Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Springbrook Nat'l Park

Springbrook National Park, Queensland

SP—starting price.

SP bookie—(horse-racing) an unlicensed, off-course book-maker.

spag bol—spaghetti bolognaise.

spaghetti bolognaise—classic spaghetti sauce from northern Italy, the phrase being used by Australians in the same way Americans use "spaghetti": e.g., "Mum, can we have spaghetti bolognaise for tea tonight?"

spangled drongoDicrurus bracteatus, a bird which measures 28cm-33cm. It has glossy black plumage with iridescent blue-green spots (spangles) and blood red eyes. The long, forked 'fish' tail is characteristic, and distinguishes the spangled drongo from other similar-sized black birds. This bird is noisy and conspicuous, usually active, and frequently aggressive to other species. The voice comprises a variety of sounds, including some distinctive metallic notes, like a stretched wire being plucked, and occasional mimicry of other bird species. Spangled drongos are found throughout northern and eastern Australia. They prefer the wetter forests, avoid more dense forest types and rainforest interiors, but can also be found in other woodlands, mangroves and parks. Birds are more common in the north, and are often seen either singly or in pairs. Individuals from the northern areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory migrate northwards to Indonesia, while the eastern Australian birds migrate to New Guinea. Some drongos in the south-east and central-east, however, remain in the same area or head south, occasionally turning up in Tasmania. The spangled drongo is usually observed perched on an open branch or telegraph wire, where it awaits a passing insect. Once seen, its prey is pursued in an acrobatic display, and is caught in the drongo's slightly hooked bill. Insects are also taken from foliage and from under bark; fruit and nectar also form part of its diet. Spangled drongos breed from September to March, and normally have only one clutch per season. Both adults participate in building the nest, which is a simple, shallow cup of twigs, vine tendrils and grasses, held together with spider web. It is placed in a horizontal fork of a tree, normally toward the outer edges and up to 10m—20m above the ground. Both sexes incubate the three to five eggs and care for the young, actively defending the nest against intruders.

Spanish merino—though relatively few in number, there is a distinct strain of the Australian merino which is directly descended from merino sheep of "Spanish" blood imported into the Australia when still a British colony. After the drier inland had been opened up and the Spanish-blood sheep moved away from the coast, significant advances in body size and wool weights were achieved. Today, these sheep achieve body weights and fleece weights of the same magnitude as the Peppin strain, and are mostly found in the same climactic zones.

spanking—very fine, excellent; striking.

spanner—a wrench.

spanner crabRanina Ranina has an elongated shell, which is very broad at the front. The first legs are "spanner" shaped and the rest are flattened and have numerous short bristles. The spanner crab's body colour varies from orange to red. They move in a forwards-backwards motion, unlike other crabs who move sideways. Spanner crabs prefer bare, sandy areas. They inhabit intertidal waters to depths of more than 100m, from sheltered bays to surf areas, remaining completely buried in the sand for most of the day, but emerging rapidly when food appears. Spanner crabs are opportunistic feeders, i.e., they eat whatever is available. Adults eat heart sea-urchins and a variety of small bivalve molluscs, crustaceans, polychaete worms and fish. Spanner crabs are often found in areas where there is an intensive night time prawn fishery, suggesting that discards from the trawl catch may form a significant part of their diet. There is evidence that sharks and turtles feed on spanner crabs and turtles take advantage of crabs being caught in nets. Found on the East and West Coasts of Australia. Also known as frog crab and red frog crab.

spanner in the works—a hindrance; anything that is an upset, trouble, or a spoiling influence; something that disrupts, confuses or obstructs.

sparkie—an electrician.

sparrow fart—dawn; at first light.

