Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Rothchild's Rock Wallaby

Rothschild's rock-wallaby (Petrogale rothschildi) from Karijini National Park
by Evan Pickett (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

roadtrain—a trucking concept used in remote areas to move freight efficiently. A roadtrain consists of a relatively conventional tractor unit, but instead of pulling one trailer or semi-trailer, a road train pulls two or more of them. The government of South Australia operated a fleet of AEC 8x8 military trucks to transport freight and supplies into the Northern Territory, replacing the Afghan camel trains that had been trekking through the deserts since the late 19th century. These trucks pulled two or three 6m Dyson four-axle self-tracking trailers. With 130hp, the AECs were grossly underpowered by today's standards, and drivers and offsiders routinely froze in winter and sweltered in summer due to the truck's open cab design and the position of the engine radiator, with its 1.5m cooling fan, behind the seats. Kurt Johansson is recognised as the inventor of the modern road train. After transporting stud bulls 320 km to an outback property, Johansson was challenged to build a truck to carry 100 head of cattle instead of the original load of 20. Provided with financing of a couple of thousand pounds and inspired by the tracking abilities of the Government roadtrain, Johansson began construction. Two years later his first road train was running, consisting of a U.S. Army World War II surplus Diamond-T tank carrier, nicknamed "Bertha", and two home-built self-tracking trailers. Both wheel sets on each trailer could steer, and therefore could negotiate the tight and narrow tracks and creek crossings that existed throughout Central Australia in the earlier part of the last century. Freighter Trailers in Australia viewed this improved invention and went on to build self-tracking trailers for Kurt and other customer. This first example of the modern road train, along with the AEC Government Roadtrain, forms part of the huge collection at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Australia has the largest and heaviest road-legal vehicles in the world, with some configurations topping out at close to 200 tonnes, though the majority are between 80 and 120 tonnes. Double (two-trailer) roadtrain combinations are allowed in most areas of Australia, and within the environs (albeit limited) of Adelaide, SA and Perth, WA. Their cost-effective transport has played a significant part in the economic development of remote areas; some communities are totally reliant on regular service.

roam around like a lost sheep—toil, wander, behave aimlessly, without direction or purpose.

roar shit out of (someone)/roar (someone) up—reprimand, scold, rebe (someone) severely.

Roaring Forties—the persistent, strong to gale-force westerly winds in the 40's latitudes and below. Dutch sea captains would exploit this feature on their trips to the so-called Spice Islands of the Indonesian archipelago. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, instead of turning north-east towards Indonesia, they would stay close to 40'S and hitch a ride on the roaring forties across the Indian Ocean. Then they would turn almost due north and sail up the coast of Western Australia. The winds are mostly caused by the radiative cooling of the Antarctic ice sheet. Cold, very dense air under the influence of gravity drains downwards off the ice-dome and towards the coast. The flow of wind moves slowly at first, accelerating as it moves toward the ocean. The cold air then flows northward away from Antarctica and interacts with warmer air from the ocean, forming intense low-pressure systems, or polar cyclones, that ride the Southern Ocean. The strong, circumpolar westerly winds that blow unimpeded around the mid-latitudes were known to early sailors as the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, in reference to the latitudes in which they occur.

Robertson Rainforest—a warm temperate/cool temperate rainforest type characterised by pink alder, Polyosma cunninghamia and sassafras. Ground cover is a dense fern understorey. The community occurs on high-nutrient soils in high-rainfall areas of the Southern Highlands, within the Sydney Basin bioregion. The community includes vertebrates and invertebrates, many of which are poorly known. Robertson Rainforest has been extensively cleared for agriculture and rural development. About 400ha-600ha, or about 20% of its original extent, is estimated to survive, though mostly as fragmented remnants. Much of the remaining area of the rainforest is highly fragmented, with much of it occurring on private land.

Robinson, George Augustus—travelled Tasmania between 1829 and 1834, gathering the Aboriginal people who were still alive. He did this with the approval of the colonial government and a promise of protection to the people. The 135 survivors he collected from the mainland were sent to Settlement Point, a bleak settlement on Flinders Island in Bass Strait. The site is now known by its Aboriginal name of Wybalenna.

rock art—represents Aboriginal history and mythology, maintaining a link with their ancestors. The oldest examples of art anywhere in the world are found in some Aboriginal rock paintings, found on rocks and cave walls in Australia. There is evidence for artistic activity for the entire span of human occupation of Australia, with the oldest painted and engraved surfaces dated back perhaps as far as 40,000 BP, and signs of artists working with ochre paint as far back as 60,000 years ago. Mimi spirits were the first of the Creation Ancestors to be painted on rock. They taught some Aboriginal people how to paint and other Aboriginal people learned by copying Mimi art. At the end of their journeys, some Creation Ancestors put themselves on rock walls as paintings and became djang (Dreaming places). Some of these paintings are andjamun (sacred and dangerous) and can be seen only by senior men or women; others can be seen by all people.

rock chopper—1. a navvy. 2. a Roman Catholic.

rock college—prison.

rock doveColumba livia; Australian rock doves (33cm to 36cm) are descended from the rock pigeon that is found in Europe and Asia. Many plumage variants have been developed by selective breeding over the years; the most common colours of feral birds are a mixture of grey, black, white and brown, with purple and green sheens. The most common call is a moaning cooo-rooooo-cu-cu. At close range, the rock dove cannot be mistaken for any other bird. The rock dove is native to Europe, Africa and Asia, where it prefers open agricultural areas. Wild birds have been largely swamped by the great numbers of feral individuals. In Australia, the rock dove has not ventured far from human settlement, being found in large numbers in capital cities and larger towns, with the exception of Darwin. The rock dove breeds at any time of the year, but peak times are spring and summer (July to February). Nesting sites are situated along coastal cliff faces, as well as the artificial cliff faces created by apartment buildings with accessible ledges or roof spaces. Rock doves nest in large colonies, which quickly deface buildings with their droppings.

