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Australia Decoded

Close-Up of a Female Duck-Billed Platypus with Two Eggs (Ornithorhynchus Anatinus)

Close-Up of a Female Platypus with Two Eggs

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place where the big nobs hang out—men's toilet, urinal.

place-kick—(football) a kick made when the ball is previously placed on  the ground.

placky—1. plastic. 2. anything artificial, insincere, synthetic, spurious.

plain as a pikestaff—not remarkable or beautiful.

plain chocolate—dark chocolate without added milk; baking chocolate.

plain cook—a person competent in plain cooking.

plain cooking—in the past a lot of food cooked in families in England was plain food—food which came out of water and unseasoned: plain cooking. There's nothing wrong with that, but today you put a bit of salt in, a bit of seasoning, fresh herbs.

plain turkey—the large, nomadic, often solitary game bird Ardeotis kori of mainland Australia.

plains ratPseudomys australis currently includes all specimens previously described as Pseudomys minnie, P. rowlinnae and P. auritus. Although there is doubt about the relationship between these taxa, it has been assumed that the remaining arid-zone plains rat represent a single species. The plains rat is a small rodent with thick, soft, silver-grey fur above; white to cream underneath; and with relatively large ears. This species grows to 14cm long and weighs up to 80g. Its tail is brown to grey and grows to 12cm long and ends in a white tip. The plains rat is nowadays restricted to the gibber plains of Lake Eyre Basin in northern South Australia, over an area of about 600km. The previous range of this species extended from the western edge of the Nullabor Range, to central Queensland, the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range and the mouth of the Murray River,. and in the western Lake Eyre Basin from Billa Kalina Station, south-east of Coober Pedy, to Charlotte Waters, Northern Territory. No overall population figures are possible as this species undergoes massive fluctuations in density in response to available resources. Populations after rain can be very abundant. Lee (1995) theorised that during periods of drought, this species contracts to less than 10,000 individuals. It is likely that no population of this species is permanently associated with a particular habitat patch. Rather, the plains rat utilises a patchwork of primary core areas with only rare widespread dispersal between regions. The plains rat is primarily found in gibber plains and mid slopes with boulders, small stones and gilgais. Historically, this species occupied a wider variety of habitats, including sand ridges and dense grasslands Associated vegetation is predominantly chenopod as well as ephemeral plants that require good rains to flourish. During poor rainfall years, plains rat populations are maintained in drainage depressions and areas of cracking clays. The plains rat constructs shallow, complex burrows. Nests are maintained by breeding females. In this species' primary habitat, burrows/nests are dug into cracks in the gibber. In secondary habitat areas, complex burrow systems are dug in the softer, more friable soils usually found around the base of chenopod shrubs. Breeding is not seasonal but appears to be associated with increased availability of food following significant rainfall events. Litter size is usually three to four (and up to seven) and weaning takes place 28 days after birth. It is not known why colonies disappear during these scarce periods or where individuals live during the periods between irruption. Also known as palyoora and yarlie.

plains-wandererPedionomus torquatus is a the sole representative of the family Pedionomidae, an ancient member of Australia's avifauna, with origins dating back to when this land was part of the Gondwanan supercontinent. They emerge at night to feed on a range of seeds and grass, by day they sleep flat-down in shallow scrapes on the ground. They walk among the tussocks on the barren plains of eastern Australia, occasionally stretching up to peer around for danger. The birds are very reluctant to fly, although they do disperse widely and unpredictably, flying like ponderous quail with legs trailing out behind. This is a scarce and vulnerable species. Lowland native grasslands are among the most depleted ecosystems in eastern Australia, and threatened grassland fauna have undergone a marked decline. There are now possibly fewer than 11,000 plains-wanderers left in the wild, and in drought years, when overgrazing of habitat occurs, the population may be halved. While habitat loss is the greatest threat, feral foxes and hunting are also problems.

plait—braid, pigtail of hair.

planigale—a ferocious, carnivorous marsupial of the Dasyurid family (genus Planigale), small carnivorous marsupials found in Australia and New Guinea. It is the only genus in the Planigalini tribe of the subfamily Sminthopsinae. There are five species: paucident planigale (Planigale gilesi); long-tailed planigale (Planigale ingrami); common planigale (Planigale maculata); New Guinean planigale (Planigale novaeguineae); and narrow-nosed planigale (Planigale tenuirostris). Some were small enough to fit in a standard matchbox. Their flattened heads and sinuous movements allowed them to fit into the tiniest cracks within the dried mud of their environment, until flushed out by the first rains of the monsoon season.

plank buttressing—typical of certain genera (e.g. Ficus albipila). Buttresses are actually root tissue, and assist aeration, so they are often found in poorly aerated, swampy soils. Plank buttressing may be used as a diagnostic growth form. Correlated with tropical/subtropical climates, and soils of high to moderately high fertility (mesotrophic to eutrophic).

plant it—(of the driver of a car) go faster: e.g., It frightens me the way he plants it around those corners!

plasterboard—two boards with a filling of plaster used to form or line the inner walls of houses etc; sheetrock.

plate—(plate of) food brought to a party or function: e.g., Bring a plate to the party next week.

plates of meat—(rhyming slang) feet.

platform reef—round or oval reef patches that grow up from the continental shelf. They often tend to be more broken up and do not always present a defined barrier to the sea. Platform reefs are scattered in the calm, shallow waters between the mainland and edge of the continental shelf.

