Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Short-beaked Echidna

Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

shake-down merchant—con-man; trickster; swindler; thief; criminal.

Shaky Isles—New Zealand.

shandy—a mixture of beer with lemonade or ginger beer.

shanghai—child's catapult, slingshot.

shank's pony—to walk, on foot, as opposed to travelling by any other means.

shaping up a beaut—developing, progressing well.

share-pusher—con-man; swindler; glib salesman.

Shark Bay—named by William Dampier on his second voyage to Australia in 1699, apparently because he believed that the area was infested by sharks. It is the largest enclosed marine embayment in Australia, covering an area of 2.3 million hectares. The wide, intertidal flats on the shores of Shark Bay support a unique community of burrowing molluscs, hermit crabs and other invertebrates. The bay has the largest area of seagrass as well as and the largest number of species of seagrass ever recorded in one place in the world. The many bays, inlets and islands in the Shark Bay region also support a profusion of aquatic life. Communities of corals, sponges and other invertebrates, together with a mix of tropical and temperate fish species, have also formed in some areas. Shark Bay is located in Western Australia, about 800km from Perth, on the most western point of the coastline.

Shark Bay mousePseudomys fieldi, a species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is found only in Australia, restricted to four islands in the Shark Bay area. It was once found throughout the western two thirds of Australia but it suffered greatly after the arrival of Europeans and feral animals. Its range was reduced to coastal sand dunes on Bernier Island, leaving it severely endangered. In 2003 the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) released some Shark Bay mice onto Faure Island in the hope of creating another population. Despite the presence of owls the reintroduction was successful and the population quickly grew to a larger size than that of Bernier Island, no longer leaving the species on the brink of extinction. Fossil evidence expanded the known range of "Pseudomys praeconis" from the Shark Bay area to areas along the western coast of Australia, and further inland into the arid zones. It was realised, as the range was further extended by fossil remains, the remains of Pseudomys fieldi represented the easterly bound of the one species. Also known as Djoongari, Alice Springs mouse.

Shark Bay region—represents a meeting point of three major climatic regions and forms a transition zone between two major botanical provinces—the south-west and Eremaean provinces. The marine park and the scientifically important seagrass banks form an important part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The region is one of the few properties inscribed on the World Heritage List for all four outstanding natural universal values. This area of Western Australia features spectacular coastal landforms, many bays and inlets and a remarkable amount of wildlife, including dolphins to dugongs—around 10,000 dugongs forage in the shallow marine environment of Shark Bay. The clear waters give visitors the chance to view dugongs, manta rays, marine turtles and humpback whales; and the famous dolphins of Monkey Mia visit the beach each day to interact with visitors. The area experiences a moderate-tropical climate which gets warmer the further north you travel. Temperatures in the summer are hot, and due to lack of rainfall in the area, the area is very dry; temperatures in winter are more than pleasant.

sharkbait—swimmer at the beach taking risks outside safety areas.

sharp as a bowling ball—dumb; stupid; lacking in intelligence or wit.

sharpie—member of a youth gang characterised by aggressive behaviour and very short hair; skinhead.

shat—a euphemism for 'shit'.

shat off—extremely annoyed, frustrated, angry.

Shaz—nickname for Sharon.

she beech—any of several rainforest trees of eastern Australia of the genera Cryptocarya and Litsea.

she'll be right—expression of reassurance, approval; all is well.

she'll come good—expression of reassurance that (one's) expectations will be fulfilled.

she's a beaut sort—a compliment for a woman.

she's apples—used to indicate general approbation – it's saying that something is all right, or in good order. At first glance it looks rather mysterious: what makes apples the fruit of approval? But as with so many mysterious expressions, it turns out to have begun life as rhyming slang. In this case the rhyming phrase was “apples and spice”. Anything which is “apples and spice” is nice. And, as with all rhyming slang, the rhyme word is dropped and only the first half of the phrase is used. So, “apples and spice” becomes “apples”. That's where it comes from. And it's not all that old. The earliest recorded citation in the Australian National Dictionary is from 1943. The expression continues to be used, although it's not common, to this day.

she's on!—exclamation of one's acceptance of a wager, gamble, bet.

she's right/sweet!—exclamation of approval, indicating everything is fine.