rock engravings—engraving is a very old technique, created by a human removing part of a rock surface, either by rubbing or by hitting it with a stone or other object. The earliest petroglyphs were probably abraded grooves. Abraded designs were produced by repeatedly rubbing a soft rock such as sandstone with a harder stone. Pecked designs were made by striking the rock surface with a pointed stone or shell to form a series of small, round holes. The pecked designs took a variety of forms: concentric circles, lines, the outlines of animals, people, fish, birds, weapons, reptiles, animal tracks and mythical beings. In certain engravings (sometimes called pecked intaglio) the whole surface of the picture was hollowed out. Rock engravings are commonly found in the open on natural rock exposures such as large flat rocks or cliff faces. They can be very large, especially in the Sydney sandstone district, where there is an engraved whale 13m long and 3.5m wide. Although most engravings are hundreds or thousands of years old, some that show sailing ships were created as recently as the time of European settlement.

rock figFicus platypoda, the most widely distributed of all Australian figs, ranging from rock outcrops in the Central Desert to the thickest rainforest. Often multi-trunked, it has smooth grey bark and grows to 9-12m. Its foliage is evergreen, dark/black, smooth-textured, shiny/glossy, leathery. It bears bright orange to red fruit. Wherever it grows, the fruit is an important food for birds and animals. The fruit can be eaten when soft and ripe; in the Central Desert region, Aboriginal people made it into dried cakes as a survival food. Horticulturally, it is suitable for use in bonsai; its tendency to form a wide trunk base and small leaves being attractive features. It is endemic to central and northern Australia, and Indonesia. Also known as the desert fig.

rock kangaroo—(see: rock-wallaby).

rock melon—canteloupe.

rock painting—ochre is the main pigment used in rock art and is plentiful across most of Australia. Pieces of ochre, including some showing signs of wear through use, have been found in almost all of Australia's Ice Age sites. Most have been radiocarbon dated, and the dates range from 10,000 to 40,000 years. In Arnhem Land, there is no certainty either that ochre was used for painting from the beginning; or that painting with ochre was on rock surfaces (rather than on perishable subjects); or that the first paintings on rock are amongst the ones that survive. However, the hardness of much of the ochre found in deposits strongly suggests that it was used on rock or other hard surfaces and the pattern of wear is totally consistent with use of the ochre in art. The oldest dates so far found by direct dating of art were obtained by geologist Alan Watchman for layers of pigment in two rock-shelters on Cape York in north Queensland, one of 25,000 years and one of almost 30,000 years. There is, however, indirect evidence going back a lot further, leading some archaeologists to argue that the rock art galleries in northern Australia are probably the oldest in the world. Australia's earliest known artistic system is the rock engravings in the Olary region of South Australia. These geometric engravings of circles, tracks, cupules and other designs are thickly coated with desert varnish that has been radiocarbon dated to around 40,000 years ago. The style of these older engravings is remarkably uniform across Australia and other parts of the world. With more than one million individual petroglyphs, the Pilbara region has what appears to be the largest concentration of Ice Age art in the world. The earliest evidence of human occupation yet found in Australia is in two rock shelters in Arnhem Land. In the lowest layer of material at these sites there are used pieces of ochre—evidence for paint used by artists 60,000 years ago. These shelters lie at the foot of the western Arnhem Land escarpment in the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory. Both have faded paintings on their back walls, but these cannot be dated and are likely to be much younger than the oldest stone tools in the occupational deposits.

rock she-oakCasuarina huegeliana, a small to medium tree (height to 15m,) suited to well-drained soils. It is an important habitat species associated with granite outcrops in the wheatbelt, and shallow soils. Annual rainfall—approximately 300mm—700mm. Grows on a wide variety of well drained soils, including gravels and sands, but will not tolerate waterlogged or saline sites. Highly palatable to grazing animals (including wallabies and kangaroos). Rock she-oak is highly valued as a specialty timber, used for cabinet making and furniture. It's distinctive colour, rays and grain make it particularly attractive.

rock shelter—an Aboriginal cave-dwelling.

rock spiders—prison lingo for child molesters.

rock tassel fernHuperzia squarrosa, which grows in the Wet Tropics today, is very similar to 415 million-year-old fossils from Victoria. Tassel ferns are epiphytes, with long dangling stems. Some end in long tassel-like ‘clubs’, which are the spore-bearing cones. However in H. squarrosa the fertile spore-bearing leaves are the same as the normal leaves, a characteristic considered very primitive and indicative of its ancient lineage. It grows on trees in low-land swamps and rainforests and appears to be quite rare in its native habitat, though hey can easily be seen in the Daintree lowlands, such as along Mossman River. Also known as the water tassel or rock tassel.

rock thryptomeneThryptomene saxicola—a member of a purely Australian genus of thirty-five or forty species spread throughout all states of Australia, including Tasmania, although T. saxicola itself is confined to the Stirling and Eyre districts of south-western Western Australia. It grows among granite outcrops in these districts, hence its common name. The species is usually an erect shrub, 1m high, but may often have rather pendulous branches. The prolific pink-hued flowers are axillary and are borne along the upper short lateral branches. Leaves are 5mm—10mm long and obovate with a characteristic Myrtaceae smell when crushed. It can be used for cut flowers, as severe pruning has no detrimental effect on its vigour or shape. Like most Thryptomene species, T. saxicola is spring flowering, but carries some flowers most of the year.

rock-ape—oaf; idiot.

rock-cake—a small currant cake with a hard rough surface.

rock-wallaby—there are 15 species of the Petrogale family. These small marsupials are extremely attractive and often have interesting markings. Their hind feet are thick and padded and resemble the radial tyres of cars—this is good for moving around their preferred habitat of rocky hills, cliffs and gorges. Rock-wallabies mostly eat grass but may also browse on herbs, leaves and fruit. They are most active at night, though sometimes but feed in the late afternoon and bask during the early morning. Breeding is fairly continuous after the female reaches sexual maturity. After they have left the pouch, the young are usually deposited in a sheltered position while the mother goes foraging. She regularly returns to suckle them until they are weaned.

rocket—a cruciferous annual plant, Eruca sativa, grown for salad; arugula.

