Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Silky Hairstreak

Silky Hairstreak
by JJ Harrison ( (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

sickie—1. a day off work on the pretext of being sick. 2. industrial absenteeism, a day's sick-leave whether one is sick or not.

Sickness Country—Bulajang country, sacred to the Jawoyn people, who believe that Bula, the Creator, rests and is lying dormant beneath the Sickness Country. The Jawoyn people are the culturally ordained guardians of the sacred sites. During October 1845, the explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt and his companions descended into the South Alligator Valley, where his party was beset by hostile native inhabitants. Leichhardt was passing through Bulajang country, with its totemic spirit values. Bula, the spiritual guardian of the upper reaches of the South Alligator Valley, demands that the earth not be disturbed by man or a terrible tragedy will overcome those who do so. Should one site be disturbed by any human, then all sites within the Sickness Country will come alive with toxic force, raining sickness and death upon the people within the valley. So is the legend of the Dreamtime. The high mineral prospectivity of the Alligator Rivers Region, particularly for uranium, is evidenced by the 13 or so former uranium mines and numerous mineral deposits that are located in the upper South Alligator River Valley. Although there are no mines currently in operation in this area, in the past it has been a highly active area with numerous deposits, many of which were mined during the 1950s and 60s. Located in Kakadu, Northern Territory.

side with the devil—act, behave with evil intent.

silent cop—a traffic bump or dome designed to direct traffic in a specific way or direction.

silk—Queen's (or King's) Counsel, as having the right to wear a silk gown.

Silkwood—a rural town of about 320 people, is 90km south-east of Cairns and 25km south of Innisfail, Queensland. It was named after a tree-covered hill, which could have had any of several 'silkwood' species native to north Queensland and valued for furniture or building. The name was given by AJ Daveson to the house he built in the early 1900s, and when a postal facility was established in his house it was named the Silkwood office. The town was at the junction of the tramlines from Maria Creek and Liverpool Creek/Japoonvale where bananas were grown and timber taken out. A school opened in 1916. In 1919 a sawmill was opened, cutting, among other things, sleepers for the Cairns-to-Ingham railway connection. The line reached Silkwood in 1924. There were ambitious plans to open up lands for tropical fruit and dairying, and toward the late 1920s settlers at Japoonvale and Silkwood obtained a government-subsidised dairy at Silkwood. It also drew on suppliers at Mena Creek and Utchee Creek, continuing until the 1940s when the Millaa Millaa factory came into operation, after which many of the dairy farms changed to beef cattle. Silkwood's population approached 800 in the 1930s, and the Post Office Directory (1935) recorded two hotels, a cash store, Silkwood Caen Stores, a butcher, a baker, several other shops and Silkwood Motors. The present-day town has local shops and tradespeople, a hotel, a bowling club and State and Catholic primary schools. The town's District Action Group carried out town improvements to maintain the population level, and received a regional achiever award in 2004. Two years later Cyclone Larry roared through Silkwood, damaging or unroofing nearly all the houses. On 3 February 2011 the Category 5 Cyclone Yasi crossed the Queensland coast centred 50km south of Silkwood. Although having some protection by its inland location, Silkwood's houses and businesses suffered damage and destruction.

silkwood—any of several trees, especially the rainforest tree Flindersia pimenteliana of northern Queensland, West Papua (Indonesia) and Papua New Guinea. The tree matures to a height of up to 40m, with a trunk diameter of 90-120cm. The bark is elongated gray or brown, rough, or cracked pustular, vertically. Terminal buds are not surrounded by leaves. Leaves are spaced along the branches, opposite (in pairs, opposite one another on the branchlet). Slices of fruit usually continued on the ground under the tree. Silkwood is highly valued as a cabinet timber. The silky, lustrous heartwood is initially light pinkish-brown in color, but darkens to a medium-brown shade upon exposure. The grain is usually interlocked, but may also be wavy or curly, producing a variety of figures. The best veneers are reported to be produced by stumps, butt logs, and crotches. Threatened by habitat loss. Also known as maple silkwood, Queensland maple.

silky hairstreakPseudalmenus chlorinda, an attractive butterfly with a wingspan of 28mm, brown-black above with a central orange patch to each wing, hindwing with orange fringe and a black tail; below, grey with black markings and a red fringe to hindwing. Occurring mainly in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria, where it breeds on wattles. An early spring species whose larvae feed on blackwood and silver wattle. The larvae are attended by the strong-smelling ant, Anonychomyrma biconvexa. Pupation usually occurs under the bark of nearby eucalypts. Also known as Victorian hairstreak.