she-oakCasuarina spp, one of the most characteristic groups of trees in Australia. They occur primarily on littoral and riverine sites along the south-eastern, eastern and northern coast of Australia; in association with acacia and eucalypts in other inland areas; and on rocky sites throughout the continent. The largest distribution of she-oaks is in western New South Wales (40 698sq km). Typical species of inland areas include belah, drooping she-oak and river she-oak . Coast she-oak can also occur in association with coastal banksias along the south-east and eastern seaboards in less exposed sites. Despite a superficial resemblance to pine trees, they are true flowering plants (angiosperms). The "needles" are modified stems, and the actual leaves appear as tiny scales encircling the needle-shaped stem. This is an adaptation to drought conditions, as it reduces water loss. She-oaks are an important part of coastal ecology within estuarine and brackish wetland systems. The wood of most casuarinas is very hard and therefore provides excellent fuel. Casuarina equisetifolia is reputed to be the best fuel wood in the world as it is relatively smokeless when it burns. Branchlets are used as fodder for stock during drought, and remnant pockets of she-oak support a range of vertebrate and invertebrate species.

she-oak woodland and forest—tree layer dominated by the she-oak Allocasuarina verticillata, a small, drooping, drought-resistant tree. Because it reaches a lower maximum height and has a slower growth rate than eucalypts, it usually only dominates native vegetation in places where eucalypts find it hard to grow. These are generally north-facing slopes with shallow, rocky soils in areas receiving less than 700mm of rainfall. Therefore, she-oak woodland and forest is widespread in dry eastern Tasmania and on the eastern Bass Strait islands, most commonly near the coast. However, it can also form a major understorey component of eucalypt forest. She-oak woodland and forest varies from an almost closed forest that has little else beneath the trees but needles, to a woodland in which umbrella-shaped trees are interspersed in a species-rich sward dominated by tussock grasses. Little of this community has been cleared since European settlement. In fact, it may occupy a greater area now than it did under Aboriginal occupation because of changed fire regimes. She-oak forest is of little value for grazing as the tree litter suppresses the growth of grass beneath the canopy. However, she-oak woodlands are widely used as rough grazing country. Because they occur on some of the least productive sites for pasture, and often exist within paddocks that contain more productive pasture, it is common to see bare, red ground and signs of erosion between the trees in summer.

shear—clip the wool off a sheep.

shearer—an itinerant worker hired seasonally to shear sheep.

shearers' ball—an annual dance marking the end of the shearing season at a particular place.

shearers' cook—one seasonally employed on a rural property to cook for the shearers.

shearing culture—a culture has grown out of the practice of sheep shearing, especially in post-colonial Australia and New Zealand. Shearing the Rams, a painting by Australian impressionist painter Tom Roberts, is considered to be iconic of the livestock-growing culture or "life on the land" in Australia. Many sheep stations across Australia no longer carry sheep due to lower wool prices, drought and other disasters, but their shearing sheds remain, in a wide variety of materials and styles, and have been the subject of books and documentation for heritage authorities. Some farmers are reluctant to remove either the equipment or the sheds, and many unused sheds remain intact.

shearers' hut/quarters—accommodation provided for shearers during their period of employment on a rural property.