Rockhampton—founded in 1855, soon after the pioneering Archer Brothers settled at Gracemere, 6.5km to the west. It was named by Queensland's first Land Commissioner, who was inspired by the rocks in the river. A mini-gold rush at Canoona—48kms to the north—accelerated the establishment of the city. Gold discoveries at nearby Bouldercombe, Mount Wheeler and Mount Morgan ensured continued economic growth of the region. Grazing, mining, farming and meat processing quickly developed as the primary industries of the resource-rich area, and Rockhampton thrived as the service centre.

Rockingham Bay—in January 1864 a small party of 20 men landed at Rockingham Bay, the first white settlement north of Bowen. Within days they had set up camp, surveyed off the first streets and begun work on clearing a track over the range. Now known as Dalrymple Track, it still includes the oldest engineering structure in North Queensland, the stone-pitched bridge at Damper Creek. The coastal floodplains of the Murray, Tully and Hull Rivers, which discharge into Rockingham Bay, are wetlands subject to extensive flooding in the wet season. Mangroves fringe the coast and movement in the area was very difficult; it was not until the 1880s that the first settlers became established. The Dyiru-speaking Aboriginal people who inhabited this island coast were linguistically, culturally and socially related to the Dyirbal, Girramay and Gulngay groups of the Tully and Murray River districts. In 1873 Dalrymple undertook an expedition which explored the North East coast, and he reported favourably that the Rockingham Bay area was suitable for farming right back to the ranges. Following his official report, this area was subsequently opened for selection as freehold land or leases. Chinese banana growers along the Tully River were numerous after 1900. The Chinese employed Aboriginal labourers, and opium addiction became a problem. Other problems arose from the inevitable conflict resulting from white settlers moving into the traditional hunting territories of the Aboriginal people. The Queensland government proposed to establish the Hull River Aboriginal Settlement on high ground at the north end of what is now South Mission Beach to combat the opium and other problems. There was never an actual mission at the site and Aboriginal people from the local area and from elsewhere in Queensland were taken there in chains as if to a penal settlement. However, the local people always referred to the settlement as "the mission" and the beach became known as "Mission Beach". The devastating cyclone of 1918 destroyed the establishment and no attempt was made at reconstruction. Instead, the Aboriginal people were removed to Palm Island, which was chosen as the preferred location for a new government settlement.

Rocks—(the...) part of Sydney west of Sydney Cove.

Rodinia—the oldest known supercontinent formed approximately 1 billion years ago due to the subduction of ocean basins followed by a series of continental collisions. The Rodinia supercontinent, situated about the South Pole, is thought to have persisted over 250 million years. Supercontinent rifting and breakup occurred approximately 725 million years ago, producing new ocean basins and rift faults.

Roebuck Bay—the bay was named after explorer William Dampier's vessel by the crew of the HMS Beagle who visited the bay in 1840, as a tribute to his contribution to exploration. At low tide, the milky turquoise waters retreat to expose a horizon of mud flats, one of the most important migration stopover points for shorebirds in Australia. The waterbirds are highly diverse: 64 species have been recorded, 34 of which are listed under treaties. As a wetland of global significance, it is a Ramsar site. Roebuck Bay is located immediately south of Broome, in the Northern Territory.

rogue's gallery—collection of police photographs of criminals.

roll in—1. arrive. 2. retire; go to bed.

roll over—resign, retire gracefully: e.g., It's time he rolled over and let a younger man take his place in the business.

roll-up—originally, a mass meeting of miners to consider an individual grievance or an issue of common concern; used in mining contexts well into the twentieth century. But by the end of the nineteenth century it had developed its transferred sense of ‘an assembly', which is now its primary meaning in Australian English: e.g. He hoped for a big roll-up at next Thursday's library meeting.

Roller—Rolls Royce car.

rollie—a hand-made cigarette.

rolling in clover—wealthy.

Rolls Royce—the best of anything, when used as a comparison.

Roma—steeped in colourful history, Roma, 261km west of Dalby, claims many firsts: the first gazetted settlement after Queensland separated from NSW in 1859; the state’s first wine-making venture in 1863; the first natural gas strike in Australia in 1900. Although sheep and cattle are major resources of this area, natural gas is still piped the 480km to Brisbane. A brief rush for oil was short-lived and the area is now dotted with abandoned rigs. The Big Rig at the entrance to the town stands as a memorial to Roma's romance with oil, while they are still making wine for visitors' tasting pleasure at the Romavilla Winery. Bushranger Harry Redford (Captain Starlight) was tried here and cleared of cattle duffing. Redford later masterminded the theft of 1000 head which were driven to South Australian saleyards—an epic drive that partly-inspired Thomas Alexander Browne's (Rolf Boldrewood) novel, Robbery Under Arms, which was subsequently made into two feature films. Roma sits at the junction of the Warrego and Carnarvon highways.

Roman hands and Russian fingers—(of a man) given to fondling, touching women in a lewd manner.

romp home—door win with ease: e.g., Our team romped home in the grand finals this year.

Ron—contraction of later on: e.g., I'll have one cigarette now and put another behind my ear for Ron.


roo bar—strong safety bar attached to the front of a vehicle to minimise the possibility of damage to the vehicle if an animal is hit.

roof party—drinks to celebrate the roof being finished in the building of a home.

rook—1. swindler; cheat. 2. an act of cheating; a swindle. 3. to swindle or cheat.

Roos—North Melbourne VFL football team.

rooster one day and a feather duster the next—(to be a...) pertaining to the uncertainty of success, especially in politics.

Roosters—Eastern Suburbs New South Wales Rugby League football team.

root—a euphemism for sexual intercourse—which has caused social embarrassment for American women who innocently declare that they "root" for a particular sports team.

root my boot!—an exclamation of exasperation etc.

rooted—1. tired; exhausted. 2. broken; ruined; destroyed. 3. thwarted; frustrated. 4. dead. 5. indulged in sexual intercourse.

ropeable—bad-tempered; angry; irritable.

Roper River—a picturesque tropical river in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Formed by the confluence of the Little Roper and the Waterhouse rivers, it flows 80km southward before merging to form the Roper near Mataranka. Just upstream from the confluence, warm artesian waters flow continuously from streams, keeping the Roper clear and running all year. Located in the Northern Territory.

rort—1. a boisterous, wild and energetic party or occasion. 2. an illicit scheme or racket; a scam.