silky headsCymbopogon obtectus, an aromatic herb that grows to 1m high. The leaf blades contain aromatic oils and can be narrow, flat or folded. Flower heads, appearing in summer, look shaggy, having long fluffy hairs. The plant is widespread near watercourses across mainland Australia. In New South Wales, silky heads are found on the north coast, tablelands, slopes and plains, central slopes and southern plains. It is used as a traditional bush medicine by chopping the aromatic leaves finely and boiling them for 5 to 10 minutes in a litre of water. The resulting yellow-green liquid is drunk as often as needed to relieve coughs and colds. The liquid can also be used as a liniment for sore muscles or headaches, and as an antiseptic to treat sores. The leaves can be rubbed into a ball and placed in the nostrils to relieve colds. A liquid made from the root can be poured into the ear to relieve earaches.

silky oakGrevillea robusta, a fast-growing evergreen tree, between 18-35m tall, with dark green, delicately dented bipinnatifid leaves reminiscent of a fern frond. It is the largest species in the genus Grevillea of the family Proteaceae, reaching diameters in excess of 1m, and is not closely related to the true oaks, Quercus. The leaves produce an allelopathic substance which inhibits the establishment of all species, apparently including itself. The seeds are wind-dispersed. It is a native of eastern coastal Australia, in riverine, subtropical and dry rainforest environments receiving more than 1,000mm per year of average rainfall. The leaves are generally 15-30cm long with greyish white or rusty undersides. Its flowers are golden-orange, bottlebrush-like blooms, between 8-15cm long, in the spring, on a 2-3cm long stem and are used for honey production. Like others of its genus, the flowers have no petals, instead they have a long calyx that splits into 4 lobes. The seeds mature in late winter to early spring, fruiting on dark brown, leathery dehiscent follicles, about 2cm long, with one or two flat, winged seeds. Silky oak is a valuable timber and was one of Australia's best known cabinet timbers. Before the advent of aluminium, the timber from this tree was widely used for external window joinery as it is resistant to rotting. It was also popular for making furniture, and was considered to be the best tree to use for fencing as it is one of the fastest-growing trees. However, there are severe restrictions on the harvesting of this tree now, as the number of trees became depleted. It has been used extensively in reforestation programs. Also known as southern silky oak, Australian silver oak.

silly sausage—silly, foolish person.

silly season—the festive time of Christmas (when much shuts down due to month-long holidays; there are re-runs on TV, etc).

silver ashFlindersia, a genus of 14 species of tree in the family Rutaceae. They are native to the Moluccas, New Guinea, Australia (New South Wales and Queensland) and New Caledonia. They are cultivated and planted for both timber and as a street tree. The genus was named after explorer Matthew Flinders. .

silver banksiaBanksia marginata, a shrub of medium height (2m by 2m), that also occurs as a scrambling, prostrate plant and as a small- to medium-sized tree. Silver banksia can grow to a height of 6m, but is often dwarfed when growing in heathland. The narrow leaves also vary widely, from 2cm—6cm long, 3mm—10mm wide, toothed or entire. The underside of the leaves is a velvety white and the tip is usually square-cut. Small, yellow flower spikes are 4cm—10cm long and 4cm—6cm wide. The styles are straight or curved slightly upwards, not hooked. Silver banksia grow in coastal heaths, forest and woodland in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

silver boxEucalyptus pruinosa, a member of the Myrtaceae family. The silver box is a small, straggly tree with a solitary trunk. The bark is rough and light brown to grey. Mature leaves are oblong to ovate with a grey-green bloom. The flowers are about 1.5cm in diameter, bright yellow and appear from October to February. Plants may flower when only two or three years old. Silver box is widespread over much of northern Australia. Some trees may become deciduous during the dry season. The species is said to be tolerant of light to medium frosts. Honeyeaters are attracted to the flowers. The species name refers to the waxy bloom of the foliage. Also known as kullingal.