platypusOrnithorhynchus anatinus, a semiaquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth. It is the sole living representative of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species have been found in the fossil record. The unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it in 1798, when a pelt and sketch were sent back to Great Britain by Captain John Hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales. British scientists' initial hunch was that the attributes were a hoax. Early British settlers called it by many names, such as watermole, duckbill, and duckmole. It lives aside freshwater rivers or lakes, and creates burrows for shelter and protection. When swimming the platypus has its eyes shut. They typically swim underwater for 2 minutes before returning to the surface for oxygen. They can stay underwater for up to 10 minutes but, due to their natural buoyancy, they need to be underneath another object to do this. The platypus has a woolly, furred coat of three layers. The first layer keeps the animal warm by trapping air, the second layer provides an insulating coat for the animal, and the third layer of long, flat hairs detect objects close by. It ranges from 30-45cm in length with a tail about 10-cm and weighs on average between 1-2.4kg. They have an average lifespan of 12 years. Platypuses feed on insect larvae, worms or other freshwater insects, mainly at night, by the use of their bill. They turn up mud on the bottom of the lake or river, and with the help of their electroreceptors located on the bill, find many insects and freshwater insects. They store their findings in special pouches behind their bill, being consumed upon returning to the surface. Platypuses can consume their own body weight in food in a 24-hour period. Male platypus are larger than the female. They mate once a year, between June and October. The female lays between 2-4 eggs and incubates these for a two-week period. The mother secretes milk from large glands under the skin; the young platypus feeds from this milk which ends up on the mothers fur. It is one of the few venomous mammals, the male platypus having a hollow spur on the inside of both hind legs. The venom is strong enough to can kill a small dog or cause excruciating pain to a human. The gland peaks during mating season, many suggest it is normally used in aggressive encounters between other male platypus. The unique features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology and a recognisable and iconic symbol of Australia; it has appeared as a mascot at national events and is featured on the reverse of the 20-cent coin. The platypus is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales, and is not under any immediate threat.

platypus frog—(see: gastric brooding frog).

play at—take part in something deceitful, secret, clandestine: e.g., I'm not sure what he's playing at, but I'll find out.

play ducks and drakes with—squander: e.g., He's really playing ducks and drakes with his inheritance.

play for dibs—1. play, gamble, with the intention of keeping the winnings. 2. do in total seriousness, earnest.

play four quarters—(Australian Rules football) play consistently well throughout a match.

play funny/silly-buggers—1. behave in a foolish, stupid, silly manner. 2. behave in a deceitful, cheating manner.

play gooseberry—be an unwanted extra (usually third) person.

play (someone) on the brake—lead (someone) on; tease, entice, deceive (someone).

play the giddy ox—larking about.

play the neddies—indulge in gambling on horse-racing.

play the very devil with—create havoc; cause harm, injury, damage, ruin: e.g., This cold weather plays the very devil with Dad's arthritis.

play-about—(in Australian pidgin) a corroboree intended to entertain.

play-lunch—a snack to be eaten at school recess before lunch.

playa—a crusted salt formation that results from the evaporation of trapped floodwaters. Plants growing in these highly saline areas have close affinities with the salt marshes of coastal regions. The most obvious of these is samphire, a succulent plant with phyllodes in the place of leaves.

played-out—exhausted; tired.

pleased as Punch—extremely pleased.

pleb—plebeian, common, vulgar, distasteful   person.

Pleistocene epoch—a geological time period extending from 2 million years to 10,000 years before present (BP).

plenty tucked away—have great wealth.

plesiosaurs—were large marine reptiles with limbs shaped like flippers, very long necks and relatively small heads. The plesiosaurs that lived in the Eromanga Sea were mostly of an especially long-necked kind called elasmosaurs. Only two of the Australian plesiosaurs have official names (Crimoliasaurus maccoyi and Woolungosaurus glendowerensis) and the most impressive fossils (“Dave” and the Addyman plesiosaur) are yet to be formally identified. Some plesiosaurs had necks longer than their bodies, and their shape has often been described as a snake threaded through a turtle. Because of this odd shape, plesiosaurs were quite slow moving. But to catch fish they could move their head and neck rapidly—like a snake striking. We know that plesiosaurs lived in shallow seas and had to breathe air. They had curved teeth useful for catching fish, but not for chewing or crushing. It’s also likely that they caught and ate the squid-like creatures called belemnites that existed at the time. Some plesiosaur fossils have stones preserved in the stomach area, showing that they swallowed stones (called gastroliths) to grind up food in their stomachs. Like turtles, they probably came ashore to lay eggs on sandy beaches. No nests have ever been found but if they laid eggs, they had to lay them on land. There is no evidence at all that plesiosaurs gave birth to live young in the water. Plesiosaurs inhabited shallow seas and even freshwater lakes. In Australia plesiosaur fossils are sometimes made of precious opal. One 4m specimen from the Andamooka opal fields, now on display in the South Australian Museum, is made up of 36km of opal, worth up to a million dollars.

plonk—1. wine, especially cheap and common. 2. fall; flop; plop; put down; place.

plonko—person addicted to wine; wine alcoholic; a wino.

black-fronted ploverCharadrius melanops, a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. There are about 40 species in the subfamily, most of them called "plover" or "dotterel". The closely related lapwing subfamily, Vanellinae, comprises another 20-odd species. Plovers are found throughout the world, and are characterised by relatively short bills. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel, as longer-billed waders like snipes do. They feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates, depending on habitat, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups. The plover group of birds has a distraction display subcategorized as false brooding, pretending to change position, to sit on an imaginary nest site. A group of plovers may be referred to as a stand, wing, or congregation. A group of dotterels may be referred to as a trip.

plooty—posh; extravagant; upper-class.

plugger—(Australian Rules football) steady player.

plum cake—Despite the name "plum pudding," the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word "plums" as a term for raisins. The pudding is composed of many dried fruits, held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses. Also, flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is aged for a month or even a year. It can age for a long time because it has so much alcohol in it, it never spoils. Many households have their own recipe for Christmas pudding, some handed down through families for generations. Essentially, the recipe brings together what traditionally were expensive or luxurious ingredients—notably, the sweet spices that are so important in developing its distinctive rich aroma. Although it took its final form in Victorian England, the pudding's origins can be traced back to the 1420s, to two sources. It emerged not as a confection or a dessert at all, but as a way of preserving meat at the end of the season. Because of shortages of fodder, all surplus livestock were slaughtered in the autumn. The meat was then kept in a pastry case along with dried fruits acting as a preservative. The resultant large "mince pies" could then be used to feed hosts of people, particularly at the festive season. The chief ancestor of the modern pudding, however, was the pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction originating in Roman times.