shearing—the process by which the woollen fleece of a sheep is cut off. The person who removes the sheep's wool is called a shearer. Typically each adult sheep is shorn once each year (a sheep may be said to have been "shorn" or "sheared", depending upon dialect). The annual shearing most often occurs in a shearing shed, a facility especially designed to process often hundreds and sometimes more than 3,000 sheep per day. Sheep are shorn in all seasons, depending on the climate, management requirements and the availability of a woolclasser and shearers. Ewes are normally shorn prior to lambing, but consideration is typically made as to the welfare of the lambs by not shearing during cold climate winters. In Australia, up until the 1870s, squatters washed their sheep in nearby creeks prior to shearing. Later, some expensive hot water installations were constructed on some of the larger stations for the washing. Sheep washing in Australia was influenced by the sheep breeders of Saxony in Germany who washed their sheep and by the Spanish practice of washing the wool after shearing. There were three main reasons for the custom in Australia: 1. The English manufacturers demanded that Australian woolgrowers provide their fleeces free from vegetable matter, burrs, soil, etc. 2. The dirty fleeces were hard to shear and demanded that the metal blade shears be sharpened more often. 3. Wool in Australia was carted by bullock team or horse teams and charged by weight. Washed wool was lighter and did not cost as much to transport. The practice of washing the wool rather than the sheep evolved from the fact that hotter water could be used to wash the wool than could be used to wash the sheep. When the practice of selling wool in the grease occurred in the 1890s, wool washing became obsolete. Australia and New Zealand had to discard the old methods of wool harvesting and evolve more efficient systems to cope with the huge numbers of sheep involved. Shearing was revolutionized by the invention of an Australian sheepgrower, Frederick York Wolseley. His machines made in Birmingham, England by his business, The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company, were introduced after 1888, reducing second cuts and shearing time. By 1915 most large sheep station sheds in Australia had installed machines, driven by steam or later by internal combustion engines. Shearing tables were invented in the 1950s and have not proved popular, although some are still used for crutching. Today, large flocks of sheep are shorn by professional shearing teams working eight-hour days, most often in spring, by machine shearing. These contract-teams consist of shearers, shed hands and a cook (in the more isolated areas). Their working hours and wages are regulated by industry awards. A working day starts at 7:30 am and the day is divided into four "runs" of two hours each. Smoko breaks are a half hour each and a lunch break is taken at midday for one hour. Most shearers are paid on a piece-rate per sheep. Shearers who tally more than 200 sheep per day are known as gun shearers. Typical mass shearing of sheep today follows a well-defined workflow: remove the wool, throw the fleece onto the wool table skirt, roll and class the fleece, place it in the appropriate wool bin, press and store the wool until it is transported. In 1984 Australia became the last country in the world to permit the use of wide combs, due to previous Australian Workers' Union rules. Although they were once rare in sheds, women now take a large part in the shearing industry by working as pressers, wool rollers, roustabouts, wool classers and shearers.

shearing contractor—one who employs a gang of shearers.

shearing machine—a mechanised device for shearing sheep.

shearing shed—a building in which sheep are shorn and wool processed and packed. There is perhaps no greater theatre than the shearing shed—that unparalleled performance of men in blue singlets skillfully transforming wool-laden sheep to bare white, ready for the harsh reality of another year of production; the bit parts played by shed hands wielding their brooms and throwing soft fleeces; the intensity of classers making on-the-spot quality decisions that just have to be correct; the background music of whistling and whooping from the yards, and the startled bleatings of sheep brought in from a distant paddock for their matinee performance. A culture has grown out of the practice of sheep shearing, especially in post-colonial Australia and New Zealand. Shearing the Rams, a painting by Australian impressionist painter Tom Roberts is considered to be iconic of the livestock-growing culture or "life on the land" in Australia. Many sheep stations across Australia no longer carry sheep due to lower wool prices, drought and other disasters, but their shearing sheds remain, in a wide variety of materials and styles, and have been the subject of books and documentation for heritage authorities. Some farmers are reluctant to remove either the equipment or the sheds, and many unused sheds remain intact.

shearwaters—a group of tubenoses with mostly rather long and slender bills. Their size varies from the large ‘big gull-sized’ Cory’s shearwater to the little shearwater, hardly bigger than a starling (Sturnus sp.). Most species breed in the southern hemisphere, but there are several tropical and northern hemisphere breeders. Shearwaters are very migratory and many species cross the Equator yearly.

shed hand—a labourer who does unskilled jobs in a shearing shed.

shed work—unskilled work in a shearing shed.

sheep bush—(see: wilga).

sheep cocky—a small-scale sheep farmer.

sheep drover—one who drives sheep over a distance.

sheep race—a narrow passage-way in a stockyard.

sheep shed—(see: shearing shed).

sheep station—1. a large station, usually in the outback, whose main activity is the raising of sheep, for their wool and meat. The utilising of wool from sheep involved annual musters of sheep to be sheared, and the shearing shed was an important part of the station, along with the homestead and adjacent sheds, windmills, dams and in many cases landing strips for the Flying Doctor. Each of the mentioned items had regional variants, usually to deal with climate extremes. Similarly, where the climate and vegetation allow, such locations can also be known as a cattle station, where they run cattle rather than sheep. For administrative purposes, most stations exist on pastoral leases but in state government jurisdictions they are increasingly known as stations. 2. something large and/or important.

sheep tobacco—inferior tobacco.

sheep town—a town that serves a sheep-raising district.

sheep's eyes—amorous glances.

sheep-dip—1. a preparation for cleansing sheep of vermin or protecting their wool. 2. the place where sheep are dipped in this. 3. cheap, inferior liquor, alcohol.

sheep-ho—a shearer's call for a sheep to shear.

sheep-man—a large-scale sheep farmer.

sheep-run—an extensive tract of country where sheep range and graze.

sheepfold—an enclosure for penning sheep.

sheepish—shy; meek; submissive.

sheepy—(in Aboriginal English) a sheep.

sheet anchor—last resource; something depended on as one's last hope.

sheila(h)—1. young woman; girl; girlfriend. 2. a man who is weak, effeminate, lacking in bravado.