spear grass—Sorghum spp., grows to over 2m and becomes the dominant understorey plant towards the end of the wet season in Kakadu and Arnhem Land. The grass occupies an extraordinarily wide range of habitats from high, lateritic woodlands, seasonally inundated flats through to sandstone sand-flats and scree slopes. Its hyper-abundance gives the appearance of a plant in disharmony with local floristics. Fire in the woodlands of Kakadu is largely about spear grass. It constitutes around 40 to 50 per cent of the annual fuel load and the majority of the free-standing fuel, so without spear grass, fires would be much less intense. It is not uncommon to see lowland forest standing in spear grass suffer 100 per cent scorch as early as late April. Despite its major influence on annual fire, little is known about spear grass in terms of changes in its distribution and density over time. Some authors have alluded to an expansion in the distribution of spear grass over the past 70 to 90 years. They attribute this to disruption of traditional burning caused by the depopulation of the region by the 1890s and that without a resident and stable Aboriginal population, traditional burning largely came to an end. In its place were many decades of hot, late-season fires which were unchecked by traditional early burning. There is evidence to suggest that this same scenario is now occurring in central Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. Anecdotal evidence from resident old timers also suggests that spear grass was less common 40 years or so ago than it is today. This apparent invasion of spear grass could be having profound and disturbing consequences. It may be promoting more ferocious and frequent fires that have been implicated in the thinning of the woodlands canopy. At the same time, this new fire regime may be promoting yet more spear grass. In many parts of Australia, trees will invade grasslands if fire, especially traditional fire, is not maintained. For most of the 20th century, however, the opposite was happening in the Kakadu region. That is, because of hot and frequent woodland fires, the tree-scape thinned and monsoon forests shrunk, apparently in favour of habitats dominated by spear grass. At this time the buffalo population suddenly and spectacularly crashed as a result of the National Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign. Spear grass, which was probably thinned due to trampling by buffalo in the wet season, was apparently released from the constraints of bovine activity and increased in density throughout the region.

spec-built—a house built as a speculative investment by a builder, rather than under contract.

special election—any election that is not regularly scheduled, e.g. following a death which leaves a vacancy in either House, following a double dissolution, or in the case of a referendum.

Specimen Gully—on 20 July 1851 Thomas Peters, a hut-keeper on William Barker’s Mount Alexander station, found specks of gold at what is now known as Specimen Gully. This find was published in the Melbourne Argus on 8 September 1851, leading to a rush to the Mount Alexander or Forest Creek diggings, centred on present-day Castlemaine, claimed to be the richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world. Located in Victoria.

Specimen Gully Gold Memorial—a slate obelisk erected in 1931 to commemorate the discovery of gold nearby which precipitated the rush to the Mount Alexander goldfield, which in turn provided the main impetus for the great Australian gold rush. The Specimen Gully Gold Memorial is historically important for its symbolic associations with the discovery of gold in the Castlemaine area. Although there had been earlier discoveries of gold in Australia it was the Mount Alexander find which in particular fired the world's imagination and led to one of the greatest mass movements of population in history and was of crucial importance in Victoria's development.

spectacled hare-wallabyLagorchestes conspicillatus. At the time of European settlement in Australia large parts of the mainland and several offshore islands were inhabited by hare-wallabies. These small macropods resembled European hares to early scientists. They were similar in size, and were renowned for their speed and agility. Five species of hare-wallabies have been described although one is only distantly related to the others (four Lagorchestes and one Lagostrophus). Of these, two are now extinct, another two are endangered and only one, the spectacled hare-wallaby, remains widespread. Like other members of their genus, spectacled hare-wallabies are nocturnal, spending the day in small squats or shallow burrows under grass tussocks or low shrubs. They are well adapted to arid or seasonally arid environments, being able to produce highly concentrated urine and having low metabolic rates. They are generally solitary, although several animals may be seen feeding together. Their diet consists predominantly of grass and herb foliage, seeds and fruit. The spectacled hare-wallaby inhabits open forests, open woodlands, tall shrublands and hummock grasslands. It has a wide distribution, however its occurrence within this area is extremely patchy and there have been marked contractions in its range during the last 100 years.

spectacular as a fart in a bathtub—not spectacular or noteworthy at all.

speed-merchant—one who drives too fast.


Speedos—famous Australian-made cossie.

Speewa—a legendary station or place used as a setting for tall tales of the outback.

Spencer Gulf—a large indentation of Australia's southern coastline. It is part of a major north-south geological depression, caused by faulting and subsidence of much of the region millions of years ago. Since then, the region has undergone many geological and geomorphic changes. The major depression, the South Australian shatter zone (including Spencer Gulf) extends south to Kangaroo Island and north to Lake Eyre (which is below sea level). In an attempt to discover whether New South Wales and New Holland (the western half of Australia, named by the Dutch) were both part of one land mass, or two land masses, Captain Flinders left England in 1800 on the Investigator. After exploring King George Sound, they headed east along the Great Australian Bight. At its eastern extremity the crew began to search for a strait to an inland sea, or a route to the Gulf of Carpentaria. A number of deep gulfs excited their attention, naming Spencer Gulf (after First Lord of the Admiralty) and a port Flinders called Port Lincoln, after his native province.