plum duff—a plain flour pudding with raisins or currants.

plum in the mouth—affected manner of speech, imitative of a high-class British accent.

plum pinePodocarpus elatus, a small- to medium-sized tree with an upright habit and cylindrical shape. Glossy, dark green leaves are in contrast to the bright, pale green new growth. Edible fruits. Makes an excellent tub plant, or can be planted and pruned to form a hedge. Also known as the mountain plum pine.

plum pudding—a rich, boiled suet pudding with raisins, currants, spices, etc.

plumb tuckered out—absolutely tired and worn-out; exhausted.

plumed whistling-duckDendrocygna eytoni; its most prominent feature is the long, tan-colored feathers, or "plumes", on its wings. The face, neck and breast are light brown in color, and the back is medium brown. The tail is a darker shade of brown, and the wing feathers are chestnut brown with black bars at the front of the wings. Its bill is red with black spots, and its legs and webbed feet are dark pink. Its eyes are a striking color of yellowish orange. This duck species prefers plant material such as grasses, millet, rice, seeds, and rushes, and is found throughout the lush sub-interior grasslands and wetlands with permanent bodies of water, mainly in the Kimberley, Cape York Peninsula and south to Victoria. Shy and wary by nature, these ducks are mostly nocturnal, when they gather into small groups and forage for food. During the day the ducks form larger groups, or flocks of up to several thousand birds, and rest near or in the water, usually hidden by tall grasses. They make their nests in a tree cavity or in the high grasses near the water's edge, using the grass to make a shallow, bowl-shaped nest. The breeding season for these ducks is late in the year, from September through December. During the mating season the drakes become aggressive toward rival males, and they threaten or even fight one another constantly for the right to mate with a chosen female. The female ducks lay 10 to 12 smooth, white eggs which, after 26 to 30 days of incubation by both the make and female, hatch. The ducklings are able to swim fairly soon after hatching. They are cared for and watched over by both parents until they are able to fend for themselves, when they become a regular part of the flock. But a duckling is not fed directly by its parents; rather it is shown where the food is, and with a little help it will feed by itself. Also known as Eyton's tree duck, plumed tree duck.

plummy—1. (of a voice) sounding affectedly rich or deep in tone. 2. good, desirable.

plunge—illicitly rigged race in which, for example, a good horse runs under another name and heavy bets are placed on it.

PNG—Papua New Guinea.

po—chamber pot; potty.

POA—price on application.

poached egg daisyPolycalymma stuartii, a tufted annual forb that grows to 50cm height. Its stems are erect, sticky and hairy and its leaves are long, flat, woolly and grey-green, growing near the base of the plant. The flowers appear on long stalks, are up to 4cm wide and are white with a yellow centre. As the name suggests, the flowers look like poached eggs. The seeds are silky and crowned with a tuft of bristles with tiny barbs. It grows in deep sands such as sandhills, sandplains, dunefields (generally on the flanks of dune rather than the crest) in the Simpson Desert. Formerly known as Myriocephalus stuartii.

pocket—(Australian Rules football) full-forward and full-back positions on the field.

pocket billiards—the game known as pool in the US.

pocket bread—pitta (pita) bread.

poddy-calf—handfed calf.

poddy-dodger—person who steals, poaches unbranded calves.

podocarp—a type of conifer that first appeared in the Late Carboniferous period and includes the yews, araucaria and cypress. Some of the podocarps are relatively small trees with specially thickened trunks that resist the effects of flood but are also hardy to drought. The podocarps are seed-producing plants, or gymnosperms, and have evolved a method of reproduction that is much less water-dependent than the pteridophytes. The word podocarp actually means 'foot fruit', since the part that produces fruit is the foot-shaped stalk. Some of the plants living today grow extremely slowly—specimens only 2m—3m high are well over 200 years old. Nowadays they are limited almost entirely to the Southern Hemisphere but were an important plant in the wetter environments of the past.

podsolic soils—formed on finer textured or less siliceous rocks than podsols, and have a clay subsoil beneath sandy to loam surface soils. These soils are more widespread than the podsols, and are generally less acidic. Practically universal responses to superphosphate, and very frequent responses to one or more of the trace elements, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and boron, have been obtained. The most extensive use of the podsolic soils has been for pastures based on subterranean clover, usually top-dressed annually with superphosphate. This form of land use has increased stock carrying capacity severalfold and built up soil fertility to the stage where increasing use is being made of arable crops, such as potatoes and cereals, to take advantage of the enhanced nitrogen status. After a protracted period of use, the podsolic soils exhibit an uneven incidence of potassium deficiency, but the correction of this is straightforward once it has been recognized. These soils are used for horticultural purposes, particularly for pome fruits, and for forest plantations, especially of Pinus radiata. In more northerly areas some sugar cane is grown on them.

podsols—usually sandy, have a bleached subsoil overlying an organic and ferruginous pan. This pan may be so indurated that root penetration is difficult and temporary water tables form above it. The most extensive areas of these soils are on the coastal plains of south-western Australia, southern Queensland, New South Wales and the large sand islands of the southern Queensland coast. Their coarse texture and poverty in all nutrients has caused them to be neglected until recently. In Queensland, with heavy use of fertilizers, it is possible to develop good pastures. In southern Australia plantations of the exotic trees Pinus radiata and Pinus pinaster give responses to zinc, phosphorus and nitrogen.

Point Culver—discovered by Matthew Flinders in 1802 while exploring the coastline of South Australia. He named it for the cliffs which in the lower parts are nearly white, and thus reminded him of the Culver cliffs on the Isle of Wight. Flinders said in his A Voyage to "Terra Australis", published in 1814: "The shore curved round here, and took a more eastern direction; and the bank of level land, which continued to run along behind it, approached very near to the water side. Three leagues further on it formed cliffs upon the coast; and a projecting part of them, which I called Point Culver, bore N. 77° E. four leagues: this was the furthest land in sight."