Silver City—(see: Broken Hill).

silver cobbler—marketing name for the shovel-nosed catfish.

silver doryCyttus australis, a ray-finned fish (class Actinopterygii) in the family Cyttidae. It is found around southern Australia, on the continental shelf at depths of between 10 and 350m.

silver fernCyathea dealbata, the New Zealand national symbol, it is a majestic tree fern with mature fronds up to 3m long, having a distinctive silvery colour underside. It is easily grown in a sheltered situation and eventually grows up to 10m tall. Trunk growth is slower at 2.5cm to 7.5cm per year dependent on conditions, but frond growth is rapid.

silver gullLarus novaehollandiae has a white head, body and tail, blending into gray at the mantle, back and wings. Bill is bright red. Wingspan is 36 to 38 inches. Found in mainland Australia, New Caledonia and Tasmania. Frequents sandy and rock shores, parks, beaches, trash dumps and livestock pens. Its diet consists of refuse, fish, fish offal, marine, and terrestrial invertebrates, berries, seeds and insects. Mating occurs year-round. Older birds nest early and produce more young. The silver gull is the only type of sea-gull found on Cape York Peninsula. In the Pakanh language this bird is referred to descriptively as minha puntha 'ongko, "the bird with the long wings.

silver quandongElaeocarpus grandis, a tall tree attaining a height of 35m and a stem diameter up to 2m. The stem is prominently buttressed at the base and covered with a grey, smooth, slightly wrinkled bark. The older leaves turn bright red before being shed, and this is a distinctive species-recognition feature in the forest. This species occurs along the eastern coast of Australia, most commonly between Taree, New South Wales and Maryborough, Queensland. Small populations also occur on the Eungella Range and between Ingham and Cooktown. A disjunct stand occurs beside the mouth of the Daly River, Northern Territory. Timber of this species is now of limited commercial availability, although there is interest from farm forestry groups in establishing plantations of silver quandong. The heartwood is generally white to cream-white. In some cases it can have greyish or light brownish tones. There is no noticeable colour difference between sapwood and heartwood. Also known as blue fig, blueberry ash, blue quandong, white quandong, cooloon.

silver top—any of several eucalypts with smooth-barked, silvery-white upper branches, especially silvertop ash of eastern Australia.

silver tussockPoa caespitosa, a short tussock grass which once occupied many thousands of hectares on Banks Peninsula. Although still common, it is becoming rare to find dense areas of the tussock in very good condition. Over the years large areas of silver tussock have been progressively transformed into exotic pasture of higher grazing quality. Also known as snow grass.

silver wattleAcacia dealbata, one of Australia's most conspicuous native trees. An erect tree to 15m with feathery, silver-grey foliage, abundant in riparian areas. Communities of silver wattle are most common on disturbed sites (e.g. fire, clearing or flood). Generally, stands are less than 5ha in size but occasionally stands that are more extensive are present. The community occupies sites from flats to steep slopes and ridges on a variety of substrates. The canopy is most often composed exclusively of silver wattle, although other species may sometimes be present as a minor component. One of the softer hardwoods, it is used in the production furniture and handles, and is a good source of firewood. Aboriginals used the outer bark for making water vessels, and the inner bark for making string. The gum was eaten, as well as being used for treating wounds. This species is generally available along the eastern seaboard of Australia and liberally throughout Tasmania.

silver-leaf grevilleaGrevillea refracta, a slender shrub or a small tree to 4m tall. It has reddish-orange flowers, March to December, and a silky grey leaf. Good for windbreaks. Its Bardi name is Jamoordoo. It is well suited to arid, semi-arid and tropical regions.

silver-leaf ironbarkEucalyptus melanophloia, a tree to 20m high. Bark persistent throughout, "ironbark", grey-black. Branchlets green. Adult leaves opposite, broad lanceolate or ovate, obtuse or rounded, 5cm—9cm long, 2mm—3.5mm wide; flowers are white or cream. The silver-leaf ironbark is widespread and abundant in grassy or sclerophyllous woodland on lighter soils on the granite country of the northern NSW tablelands and southern Queensland. When ground moisture is high it produces large quantities of pollen and honey. Crops of 20kg—50kg per hive of honey have been reported. It is a very quick honey flow, lasting for only three to four weeks—and it usually flowers during the midsummer heat. Bees that have worked this type of pollen while being on such a heavy honey flow may well be a strong hives of bees, but would be greatly stressed and have a reduced body protein.

silver-leafed paperbarkMelaleuca argentea, a large, spreading tree commonly seen along the waterways of Kakadu. Its pale-yellow flower spikes appear mainly between June and October and produce a sickly-sweet fragrance that attracts many animals.

silver-tail—only in Australia (or in places that have borrowed the expression from Australia) is a socially prominent person, or a privileged person, or someone having social aspirations, called a “silver-tail”. The earliest citation is from The Bulletin from 1887. The Australian National Dictionary offers the guess that the probable origin of silver-tail is from a reference to the wearing of dress uniforms. In a book called Austral English (published in 1898) it's said that silver-tail is “a bush term for a swell, a man who calls on the manager's house, but not the men's hut”.

