Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded


pash—a kiss and cuddle; amorous play: e.g., I saw them having a pash in the back seat of the car.

pash on—to cuddle and kiss; indulge in intimate behaviour.

pasho session—intimate behaviour: e.g., Mum caught them having a pasho session when she came home earlier than expected.

paspalumPaspalum dilatum, a creeping tussock grass, with a spreading open shape. Leaves are bright green, folded in bud and flat and about 1cm wide when mature. Long stems bear nodding seed heads which produce sticky disc shaped seeds. It quickly became naturalised on scrub soils receiving over 900mm rainfall, and colonised the moister valley bottoms in drier regions. Paspalum once formed the basis of much dairying development in New South Wales and Queensland. Grows in wet areas in pasture, also on wetter parts of road verges. A major weed of wetland edges and wet native grasslands. Most of the "wet meadows" which must once have been common on the south coast have been destroyed by invasion of paspalum, Yorkshire fog and other moisture-loving exotic grasses. Seed is spread by sticking to animals, clothing, machinery and vehicles, and in water. The basal parts of the tussock may be broken up and spread in earth-moving or cultivation.

pass in (one's) marble—1. to die. 2. to give up.

pass the pinch test—show that one is not over-weight by not being able to pinch a large amount of flesh between the thumb and forefinger at the waist.

pass with a push—be accepted grudgingly.

passbook—a book issued by a bank or building society etc to an account-holder recording sums deposited and withdrawn.

passion pit—drive-in theatre or cinema.

paste—scold, berate, beat or defeat soundly.

pasting—severe criticism, scolding, beating or defeat.

pastoral—1. of, relating to, or associated with shepherds or flocks and herds. 2. (of land) used for pasture.

pastoral company—a commercial enterprise engaged in large-scale stock-raising.

pastoral holding—pasture land that is either held by lease, or owned by a person or company.

pastoral lease—a particular type of leasehold that allows Crown land to be used for grazing stock. The Crown retains the right to the compulsory purchase of any part of the lease for purposes such as state improvement or settlement. When a pastoral lease expires or is otherwise terminated, the reversionary interest remains a radical title, which is not inconsistent with the continued existence of native title. A pastoral lease is a statutory grant of Crown land, and as such it is affected under land laws existing at the time of any particular grant. The system under which pastoral leases were granted prior to the Mabo decision was established last century, and there are many different types of pastoral and agricultural leases across Australia. The effect of each type of lease on native title needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. The pastoral lease is the most common form of Crown land, covering some 70% of Australia.

pastoral license—(see: pastoral lease).

pastoral property—a stock-raising establishment.

pastoral run—in Australia and New Zealand, a tract of land for grazing livestock. The term comes from the English verb 'run' meaning "to set animals loose on a field or tract of land so as to graze freely". The term came into common usage following the Lands Acts of 1861, when land grants were abolished and eligibility to purchase land was extended to everyone in the state of NSW. Large squatter’s stations were broken into smaller tracts and offered at auction. The smaller holding quickly became known as a 'run'.

pastoralism—a way of life characterised by keeping herds of animals, common in climates or regions not suitable for agriculture.

pastoralist—a farmer of sheep or cattle, usually on a large scale; a rancher.

pasturage—1. land for pasture. 2. the process of pasturing cattle etc.

pastureland—(see: pasturage).

Pat Malone—(rhyming slang) alone: e.g., He always drinks on his Pat Malone because he's too stingy to shout a round.

Patagonean toothfishDissostichus eleginoides, a large, slender fish found in the cold, deep waters (up to 3200 feet) of the Southern Hemisphere. The average weight of a commercially caught toothfish is 20 pounds, though fully-grown adults can reach 250 pounds. It is a slow-growing and long-lived fish, reaching maturity between 10 to 12 years and can live to be 50 years. Little else is known about the toothfish beyond these basics. The commercial fishery for Patagonian toothfish came about as a substitute for overfished species, such as orange roughy. The modern story of the Patagonian toothfish is the current environmental disaster in the Southern Ocean. Patagonian toothfish is being harvested illegally at a rate two to five times the legal catch limits. Regulation is difficult at best. The main importers of Patagonian toothfish are Japan and the USA, where a single sashimi-grade fish can fetch up to US$1000. Pirate fishing and black markets thrive.