Rose Hill—site of the earliest colonial settlement outside of Sydney Cove, later renamed Parramatta.

Rose Hill parrot—the original name of the rosella.

rose malleeEucalyptus rhodantha, a low, spreading mallee that grows up to four metres high with smooth greyish brown stems and bluish green branches. The flowers are large, growing up to 7.5 centimetres across and are bright red to pink in colour. They are pollinated by several species of birds and small mammals, including the white-fronted honeyeater and the honey possum. The fruit of the rose mallee is woody and contains dark brown, winged seeds. Flowers from March to November each year. The rose mallee is known from fewer than 400 individual plants near Three Springs and Watheroo in the northern wheatbelt of Western Australia.

Rose of the West—(see: mottlecah).

rose-breasted cockatoo—(see: galah).

rosella—1. an Australian parrot of the species Platycercus. Three subspecies are reconised, P. eximius eximius, eastern rosella, the nominate form, 30cm, which occurs in central and southern New South Wales, across Victoria to south-east South Australia; P. eximius cecilae, the larger golden mantle rosella, 33cm, found in north-west New South of Wales and south-east Queensland; and P. eximius diemensis, the Tasmanian rosella, 30cm, which is endemic to Tasmania. 2. an easily-shorn sheep. 3. the shrub and fruit (from which jam is made) of northern Australia Hibiscus heterophyllus used as a food plant and as an ornamental.

Rosenberg's goannaVaranus rosenbergi, a lizard that reaches up to 1.5m in length. It is dark grey above, finely spotted with yellow or white, and with paired, blackish cross-bands from the neck to the end of the tail. The pairs of narrow, regular bands around the entire length of the tail is a distinguishing feature, separating it from the more common lace monitor, which has very wide, light and dark bands towards the tip of the tail. Rosenberg’s goanna also has distinct, finely barred “lips”, whereas the lace monitor has far broader bands around the snout. A pale-edged black stripe runs from the eyes, across the ears and onto the neck. Juveniles are brighter in colour, having an orange wash on the sides of the face and body. Rosenberg's goanna occurs on the Sydney Sandstone in Wollemi National Park to the north-west of Sydney, in the Goulburn and ACT regions and near Cooma in the south. There are records from the South West Slopes near Khancoban and Tooma River. Also occurs in South Australia and Western Australia. It is found in heath, open forest and woodland. Nests in termite mounds. Individuals require large areas of habitat. Feeds on carrion, birds, eggs, reptiles and small mammals. Shelters in hollow logs, rock crevices and in burrows, which they may dig for themselves, or they may use other species' burrows, such as rabbit warrens. Runs along the ground when pursued (as opposed to the lace monitor, which climbs trees). Lays up to 14 eggs in a termite mound; the hatchlings dig themselves out of the mounds. Generally slow moving; on the tablelands likely only to be seen on the hottest days.

rosiner—strong alcoholic drink; pick-me-up.

Ross, John—was appointed by Charles Todd to lead an advance expedition through the centre to determine a route for the Overland Telegraph. John Ross, a Scottish-born bushman in his fifties, had to mark out the trail which the line would follow. There had to be enough water and timber and no mountains. Ross followed John McDouall Stuart's tracks as close as possible but had deviate in the MacDonnell Ranges.

Ross River (NT)—small settlement 87km east of Alice Springs on the Ross Highway, both the town and the highway were named after the explorer John Ross. The area now known as Ross River was originally settled by Tennant and Love in 1876. Life in the area at that time was extraordinarily hard. The nearest railhead was at Oodnadatta which was 600km away. With the discovery of gold at Arltunga the station owner, a man called Albert Wallis, started growing vegetables to feed the miners.

Ross River (Qld)—a river located in northern Queensland, flowing from Lake Ross, through the city of Townsville, across the flat coastal plain and into the Coral Sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is the major waterway flowing through Townsville and the city's main source of drinking water. The river flows from the Hervey Range, northward and bends east around Mount Stuart into the city. The mouth of the river is located just south east of Townsville. Flow rates in the river are controlled by the Ross River Dam, the largest dam in the catchment.

Ross River virus/fever—one of a group of viruses called arboviruses (or arthropod-borne viruses), which are spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Many people who are infected with the virus will never develop symptoms, while some people will have flu-like symptoms that include fever, chills, headache and aches and pains in the muscles and joints. Symptoms usually develop about 7-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The majority of people recover completely in a few weeks. Others may experience symptoms such as joint pain and tiredness for many months. The virus is spread by certain types of female mosquitoes. If they feed on the blood of an infected animal, the mosquito may become infected. The virus then multiplies within the mosquito and is passed to other animals or people when the mosquito feeds again. The virus is not spread directly from one person to another. Ross River virus infections are the most common mosquito-borne infection in Australia, and infections occurs in many rural areas in NSW. There is no specific treatment for Ross River virus infection.

roster—a list or plan showing turns of duty or leave for individuals or groups.

rostered on—scheduled (to work).

rot—1. nonsense; rubbish; worthless talk. 2. (as an exclamation) expression of scorn, dissent, contempt.

rot is setting in—failure, disaster etc is taking hold; undesirable or corrupt influences are insidiously infiltrating.

rot your socks—expression of disgust, disappointment: e.g., Wouldn't it rot your socks the way prices keep going up!

Rotamah Island—renowned for its prolific bird life, with more than 190 species recorded. Commonly sighted birds include emus, grebes, cormorants, pelicans, rosellas, robins and the white-bellied sea eagle. The island also supports eucalypt and banksia woodland on its sandy soils. Much of the island is open woodland, a result of the grazing that once occurred, but lower-lying areas contain dense stands of melaleuca. The island supports populations of eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, possums, echidnas, wombats, reptiles and bats. Rotamah Island is surrounded by Lake Victoria and Lake Reeve to the north, and the dunes of the Ninety Mile Beach to the south. Rotamah Island had a number of occupants until 1975 when it was purchased by the Victorian Government. In 1978, Rotamah and Little Rotamah islands were added to The Lakes National Park. In late 1979 the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, now called Birds Australia, began leasing the island's homestead to operate as a bird observatory. Currently, the observatory is involved in various research programs as well as regularly running weekend natural history courses.