Shelburne Bay—home to the Wuthati people for millennia, the remarkable dunefields, lakes and hoop pine forests of Shelburne Bay have been the subject of one of Australia’s longest running conservation campaigns. The dunefields, which span hundreds of square kilometres of the Cape York coastline, are 99% pure silica sand. In the late 1980s, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland and traditional owners succeeded in convincing the Hawke Government to oppose sand mining proposals on Shelburne Bay. There has been an ongoing legal wrangle that commenced when the Queensland Government decided against renewing a cattle lease over sections of the Shelburne dunefields in 1999 because of the very high natural and cultural conservation values of Shelburne. Provisions of the Land Act 1994 allow the Queensland Government to decide against the renewal of leases to protect environmental values. According to an Australian Heritage Commission report (1995), these dunefields, “are one of the most extensive and least disturbed active parabolic and active elongate parabolic dunes in the world”. There are also hoop pine-dominated rainforests, wetlands, and perched lakes and lagoons, fringing coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests. The Queensland Government has indicated that the region will be protected through a mixture of national park and Aboriginal land.

shelf line—item sold in a shop.

Shell Beach—a beach in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, 45km south-east of Denham. The beach stretches for more than 110km of coast along the L'Haridon Bight, and is one of only two beaches in the world made entirely from shells. The shells of the cockle species Fragum erugatum lie 7-10m deep. The seawater in the L'Haridon Bight has a high salinity due to both the geomorphology and local climate of the area. The cardiid cockle is particularly tolerant to increased salinity, while its predators, such as the shell-drilling gastropods, do not cope well in this environment. The result has been the accumulation of millions of these tiny shells along the shore. It is thought that this cockle was first deposited here about 4000 years ago. Over the years the shell deposits have cemented to form soft coquina limestone. Rainwater repeatedly dissolves small quantities of calcium carbonate of which the shells are composed. As the water evaporates, the calcium carbonate is precipitated as calcite crystals, which bind the shells together. Before Shark Bay became a World Heritage Site, coquina limestone blocks were quarried and used to build many of Shark Bay's old buildings.

shell middens—places where the debris from eating shellfish and other food has accumulated over time, and thus tell us a lot about Aboriginal activities in the past. The types of shells in a midden can show the type of marine environment that was used, and the time of year when Aboriginal people used it. Shell middens are found throughout Australia, generally on the coast, but can be around inland lakes, swamps and river banks. Middens are usually in the best possible spot – a pleasant place that's easy to get to, where there are plenty of shellfish. They are often fairly close to fresh water on a level, sheltered surface. Middens range from thin scatters of shell to deep, layered deposits. Middens containing only estuarine species are uncommon. Shell middens also contain evidence of other Aboriginal activities, such as the remains of hearths and cooking fires; tools made from stone, bone or shell; bones from land and sea animals used as food. Middens may also contain evidence of stone working and stone artefacts. Stone will often have come from a very different area, showing that it was traded or transported. Scientists occasionally find shell or bone artefacts, such as fish hooks or barbs, in the upper layers of shell middens.

shell parrot—(see: budgerigar).

shemozzle—a state of confusion, disturbance; muddle; uproar; mess.

shepherd's clock—a kookaburra.

Shepparton—a major rural centre in the Goulburn Valley. Separated from the town of Mooroopna by the river and a large tract of flood-prone forest, the two towns together produce a substantial proportion of Victoria's agricultural output. Local industry includes two enormous fruit canneries (SPC and Ardmona), Campbell's Soups, a foundry and a woollen mill. A foundry was opened by John Furphy in 1878, and the famous Furphy water-cart was manufactured here. A major expansion of agricultural production and of the local population occurred after 1912 when irrigation really got under way with water from Lake Nagambie, and the dairies and orchards proliferated after World War I, engendering a period of rapid growth. This led to the development of subsidiary industries such as milk processing, fruit packing and canning. Thus, in 1917, the Shepparton Preserving Company (SPC) was formed. Today it is one of the world's largest fruit canneries. Another major player is the Ardmona cannery in Mooroopna, which opened in the 1920s. Mooroopna has been absorbed into the Greater Shepparton municipality. Shepparton and Mooroopna are located 179km north of Melbourne on the Goulburn Valley Highway in Victoria.

sherbet—beer: e.g., We're all going to the pub to sink a few sherbets.