Paterson, A B "Banjo"—poet, journalist, lawyer, jockey, soldier, farmer—is one of the best-loved figures of Australian literature. He wrote "Waltzing Matilda", "The Man from Snowy River", "Clancy of the Overflow" and many other poems. He reported the Boer War, and he served in and reported on WW I. bush balladeer, poet and journalist. His folk, or bush, poems and songs celebrated the life of stockmen, swaggies and squatters, and recording the emergence of a national character which was anti-authoritarian, self-reliant, and strongly connected to the land they worked and loved.

patty tin—miniature muffin pan.


pavlova—a large, soft-centred meringue filled with whipped cream and fruit. In 1935, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, Herbert Sachse, created the pavlova to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Whilst it has been suggested this dessert was created in New Zealand, it has become recognized as a popular Australian dish.


pay a visit—go to the toilet.

pay on the line—pay promptly without delay.

pay scot and lot—share the financial burdens of a borough etc (and so be allowed to vote).

pay (someone) in his own coin—treat (someone) likewise, the same as (he) treated you.

pay the piper and call the tune—pay for, and therefore have control over, a proceeding.

pay-packet—a packet or envelope containing an employee's wages.

paycheque—British spelling of paycheck.

PAYE—pay-as-you-earn, the federal income tax system, deducted from each paycheque.

PBC—(see: prescribed body corporate).

pea-struck—(see: swainsonine).

peaceful doveGeopelia placida, a small, grey, woodland dove common in open woodland throughout central Cape York Peninsula. They feed on grass seeds, preferring to forage on bare ground or in short grass, scurrying about with rodent-like movement. Unlike other doves, they forage alone or in pairs. Their coloration camouflages them wonderfully against the ground. They are shy and fly off into nearby undergrowth at the first sign of danger, nevertheless appear to prefer open areas, including cultivated parks, gardens and urban areas. They are also found in mangroves. Peaceful dove males have a courtship display of brisk bobbing with head down and tail up while loudly calling. They do this on a high perch, facing the female. As the pair sit side-by-side, he may sing. Like other pigeons, the peaceful dove nest is a flimsy platform of twigs and fibres, usually in a small tree, palm and sometimes in a bush; 1-2 white eggs are laid. Although peaceful doves may disperse widely to look for food or escape harassment, they are not migratory. Also known as zebra dove, barred ground dove.

peachy—delightful; wonderful; excellent.

peacock spiderMaratus volans, a species of jumping spider. There are 20 known species of peacock spider but only eight have been formally identified. Octavius Pickard-Cambridge noted in his original description that "it is difficult to describe adequately the great beauty of the colouring of this spider". The red, blue and black colored males have flap-like extensions of the abdomen with white hairs that can be folded down. They are used for display during mating: the male raises his abdomen, then expands and raises the flaps so that the abdomen forms a white-fringed, circular field of color. The third pair of legs is also raised for display, showing a brush of black hairs and white tips. While approaching the female, the male will vibrate his abdomen while waving raised legs and tail, and dance from side to side. The females carefully study the colouring, vibrations and movements of the male to make sure the potential suitor is healthy and the correct species to mate with. Once he has mated, he will repeat this dance with as many females as he can find and Maratus spiders can have multiple partners at one time. Both sexes reach about 5mm in body length. Females and immatures of both sexes are brown but have colour patterns by which they can be distinguished from related species. M. volans is confined to eastern parts of Australia (Queensland, New South Wales). The species name means "flying" in Latin, because it was at first thought that the flaps help the spider in gliding. A common urban myth is the belief that when the spider is leaping, it can use its flaps to extend the jump and glide short distances through the air. However, this belief has been debunked by the Australasian Arachnological Society. While the courtship dance is similar to those of genus Saitis (the European S. barbipes also uses its third pair of legs for display), the two genera are probably not closely related.

peacocking—(hist.) the application for colonial grants for small parcels which contained the only potable water in the region. This would then mean settlers would be able to control huge acreages, as no-one else would be able to settle in the surrounding region because of water scarcity. If a settler took up a long narrow land grant along a river, no-one else would be able to take up land behind that grant, not being able to get access.

peanut factory—mental asylum.

peanut paste—peanut butter.

peanut treeSterculia quadrifida, a deciduous tree to 12m, found around the edges of monsoon vine forests and in coastal areas across northern Australia. The black seeds are held in a red fruit and when ripe are exposed, to attract birds. The seeds are very tasty and are often produced in large numbers. Fruit are produced for a long period between the late wet season, through the dry season and into the early wet season. These are peeled and eaten raw; they have a similar taste to peanuts. The bark is used to make string and rope for various uses. The taproot of young plants is also edible, and it has several medicinal uses. Leaves may be used to treat marine and insect stings. A bark infusion is used to treat eye disorders.