Roth's tree frogLitoria rothii, a tree frog native to northern Australia. It is a common frog, closely related to Peron's tree frog (Litoria peronii) and Tyler's tree frog (Litoria tyleri). It is a medium-sized frog, reaching a maximum length of 5.7cm. The body is elongated, with a small head and large eyes. It is an arboreal frog, and its toe pads are wider than its fingers. The dorsal surface is a dull grey to brown colour, and can be blotched with dark brown. The inner thighs and armpits are black and blotched with bright yellow or orange. The tympanum is visible, with a fold of skin covering the top portion. Roth's tree frog lacks emerald green flecks on the dorsal surface. Also, the upper half of the iris is deep red. These two characteristics distinguish it from Perons' tree frog and Tyler's tree frog. Roth's tree frog breeds during the wet season, from November to March. The call is 7-9 loud, chuckling or cackling sounds that resemble laughter. Eggs are laid in temporary pools of water, and the tadpoles take a maximum of 65 days to metamorphose. The colour of Roth's tree frog is extremely variable, and can change from pale grey to dark brown within hours. Typically, they are grey during the day whilst basking in the sun, and are brown at night. Also known as the northern laughing tree frog.

rotten as a chop—very drunk; intoxicated.

rotten sod/rotter—despicable, corrupt, unpleasant person.

Rottnest Island—a 1900ha limestone island about 11km long by 4.5km wide. The island has five salt lakes of over 200ha. In 1696, a Dutch Mariner, William Vlamingh landed on the island and named it Rottnest, Dutch for 'rat's nest', because he mistook the marsupial inhabitants—quokkas—for large rats. In its time Rottnest has been a holiday home for the Governor, a prison for Aborigines and a defence forces base. Today it is primarily a holiday island, although it is also widely used for education camps and as a convention centre. Because of it's situation, surrounded by ocean, Rottnest enjoys cooler summers and warmer winter weather than the mainland.

rough as bags/guts/hessian drawers—1. uncultured; unsophisticated; uncouth; coarse. 2. rough; shoddy; not smooth.

rough edge/side of (one's) tongue—severe or harsh words.

rough end of the pineapple—unfair treatment.

rough justice—1. treatment that is approximately fair. 2. treatment that is not at all fair.

rough sheep—a sheep that is difficult to shear.

rough tongue—a habit of rudeness in speaking.

rough tree-fernCyathea australis, the common name coming from the presence of adventitious roots, tubercles (knobbly bits) and masses of hair-like scales on its ‘trunk’. The trunk-like structure on a tree-fern is actually a greatly enlarged rhizome. It is an extremely hardy species, even capable of tolerating direct sun if the roots are kept cool and damp. It is also a robust tub plant and is unusual in that it is tolerant of salty winds.

rough trot—a period of misfortune.

rough-barked gums—half of the eucalypts are termed rough-barked, in which the outer annual increment of dead bark simply dries out, leaving the natural fibres which do not shed and which accumulate year after year. These may remain loosely intertwined, as in stringybarks and peppermints, or become infused with gum exudates which harden, resulting in ironbark or the compacted types of rough bark, e.g. gully gum and river peppermint. The ironbarks only occur in northern and eastern Australia, though some species from south-western Western Australia have very hard, rough bark, it is thinner than that of the ironbarks, to which they are entirely unrelated. The rough bark may cover the whole trunk and branches, or it may shed from the branches, or from the trunk only, but then only to certain characteristic heights up the trunk. Consequently, we refer to species as being wholly rough-barked or partly rough-barked, half-barked, or with rough bark only at the base (e.g., black butt). There will be a range of variation in the bark between trees of the same species.

rough-dry—dry (clothes) without ironing.

rough-head—rustic, unsophisticated person.

rough-rider—1. a person who breaks in or can ride unbroken horses. 2. rodeo cowboy. For the Australian pioneer, the horse was a necessity, and rarely was it a willing servant. To survive in the outback a man had to ride horses that were not completely trained for the task at hand, and it was this ability that became a status symbol among stockmen. This esteem is the basis of the regard for the successful rough rider.

rough-scaled snake—Queensland's 16th most deadly snake, found in rainforests, moist forests, heaths, pastures and regenerated forests, coastally in widely separated blocks, from Fraser Island to the New South Wales border. To 1m, back dull green or grey-green with darker grey-black flecks and blotches, sometimes narrow bands, belly grey-green.

roughie—a bawdy lout; one inclined towards violence and trouble.

round brackets—parentheses.

round figures—to the nearest ten.

round file—the waste-paper basket, considered to be the best place to put or 'file' unwanted written material.

round robin—1. a petition signed by many, especially one in which signatures are arranged in a circle to disguise the order of signing. 2. sporting fixture designed so that each competitor or team plays against every other.

round the traps—(been...) to have been here and there; knowledge of  the gossip, news and happenings of a particular milieu.

round the twist—insane; mad; crazy.

round-arm—(cricket) bowling with the arm swung horizontally.

roundabout—1. a road junction at which traffic moves in one direction round a central island. 2. a merry-go-round.

rouse/roust on (someone)—scold, reprove, reprimand (someone).

rover—1. (cap.) a senior Scout. (Australian Rules football) one of three players making up the ruck.

Roxby Downs—a town in South Australia created to house and service the mine-workers of the Olympic Dam Mine. First discovered in 1975, the uranium deposit at Roxby Downs is the world’s third largest. A workforce of 800 was employed to exploit the estimated reserves of 450 million tonnes. The Olympic Dam operations were opened in November 1988, and the town population is now approximately 4000. Located 564km north of Adelaide (by road) and 90km NE of Pimba, the township of Roxby Downs has become a centre for tourism in the outback region of South Australia. Located within 1-2 hours' drive from Roxby Downs are Lake Eyre, the Oodnadatta Track and Marree to the north; Lake Torrens and the Andamooka opal fields to the east; and the Woomera Rocket Range in the south.

Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act—provides for the development of a project recovering 150,000 t/a of copper metal and associated products, and defines the obligations of the state and the then joint venturers. In addition to the conditions laid down in the indenture, the mining partners are obliged to comply with relevant state and Commonwealth legislation and codes of practice relating to environmental issues.