Point Danger—composed from cliffs of yellow limestone that are slowly crumbling into the sea. A small reef lies just offshore of the point, often isolated from the beach by a deep sandy channel. The top of the reef is covered with a network of small boulders, seaweed beds, crevices and pools. Once considered a navigational hazard to sailing ships, today the reef is considered just another part of this beautiful and wild coastline of Victoria. Local Aboriginal groups have indicated that there is a high possibility of archaeological sites sites within the area. Point Danger also has a number of important links with European history as a concern to passing ships. In 1891 the reef was struck by the Canadian 3, and as the high seas and tides receded the beach in Zeally Bay and the next four miles east were strewn with parts of the ship, crates and casks of goods. The valuable wreckage sparked off the largest wave of illegal looting, pilfering and smuggling in the Geelong area's history. Today, Point Danger is very popular for sightseeing and shore walks, and is visited by large numbers of people. Snorkelling around Point Danger is a great way to see some of the diversity of the area. Safety considerations include currents and swell. There is ready access to a wide range of facilities within the town of Torquay and along the foreshore.

Point Danger Marine Sanctuary—this 25ha sanctuary is located at Torquay extends to the east for about 600m and to the south for about 300m. As well as containing a typically high invertebrate diversity associated with limestone reefs in Victoria, about 20% of the 96 species of sea slugs (Opisthobranchs) recorded from this site have not yet been scientifically described, and which appear here in a range of exquisite shapes, colours and sizes. The top of the reef is covered with a network of small boulders, seaweed beds, crevices and pools. In many paces the small brown algae, Neptune's necklace (Hormosira banksii), covers the reef and provides protection for underlying invertebrates. The wide variety of spaces within the reef gives rise to a great diversity of animals under the rocks, attached to the sides, in pools, or hidden in cracks. Keyhole limpets, crabs and mussels are abundant. Banded brittle stars and carnivorous worms emerge from under rocks to feed at nightly high tides. On the sides of the reef, brown seaweeds with zigzag stems grow profusely on the rocks, giving way to bright green sea nymph seagrass beds covering the sand. Eagle rays patrol the outer reef edge. Point Danger is formed from cliffs of yellow limestone that are slowly crumbling into the sea. Blocks and slabs litter the beach, merging with a narrow rock platform that stretches around to the west.

Point Lonsdale—a seaside resort and residential town, near the south-eastern tip of the Bellarine Peninsula. Situated at the entrance to Port Phillip, facing the waterway by which Port Phillip Bay is entered from Bass Strait. Point Lonsdale received a signal station in 1852 to help ships negotiate its dangerous waters, known as The Rip. The present lighthouse, built in 1902, houses a signal and observation room for the control of shipping through the Heads. Point Lonsdale is connected to Queenscliff by a sheltered beach spanning the foreshore along the isthmus. The point was named after the first police magistrate in Port Phillip (1837), Captain William Lonsdale. Located on a rocky outcrop forming the western head of Port Phillip Bay, 28km south-east of Geelong and 3km east of Point Nepean, in Victoria.

Point Nepean—the cradle of Victoria's history. This remote and protected area within the Mornington Peninsula contains relics of historical importance. Ruins of heritage value include original fortifications (from 1878) and the Quarantine Station (from 1852). The Australian Heritage Commission has listed the historic values on Point Nepean on the Register of National Estate, and has also been classified by the National Trust for its landscape values. Dense tea-tree scrub now dominates, having spread inland from its coastal confines as the she-oaks, coast banksias and paperbarks were cleared in the early years of grazing and lime-burning. At the time of European settlement the area was woodland dominated by drooping she-oak with scattered moonah. Coast banksia and coast tea-tree grew near the sea, and in wetter areas there was closed scrub of swamp paperbark. The she-oaks and coast banksias are virtually gone, while the paperbark woodland survives only in remnants. It has also been estimated that before settlement there were 300 Bunurong people, but by 1839 the loss of food supplies, murder and disease had reduced their population to 89. By 1877 they were gone. Point Nepean came to national attention in 1962, when the incumbent Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt, vanished while spear-fishing off Cheviot Beach. His body was never recovered. The offshore waters were renamed as the Harold Holt Marine Reserve, and were appointed as part of the Mornington Peninsula National Park.

Point Nepean National Park—(see: Mornington Peninsula National Park).

Point Pearce mission—the Narungga people were removed in the 1860s to a small area of Yorke Peninsula now known as Point Pearce, where a mission was set up by the Moravian church. This was largely at the instigation of settler businessmen, for the purpose of 'civilization and evangelization of the Aborigines'. The mission was maintained until it was taken over by the government in 1915, and continued as an Aboriginal reserve until 1972, when its management was finally relinquished into the hands of its Indigenous residents.

point percy at the porcelain—(of men) to urinate.

Point Peron—rugged limestone cliffs, reefs and beautiful panoramic views are a feature of this very popular area. During WWII, an observation post for the coastal battery was located on the hilltop, and the old buildings remain. A short climb up to the old observation post will give you spectacular views over Cockburn Sound and the offshore islands. Located in Western Australia. Also known as Cape Peron.