pear drop—a small sweet with the shape of a pear.

pear-fruited malleeEucalyptus pyriformis, a tree-like flowering mallee eucalypt, 6'- 18' with small, profuse, cream (or red) flowers. Tolerates light or heavy clay soils. Moderately drought tolerant and hardy to most frosts. Fast growing. Flowers and fruit are suitable as cut flowers.  Collector's item. Good performance in dry or sandy soil. Endemic to Western Australia

.pear-shaped—something's gone wrong; e.g., Oh, no, our plans have gone all pear-shaped!

Pearce, Alexander—transported to Sarah Island in 1822. A month later, he escaped with four other convicts. The party headed overland to Hobart. After 15 days without food, they decided to experiment with cannibalism. The men drew straws and it was Thomas Bodenham who drew the short one. He knelt down, was killed by a blow to the head and subsequently served up for lunch. A week later, John Mather was foraging for roots when, determined to eat him, the other three ganged up and killed him. Four days later, Travis was bitten by a snake and subsequently was on the menu. This left only Pearce and Greenhill. For a few days, each eyed the other suspiciously but vowed not to betray the other. Pearce thought Greenhill was lying and so killed him in the dead of night. Out of character for Pearce, he left the body untouched. In 1823, Pearce was recaptured and confessed to his crimes. Such was the fanciful nature of his story, no-one believed him and so he was sent back to Sarah Island. Nine months later, he again escaped and for provisions he took with him Thomas Cox. A few weeks after escaping, a passing ship saw smoke and Pearce was found. He again confessed to his crimes and even had a morsel of Cox to verify his story. Pearce was taken back to Hobart and hanged on the 19th July 1824, the judge at his trial declaring that the case was 'too inhuman to comment on'. Also known as 'Alexander the Cannibal'.

pearl/pearler—excellent, wonderful, delightful person or thing.

pearl perchGlaucosoma scapulare can be easily recognised by the bone that projects as a blue-black-to grey bony shield from under the upper operculum. If the thin layer of skin covering is removed, the pearly-white bone—the origin of the common name—is revealed. The pearl perch has a robust body, a large mouth and a second dorsal fin which is higher than the first. The body is silvery to grey, and each scale has a small golden brown spot. There is a dark spot at the base of the last dorsal fin rays. A brown line passes diagonally through the eye of juveniles. This species lives in coastal waters to depths of 90m. It is endemic to (only occurs in) Australia, from the central coast of Queensland to the central New South Wales coast. It grows to 70cm in length.