silverbeet—Swiss chard.

silvereyeZosterops lateralis, a small (9.5cm—12cm) bird with a conspicuous ring of white feathers around the eye, it belongs to a group of birds collectively known as white-eyes. The grey back and olive-green head and wings are found in birds throughout the east, while western birds have a uniformly olive-green back. Breeding birds of the east coast have yellow throats, pale buff flanks and white on the undertail. Tasmanian birds have grey throats, chestnut flanks and yellow on the undertail. The birds in the east have regular migrations within Australia and may replace each other in their different areas for parts of the year. The contact call, a thin psip, is given persistently. Silvereyes feed on insect prey and large amounts of fruit and nectar, making them occasional pests of commercial orchards. Birds are seen alone, in pairs or small flocks during the breeding season, but form large flocks in the winter months. They are more common in the south-east of Australia, but their range extends from Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, through the south and south-west to about Shark Bay, Western Australia. They are also found in Tasmania. In the south of their range, silvereyes move north each autumn, and move back south in late winter to breed.

silverside—corned beef.

silvertails—(see: silver-tail).

silvertop ashEucalyptus sieberi, a medium-sized to tall forest tree that favours warm, humid to sub-humid climate. Mature trees have a hard, darkly coloured and deeply furrowed bark on the trunk and larger limbs. This sheds, revealing a smooth white surface on the upper, smaller branches (hence the common name of silvertop). Growth is widespread in south-eastern Victoria and New South Wales, on tablelands and coast ranges, and in north-east Tasmania. Also known as black ash, coast ash, and in Tasmania as ironbark.

silvertop stringybarkEucalyptus laevopinea has a thick, fibrous, stringy, grayish-brown bark. Juvenile leaves are opposite, then alternating and discolorous green. Adult leaves are alternate, with lanceolate, slightly glossy green leaves with numerous oil glands. Found native in the Central and Northern Tablelands of New South Wales and SE Queensland.

Simosthenurus—a genus of megafaunal macropods that existed in Australia in the Pleistocene. Although Simosthenurines were no taller than most modern species of kangaroo, their robust bones, broad pelvis, long arms and short necks were unique adaptations to their browsing mode of feeding. Their single-toed hind feet had small, hoof-like nails more typical of animals adapted to moving over relatively flat terrain. It is one of the nine species of leaf-eating kangaroos identified at Naracoorte.

simple notophyll vine forest—the most extensive mountain forest type occurring at c. 400-1000m, mainly on granitic ranges in the Cooktown-Ingham region of Far North Queensland.

Simpson Desert—a sea of parallel red sand ridges some 300-500km long, a dunal desert covering 170,000sq km. The Simpson sprawls across the corners of three states, occupying most of south-eastern Northern Territory, continues into south-west Queensland and northern South Australia. Rainfall is unpredictable and highly variable, and summer temperatures can exceed 50°C. In the nineteenth century, the Simpson Desert was inhabited by seven different Aboriginal tribes, concentrated mainly around the watercourses on the desert boundaries. In good seasons, they moved into or through the desert itself, digging permanent wells along their route for survival. European settlement and a rapid expansion of pastoralism on the margins of the desert, from 1860 to 1900, resulted in the displacement of tribes, either by direct occupation of tribal lands or the attraction of tribe members to pastoral properties. The worst impact, however, was the Europeans' introduction of influenza, which decimated the tribes and depopulated extensive areas of north and north-eastern South Australia, including the Simpson Desert, at about the time of the First World War. Finally, a severe drought drove the last desert inhabitants away.

Simpson Desert tribes—Aboriginal people of the Simpson Desert area from the Northern Territory to South Australia.

Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields—part of the Australian continental dunefields, which consist of a huge, anti-clockwise whorl of linear dunes in Central Australia. Most of the dunefield lies in the Lake Eyre Basin, and the edge of the region extends into the NSW corner country. The area is dominated by high, linear dunes of red sand. The original source of the dune sands is generally considered to be the Great Dividing Range, with the sand being delivered by rivers through the Cooper Creek and Bulloo river systems. Both the dunefields and the sandplains contain clay pans and ephemeral lakebeds. Stream channels from the Tibooburra and Barrier Ranges flow toward Lake Callabonna and Lake Frome in north-eastern South Australia and flood local claypans, but runoff is now insufficient to reach the distant lakes. Sands in the eastern part of the region are derived from the Bulloo overflow, where they are associated with larger lake basins that contain well-developed beaches and lunettes. The Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields bioregion is the largest example of a linear sand dune environment in the world. Cane grass grows along the dune crest. Elsewhere, sparse acacia shrublands with a spinifex understorey occurs. The watercourses draining to these lakes are fringed with coolibas and river red gums. A number of rare and threatened species, such as the Eyrean grasswren, the grey falcon and the ampurta inhabit the Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields.

sin-bin—1. a panel-van. 2. (rugby, ice-hockey) area off-field where player is sent for a certain time for a penalty.

since Adam/God was a boy/pup—for a very long time.

singing honeyeater—Lichenostomus virescens, a regular resident to city parks, gardens and bushland. They associate with brown honeyeaters and red wattlebirds, feeding on nectar, grubs, insects and berries. They will forage on the ground or in grass for insects. Breeding birds can be very territorial and aggressive, and won't hesitate to attack much larger animals. They can be fairly aggressive with members of their own specie,s also. They are often seen chasing each other and this can lead to very violent scuffles in which the submissive bird is held down on the ground while other birds stab at it with their bills. Usually the first to alarm other birds of danger from cats, they will mob the cat with harsh screaming calls, driving it out of their territory. Size: 18cm—22cm. Voice: sequence of mellow prit prit prit, soft sweet twittering, harsh alarm call. Breeds July—February in a nest cup of grass, plant stems and spiderweb. Found Australia-wide, excluding eastern Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland; Tasmania and Cape York Peninsula.

Single Mother's pension—a welfare pension provided by the government to women raising a child or children alone, similar to Aid to Dependant Children in the US.

single-drive—tractor with 1 rear axle.

singlet—an undergarment, a sort of sleeveless T-shirt, but often worn as an outer garment, especially with stubbies.

singsong—an informal gathering at which everyone joins in the singing of songs.

sink a few—to drink beer, especially to excess.

sink the boot/slipper—1. (of the driver of a vehicle) to go faster. 2. (see: sink the boot in). 3. (Australian Rules football) kick the ball, a long one.

sink the boot in—1. criticise scathingly. 2. to kick someone viciously, especially when that person has fallen to the ground.

sinker—a meat pie; heavy, filling food.

sinking fund—a special levy, held in trust and administered by a body corporate, to cover any major repairs or maintenance that may have to be carried out on the building or property grounds administered by that body corporate.

siphon the python—(of a man) to urinate.

Sir Edward Pellew Group—a cluster of barren sandstone islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, near the mouth of the McArthur River on the south-western shore of the Gulf. In 1644 Abel Tasman thought the islands were part of the mainland and named them Cape Vanderlin. Flinders in 1802 proved Vanderlin an island, and he named the group after Captain Edward Pellew (later Admiral Viscount Exmouth) of the Royal Navy. The Sir Edward Pellew Group consists of North, South West, Centre, West and Vanderlin Islands with a total area of 2100sq km. Vanderlin, the largest, is 32km long by 1km wide. The Sir Edward Pellew group belongs to the Yanyuwa people.

Sir John Roberton's Act—the Crown Lands Act, 1861.

sister—1. a senior female nurse. 2. (in Aboriginal English) a female relative of the same generation as the speaker; (loosely) a female Aborigine.

sit (someone) on his arse—defeat (someone) in a fight, argument or war of words.

sit with it—endure; remain faithful, loyal to the end.

sit-down—a strike in which members refuse to leave their place of employment and do not allow anyone else to work until the dispute is settled.

sit-down money—unemployment benefits; the dole

.sit-down strike—a strike in which the workers refuse to leave their place of work.

sittella—a very small Australasian family (Neosittidae) composed of just two species: a Papua New Guinea bird and one variable, sexually dimorphic Australian species, the varied sittella. Sittellas will remind non-Australian observers of nuthatches (family Sittidae), although it has long been recognized that they are not closely related. Sittellas tend to occur in small groups (2-12) high in the canopy, moving rapidly from tree to tree in a loose group, excavating insects as they move up and down branches and trunks. They weave lovely nests in deep forks. They are communal breeders; young from earlier broods attend the new nest. They also roost communally and sometimes engage in group-wide allopreening. Sittellas are the "nuthatch" equivalent to arise from the great Australasian radiation. This radiation is divided between the menurids (including the lyrebirds, scrub-birds, honeyeaters and relatives) and the corvoids (crows, birds-of-paradise, butcherbirds and numerous relations). The sittellas are placed in the corvoid group with their closest relatives, the whistlers and monarchs. Not only is this shown by biochemical evidence (e.g., DNA-DNA hybridization), similarities to whistlers exist in the nests, eggs, and immature plumages of sittellas.