point the bone at (someone)—among traditional Indigenous Australians there is no such thing as a belief in natural death—all deaths are considered to be the result of evil spirits or spells, usually influenced by an enemy. Often, a dying person will whisper the name of the person they think caused their death. If the identity of the guilty person is not known, a "magic man" will watch for a sign, such as an animal burrow leading from the grave showing the direction of the home of the guilty party. This may take years but the identity is always eventually discovered. The elders of the mob that the deceased belonged to then hold a meeting to decide a suitable punishment. The expectation that death would result from having a bone pointed at a victim is not without foundation. Other similar rituals that cause death have been recorded around the world. Victims become listless and apathetic, usually refusing food or water, with death often occurring within days of being "cursed." When victims survive, it is assumed that the ritual was not done faultlessly. The phenomenon is recognized as psychosomatic in that death is caused by an emotional response—often fear—to some suggested outside force and is known as "voodoo death." As this term refers to a specific religion, the medical establishment has suggested that "self-willed death," or "bone-pointing syndrome" is more appropriate. The practice still is still common enough that hospitals and nursing staff are trained to manage illness caused by "bad spirits" and bone pointing.

pointsman—1. a person in charge of railway points. 2. a policeman or traffic warden on point-duty.

poke borack/borax—tease, make fun of, ridicule, especially covertly.

poke in the ribs—a reminder.

poke mullock at—ridicule; make fun of.

poker machine—gambling machine used in casinos, etc; slot machine.

pokies—land-based video poker machines. Pokies can be found in virtually every pub, bar, and casino across Australia. At last count, there were more than 185 000 pokies in a country of 20 million people. According to the Australian Productivity Commission's report on gambling, 2.1% of Australians—about 293 000 people—are problem gamblers. They lose around $12,000 each a year, compared to average gambling losses of $650.

polar dinosaurs—in the late 1970s/early 1980s dinosaur remains were discovered along the southern coast of Victoria. Rocks containing dinosaur fossils in this part of Australia date to between 105 and 115 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous period. At this time Australia was still attached to Antarctica. As Australia tore slowly northward from Antarctica it formed a huge rift valley. Most of the fossil-bearing remains from southern Victoria were formed in lakes or stream channels that would have run through the rift valley. The most common types of dinosaur known from the fossil sites, small plant eaters called hypsilophodontids, rarely grew to be more than about 2m in length, with some only reaching half that. Global sea levels were extremely high at this time, and a shallow inland sea split Australia into several large islands. Though dinosaur fossils are rare in Australia, dinosaurs found in the Victorian deposits include relics of the Jurassic era, such as a relative of Allosaurus; ornithomimosaurs, ostrich-like carnivorous dinosaurs; ankylosaurs; and members of the family Hypsilophodontidae, the commonest and most diverse group found thus far. The hypsilophodonts give us a big clue as to the habits of the dinosaurs that lived in these polar environments: they possessed large eyes, and casts of their brains show that they possessed enlarged optic lobes, which indicates acute night vision, which in turn suggests that the hypsilophodonts may have lived in the polar areas for most if not all of the year, including the weeks or months-long polar night.

poley—1. dehorned animal. 2. saddle without kneepads.

Police Paddocks—accommodation built in 1837 for the newly established Native Police force at Narrewarren. This police force comprised 60 troopers at its peak in 1851, and was disbanded in 1853. Located near the town of Dandenong in Victoria.

poling—not pulling one's weight; doing less than one's share, thereby increasing the load of all else concerned. From Australian bullock driving parlance. The ‘polers’, the pair of bullocks nearest to the pole of the wagon, are (next to the leaders) the outer-most pair in the team, and therefore more inclined to slacken their efforts.

poll parrot—a user of conventional or clichéd phrases and arguments.


polling-station—a building, often a school, where voting takes place during an election.

pollutionists—(hist.) a term used by abolitionists to refer to those who did not wish to end transportation—because they sought to continue polluting the country with convicts.

Polwarth—a sheep of a breed originating from a cross of a merino ram and a crossbred ewe (orig. Polwarth, Victoria).

pom/pommy—an English person. A British immigrant was called a pommygrant, a play on wording referring at once to the Ten Pound Pom scheme and the bright red complexion of the new arrivals. This was soon abbreviated to pommy, and then pom. First recorded usage, 1912. Although some argue otherwise, it is not an acronym of prisoner of mother England.

pom pomsPtilotus Manglesii, a long-lived perennial with a woody base and taproot, it begins flowering in late July or August and lasts until January. It requires a sandy soil and cold-house conditions. It seems to dislike the combination of cold and wet. Of course, it is by no means an alpine in the true sense. Its flower head looks like a furry, startlingly pink clover, Ptilotus is in the Amaranthus family.

Pomaderris—the genus Pomaderris is in the family Rhamnaceae, which is commonly known as the buckthorn family. These are all erect shrubs to 3m tall with yellow flowers in spring. Pomaderris aspera is a significant understorey plant of valley sclerophyll forests and riparian scrub in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. Its leaves are large, averaging 10cm x 3.5cm, and deeply etched with the network of veins; so much so, that the dark green leaf appears to ripple between veins. The pale green leaf underside has brown hairs. The spring, greenish flowering is prodigious, with the long flower panicles appearing more noticeable as they turn brown. Like several other Pomaderris, there are no petals on the flowers. The temperate rainforest Pomaderris has been called 'the lettuce leaf of the bush', referring to both its abundance and its role as an important part of the diet of the many insects and birds. P. apetala is confined within the Grampians and Tasmania. It is similar to P. aspera, except that the P. apetala leaf undersurface is "obscured by dense short pale hairs". P. aspera grows in forests and slopes near streams across the eastern ranges of south-eastern Australia. In fencing out creeks on farms or revegetating 'bush' areas in parks, Pomaderris are indicator plants. They represent the importance of the understorey in establishing longer-term 'nature-like' landscapes. They act as nurse crops, protecting insects and birds; their leaves provide food and shade for insects and smaller-sized plants.


ponce—1. effeminate man; having homosexual qualities. 2. one who lives off the earnings of prostitution; a pimp.

ponce about—1. behave in an effeminate manner. 2. behave in an idle, ineffective, useless manner.

poncy—affected; effeminate.

pong—unpleasant smell, odour, stink; to smell as such.

pongy—having an unpleasant smell, odour.

pony—1. (horse-racing) the sum of 25 dollars. 2. small glass of beer—140 ml.

poof/poofter—1. homosexual man. 2. weak, ineffectual, effeminate or cowardly man.

poofter-bashing—malicious behaviour towards homosexuals (or men reputed to be); gay-bashing.

poofy—effeminate; weak; ineffectual.