pearling industry—pearling in Western Australia existed well before European settlement— Aborigines had collected and traded pearl shell as well as trepang and tortoise with fishermen from Sulawesi for millennia. They did not dive but were so successful in harvesting the shell that the patterns of distribution or trade in the shell have been traced throughout many parts of the continent. They also had enough surplus to engage in an overseas trade. This phase began with the visits of the Macassan trepangers to the northern coasts in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. The trade resulted in the exchange of trepang, turtles and pearl shell for tobacco, rice and axes. There was also violence, including the abduction of men and women. As a result, both groups were often armed and the Aborigines learnt to treat any newcomers with suspicion. The industry began in the mid-1860s with pastoral workers who collected shell in shallow waters, either from shore or in small boats. A boat provided transport for personnel and shell to and from remote beds, or across deeper water to drying banks and reefs. There was no diving at this time, as the shallow waters initially provided enormous returns to the Europeans and their Aboriginal labourers, who waded and recovered shell as the tide receded. During the late 1860s many more boats left Fremantle and the pearling industry at Torres Strait, Queensland for the new fishery in the Nickol Bay with its port of Tien Tsin Harbor (later known as Cossack). Thus new technology, in the form of small boats, large containers (in the form of bags and sacks) and then larger vessels operating independently, or as 'mother boats' to a number of dinghies, were the first major advances that the Europeans applied to the pearling industry. Eventually, however, these changes caused over-harvesting of the shallows and a shortage of shell. This led the industry into its second stage and a transition took place from wading in the shallows into the use of 'skin divers' (unassisted by the emerging technology of breathing apparatus). Aborigines were excellent swimmers, known to have covered great distances over water, but many succumbed to diseases to which they had not previously been exposed, as well as accidents. This led to recruitment from the convicts from the 'native prison' on Rottnest Island. Initially superbly fit and with wonderful eyesight, the Aborigines began to emulate, and sometime surpass, the feats of the others already engaged in the industry elsewhere throughout the world. A 'fair days work' for a 'naked diver' in the north-west industry was considered to be the recovery of 10-25 pairs at a general rate of one 'pair' of shells in eight dives. The demands on the local Aboriginal populations increased and many died due to disease and maltreatment. At Shark Bay in this era dredging rapidly became the most efficient means of obtaining the shell, which was noted more for the pearls rather than the shell as was the situation further north. The publicity surrounding the successes resulted in a virtual gold rush centred on Wilyah Miah ( Place of the Pearl). By the time of the writing of the official report on the same subject at the end of March 1873, the supply had 'diminished', indicating the rapidity with which beds were exploited and abandoned. Eventually the centre of activity drifted away from Nickol Bay and its Cossack and from other centres such as Condon, Bannangarra (on Pardoo Station) on to Roebuck Bay, where modern day Broome is situated. As the centre of activity drifted away from Nickol Bay and its port of Cossack, and from other centres such as Condon, Bannangarra, where the drying beds were once prolific, the industry came to centre on Roebuck Bay, where modern day, Broome is situated. There, diving apparatus (standard dress or hard hat) was used. Aboriginal divers 'disappeared from the industry almost overnight'. Soon, Japanese divers came to dominate the industry. By 1910, nearly 400 pearling luggers and more than 3500 people were fishing for shell in waters around Broome, making it the world's largest pearling centre. The majority of the workers were Japanese and Malaysian. The industry suffered from a high death toll, with hazards from shark attack, cyclones and frequently, the bends. Four tropical cyclones hit the area between 1908 and 1935 and over 100 boats and 300 people were lost during that time. At the time of World War I the price of mother-of-pearl plummeted with the invention and expanded use of plastics for buttons and other articles which had previously been made of shell. During World War II, pearling virtually stopped. Japanese divers discreetly went home or were interned and Broome was bombed, destroying many of the remaining luggers. Fearing the prospect of an adverse reaction in the natural pearling industry, the Australian government, through the 1922 Pearling Act prohibited anyone in Australia from artificially producing cultivated pearls. The Act was repealed in 1949. In 1956, a joint Japanese-Australian venture was set up at Kuri Bay, 420km north of Broome, as a cultured pearl farm. modern pearling began as boats from Thursday Island and the Torres Strait arrived, bringing helmets and diving equipment. With the new equipment, two helmet divers were able reach the beds of shell in deep water and could double the catch of 57 skin divers. Roebuck Bay became the headquarters of the fleet. A settlement of a few rough camps in the sand dunes began in November 27th 1983. The Governor, Sir Frederick Napier Broome, was so upset about the town taking his name that he wrote a letter to the Colonial Office in London. In the letter he referred to Broome as a 'dummy' townsite and wanted the name to be changed.

Peasley, W J—author of  The Last of the Nomads, he was born in the central-west of New South Wales and spent his boyhood on his father's farm. There, he was greatly excited by his discovery of ancient campsites of Aboriginal people who had long since disappeared from the area. He was also saddened, for this was the only evidence left of a people who had occupied the land for thousands of years. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he worked on the family farm, and at eighteen he enlisted in the 2nd AIF and was a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation forces in Japan. After leaving the army he matriculated and studied medicine at the University of Sydney. On graduation he moved to Western Australia and for twelve years worked as a flying doctor. Following several years in Europe he returned to Perth, where he studied anthropology. He maintained his interest in Australian history, particularly the history of exploration, and followed in the tracks of early explorers on several expeditions into the desert country.

pebble-mound mouse—(see: western pebble-mound mouse).

Pebbly Beach—a popular camping area with great surfing beach and bushwalks. Banksias, coastal rosemary and creeping lomandra grow on the exposed headlands. Pebbly Beach is famous for its friendly, sun-loving kangaroo population. Behind Pebbly is Mount Durras, from which magnificent views over the coast and west across the hinterland to the magnificent Eastern Escarpment can be enjoyed. Mount Durras takes only about an hour to climb from Pebbly and, although quite steep in parts, is well within the capabilities of most people. Pebbly Beach is located south of Pretty Beach and north of Durras North in the Murramurang National Park, on the south-east coast of New South Wales.

peckish—hungry; having an inclination for a snack.

pedal wireless—a small radio transceiver with a generator powered by a foot-pedal.