sitting on an ant's nest—in a very awkward predicament that is likely to get worse.

sitting tenant—a tenant already in occupation of premises.

sixer—1. (cricket) hit over the fence, six runs; (Australian Rules football) goal. 2. (see: go/went for a sixer).

sixpence—a coin equal to six pence under the old imperial system of pounds, shillings and pence.


skeg/skeghead—a surfie, one who rides a surf-board.

skerrick—a small amount; a small fragment; the slightest bit. It's use is almost always negative—we might easily say that we don't have a skerrick of something, but it would be unusual to say that we do have a skerrick – unusual, but not entirely unknown, as in “How much is left?” – “Just a skerrick”. Skerrick is one of those words that began life as a British dialect word, came to Australia with the early settlers, and survived here in colloquial Australian English while fading out of existence in the land of its birth. It's recorded in Australia as early as 1854 (in a book called Gallops and Gossips) in the statement: “I have plenty of tobacco, but not a skerrick of tea or sugar” (which is, clearly, the modern sense of the word). So, where did the word come from? The 1823 edition of Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue records the word “scurrick” which is said to be thieves' cant for a half-penny. And this word “scurrick” is sometimes recorded as “scuttick” and sometimes as “skiddick” so it is probably the origin of “skerrick” – especially as the meaning seems to match: a half-penny being “a small amount”.

skew-whiff—haywire; muddled; askew; in disarray.

skid-lid—protective crash-helmet.

skiddle—to run over, as with a car.

skilly—1. a thin broth or soup or gruel (usually of oatmeal and water flavoured with meat). 2. an insipid beverage; tea or coffee.

skinful—1. as much alcohol as one can tolerate. 2. as much as one can tolerate, endure: e.g., I've had a skinful of those naughty kids of yours!

skink—the family Scincidae is the most species-rich lizard family with about 1200 species. Typically, skinks are slightly to markedly elongate lizards that have relatively long-snouted and somewhat flattened skulls, in which the upper temporal opening is usually reduced or lost. The head is usually covered with enlarged plates, termed head shields, and osteoderms are frequently present in some or all scales. These osteoderms are unusual because each is composed of a set of smaller ones in contrast to a single bone as in other lizards. Smooth, shiny cycloid scales (few exceptions, e.g. members of the genus Tribolonotus). Several lineages of skinks have lost their limbs completely; a few genera have species with various degrees of limb loss. The tail is usually long and tapering and, except for a very few species, can be shed and regenerated. The tongue is broad, has an arrowhead-shaped tip and is covered with serrated scales. Distribution is worldwide. Terrestrial and fossorial species are more prevalent than arboreal or aquatic species. Many species in desert regions are sand swimmers. Small- to moderate-sized; usually carnivorous; mostly diurnal, some are nocturnal or crepuscular. Egernia is the most sociable lizard known: 23 of the 31 species in the genus live in some form of family group. About 45% of skinks are viviparous. Eggs are laid as single clutches (guarded or abandoned) or, infrequently, communally. Clutch size is commonly low (~ six) and is limited to one or two eggs in some species groups.

skinner—1. (horse-racing) an unbacked horse that wins, making large profits for the bookmakers. 2. any gambling or betting coup.

skins game—(golf) form of betting with money for each hole going to the winner of that hole.

skint—having no money; broke.

skip—derogatory term for an Australian—used by non-Australians and taken from the television programme Skippy.

skipper butterflies—skippers are small- to medium-sized and generally have a rapid and erratic flight pattern, hence their common name ‘skipper’. Eleven species are known in Tasmania. Two species are listed as threatened under Tasmanian legislation. The chaostola skipper is restricted to a few localities on the east coast— you’ll see them on the wing in open eucalypt forests, if you’re lucky, from mid-October to mid-December. The Marrawah skipper, which is restricted to a very small area around Marrawah in the far north-west, takes to the air mid-January to mid-February.

skippy—1. children's game using a skipping rope; game of jumprope. 2. (cap.) in the television programme Skippy, Skippy was a semi-tamed kangaroo that had adventures with a group of children and, when crisis struck, invariably saved the day in a way reminiscent of Lassie. This tended to involve taking messages to a park ranger who spoke amazing kangaroo. This is especially amazing as kangaroos don't tend to make any kind of noise at all but things like the wrinkled nose or scratching behind the ears was helpfully repeated in English by the park ranger for the non-kangaroo-speaking audience.