Sherbrooke Forest—an 800ha remnant of wet sclerophyll forest characterised by mountain ash (the world's tallest flowering plant) and various ferns. Beneath the canopy there are a number of other eucalypts, acacias, olearias, sassafras and pomaderris at heights of 15m to 30m. The most famous of the indigenous animals is the superb lyrebird. Of the other birds, the kookaburra and crimson rosella are the most prominent. Non-avian animals include the wombat, possum and echidna. Located some 40km east of Melbourne in the Dandenong Ranges of Victoria.

shicer—a swindler, con-man, trickster.

shicker/shicky—drunk; slightly intoxicated.

shield shrimp—rely on temporary ponds filled by heavy downpours of rain. The shrimp will eat detritus and mate until the ponds dry out. Adults are eaten by birds as the ponds dry out, while their eggs, remarkably resistant, remain viable for several years.

shift house—move to another residence.

shilling—(hist.) a former Australian coin and monetary unit worth one-twentieth of a pound or twelve pence.

shilly-shally—procrastinate; refrain, shy from taking a positive course of action.

Shinboners—north Melbourne VFL football team.

shingle short—(to be a...) to be mentally disturbed, stupid or lacking in intelligence.

shining flycatcherMyiagra alecto,  a 17.5cm, insect-eating bird. The male is an overall shining blue-black, while the female is a bright rufous with a black head and white underparts. They build a cup-shaped nest, similar to that of the leaden flycatcher, but the construction is messier and contains much less spiderwebbing. Their preferred nesting site is in the thin fork of a mangrove or vine overhanging water, one to two metres above the surface. The shining flycatcher inhabits mangroves, tea-tree swamps, rainforest and the margins of coastal streams. Its call is a melodious trilling and a harsh, frog-like cheee. It is a very active bird, often raising its crest and flicking its tail as it darts about catching insects on leaves, logs in the mud, rather than in the air.

shining gumEucalyptus nitens, a tall to very tall tree commonly 40m—70m in height. A good shape with a straight trunk. Smooth stringy bark. Juvenile leaves have pleasant fruity smell. Timber heartwood is straw coloured with pink or yellow tints. Texture medium. Straight grain. Pin-hole borers and associated "pencil streak" often present, giving timber a speckly appearance. Sapwood is susceptible to lyctid borer attack. Used in general construction. Beginning to be used for furniture where discolorations are seen as a feature. Grows in high-altitude country on both sides of the Victoria-NSW border and the mountain areas of eastern Victoria. Also known as silvertop (occasionally in NSW).

shiny tea treeLeptospermum nitidum, grows 4-8m tall with in closed canopy forest. Commonly occurs on the upper parts of the steep sides of south-western mountains. In the sub-alpine zone, this community may extend onto plateaux and ridge tops or occupy undulating country at the base and sides of cirque valleys. The substrate is usually quartzite. The forest may also occupy shelves of flat Permo-Triassic sediments and colonise every steep landslide scar in these rocks, but does not usually extend up onto overlying dolerite. L. nitidum woodland occurs on undulating topography on quartzite or sandstone between about 600m—1000m. It is thought to be highly flammable; although it regenerates readily, it takes 50-100 years to attain the shape and the height characteristic of the species.

shiny-arse/bum—1. lazy, idle person; one who sits around a lot; a bludger. 2. an office worker; public servant.

shiny-leaved peppermintEucalyptus nitida, endemic to Tasmania, has attractive, shiny green adult leaves. It is fast growing and quickly develops an attractive domed canopy. Juvenile leaves are pointed and smell of peppermint. Reasonably tolerant of adverse conditions. Closely related to E. willisii of the mainland. Also known as Smithton peppermint, shining peppermint, peppermint.