Peel Estate—a grant of 313,298 acres on the western bank of the Peel River, given to the Australian Agricultural Company in exchange for part of the company's Port Stephen's Estate, in 1834.

Peel River—site of the Tamworth settlement, which grew out of a land grant to the Australian Agricultural Company (AA Co) made in 1834. Although the river had been discovered and named by John Oxley in 1818, the surrounding region could not be settled until a suitable stock route had been found through the Liverpool Range. This was achieved in 1827 when a stock route was discovered by William Nowland in, a farmer from the Hunter Valley in search of better pastureland. By 1830, the first squatters with herds of cattle had arrived in the district. The grant of 313,000 acres on the western side of the Peel River to the AA Co. subsequently dispossessed a great many of these squatters of their illegally acquired lands.

Peel Valley—Henry Dangar found a way over the Liverpool Range from the Hunter Valley to the Peel Valley in 1824, while scouting for the Australian Agricultural Company (AA Co). In 1831 he surveyed the Peel Valley as a potential sheep-breeding site for the AA Co. The area was legally settled by the company in 1834, dispossessing some 6,000 squatters. By 1861, the Crown Lands Alienation Act opened up large areas of leasehold land for distribution as smaller runs.

Peery National Park—(41,680 ha) is the newest national park in the far west—gazetted in 2000. The park is one of three reserves located on the Paroo River system. The Paroo wetland is one of the most regularly flooded systems of the arid catchment zones—minor flooding occurs every year and major flooding approximately every five years. The long-lasting water supply has made the area an important focus of Aboriginal life for thousands of years. Today, the Paroo River overflow is the only river in the Murray-Darling Basin to be unregulated, with the implication that the area can sustain its rich and diverse ecosystem. And indeed the Peery Lake wetlands display this diversity—55 species of waterbirds (including waterfowl, the threatened freckled duck and the blue-billed duck) have been identified in the park. Threatened fauna species known to inhabit the park include the narrow-banded snake, Australian bustard, pink cockatoo, pied honeyeater and the large blotched python. The park is located within a mulga land bioregion and will contest the degradation widely associated with mulga and alluvial land zones due to grazing or changed fire regimes. Mound springs, an uncommon landform in Australia, abound in Peery National Park—they are the only known springs in NSW on a lakebed.

Peery Springs—a pair of mound springs at the edge of Peery Lake, towards the centre of the NSW part of the Mulga Lands bioregion. These springs have remained active in a part of the Great Artesian Basin where, of the 45 springs in NSW, most are no longer actively flowing. These springs are now protected in Peery National Park.

peeved—irritated; annoyed.

peg—to throw: e.g., He pegged it in the bin with his eyes closed!

peg away at—work persistently at.

peg to hang it on—a reason, justification.

pegs—1. legs. 2. teeth.

Pemberton—Aboriginal people occupied the south-west of Western Australia for at least 40,000 years before white explorers discovered Australia. Along the coast near Pemberton there are still many signs of their traditional way of life. As early as 1622 Dutch, French and English ships had passed along the south coast. In the late 1800s and again in 1912 three timber mills were established, around which the town of Pemberton grew. In the 1920s a new population boom occurred when 'free' land was offered to group settlers, or 'Groupies', in order to establish a dairy industry. Many of the Groupies were British ex-servicemen who had returned from war to face unemployment. Life was tough, with many families not staying on as it became too difficult clearing the forest in order to use their land, surviving the depression years and making repayments to the government.

penal colony—a prison camp run as a colonial settlement, in which the prisoners are the main supply of labour. In this way, the British got rid of criminals and prostitutes by shipping them to North America as indentured labour. When that avenue closed in the 1780s after the American Revolution, Britain switched the destination to what later became parts of Australia: Norfolk Island, Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales. Advocates of Irish Home Rule and of Trade Unionism likewise received sentences of transportation to the remote Australian colonies. As a consequence, New South Wales and its satellite penal settlements at Moreton Bay (now Brisbane), Norfolk Island and Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) entered the 19th century with a reputation as “hell on earth” – a reputation which the British hoped would function as a deterrent. Irish rebels and petty thieves caught for just stealing loaves of bread were sent to Australia, when death at the end of a noose would often have been more merciful. It is now in a way humorous to think that in attempting to escape, some convicts actually became the first “explorers” into Australia’s uncharted interior. Transportation of convicts to Australia ceased by 1868. By then some 160,000 convicts had arrived.

penal servitude—(hist.) imprisonment with compulsory labour.

pence—plural of penny.