skite—1. braggart; boaster. 2. to brag, boast.

skittle/s—1. a pin used in the game of skittles. 2. a game like ninepins played with usually nine wooden pins set up at the end of an alley to be bowled down usually with wooden balls or a wooden disc. 3. chess not played seriously. 4. to knock over, in the manner of skittles. 5. (cricket) get (batsmen) out in rapid succession.

skol—to drink (alcohol) in one gulp; bottoms up!


slab—a case of beer, usually 24 stubbies or cans.

slab tin—deep baking tray; 13" x 9" pan.

slag—1. spittle; saliva. 2. to spit. 3. promiscuous woman.

slam the anchors on—to brake, stop, violently.

slanging match—exchange of abuse, criticism; noisy and abusive quarrel.

slanter—a trick; an act of cheating or deception.

slap a bluey on (someone)—(of police) issue with a ticket, fine, for a misdemeanour, minor offence.

slap up—do, make, hastily and carelessly.

slap-and-tickle—sexual play, activity.

slap-happy—carefree; casual; cheerful.

slap-up—1. hastily or carelessly done. 2. first-rate, excellent.

slashing line—very attractive woman viewed as a sex objet.

slate—reprimand, criticise severely: e.g., The critics like to slate everything he writes.

sledge—1. (sport) attempt to break the concentration of a person battering by abuse, needling, etc. 2. criticise severely.

sleep rough—sleep outdoors, or not in a proper bed.

sleep under the house—be in disgrace.

sleep-out—a verandah, porch, or outbuilding providing sleeping accommodation.

sleeping partner—person who puts money into a business but takes no active part in running it; silent partner.

slender-leaf malleeEucalyptus leptophylla, a mallee, to 8m tall, with smooth bark which breaks off in irregular patches. Adult leaves are narrowly lanceolate, more or less symmetric, petiolate, to 8cm x 8mm, alternate, green and glossy; oil glands numerous and clearly visible. Fruits are wineglass-shaped, to 5mm x 4mm, pedicellate; disc almost vertical; valves 3, below level of rim but with fine, erect style remnant extending beyond rim.

slewed—drunk; intoxicated.

sling—1. offer money as a bribe: e.g., We'll sling him a few bob to keep his mouth shut. 2. tip: e.g., How much should we sling the waitress?

sling in—contribute, donate money.

sling it in—leave, resign one's job.


slinging-match—abusive argument; noisy exchange of abuse

slip of a (person)—slim or young: e.g., She's only a slip of a girl.

Slip! Slop! Slap!—the iconic and internationally recognised sun protection campaign prominent in Australia during the 1980s. Launched by Cancer Council Victoria in 1981, the Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign features a singing, dancing Sid Seagull encouraging people to reduce sun exposure and protect themselves against an increased risk of skin cancer. Sid had Australians slipping on long sleeved clothing, slopping on sunscreen and slapping on a hat. This successful program was funded by public donations. The health campaign was extended in later years by the SunSmart to encourage the use of sunglasses and shade. That is: Slip on a shirt, Slop on the 30+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade or shelter, Slide on some sunnies—"Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide." By this stage, however, the skin cancer aware message of the campaign had successfully been absorbed into the Australian psyche. Since this campaign was introduced along with advertisements and a jingle, the incidence of the two most common forms of skin cancer (basal-cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) in Australia has decreased. However, the incidence of melanoma—the most lethal form of skin cancer—has increased. An epidemiological study published in 2002 concluded that skin cancer increases could not be associated with the use of sun creams, and recommended continued use of the current campaigns as a means to reduce melanoma risk The experience of more than 25 years of skin cancer prevention in Australia shows broad-based multifaceted public education programs can have an impact on improving a population's sun protective behaviors and reducing sunburn, a short-term marker of skin cancer risk. The sun's UV radiation is both a major cause of skin cancer and the best natural source of vitamin D. The risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure needs to be balanced with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.

slobber-chops—1. affectionate term of address to someone, especially one's lover. 2. greedy, gluttonous eater. 3. person or animal (dog) given to excessive salivation.

slog—1. spell of hard work: e.g., That was a hard slog! 2. to work hard: e.g., I'm going to have to slog all weekend to pass this exam.