Shipwreck Coast—the original inhabitants of the area—the Kirrae-Wurrong people—lived in harmony with nature right along the Victorian coast. But their lifestyle was upset with the coming of whalers and sealers in the early 1800s. Further disruption happened with full-scale white settlement about 40 years later. This marked the start of an era that saw sailing ships in their hundreds plying the often wild coastal waters. Disastrous wrecks led to the naming of "Shipwreck Coast”. When the goldrushes that began in the 1850s there was an explosion in ship numbers, with Bass Strait coastal waters becoming the major route to Melbourne and Sydney. As a consequence, there was a rapid rise in shipping disasters, arising from many factors, including bad weather and poor seamanship.

shiralee—(obsolete) a swag carried by a swagman.

shire—an administrative district; equivalent to a county.

shirty—angry; bad-tempered; annoyed; irritated.

shit in (one's) own nest—to spoil, ruin (one's) own circumstances; disadvantage (oneself) through (one's) own actions.

shit it in (carrying a brick)—1. win, defeat, beat easily: e.g., We're going to shit this race in without a worry! 2. do a task with ease: e.g., We'll shit this job in by the end of the day.

shit on the liver—(to have...) to be bad-tempered, irritable, ill-disposed.

shit-features—despicable, unpleasant person.

shit-stirrer—1. trouble-maker; activist. 2. practical joker; teaser; one who enjoys upsetting people.

shite—euphemism for 'shit'.

shivoo—a rowdy party, social occasion.

Shoalhaven Heads—a coastal tourist resort and retirement centre at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, NSW. In 1797 the area was crossed by the survivors of the wreck of the Sydney Cove and then by explorer George Bass who, investigating their reports, followed Seven Mile Beach, crossed the shoals at the entrance to the Shoalhaven River. He named the shallow mouth of the Crookhaven River (as it is now known) 'Shoals Haven'. From 1830 the current site of Shoalhaven Heads was known as 'Jerry Bailey' for reasons now lost. The name was changed in 1955. Shoalhaven Heads is situated 142km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway.

Shoalhaven River—one of the major rivers on the NSW coast. It is 300km long and has a catchment area of 6,920sq km. The headwaters rise on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range about 40km inland from Moruya at an elevation of 1350m.

shocker—1. something lewd, sensational, scandalous. 2. an unpleasant person or thing. 3. very bad or disappointing: e.g., That film was a shocker.

shonky—the word “shonky” is Australian and New Zealand slang, first recorded in the 1970s, and meaning “unreliable, dishonest, crooked, one who is engaged in irregular or illegal business activities”. However, it turns out that this the expression – which we think of as being quite harmless today – had its origins in anti-Semitism. Early in the 20th century the word “shoniker” was an offensive term for a Jew in American slang. It may have derived from a Yiddish word shoniker, meaning “a petty trader or peddler”. By the 1930s this had been abbreviated to “shonk” – and was also an offensive term for a Jew. “Shonk” was being used in that sense (at least in fiction) as late as the 1980s. However, around the 1970s (in Australia, at least) it became separated from its anti-Semitic past, and “shonky” was being used generally to mean “unreliable, dishonest, or crooked”. Most Aussies who use “shonky” today would be quite unaware of its disreputable and offensive past.

shook on (someone/something)—infatuated with; wildly enthusiastic about.

shoot a fairy—to fart.

shoot off—go, depart in haste.

shoot through—go, depart, especially without proper formality: e.g., They shot through without paying the rent.

shooter—(cricket) ball that goes along the ground; a grubber.

Shop (the...)—University of Melbourne as distinct from 'the farm' (Monash University).

short and curlies—pubic hairs: e.g., After catching him in a clinch with the neighbour, his wife's got him by the short and curlies.

short black—single espresso.

short list—final list of favourable candidates for a position: e.g., She was delighted when she made the short list for the job; now she'll at least get an interview.

short motor—a car motor, usually without the electricals and cylinder head.

short wick—(to have a...) quick to lose one's temper; easily angered.

short-arse—person small in stature; short person.

short-beaked echidnaTachyglossus aculeatus is a monotreme, one of only three egg-laying mammals in the world including the platypus and a New Guinea echidna. That is, it lays eggs, has no teats, a single opening (cloaca) for waste products and reproduction (like reptiles and birds), no whiskers, no teeth and no external ears. It eats ants and termites, tearing apart termite mounds and digging into ant beds with its strong claws and then extracting its prey with its long, thin, sticky tongue. When disturbed, the echidna turns into a ball of spines or digs vertically into soil until it completely disappears. Females lay a single soft-shelled egg—probably directly into the pouch. The young hatch after ten days and remain in the pouch for three months. The echidna is important in Aboriginal culture because its spines or quills are used as barbs when making certain spears, notably the porcupine spear and the bunched porcupine spear. Also known as spiny anteater or native porcupine. The common name of echidna comes from an earlier scientific name of Echidna hystrix, which referred to the Greek goddess Ekhidna who was half reptile, half mammal—reference to an animal that had fur and lactated but laid eggs.