Roy—the sophisticated, status-conscious Australian—as opposed to 'Alf'.

Royal Alfred—(obsolete) large swag, as carried by a swagman.

Royal Assent—The last stage in the process by which a Bill becomes an Act; the Governor-General, representing the Queen, gives it formal approval.

Royal Australian Mint—His Royal Highness, The De of Edinburgh, officially opened the Royal Australian Mint, Canberra, on Monday 22nd February 1965. The Mint was commissioned to produce Australia’s decimal coinage, which was to be introduced into circulation on 14th February 1966. The Royal Australian Mint holds a place in history as the first mint in Australia not to be a branch of the Royal Mint, London. Since opening in 1965 the Mint has produced over eleven billion circulating coins and has the capacity to produce over two million coins per day, or over six hundred million coins per year. The Royal Australian Mint has struck coins for a number of South Pacific nations. Export coins were first struck in 1969 for New Zealand and, since then, coins have been produced for Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Israel and Tokelau.

royal bluebellWahlenbergia gloriosa is a small perennial herb with oblong leaves about 2.5 cm long; the leaf margins are conspicuously waved. The violet blue flowers are up to 2-3 cm in diameter and often appear to have a paler centre due to the light blue base of the petals combined with the purple style which ends in two white stigmas. The flowers may be erect or nodding and are carried on long slender stems. Royal bluebell occurs mainly in sub-alpine woodland in the Australian Capital Territory, south-eastern New South Wales and Victoria. It is legally protected throughout its occurrence in the wild. The Royal bluebell was announced as the floral emblem of the Australian Capital Territory on 26 May 1982 by the Hon. Michael Hodgman, the Minister for the Capital Territory.

Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust—a statutory body established by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Act 1980. The Act was amended in 1983 to increase the number of Trustees from five to seven, and in 1985 to vest additional land in the Trust. The legislation defines the powers, authorities, duties and functions of the Trust and vests certain land and property in the Trust. It also governs the regulations relating to all three Gardens and the Domain. Trust objectives: to maintain and improve Trust lands, the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the collections of living and preserved plant life owned by the Trust to increase and disseminate knowledge about the plant life of Australia, and of New South Wales in particular to encourage the public use and enjoyment of Trust lands by promoting and increasing the educational, historical, cultural and recreational value of these lands.

Royal Charter—a charter granted by the sovereign (especially in Great Britain).

Royal Commission—a commission of inquiry appointed by a representative of the Crown at the instance of the Government.

Royal Commission of Assent—the last stage in the process by which a Bill becomes an Act; the Governor-General, representing the Queen, gives it formal approval.

Royal Flying Corps—(RFC) was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of World War I. Formed by Royal Warrant on May 13, 1912, the RFC superseded the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers. By the end of that year, it had 12 manned balloon and 36 biplane fighter aircraft. The RFC's first fatal crash was on July 5, 1912 near Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. An order was issued after the crash stating "Flying will continue this evening as usual", thus beginning a tradition. Despite the primitive aircraft, aggressive leadership by commander Hugh Trenchard led to many brave fighting exploits and many casualties—over 700 in 1916, the rate worsening thereafter. One of the initial uses for RFC aircraft was spotting for artillery fire. The results of the artillery fire were easy enough for the pilot to observe, the problem was communicating any necessary corrections to the firing battery. The standard method was for the flier to write a note and drop it to the ground where it could be recovered. The RFC experimented with using radio transmitters in their aircraft—unfortunately, the transmitters of the time weighed 75 pounds and filled an entire seat in the cockpit. A more unusual mission for the RFC was the delivery of spies to behind enemy lines. The first such mission took place on the morning of September 13 1915 and was not a success. The plane crashed, the pilot and spy were badly injured and they were both captured. In addition to delivering the spies the RFC was also responsible for keeping the spies supplied with the carrier pigeons that were used to send reports back to base. On April 1, 1918, the RFC and the RNAS were amalgamated to form a new service, the Royal Air Force, under the control of the Air Ministry. By 1919 the RAF had 4,000 combat aircraft and 114,000 people.

Royal Flying Doctor Service—(RFDS) provides aeromedical support and primary health care in rural and remote areas. The first recorded use of an aeroplane to ferry a doctor to a patient occurred between Cloncurry and Mount Isa, Queensland on August 2, 1927. There are 14 bases currently offering medical services to people in distant parts of Australia. The RFDS (St John Ambulance in the Northern Territory) also provides emergency services via high-frequency radio. The RFDS recommends that all travellers to remote areas investigate the possibility of obtaining and using an HF radio. In remote areas, the RFDS should be contacted immediately in a medical emergency, in preference to other networks whose operators may not have medical emergency experience.

Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building—built in the Carlton Gardens in 1880 this building is an enduring monument to the International Exhibition movement of the mid 19th century. Constructed for the 1880 International Exhibition (1.5 million visitors) it also hosted the 1888 Colonial International Exhibition (2.2 million visitors.) The Royal Exhibition Building was the centre piece of the Palace of Industry at both exhibitions and is the only surviving building from a Palace of Industry in the world. Also at both exhibitions the South Garden was the site for the "pleasure garden" that contained exhibits and continues today to be used for parkland and exhibition purposes. The building hosted the first Parliament in 1901 and was home to the Victorian Parliament from 1900 to 1927. In 1919 the building served as a hospital during the great flu pandemic and, following World War I, hosted for a time the Australia War Museum. During World War II it was requisitioned as a barracks for training, from 1949-1962 it served as a migrant reception centre and in 1956 was a venue for events during the Olympic Games. It would be hard to argue that any other venue in Australia has played a greater of more diverse role in the life of a nation. Located in Melbourne.