sloop—a single masted boat. A sloop of war was a minor class vessel, sometimes frigate-built, and carrying one tier of guns.

slope off—slink away, especially to evade work.

sloppy joe—large, loose jumper or sweater.

slops—1. beer. 2. unappetising, water food.

sloshed—very drunk; intoxicated.

slot—prison cell.

slouch hat—the venerated, soft, Australian Army hat—symbol of courage and nationalism. The slouch('digger') hat hat is nearly as old as the Australian fighting man. It has a leather chin strap. It is/was made from rabbit-fur felt or wool felt, is turned up on the side (originally, possibly, to keep it out of the way of a lance held in a stirrup cup or a rifle and bayonet carried over the shoulder. The word 'slouch' does not refer to the turn-up (leaf), rather, it refers to any hat with a brim that droops down. Australia did not invent the turned up brim on a slouch hat. It was worn like that by many armies, with and without feathers, over hundreds of years. The diggers just made it famous and it is now recognised as 'ours'. When the slouch hat is worn at Royal Military College Australia, it has become traditional that the chinstrap buckle is on the right side of the face and the brim is down. The tradition was commenced at RMC in 1932. When the slouch hat is worn ceremonially, (e.g. on ANZAC Day) it is worn in accordance with the wider Army custom, i.e. brim up and chin strap on the left hand side.

slow off the mark—(of a person) dull-witted; slow to act or react.

slow-worm—any of the small worm-like burrowing snakes of the genus Ramphotyphlops of mainland Australia.

slushy—kitchen or cook's assistant.

sly-grog—the sale of alcohol on the Victorian gold diggings was limited to public houses on the road from Melbourne. Alcohol was commonly referred to as "grog", and on his first visit to Victoria, William Howitt was disappointed by the taste: "generally a vile species of rum or arrack, vilely adulterated with oil of vitriol, and therefore the finest specific in the world for the production of dysentery". Grog was always served in a glass known as a "nobbler" and a digger’s first day at the gold fields meant it was his shout. Sly grog selling was better business than gold, which is at least one reason why the sale of spirits was restricted to the licenced premises. Owners of shops and tents caught selling spirits had their stock confiscated and had to pay a £50 fine, or be gaoled for seven months. Still, the income from this sly trafficking was so great that those severe fines frightened no one, but only served to make them cautious. Often a sly grog trafficker paid a £50 fine one day and the very next day was in business again, knowing it wouldn’t take long to recoup the fine.

sly-grog shop—an unlicensed hotel or liquor-store, often with the added suggestion of selling poor-quality liquor; a place where alcoholic beverages are sold by an unlicensed vendor. The Australian slang term 'sly-grog' combines two older English slang terms: (1) 'on the sly', meaning "in a secret, clandestine, or covert manner, without publicity or openness". James Hardy Vaux's Vocabulary of the Flash Language (1812) defined the term 'upon the sly': "Any business transacted, or intimation given, privately, or under the rose, is said to be done upon the sly". (2) 'grog', a Naval term originally referring to a rum and water mixture. In the Australian context 'grog' was used to describe diluted, adulterated and sub-standard rum. In the early decades of the Australian colonies 'grog' was often the only alcoholic beverage available to the working classes. Eventually, the word 'grog' came to be used as a slang term for any alcoholic beverage. The term 'sly-grog' evolved into general usage in Australia during the 1820s. An early reference comes from the Hobart Town Gazette of 18 March 1825: "We therefore felt convinced that in the sequel they would altogether decline applying for licenses, whilst many of them would become sly grog-men to the manifest injury of Government". Sly-grog shops eventually expanded from their urban context and increased in numbers in rural areas during the period of progressive establishment of farms and pastoral runs in south-east Australia (generally distant from police and bureaucratic control). From the 1850s cattle began to be replaced by sheep on the extensive pastoral runs along the inland rivers. Large numbers of workers were required to manage the sheep, particularly at shearing time. Sly-grog shops provided station-hands and shearers from the surrounding areas with a focus for entertainment, social interaction and drunkenness. There were few townships at that time and law enforcement was over-stretched in these areas. In consequence, sly-grog shops (sometimes of the travelling variety) became an institution in these districts, often associated with particular pastoral runs or situated along mail-routes. As townships and police-stations became established and more numerous along the inland rivers in the latter half of the 19th century the sly-grog shops tended more often to be found on the back-blocks and regions further inland, following the squatters and their workers as they developed more marginal areas.

sly-groggers—bootleggers of illegal liquor.

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