short-billed black cockatooCalyptorhynchus latirostris is found only in the south-west of Western Australia. Within this area the species has suffered a range reduction of at least 50% since the 1970s. The short-billed black cockatoo feeds in eucalypt woodlands and kwongan heaths, mainly eating the seeds of banksias, hakeas, grevilleas and eucalypts. Nesting occurs in hollows of salmon gum wandoo. Over the last 50 years most of the feeding habitat of of this bird has been destroyed by agricultural clearing. Any suitable habitat that remains is fragmented and often degraded by soil salinity and weed invasion. Feeding habitat is often so far away from nests that the growth rate and survival of nestlings is significantly reduced. Breeding habitat has also been destroyed by the loss of old, hollow-bearing trees. Additional pressures on the species include the theft of eggs from nests to supply illegal export markets.

short-eared rock-wallabyPetrogale brachyotis, a species of rock-wallaby found in northern Australia, in the northernmost parts of Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is much larger than its two closest relatives, the nabarlek (Petrogale concinna) and the monjon (Petrogale burbidgei). The head and body of the short-eared rock-wallaby approaches 55cm in length, with a tail extending a further 50cm from the body. The back is light grey and there is a dark brown neck stripe from behind the ears to the shoulder. The undersides are white to greyish-white and the tail is darker at the end. The short fur is flecked with silver, imparting a glistening appearance. Their hind feet are thick and padded and resemble the radial tyres of cars, allowing them to move with remarkably agility among the precipitous, rocky slopes that they inhabit. The ears are, indeed, short, being less than half the length of the head. The Kimberley population of short-eared rock-wallabies probably constitutes a separate sub-species, P. b. brachyotis. Itis a gregarious vegetarian, found in rocky hills and gorges. This species is found from the Kimberley through Arnhem Land and eastward along the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Northern Territory-Queensland border. The southerly range corresponds roughly to the 700mm median isohyet and thus to the monsoonal area of Australia. Short-eared Rock-wallabies are found on low rocky hills, cliffs and gorges within savanna grasslands. These wary, secretive rock-wallabies usually occur in groups. They are most active at night, but may feed late in the afternoon and bask during the early morning. Breeding is fairly continuous after the female reaches sexual maturity. Once 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. This animal is largely unstudied. Listed as Least Concern because, although it is patchily distributed, it has a wide distribution, presumed large population, occurs in several protected areas, and it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.

short-nosed bandicoot—(see: southern brown bandicoot).

short-tailed shearwaterPuffinus tenuirostris is a medium-size shearwater with dark plumage, grey underwings, dark bill and feet, a steep forehead and sometimes has a pale chin. Its range and habitat are the open ocean; it is a Pelagic bird, only coming ashore to breed. In summer months, this is the most common shearwater along the south and south-east coasts of Australia. Enormous flocks of birds head south to breeding grounds off these coasts as they return from wintering grounds in the North Pacific. The short-tailed shearwater feeds on krill, small fish and other small marine creatures. Food is caught mostly on the surface of the water but sometimes birds are seen diving for food. Also known slender-billed shearwater.

shortcut pastry mix—busy wartime homemakers were still expected to bake several pies a week for their families. This make-ahead pastry mix from a vegetable shortening advertisement was very popular because it gave a head start for preparing the pastry. The advertisement featured a kindly aunt advising, "Now it's so easy to give your men folks all the pies they want."

shout—obviously, a society descended from criminals, dubious police officers, corrupt officials and cockney immigrants was going to have a fair share of sly characters looking out for their own self interest. Social alcohol consumption, or "shouting" probably became a type of character test. The shout is a pretence of a gift, but in reality, it is more of a loan. If an individual has a drink bought for them, and fails to reciprocate, it reveals a untrustworthy character looking out for himself. As one wowser defined a shout in 1887: "'Shouting', or rather its meaning, is peculiarly Australian. The shortest and most comprehensive definition of 'shouting' is to pay for the drink drunk by others. Drunkenness is the vice of which 'shouting is a parasite. No other Australian vice has so large a vocabulary."