Royal Queensland Show—or "Ekka" as it is now affectionately referred to by Queenslanders, is the largest annual event in Queensland, attracting more than 600,000 visitors each year. The Show is staged by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (the RNA) in August each year, in Brisbane. It has often been referred to as the time when "the country comes to town" for a huge range of industrial, commercial, agricultural and horticultural judging and displays. The National Agricultural & Industrial Association of Queensland was formed on August 13, 1875 when a group of colonists met at the Brisbane Town Hall for that purpose. Since then, the Association and its showgrounds have been the host to everything from international exhibitions, field hospitals and staging grounds for troops to international sporting events and even the site of the first commercial air flight over Brisbane. The charter of the early organisation with the Governor, Sir William Cairns, as its president, was to promote and encourage the agricultural and industrial development of Queensland as well as to provide an opportunity for country and urban residents to come together in a celebration of Queensland lifestyle. These aspects, together with the show's main arena attractions, showbags, unique food and sideshow alley have made the Ekka a family tradition. The show has been held continuously since 1876, with only two exceptions—1919 when Brisbane suffered a Spanish influenza epidemic, and in wartime in 1942 when the Showgrounds were used as a staging depot for troops moving north.

royal road to—way of attaining without trouble.

Roys—Fitzroy VFL football team.

rozzer—a policeman.

R.S.—(short for: ratshit) 1. broken; damaged; ruined; not operating. 2. exhausted; tired; worn-out. 3. unsatisfactory; terrible; awful; no good.

RSL—Returned Serviceman's League club.

RSPCA—Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

rubber—an eraser.

rubber duckie—inflatable rubber boat.

rubbidy/rubbidy-dub/rubbity/ rubby—the pub.

rubbish—1. nonsense; worthless talk. 2. to criticise scathingly: e.g., He always rubbishes everybody.

Ruby Gap—in 1886 explorer David Lindsay found some attractive red gemstones at Glen Annie Gorge, in the MacDonnell Ranges about 140km east of Alice Springs. Lindsay had the stones analysed when he returned to Adelaide. They were rubies. The news raced around Australia and the rush was on. Despite the extreme isolation, within a year, upwards of 200 men had made the long and perilous trek north from Marree to seek their fortune. But the rush collapsed just as suddenly as it had begun when further analysis showed that the rubies were in fact high-grade garnets—beautiful but worthless. The disappointed diggers packed up and left, with many deciding to try their luck on the newly discovered goldfields at nearby Arltunga.

ruby-dazzler—an outstanding, excellent person or thing.

ruck—1. the main body of competitors not likely to overtake the leaders. 2. an undistinguished crowd of persons or things. 3. (rugby football) a loose scrum with the ball on the ground. 4. (Australian Rules football) a group of three mobile players.

ruck up—make or become creased or wrinkled.

ruction—1. a disturbance or tumult. 2. (in pl.) unpleasant arguments or reactions.

ruddy—euphemism for bloody; damned: e.g., He's a ruddy idiot!

rude—unfair; excessive; inconsiderate: e.g., The price of that dinner was a bit rude!

rude bits—genitals.

rudosols—a widespread and diverse group of soils. Most have few commercial land uses because of their properties or occurrence in arid regions, or both. The largest areas occur in the desert regions of arid central and north-west Australia. In contrast, fertile variants formed in alluvium are used for cropping. Also known as lithosols; alluvial soils; calcareous and siliceous sands; shallow stony soils; deep sands.

rufous bettongAapyprymnus rufescens, a very small wallaby with silvery-ginger fur and a white tail. Full-grown wild rufous bettongs weigh about 2kg and are about the size of a large rabbit. They have short muzzles, small and rounded ears and grizzled fur that is reddish across the neck and shoulders. Rufous bettongs live alone, and spend the day hidden in a nest built of grass, leaves and bark. If a dingo or human approaches its nest, the bettong will freeze until the intruder is almost upon it, then burst out of the nest at high speed, disappearing into some safe refuge such as a hollow log. The rufous bettong inhabits the Great Dividing Range, away from the coast and some distance west of the range. They remain fairly widespread in cattle country in Queensland, and are found inland around the New South Wales—Victoria border. Also known as the rufous rat-kangaroo.

rufous fantailRhipidura rufifrons is widely distributed throughout the southern Pacific from the Mariana Islands and Yap, south to Australia. Preferring forest undergrowth as a habitat, it feeds by capturing insects in midair.

rufous hare-wallabyLagorchestes hirsutus weighs up to about 2kg and is generally solitary and nocturnal. It eats seedheads, young sedge and grass leaves, herbs and shrubs. It is found in arid and semi-arid locations, particularly spinifex hummock grasslands of the sand plain and sand dune deserts. A short burrow, up to 70cm long, is often dug for protection and for shelter in hot weather. A female usually rears one young per year. The rufous hare-wallaby was first documented by Western observers in the early part of the 19th century. It was once common but during approximately 1935-1960 a major collapse in its numbers took place in the south-western portion of Australia. Since then, the wild populations on the mainland apparently have become extinct. As of 1996 it was reported to exist on Bernier and Dorre Islands. The decline of the rufous hare-wallaby probably resulted from changed fire regimes. The Aborigines regularly used to set winter fires in order to clear areas for easier hunting. This practice produced a mosaic of vegetation in different stages of regeneration, which not only provided food for the rufous hare-wallaby but also prevented the build-up of brush (which set the stage for devastating fires caused by lightning during the summer). The decline of hare-wallabies coincided with the removal of the Aborigines from large areas and the subsequent reduction of winter fires. Other factors for its recent decline included clearing and fragmentation of habitat in south-western Western Australia, and may have included predation by introduced cats and foxes as well as competition with introduced rabbits.

rufous night-heronNycticorax caledonicus (family Ardeidae), is a brown heron with a black cap. It is mainly nocturnal, and is usually found about billabongs and in the forests surrounding rivers. Also known as Nankeen night-heron.

rufous owlNinox rufa, a large, rufous-coloured owl of tropical rainforest. The forehead, crown, nape, back and upper wings are dark rufous, finely barred light brown. The upper tail is similar but with broader bars. The facial disc is indistinct and blackish brown, and they have a long tail and feathered legs with pale yellow or creamy toes and black talons. Rufous owls are the least vocal Australian Ninox, calling very little outside the breeding season. Pairs at roost may converse very softly. The commonest call is a deep, double hoot. This bird is an extremely versatile and powerful hunter, taking a variety of prey—from beetles to large birds and flying foxes. Prey have been seen to be taken from perches, by snatching from foliage in flight, in aerial chases and by hawking like a giant flycatcher.