Pooh-Bah—a pompous, opinionated person.

poon—1. stupid, foolish, weird or eccentric person. 2. a man who likes to sniff girls' bicycle seats.

poonce—1. a homosexual man. 2. weak or effeminate man.

pooncy—weakly effeminate.

pooned up—dressed to impress, especially sexually.

poop-catchers—trousers that are loose around the body but fit tightly at the knees or ankles.

poor as a bandicoot/church mouse—having no money; destitute.

poor bastard/cow—an unfortunate person deserving of sympathy, compassion, support.

pop—1. father; grandfather. 2. each. 3. an attempt, go, try: e.g., I'll have a pop at it.

pop (one's) cork—to display sudden anger or temper.

poplar boxEucalyptus populnea, a species found native in eastern and southern Queensland and the western plains of New South Wales. Distinctive, brownish-gray box-type bark, low branching with a large crown. Juvenile leaves are ovate to orbicular and shining green. Adult leaves are ovate and shining green. Hard, durable wood used for fencing. Trees are excellent for shade and pasture areas. Food source for koala browse. Flower color white, growth rate moderate. Also known as bimble box.

poplar gumEucalyptus alba or E. platyphylla dominates in some areas, often with Melaleuca viridiflora understorey and mixes with Molloy box, which dominates in other areas. Probably related to internal soil drainage, which is impeded in the wet season on solidic soils. Medium grassy woodlands on solidic soils from metamorphics.


Poppy Day—(see: Armistice Day).

poppycock—nonsense; rubbish; worthless talk.

popsie/popsy—young girl; term of endearment for a young girl.

popular as a dag at a sheepshow—not popular at all.

POQ—piss off quick; go away; get lost.

POQ before you get a BSA—piss off quick before you get a bloody sore arse; get lost.

porcupine grass—a regional name for spinifex.

Pormpuraaw—formerly known as Edward River, Pormpuraaw was an Aboriginal community established in 1938 as an Anglican mission. The people included Thaayorre, Wik, Bakanh and Yir Yoront. This was the third mission to be set up in the south-western Cape York region. In 1967 control was passed from the church to the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs. The community received DOGIT status, and is governed by a community council. Pormpuraaw has been successful in developing a commercial crocodile farm, cattle operation and some tourism.

Porongurup National Park—the name of the range is derived from the Aboriginal name Purringorep. The granite from which the Porongurup Range is formed is more than 1100 million years old, and has been exposed by slow weathering of the softer rocks surrounding the range. The resulting diversity of soil types has resulted in a diverse ecosystems within the park. The karri trees which cover the upper slopes grow exclusively on a deep red soil known as karri loam; these trees also need at least 700mm of rain a year. Fossil pollen found in many places throughout south-west Western Australia indicates that in an earlier, wetter era karri forest grew far beyond its present extent. As the climate became drier, the forest gradually retreated west to its stronghold between Manjimup and Walpole. In places where the soil was right, and the rainfall remained high enough, small outliers survived. The Porongurup Range is one such 'island' of karri forest. As well as the beauty of the moss-covered granite rocks and the lush forest, the views from the Porongurup Range are magnificent. From the peaks and other vantage points the Stirling Range is clearly visible to the north and, on a clear day, you can see the Southern Ocean. Located 40 minutes from Albany, WA.

Porongurup Range—(see: Porongurup National Park).

porridge—a food made by boiling some leguminous or farinaceous substance, or the meal of it, in water or in milk, making a broth or thin pudding; as, barley porridge, milk porridge, bean porridge, oat porridge (oatmeal) etc.

port—(Queensland) suitcase; school bag.

Port Adelaide—the principal port of the South Australia, lying 12km to the west of the capital city, Adelaide. The city lies on a waterway called the Port Adelaide River, which was originally a tidal creek but has been dredged to form a port capable of taking medium-sized shipping. The river flows out to the Gulf St Vincent which, together with Spencer Gulf, extends into the continent from Kangaroo Island and the Southern Ocean. Port Adelaide's historic setting creates an atmosphere of previous times, when the early settlers and sailors walked the streets. The port is still busy, with cargo and cruise ships and occasionally sailing ships, entering and leaving.

Port Arthur—one of three Van Diemen's Land convict stations that delivered secondary punishment to those who re-offended after transportation. Two other stations (Macquarie Harbour and Maria Island), lacked a reliable supply of potable water and other natural resources, and were located at a considerable distance from the main settlement at Hobart. Port Arthur was established in 1830 by Lt-Governor Arthur (after whom it was named). The first convicts, many of whom were experienced tree-fellers, arrived in 1830. These men cleared the site and built the settlement, then supplied the timber necessary for creating other settlements. During the 1840s, Port Arthur became a nearly self-sufficient colony, producing ships, sawn timber, clothing, boots and shoes, bricks, furniture, vegetables and other goods. The transport route for these goods crossed over to Norfolk Bay, where commodities and passengers were unloaded at the jetty. Following closure of the gaol in 1877, the settlement was gradually abandoned. During the 47 years that the penal settlement was in operation, nearly 12,500 convicts served their time at Port Arthur. Located 95km south-east of Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula.

Port Arthur Historic Site—an outstanding example of a 19th century European colonial convict settlement. It is a nationally significant symbol of Australia's convict past, symbolising an expansionist period of European history and British strategic objectives while demonstrating aspects of the British penal system. The site exemplifies a world-wide process of colonial settlement using labour provided by forced migration. Port Arthur began operating in 1830 as a timber station. In 1833 it became a prison settlement for male convicts, and quickly established a reputation as 'hell on earth'. Flogging became the norm, and 100 lashes was the usual punishment for many crimes. The prison closed in 1877 and the old prison town receded into relative obscurity. Located on the Tasman Peninsula.