Penguin Parade—head for the Penguin Reserve on Summerland Beach, Phillip Island, 140km from Melbourne. The island is renowned for its dusk viewing of fairy penguins as they march across the beach to their sand dune burrows. The Penguin Parade, as the procession is known, is one of Australia's main wildlife attractions for international visitors. The smallest members of the penguin family, these engaging, formal-looking birds stand only about 40cm tall, or about the height of a seagull. Immaculate in their blue-grey plumage with white fronts, they return home at sunset each evening after a day's fishing. They bob about in the water until night falls; then the first intrepid penguin scout lands on the island and waddles inland to its burrow. Hundreds of others follow, in small groups. Watchers are not allowed to disturb the birds in any way—no sudden movements or flash photography. It can take over 30 minutes for all the birds to arrive on shore.

Pennefather River—the river is one of the most significant historical sites in Australia as it is probably the place where the Dutch yacht Duyfken ("dove"), commanded by Willem Janszoon in 1606, made the first authenticated landing on Australian soil by a European. The Aboriginal people from the area where the Duyfken made her landfall, have a tradition about this contact and it concerns a large dove or pigeon. Actually, if you have a close look to a map of the Cape York Peninsula you'll discover a "Duyfken Point" near the township of Weipa. In 1880 Captain Charles Edward de Fonblanque Pennefather, in command of the Queensland government schooner (QGS) Pearl, sailed from Thursday Island to examine the coast and rivers on the eastern side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. He took a whaleboat into the Coen River at latitude 12º 13' South and then sailed southwards to the Archer River then again back to the Batavia River. It became apparent that there were two Coen rivers in the Western Cape region: the Coen named by Matthew Flinders and the South Coen, which rose in the eastern ranges and drained into the Archer River. In 1894 the Coen River was re-named the Pennefather to avoid confusion with the South Coen River and the South Coen was re-named the Coen River. However, he British Admiralty Chart for the Gulf of Carpentaria retained the name Coen until the 1960s, possibly because the Admiralty Hydrographic Office was not advised of the change by the Queensland government. Eventually a number of place names on western Cape York Peninsula which varied between those shown on Admiralty charts and other maps were renamed for the sake of uniformity and the name Pennefather River appeared in the Australia Pilot in 1967.

penny dreadful—any cheap and sensational piece of literature.

penny finally dropped—sudden comprehension, realisation, understanding.

penny-bunger—a fire-cracker, generally banned from sale due to risk of injury to the user.

penny-wise and pound-foolish—wise in saving small sums of money only.

pennyworth—a bargain of a specified kind; e.g., Well, that was a bad pennyworth.

pepper treeTasmannia membranea gets its name from the taste of its seeds rather than its bland fruit. This tree is from one of the earliest flowering plant families known, Winteraceae, making it a true relic of the rainforest. The pepper tree is more like a large shrub than a tree, only reaching 3m in height. It shares a characteristic with the less developed cycads—it has separate male and female flowers on different plants. Endemic to north-east Queensland, south of Cape York above 500m above sea level.

peppercorn (rental)—nominal rent (originally one peppercorn per year paid to the Crown).

peppermint treeAgonis flexuosa grows in the south-west of Western Australia. It is easily the most common of the Agonis species, and is one of the most recognisable trees of Western Australia, being commonly grown in parks and on road verges in Perth. A. flexuosa occurs mainly as a small and bushy tree, usually less than 10m tall, although it may grow to 15m. It has fibrous, black and long bark, and long, narrow, dull green leaves, with tightly clustered inflorescences of small, white flowers in the axes. It grows in a weeping habit, and looks remarkably like the weeping willow from a distance. Leaves are narrow and reach a length of 150mm. It is most readily identified by the powerful odour of peppermint emitted when the leaves are crushed or torn. It flowers between August and December. The fruit is a hard capsule, 3-4mm across, with three valves producing small seeds. It was originally placed in the Leptospermum genus by Sprengel in 1819, but Schauer placed it in Agonis in 1844. The two recognised varieties are Agonis flexuosa var. flexuosa and Agonis flexuosa var. latifolia. The cultivar Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' is a dwarf form that is commonly seen in Perth as a hedge. A. flexuosa occurs in a subcoastal strip from just north of Perth, southward through the Swan Coastal Plain, then along the coast to outlying records east of Bremer Bay. The habitat includes limestone heath, stable dunes and sandy soils; usually inland from the coastline, and as an understory in Tuart forest. Also known as Western Australian peppermint, Swan River peppermint and willow myrtle.

