whom were full bloods, mostly Ngiyampaa; the Barkindji people could have been described as a dying race. These days, the Mission is a sacred site for Barkindji and Ngiyampaa people alike.

Menindee LakesMenindee Lakes—a series of natural, ephemeral lakes adjacent to the Darling River, near the town of Menindee. They have a combined area of 45,000ha, and are the most important area of native fish habitat within the entire Darling River system. A series of weirs, regulators and levees now store and conserve flows in the Darling River. Their purpose is to secure a water supply for Broken Hill, for irrigation and stock supply to adjacent and downstream users, and to encourage development in far-western New South Wales. The natural environment of the lakes has been changed dramatically, particularly by their permanent inundation. Many native species have benefited from these changes while others have been disadvantaged. Despite the modification of the lakes, and partly because of it, these wetlands continue to be a valuable waterfowl habitat. The lakes are also important sites of archaeological and cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. Located on the Darling River in south-western New South Wales.

Meningie—gateway to the Coorong National Park and Game Reserve, the breeding ground for the pelican, wild duck, shag, ibis and tern, and home for a large variety of migratory and other water birds. Meningie, a local Aboriginal word meaning "mud", was established around 1836 as a staging post and supply centre for local rural properties. It lies on Lake Albert, a freshwater lake separated from Lake Alexandrina by the Narrung Narrows. The major industries of the town including farming, beef, dairy, grain and fishing. Meningie is located 160km south of Adelaide on the Princes Highway.

mental—mad; insane; stupid.

Menzies, Sir Charles A.F.N.— was born at Bal Freike, Perthshire, Scotland. Although he became a respected soldier with the Royal Marines, fighting with Horatio Nelson in the Napoleonic Wars and later rising to the rank of general before becoming aide de camp to the Queen, Charles Menzies is best remembered for the founding of Newcastle, New South Wales and the successful commencement of its settlement between the age of 21 and 22. In December 1803 Menzies sailed to Australia on board the HMS Calcutta which was transporting some convicts to form a new settlement in Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen's land. Menzies was aboard the ship in Port Jackson, Sydney on 5 March 1804 when a rebellion involving a number of convicts broke out in the area of Castle Hill. This incident would later be called the Vinegar Hill rebellion. Menzies with a detachment of marines landed from the ship to help quell the rebellion. He was promoted to lieutenant shortly thereafter. Governor Phillip Gidley King faced with a need to prevent future outbreaks of this nature, hanged the nine leaders of the 300 rebels involved and ordered the establishment of a new settlement to segregate from the other convicts the worst of the Irish transported for sedition.] On 14 March 1804 Menzies wrote to the Governor offering his services as the settlement's commandant . Governor King accepted this offer and provided Menzies with a Commission dated 15 March 1804 which appointed him as the commander of the settlement of Newcastle. Menzies resigned his commission in relation to his detachment of Royal Marines and formed an expedition of skilled personnel including the surgeon James Mileham, Isaac Knight whose role was to be superintendent of the convicts, John Tucker a store-keeper, the botanist George Caley, Ferdinand Bauer an artist, and eleven military guards. Thirty-four especially chosen convicts, including three miners, three timber cutters, two carpenters, a gardener and a salt bailer (with the skill of making salt from salt water) and which also fitted Governor King's description of the worst of the Irish left Sydney on 28 March in three small ships. Menzies initially called the settlement Kingstown (after the Governor and as a continuation of the name used for a temporary settlement in 1800), but this reverted to Newcastle, which was the Governor's personal choice. Other than the general Commission provided by the Governor, Menzies was instructed to use the convicts to get as many coals as possible, cutting cedar, clearing ground for cultivation and to enforce a due observance of religion and good order. Although only aged 21 when he arrived at Newcastle, Menzies proved to be both stern and forward thinking. This was shown by his rules which dictated that convicts would work from sunrise to sunset but have a rest of two hours in the middle of the day. Menzies befriended the local Awabakal and Worimi peoples so that they would not assist any escapees. Huts were constructed under his direction for both the expedition members and the convicts. He organised the building of a large stone wharf and established a coal beacon to assist other ships in their navigation into the harbour. Governor King said of Menzies in the year that he was commandant that he fixed that settlement and brought it to a forward degree of perfection. After a year establishing Newcastle, Menzies submitted his resignation to Governor King so that he could return to England and his duty in the Royal Marines.

Menzies, Sir Robert Gordon—became leader of the United Australia Party and Prime Minister in 1939. In 1941 dissatisfaction within his party forced him to resign; soon afterwards, his party lost government when two independents transferred their support to Labor under John Curtin. In opposition, Menzies set about constructing a new conservative party, the Liberal Party, and as its head he won power from Labor in the 1949 election. Sir Robert Menzies led Australia and the Liberal Party for 17 years, until he retired from politics in 1966. He was knighted in 1963. Among his achievements was the provision of extensive federal assistance for education.

Menzies banksiaMenzies banksiaBanksia menziesii, family Proteaceae, a tall shrub or small, gnarled tree to 20-40ft, with foot-long, inch-wide leaves with showy silvery-red/pink flowers with golden styles in spring, in 5" acorn-shaped spikes. Native to West Australia, this species is found along the coastal ranges of Perth. In its natural habitat it grows in deep sand in low woodland and tall shrub-land usually within 50km from the coast. The plant is so pretty it is often used in dried floral arrangements. Also known as firewood banksia, raspberry frost.

merchant—person who is well known for a particular aspect of his behaviour or personality: e.g., panic merchant; stand-over merchant.