Port Arthur Massacre—on April 28, 1996 Port Arthur suddenly and unexpectedly became infamous once again when the young, blond, none-too-bright Martin Bryant shot 35 people inside a cafe, firing at shopkeepers, shop assistants, tourists and whoever else came within his sight. This incident became known as the Port Arthur Massacre, and led to a federal ban on the possession of several types of guns.

Port Augusta—major port and centre at the top of Spencer Gulf, South Australia, literally on the edge of the desert. Located 322km north of Adelaide, it lies at a crossroads—with Alice Springs and Darwin to the north, the Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula to the west, and Adelaide to the east. The area was probably inhabited by either the Banggarla or Nuguna people prior to European settlement. The harbour was located on 24 May 1852 by Alexander Elder and John Grainger, who named it Port Augusta after Lady Augusta Sophia Young, the wife of the then Governor, Sir Henry Edward Fox Young. Two years later land around the port was being sold for £100 an acre. By the 1860s it was a vital transport node, and for the next century Port Augusta was primarily a port for shipping the wool and wheat from the surrounding area. This activity continued until 1973 when the port ceased to operate. Today, the town’s prosperity is supported by its position as a rural centre.

Port Campbell—a fishing village set on a natural gorge at the mouth of Campbell’s Creek, Victoria. Early settlement was based on pastoral runs, and a small fishing port was developed at Port Campbell. Today the small township is driven by tourism. There is a still a fishing and crayfish industry—Port Campbell is still the only sheltered refuge between Apollo Bay and Warrnambool.

Port Campbell National Park—a 27km coastal strip from Princetown to Peterborough, including the township of Port Campbell. The sculpted coastline had its origins around 10-20 million years ago when billions of tiny skeletal fragments accumulated beneath the sea, gradually creating limestone formations. The sea then retreated, leaving the soft limestone exposed to violent seas and strong winds, which over time have carved out some remarkable features. The 1750ha park is most famed for the Twelve Apostles rock stack and for its historic shipwrecks, the number of which earned it the nickname of Shipwreck Coast. Dramatic and imposing limestone cliffs tower up to 70m above the ocean. Aboriginal people knew this shore well and had cut steps down the sheer cliffs to gain access to marine food sources. Now, extensive boardwalks and viewing platforms ensure visitors can experience sweeping vistas. A tunnel takes visitors under the Great Ocean Road to the viewing platform, which encompasses more than 2400ha along the west coast of Victoria.

Port Cygnet—the Cygnet area was first explored by Bruni D'Entrecasteaux who, in 1793, sailed up the Huon River and named the narrow bay which runs up to Cygnet, Port des Cygnes (the Port of Swans) because of the large number of swans he observed in the area. The first European settler in the district was William Nichols who arrived in 1834. It was Nichols grandson, John Wilson, who established the first shipbuilding business at Port Cygnet. In 1836 an orchard was planted at Petchey's Bay and by 1840 Port Cygnet (as it was known at the time) was surveyed. The area became a major centre for convicts with the establishment of convict probation stations at Port Cygnet, Lymington and Nicholls Rivulet (it is a misspelling of William Nichols name). The population rose dramatically in the late 1840s; however by 1848 the convict stations were in decline. Free settlers arrived and by 1850 a school had been established. The town was named Lovett in 1862 but this was changed to Cygnet in 1915. By the 1930s Cygnet was the centre of an extraordinarily productive fruit-growing region. Located 56 km south of Hobart, Tasmania.

Port Dalrymple—(hist.) early name for the port on the Tamar River at Launceston. New South Wales’ Governor King received a despatch from Lord Hobart (Secretary of State for the Colonies) recommending the establishment at Port Dalrymple. Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson was nominated as Lieutenant Governor of the new colony. The party of 181 soldiers and convicts in four ships arrived at Outer Cove (George Town) on 4 November 1804. Relocation to the current site of Launceston was made two years later, in 1806. Following the naming of Launceston as the main settlement at Port Dalrymple, in 1807, the town’s name gradually extended to the port.

Port Douglas—a popular holiday destination with easy access to the outer Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest areas around Daintree. Settled in 1876 as a port to deliver goods to the inland goldfields on the Hodgkinson River. The Ku Yulanji people inhabiting the area quickly came into violent conflict with the white settlers. What was left of the tribe by the 1890s were moved several times to different locations before their arrival at Mossman Gorge Reserve, where their descendants live to this day. After the Cairns railway was built, the port was bypassed and by 1914 the population had plummeted from its height of 12,000 in 1877 to a mere 250 people. Then, during the go-go 1980s investors saw the tourist potential in the region and poured their money into building holiday resorts for the rich and famous. Located 67km north of Cairns, Far North Queensland.

Port Eden—a fishing port originally settled by whalers. Eden became famous for its killer whales. In the 1920s and 1930s Twofold Bay and the area around Eden was the home for a group of killer whales, led by a whale that became known to locals as Tom. These whales assisted the whalers by herding others whales into Twofold Bay, for the reward of being fed. Eden, located 476km south of Sydney, is the last town of any significance before crossing the border into north-eastern Victoria. With a population of 3277 it is situated 50m above sea level upon undulating land on a point that juts out into Twofold Bay.