Peppin—so important is this strain of Australian merino that sheep men throughout Australia often classify their sheep as being either Peppin or non-Peppin. The "Waganella" sheep stud was established by the Peppin brothers near Deniliquin in the Riverina in 1861. The influence of a single French rambouillet ram, called Emperor, is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important events in the development of the Peppin stud, and makes this ram the outstanding sire in the history of the nation's wool history. As many as 70 percent of today's Australian merinos are said to be directly descended from the Peppin-developed sheep. The Peppin merino of today is prized for its ability to thrive in drier inland regions, where its large frame and long legs make it an efficient forager. Its heavy fleece falls in the mid-range of merino wool qualities and is protected from the excesses of the environment by a comparatively high content of natural wool grease, which can be seen as a creamy colour in the wool. The Peppin merino is particularly prevalent in the sheep flocks of Queensland, on the slopes and plains of NSW, through the north of Victoria and the mixed farming areas of South Australia and Western Australia. So adaptable is the strain, however, that it can also be found in significant numbers in the higher rainfall areas of Victoria, Tasmania and NSW. The merino sheep introduced into Australia soon after settlement were able to produce fleeces of 1kg—2kg each year. By way of contrast, a Peppin merino stud ram of today may produce up to 20kg or more of wool, and it is not unusual for commercial animals of this breed to produce up to 10kg of wool each year.

perched aquifer—a term describing ground water that becomes periodically trapped by restrictive layers of clay or coffee rock (sand and "cemented" plant matter), that is usually found at depths between of 0.5 to 3 meters. The ground water levels can change according to the amount of rainfall, evaporation rate and uptake by vegetation.

perentieVaranus giganteus, the world's second-largest lizard. It has a forked tongue, long narrow neck, a flattened head, strong tail, powerful legs with 5-clawed toes, and numerous sharp, curved, backward-pointing teeth. The perentie is a highly efficient predator, tracking its prey by sight and using its tongue to 'sniff out' carrion. They forage widely, supplementing their diet with turtle eggs, insects, birds, other reptiles, mammals and carrion. The omnivorous perentie also eats underground tubers, bulbs, corms and fungi. They can accumulate substantial reserves of body fat and vary their feeding strategies without losing condition. The perentie occurs in desert regions from western Queensland to coastal WA. It inhabits rocky outcrops and shelters in large dens. The female lays her eggs in termite mounds, where the activity of the insects provides constant warmth.

pergola—an arbour or covered walk, formed of growing plants trained over trellis-work.

perisher—1. a mischievous child; annoying person. 2. a very cold day.

Péron, François—the first informed zoologist to land in Australia, accompanying Captain Nicolaus Baudin on his expedition to New Holland. At the end of the expedition, Péron and Lesueur had collected what is considered to be the most complete and best documented collection of Australian marine natural history. Over 100,000 species of animals had been collected and stored in thirty three large packing cases aboard Le Naturaliste. Baudin died in 1803 on the homeward voyage, and the publication of his account and charts of his voyage was undertaken by Péron. In 1806 the Emperor Napoleon gave permission for Péron and Leseur to publish their findings in a Journal to be called Voyage de découvertes aux Terres Australes, written by Péron and illustrated with forty plates by Lesueur. The first volume appeared in 1807, which included many of Lesueur's drawings. When Peron died in 1810, cartographer Louis de Freyçinet continued to edit Baudin's account of the voyage.

Peron Peninsula—a long, narrow peninsula jutting into Shark Bay. Joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, the Peron Peninsula is the western-most point of the Australian continent. The peninsula is primarily an undulating red sandplain and low sandhills. Vegetation is close, tall shrubland of Acacia ramulosa and patchy thickets of sandhill wattle and Lamarchea hakeifolia; some areas of hummock grassland with numerous low shrubs of sandhill wattle. The peninsula was named for the French naturalist, Francois Peron, who visited the shores of Shark Bay during the Baudin exploration voyage.