Meriam—Mer (Murray Island) is in the eastern group of Torres Strait Islands (which belongs to Queensland) and is home to the Meriam people. They are not Aborigines, but Melanesians who are culturally akin to the coastal peoples of Papua New Guinea. Although gardening took priority, each Meriam family had sea rights, and on the reefs in front of their houses, which were mainly built above the beach, they maintained stone fish-weirs and crayfish holes. Skilled seafarers, the Meriam also retained fishing rights over reefs extending 60km north and south of the islands. The abundance of food allowed much time for dancing, religious ritual, warfare and elaborate gift-exchange ceremonies associated with marriages and funerals.

Merimbula—a popular holiday destinations on the Sapphire Coast of NSW. Merimbula is nestled between thickly forested mountains and the ocean, nearby the Top and Back lakes, and close to the numerous beaches around the lakes and along the coast. A section of the coast has been identified as a feeding ground for some of the whale species during their southern migration. Located 26km north of Eden, and local to the townships of Tathra and Pambula.

merino sheep—(see: Australian merino).

Meripah Station—the first parcel of land bought for Aboriginal people in Queensland by the then Aboriginal Land Fund Commission (now ATSIC). This was the second purchase made by the Wik Mungkan people, their first purchase having been denied to them by hasty legislation that declared their land as national parkland. ATSIC currently holds the formal land titles and have agreed to transfer them to the traditional owners, the Wik Mungkan.

Merri Creek Aboriginal School—in Wurundjeri country. Despite the failure of the Yarra Mission school, another attempt was made to 'educate' the Wurundjeri children when the Merri Creek school was opened at Yarra Bend, Northcote in 1845. Edward Peacock taught 20 students from the Woiwurrung people, until 1847. The lack of numbers of children attending the school forced its closure in 1851. Once again, the Aboriginal people had shown that they recognised the government efforts to change their children. They did not want their children being exposed to a system that denigrated their culture and tried to take away their identity.

merry hell—trouble; upheaval; chaos; pain.

Mertens water monitorVaranus mertensi is found along small streams and creeks in the tropical north of Australia. This lizard is equally at home on land or in water, and is most often seen sunning on an exposed rock or log close to water. When disturbed they quickly disappear into the water. In the wet season their main diet appears to be fish caught while diving underwater. They are superb swimmers and can hold their breath for several minutes at a time. During the dry season their streams may stop flowing or dry up. In this case they become totally terrestrial until the wet season returns and replenishes their favourite pools. Like most monitors they are opportunists when it comes to food, taking carrion, birds, eggs and insects if there are no fish available.

mesophyll vine forestmesophyll vine forest—this type of rainforest is the most common forest type on all soils of low to medium fertility below 400m in tropical regions. In structural diversity this type is intermediate between the complex forests and simple rainforests. Vegetation is dominated by emergent red penda trees. Pendas to 55m height are scattered throughout.

mess of pottage—a material comfort, etc, for which something higher is sacrificed.

messmateEucalyptus obliqua, a common and widespread hardwood, ranging in size from a stunted mallee to a giant tree. Characterised by fibrous bark on trunk and limbs, sheets of which were used by Aborigines and early settlers to make shelters. The dry outer bark was also used as tinder for fire-making, and the soft inner fibres were twisted together and plied to make a strong string. Messmate dry forest occurs as mixed species stands with eucalypts from both the gum and peppermint groups. Also known as messmate stringybark.

metallic sun-orchidmetallic sun-orchidThelymitra epipactoides, an orchid with a stout, brownish flower stem growing to 50cm. Flowers are bronze, pink, green, blue or reddish with a metallic sheen, with 5-20 flowers per plant. This orchid appears to be confined to Victoria and South Australia. There are 27 Victorian populations that have been monitored over the past 20 years, but records are insufficient to gauge trends in population dynamics. In South Australia, the metallic sun-orchid is recorded for the Eyre Peninsula, York Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula and the south-east region. This species grows mainly in open heathland, open heathy woodland or grassy coastal shrubland, usually in swampy depressions on fertile loam soils. Flowering occurs from August to November. Reproduction is mainly from seed (most likely ripe and dispersed four to eight weeks after flowering). The metallic sun-orchid is a post-disturbance coloniser that utilises early successional stages of its habitat after various forms of disturbance. Where insufficient disturbance occurs and the vegetation closes up, the orchid will become dormant, (i.e. it will not flower). The orchid is pollinated by native bees that collect pollen as a food source for their larvae. Flowering is enhanced by fires during the previous summer, but a high percentage of plants generally flower regardless, as long as the vegetation remains open.

metho—1. methylated spirits. 2. an habitual drinker of methylated spirits. 3. (cap.) a member of the Methodist church.

methuselah—a very large wine bottle holding up to eight times the amount of an ordinary one.

Mexican—a person from Victoria to a person from New South Wales, or from either of those states to a person from Queensland (i.e. someone south of the border).

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