rufous rat-kangaroo—(see: rufous bettong).

rufous scrub-birdAtrichornis rufescens is one of only two members of the scrub-bird family. It is about 20cm long and cryptically coloured in drab browns and blacks. They will remain in a small, localised area throughout the year in higher altitudes along the New South Wales—Queensland border, in temperate rainforest such as Antarctic beech forest. They run fast but their flight is feeble. The males' calls are powerful: ringing and metallic, with a ventriloquial quality, so loud as to be heard from a long distance in heavy scrub and almost painful at close range. Females build a domed nest close the ground, with small side-entrances, and lined with thin, papery wood pulp—and take sole responsibility for raising the young. The males display rather like immature lyrebirds—with elevated and fanned tails, lowered wings, and with the body quivering from the effort of sustained, loud, melodious song and mimicry. Many of these characters, as well as the use of deep leaf-litter in which to scratch for invertebrate prey, are similar to lyrebirds, one of the word's great mimics. Although superficially scrub-birds don't seem like lyrebirds at all, the mimicry and song-stance do recall that group strongly, and now we know that they are genetically linked.

rufous spiny bandicootEchymipera callboy, a rainforest bandicoot. It is long-snouted even by bandicoot standards. The upper parts are a coarse reddish brown, flecked with spiny buff and black hairs. The tail is short and almost hairless. Length varies between 300mm and 400mm, with the tail accounting for an additional 80mm to 100mm; weight is from 600g to 2000g. The rufous spiny bandicoot is native to New Guinea and the extreme northern tip of the Australian continent. Aboriginal tribes are thought to have migrated from South Eastern Asia thousands of years ago;the first Europeans were British convicts sent there as a penal colony. Also known as the long-nosed echymipera.

Rufus River—releases from Lake Victoria are made through the outlet regulator into the Rufus River which joins the Murray River downstream of Lock 7. When the storage was constructed the upper end of the Rufus River was enlarged to increase its capacity.

Rufus River Massacre—on August 27th 1841, the Rufus River was witness to the death of what is said to be 35 people and injury to a further 16 in what became known as the Rufus River massacre. The first white man to encounter the Aborigines of the area was Charles Sturt as he and his crew rowed down the Murray River in 1830. It was Sturt also who named the Rufus River—apparently in honour of his ’friend McLeahy’s red head’. Sturt proved to be the first of what became quite an influx of European traffic in the form of the ’overlanders’—moving herds of sheep and cattle along the Murray from the eastern colonies to South Australia. This movement disturbed the Aboriginal people's pattern of life—and many conflicts between the two cultures arose, culminating in the massacre of 1841. Although the intrusion of the overlanders and their violence formed the provocation for the attacks, most were initiated by the Aborigines. They displayed their resistance by strategically ambushing the Europeans while they were shepherding their animals across river crossings.

rug up—put on clothing to keep warm.

Rugby football—a team game played with an oval ball that may be kicked, carried and passed from hand to hand.

Rugby League—partly professional Rugby football with teams of 13.

Rugby Union—amateur Rugby football with teams of 15.

rugger—rugby football.

rugger bugger—rough, tough footballer.

rules—1. (cap.) Australian Rules football. 2. (in Aboriginal English) the body of religious belief and social custom.

rum deal/go—unfair treatment.

rum sort of a do—an occasion or something that is odd, strange, unsatisfactory.

Rumbalara—an Aboriginal community that was set up after the residents 'walked off' Cummeragunja in 1939.

rummy—1. drunkard; alcoholic. 2. strange; queer; odd.

rumpus—commotion; noise; uproar.

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 Colony of New South Wales. Large squatter's stations were broken into smaller tracts and sold at auction. These smaller holdings quickly became known as pastoral runs.

run a drum—(horse-racing) to perform, win, as tipped, forecast, expected.

run all over (someone)—defeat, out-do, better (someone).

run around—behave promiscuously.

run around like a blue-arsed fly—act, do, with great haste and activity, often in a haphazard and disorganised manner.

run around under the shower to catch the drops—(has to...) said of a person who is very thin.

run at (someone) with a meat-axe—threaten with violence (often jocular or without real intent).

run away with—1. to steal, pilfer: e.g., Someone's run away with my beer! 2. to win easily: e.g., Our team ran away with the grand final. 3. believe, accept, especially wrongly: e.g., He's run away with the idea that he'll make a fortune from that crazy idea.

run dead—(horse-racing) deliberately lose.

run it to earth—find (it) after a long search.

run like a hairy goat—1. run very fast. 2. run very slowly—especially in horse-racing.

run like stink—run, go, very fast.

run of outs—(sport) losing streak.

run on the smell of an oily rag—(of a car or motor) operate very efficiently, with a minimum of fuel.

run out of puff—wane; become less enthusiastic.

run (someone) hard/close—press a person severely in a race or competition, or in comparative merit.

run (someone/something) to ground—track down and find eventually.

run with the hare and hunt with the hounds—try to remain on good terms with both sides.

runabout—small boat used for pleasure, fishing.

runner—(sport) coach's messenger.

runners—sandshoes; tennis-shoes; sneakers.

running postmanKennedia prostrata, a prostrate, hairy, twining shrub with a large, red, pea flower, sometimes with a yellow “eye”. It was used in various ways by the Aboriginal people: the flowers provided a source of sweet nectar, the leaves were used to make a tea-like drink and the stems were used as twine. It grows best on sandy soil, where it forms a mat, never more than 2 inches off the ground. The range of the species extends from Northampton in the north, to Esperance on the south coast, and inland to Southern Cross in Western Australia. It also occurs in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

rupiya—(in Arnhem Land) money.

rush (one's) fences—act without thinking.

Russell River limeMicrocitrus inodora, only found growing on the lowland rainforest plains between Bellenden Kerr and the Russell River, FNQ. It makes a small tree to 4m and has large, shiny leaves with tiny pairs of spines on the stems, and flowers that are highly perfumed. The fruits are oblong to 65mm and up to 30mm in diameter.

rusticate—send down (a student) temporarily from university.

Rutherglen bug—Nysius vinitor, a small bug damaging to cultivated food plants (after Rutherglen town in Victoria).

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