Peron's tree frogLitoria peroni's two most distinguishing characteristics are its call, often described as a 'maniacal cackle'; and its ability to quickly change colour. By day it's usually a pale green-grey colour but that changes to a reddish brown with emerald green flecks at night. It also has bright black and yellow markings on its thighs. It has a cross-shaped pupil and a silver iris. By day, they can be found beneath loose bark on the trunks of gum trees next to rivers and waterholes; by night, they move to vegetation near the water. Inhabits urban areas, forests and woodlands, heath and grasslands of northern Victoria, New South Wales and southern Queensland. Peron's Tree-frog is especially common in the Sydney area, and in the swamps and billabongs along the Murray River.

persistent bark—dead bark that is not shed annually, and accumulates in one of the following forms: stringy, peppermint, compact, box, ironbark.

Perspex—a tough, light, transparent acrylic thermoplastic used instead of glass.

Perth—capital of Western Australia, founded in 1829 as the Swan River Settlement, but it grew very slowly until 1850, when convicts were brought in to alleviate the labour shortage. Many of Perth's fine buildings, such as Government House and Perth Town Hall, were built using convict labour. Even then, Perth's development lagged behind that of the eastern cities, until the discovery of gold in 1890s increased the population four-fold in a decade and initiated a building boom. In the 1980s, it was said that Perth had more millionaires per capita than any other city in Australia. Huge business empires emanated at a rate completely disproportionate to a city of that size, and soon enough, with the high-profile fall from grace of beer, yachting, media and Vincent van Gogh mogul Alan Bond in particular, Perth came to epitomise the decade's obsession with making a fast buck. Perth became known as the kind of place where anybody could become a millionaire—except for the local Nyoongar population, which remains comparatively disadvantaged. They can be traced back some 40,000 years. Only a few kilometres from the beaches, Perth enjoys a Mediterranean climate—with more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital.

perv/perve—1. a pervert. 2. to stare at, especially lustfully.

perve on—to stare at, especially lustfully: e.g., He's always perving on the young girls.

peter—till; money-box; cash register.

Petermann Aboriginal Reserve—the inhospitable nature of the terrain around Uluru in the Northern Territory ensured that few whites ventured into the region. Pastoralists were defeated by the lack of water, and after that the only whites to pass through the area were trappers, quixotic miners like Harold Lasseter, and the occasional missionary. The area was declared the Petermann Aboriginal Reserve in the early 1900s and this existed until the 1940s when road access (the first graded road was built in 1948), the possibility of gold in the area, and the tourist potential of Uluru, all showed how fragile the original reserve had been. It was declared Ayers Rock National Park in 1950.

Petermann Ranges—low mountains extending for 320km from east-central Western Australia south-east to the south-west corner of Northern Territory, they are a continuation of the granite and gneiss formations in the Musgrave Ranges to the south-east. the Petermanns rise to a height of 1158m. Visited by Ernest Giles in 1874, the mountains were named after August Petermann, a German geographer. The eastern section lies within the Petermann Aboriginal Land Trust's territory. To the east are Uluru/Ayers Rock and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) rock formations; both are part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 (extended 1994). When India slammed into Western Australia 550 million years ago, helping to form the supercontinent Gondwana, it caused a 5km-high mountain range to form in central Australia. But the worn remnants of the range, have long puzzled geologists. India is generally believed to have collided with Western Australia from the west and this should have led to a mountain range running north-south across the continent, but the Petermann Ranges run east-west. Additionally, the earth's crust beneath the mountain range is thinner than surrounding areas, not thicker, as is usually the case under mountains. Dr Aitken and colleagues of Monash University used gravity and magnetic field measurements to develop the first-ever 3D map of the earth's crust and mantle below the mountain range and built a model of its geometry. They were able to confirm that there was a series of fault lines running east-west under the mountain range, which would have provided an existing weakness in the crust at the time Gondwana was being formed. If India collided from the north-west, instead of the west, this fault-line could easily have provided a perfect site for mountains to form. The thinner crust beneath the range is a lot stronger than the crust around it and has created a very strong geological feature that has generally resisted other pushes and pulls from tectonic movement since Gondwana was formed. Despite this strength, there have been a few earthquakes in the area since the 1960s. Understanding how this area will behave as Australia moves northwards towards Indonesia will be important in terms of earthquake prediction, as well as analysis of the area's stability as a possible site for nuclear waste storage.


petrol pump—gas pump.

petrol station—gas station.

pew—a chair, seat, or place to sit down.

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