Port Essington—and the township which was variously known as Victoria or Port Victoria, is another instance of an unsuccessful attempt to settle the northern coastline of Australia. The ruins of Port Essington are located on the Cobourg Peninsula some 300km north of Darwin, NT. The peninsula was named by the explorer Phillip Parker King after Queen Victoria's uncle, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg. King also named the bay Port Essington after his friend Vice Admiral Sir William Essington. The early history of the area is typical of the north coast of Australia. The impulse to settle the northern extremity of Australia was largely driven by the prospect of a rival French settlement, which was largely misguided because the area was extremely difficult to settle due to monsoonal weather, voracious wildlife, very unfriendly local Aborigines and the lethargy which inevitably affects Europeans who try to work in the tropics. Port Essington was actually chosen as the site of the first settlement but when the settlement party, led by Captain J. J. Gordon Bremer, arrived in 1824 they found that there was no fresh water and so, after three days, they moved to Melville Island, where the settlement at Fort Dundas was established, and failed. In 1837, against all common sense, the British government decided to try again and a settlement was established at Port Essington (officially known as Victoria). It was a military outpost and for the next eleven years was manned almost exclusively by Royal Marines. The population never exceeded 78 and the conditions were harsh. The settlement was abandoned in 1849 and it wasn't until twenty years later that the successful settlement at Palmerston (the modern day site of Darwin) was established. It is worth remembering that Thomas Huxley passed through the settlement just before it closed down in 1849 and left a graphic description of the sheer awfulness of Port Essington, describing it as 'the most wretched, the climate the most unhealthy, the human beings the most uncomfortable and houses in a condition most decayed and rotten'.

Port Fairy—originally inhabited by the Knarn Kolak people long before the arrival of Europeans. They lived a simple life beside the sea and their middens testify to the success of their fishing. The bay on which the town is situated was discovered in the late 1820s when a sealer, Captain James Wishart, sought shelter from a fierce southern storm. His relief in finding such a shelter prompted him to name the area Port Fairy, after his small cutter, The Fairy. From the 1830s, sealers and whalers from Tasmania fished the southern coast of Victoria on a regular basis. John Griffiths, a ship builder and entrepreneur from Launceston set up a permanent whaling station in 1835, on what is now known as Griffiths Island, just off the coast. But the whaling ceased less than a decade later, in 1843. Distinctive bluestone cottages, which were built by the whalers, are still distributed throughout the town. Today Port Fairy prospers on a combination of tourism and fishing. It still boasts one of Victoria's largest fishing fleets. The seas provide good catches of shark (it is a deep sea angler's delight), crayfish and abalone. Located 290km west of Melbourne on the eastern headland of Portland Bay.

Port Gregory—a small seaside town located 47km west of Northampton. The first European to pass through the area was George Grey who, after his abortive attempt to explore the coast north of North­West Cape, was forced to walk back to Perth through the area in 1839. Grey reported the existence of the Hutt River, and in 1841 a government expedition was sent to explore the river but were unable to cross the sandbars. A subsequent exploration party arrived in 1847 and reported favourably on the area's pastoral potential, and in 1848 the explorer A.C. Gregory discovered lead ore in the Murchison River. So it was that on 22 May 1853 F.T. Gregory (brother of A.C. Gregory after whom the port is named) and Captain J. Johnson sailed into the Port Gregory harbour with 60 ticket of leave men. The plan was to hire the convicts to local pastoralists. Port Gregory may be a pretty port but it is not a safe one—between 1853-1867 six vessels were wrecked on the reef. Port Gregory was a short­lived experiment. By 1856 the ticket-of-leave depot was closed down and the port slowly declined in importance. On one level this tiny village is, today, nothing more than a fishing port and a place for people who really want to get away from it all. It is isolated at the end of a dirt road and has only the most minimal of services. However, the area does boast beautiful huge white sand dunes which are 10­15m high, a remarkable pink lake (Hutt Lagoon) and some of the most interesting convict ruins anywhere in Western Australia.

Port Hedland—a substantial port for the Pilbara iron ore industry. With a population of over 15,000, it is an industrial centre totally committed to the extraction, processing and exporting of iron ore. Its key symbols are the huge iron ore crushing mill at Nelson Point, the port with its gigantic iron ore carriers and the seemingly endless iron ore trains (as long as three kilometres and with up to 300 wagons) which move backwards and forwards from the mines at Mount Newman. Located 1761km north of Perth via the North West Coastal Highway or 1660km via the Great Northern Highway, Port Hedland is one of the major iron ore ports in Australia.

Port Jackson—site of the first British settlement in Australia. Although the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay as planned, it soon became apparent that it was unsuitable. So it came about that on January 26 of 1788, all First Fleet ships anchored in Sydney Cove, and Port Jackson was established. The people of the First Fleet spent their early months here clearing, building, surveying, planting, stealing, flogging and being flogged. Within months of their arrival in Port Jackson, Governor Phillip set out again, this time in search of arable land to feed the starving colony. Although Captain Phillip's attitude to the Aboriginals was relatively enlightened for the time, the Europeans proceeded on an assumption that their right to the land was unquestionable. Relations with the Aborigines, characterised by mutual incomprehension, gradually worsened. Land use in the Port Jackson catchment is now mainly residential, commercial, recreational and bushland. Port Jackson is situated at the mouth of Sydney Harbour.

Port Jackson figFicus rubiginosa, a bushy tree with very dark green leaves, height to 10m with a 6m spread, and warty, yellow or red fruit. The tree and its fruit were particularly useful to Aborigines: the inner bark was used to make twine used to weave dilly bags and fishing nets; the soft timber was fashioned into coolamons, firesticks and shields; and the milky sap was used as a natural latex to cover wounds. The fruit is also a favourite food of flying foxes.

Port Jackson pineCallitris rhomboidea, a widespread but not common tree, found in woodlands on the coast and the tablelands of New South Wales. Tolerant of poor soils and drought. Fast growing tall shrub or small tree, 3-6m x 2-3m; female cones 2cm across, brown and rhomboid-shaped. Termite-resistant wood is used locally for building timber and as posts. Koori uses included employing the resin as glue to fasten axe heads onto wooden handles, etc.

Port Jackson sharkHeterodontus portusjacksoni, one of the most common sharks seen in southern Australian waters, especially in New South Wales. Port Jackson's have a distinctively blunt head with a "pursed" mouth. They are usually grey in colour with tints of brown or green, and a black-banded pattern on the body similar in shape to the harness worn by a seeing-eye dog. Probably the most well known of the eight species of norn shark, the Port Jackson species ranges from southern Queensland to Geraldton in Western Australia.

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