shovel-nosed catfishArius midgleyi, a catfish with a sleek body, strong jaws, broad mouth and an oblong head with a truncated snout, when viewed in profile. Numerous fine, sharp teeth on palate in transverse band of four oblong groups. Found in lakes, billabongs, rivers and to a lesser extent brackish estuaries and the tidal portion of rivers. Feeds mainly on fishes, prawns and crayfish. Known from Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Also known as silver cobbler, Lake Argyle catfish, Lake Argyle silver cobbler, Ord River catfish (WA).

show a clean pair of heels—escape; flee; bolt.

show a leg—put in an appearance; attend; go to.

show pony—1. one whose appearance is better than his actual performance. 2. (Australian Rules football) lairising footballer.

showy banksiaBanksia speciosa, a fire-sensitive shrub to 8m tall with smooth, grey bark. The leaves are usually dark green and leathery, clothed underneath with silvery or red-brown down, and their margins deeply toothed or spiny. The flowers are arranged in magnificent spikes which can bear more than 1000 flowers in each. Grows in deep white sand on the south coast, from Mount Barren to Point Culver. Known in England as the Australian honeysuckle tree.

shrapnel—coinage; small change.

shrewdie—1. shrewd, astute person. 2. con-man; trickster.

shrike-thrush—any one of several species of shrike-like Australian singing birds of the genus Colluricincla.

shrike-tit—any one of several Australian birds of the genus Falcunculus, having a strong, toothed bill and sharp claws. They creep over the bark of trees, like titmice, in search of insects.

shrub—a mallee that is low, very irregularly branched and without a principal, erect main stem.

shrub-savannah—these are savannah where the woody stratum comprises mainly shrubs with a cover of between 5 and 40 per cent. When cover is between 5 and 10 per cent the shrub savannah is referred to as “open”, and when cover is 30 to 40 per cent, as “dense”.

shrub-steppe—arid areas with a mixture of grass and shrubs. Though there is no universally accepted definition for either desert or shrub-steppe among scientists, a reasonable discernment would be to consider desert as regions too dry to support a noticeable cover of perennial grasses, and steppe as regions with moisture levels adequate to support an appreciable cover of perennial grasses but not arborescent vegetation.

shrublands and heaths—a variable structural form with little or nothing floristically in common. Heaths are species-rich, sclerophyllous communities of shrub assemblages generally found on the poorest, sandiest soils available. Many heaths are coastal, forming part of the succession which is characteristic of the gradient from sea to land in southern latitudes (in the north, this is not so marked). Heath also occurs on acid siliceous sands in semi-arid areas such as those of south-eastern South Australia and NW Victoria (Little Desert, Big Desert) where an admixture of mallee eucalypts gives a distinctive flavour to the community (called mallee heath in these settings). Many heath species have colourful and splendiferous floral displays. The severe nutrient challenges faced by heath vegetation calls for some severe responses. Nutrient cycling and regeneration in heaths is strongly influenced by, and depends on, fire at regular intervals. The importance of fire has been reinforced by a plethora of studies since the classic work of Specht and Rayson in SA during the 1950s. By way of contrast, the other major shrubland type in Australia is essentially a fire-free zone, partly because it is best developed in arid areas where rates of fuel build up are low, but also because the shrubs themselves are so loaded with inorganic crud that they are hardly, if at all, flammable. These are the chenopod shrublands which occupy heavy-textured and saline, calcareous or gypseous soils in southern, arid Australia. Versions of the chenopod shrublands are also characteristic of hypersaline sites landward of mangroves in northern Australia, or as littoral communities in their own right on temperate coasts. Major genera in the chenopod shrublands are saltbush and bluebush, with copper burrs as a common element in heavily grazed settings (and this means almost everywhere, as most of the shrubs are palatable and nutritious). Grass growth between shrubs is limited, partly because of direct competition with the shrubs but also because they drop salt-laden leaves all over the place. Regeneration of long-lived chenopodiaceous shrubs depends on rare intervals of higher than average rainfall.

shut mouth catches no flies—a warning not to disclose any confidences, secrets.

shut up shop—1. close, finish, end a business, enterprise: e.g., They went broke and had to shut up shop. 2. finish, end an activity for the day: e.g., It's time to shut up shop and go to the pub for a drink.

shy of chips/shy on the necessary—to be lacking money, broke.

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