Sperm Whale Head Peninsula—one of three sand barriers within the Lakes National Park. These barriers, now up to 38m high, enclose the waters that make the Gippsland Lakes. Over many thousands of years, sands deposited by the sea formed Sperm Whale Head, Rotamah Island, Little Rotamah and Nine-mile Beach. Aborigines of the Kurnai nation were numerous in the area at the time of European arrival, as can be seen by the many shell middens in the sand dunes along the Nine Mile Beach—the abundant wildlife and mild climate of the Gippsland Lakes provided plenty of food, making it an ideal area to inhabit. In the summer of 1840 explorer Angus McMillan reached the shores of Lake Victoria, and soon after cattle runs were taken up in the district. During this period, much of the area now covered by the park was cleared and cultivated for grazing. In 1927, 1451ha on the Sperm Whale Head Peninsula was reserved for the purposes of a national park, and proclaimed The Lakes National Park in 1956. Rotamah Island and Little Rotamah Island were added to the park in 1978. Natural bushland has since regenerated and much of the wildlife has returned to the area.

spew—1. vomit. 2. to vomit. 3. to become very angry, furious.

spew it out—to speak freely of one's feelings, anxieties, such as to a friend.

spewy—1. awful; despicable; vile. 2. very angry, furious.

sphagnum mossSphagnum cristatum, the most common species of sphagnum in Australia and is the only moss to be used in commercial industry. Sphagnum peatlands make up only a small percentage of the Australian landscape and are a unique and distinct environment. They are restricted to the sub alpine zones of south-eastern New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory, and are currently listed as a threatened community. S. cristatum is a small to robust plant, pale to brownish-green in colour, and forms dense mats of intertwined lateral branches with mop-like heads. Spore dispersal occurs in the spring when the capsules are mature. The leaves of S. cristatum are spirally arranged and are constructed of an inner core of dead hyaline cells surrounded by a narrow wall of living photosynthetic cell. The hyaline cells are large and contain small perforations that allow the plant to absorb and retain almost 20 times its own weight in water. Sphagnum moss is used extensively in the horticultural industry because of its super-absorbent qualities. It has also been used as a surgical dressing since World War I because of its antibacterial qualities and its capacity to absorb 6 times the amount of fluid as cotton. Sphagnum has devised its own natural defense system against insect and fungus attack by liberating hydrogen ions and creating an intolerable pH level in its immediate environment.

spider—a drink made with soft-drink and ice-cream.

spider flower—there are five grevilleas that are commonly referred to as spider flowers. They are the pink spider flower (Grevillea sericea), grey spider flower (Grevillea buxifolia), red spider flower (Grevillea speciosa), white spider flower (Grevillea linearifolia), and the green spider flower (Grevillea mucronulata). The grey spider flower is the most prolific and the red spider flower the least prolific but the most spectacular. They flower in winter and spring, and are mainly restricted to the Sydney sandstone region.

spider orchidCaladenia is a large genus (about 250 species) with many showy and elegant large-flowered species (flower length up to 30 cm).terrestrial plants, rootless or with filamentous roots, and with a globose tuber. Solitary leaf and unbranched stem, generally hairy. Inflorescence with one to few, bright to dull-colored, small to large flowers. Lip usually with a marginal fringe and 2-6 rows of club-shaped calli. Pollinator attraction is based on sexual deception of male thynnid wasps. Being rootless, spider orchids depend heavily on their mycorrhiza for water and minerals uptake. Distribution: Mainly Australia; a few species are known from New Zealand, New Caledonia and Indonesia.

spiffed—drunk; intoxicated.

spiffing—excellent; very good.

spiffs—incentives given to sales-people.

spiflicated—drunk; intoxicated.

spike (someone's) guns—to hinder, thwart (someone's) progress or success.

spike wattleAcacia oxycedrus, a prickly, erect, spreading or contorted tree or shrub, 1m—10m high. It grows in open forest in sandy soil. The leaf-like phyllodes are stiff, flat and very sharp, 2cm—3cm long. The flower heads are dense cylindrical spikes of bright yellow. Pods are woody and cylindrical, 5cm -10cm long. Widespread in heathlands, woodlands and forests, ranging from far south-eastern South Australia through southern and eastern Victoria to New South Wales, where it occurs in the Blue Mountains north of Sydney and on the far south coast. Flowers June-November.

spin—1. the sum of five dollars. 2. short, often fast, drive of a motor vehicle. 3. time; experience. 4. a  prison sentence of five years.

spine-basher—loafer; lazy, idle person.

spine-bashing—loafing; sleeping; lying down.

spinebill—either of two small honeyeaters of the genus Acanthorhynchus, having a long, spine-like bill.

spinifexTriodia pungens, irregular, grassy tussocks that occur on plains and rocky hills. Soils are commonly shallow or skeletal, but include deep, clayey sands and red earths of coarse or medium texture. Associated with a variety of low trees and shrubs (snappy gum, witchetty bush, mulga, mallees, coolibah, bloodwood, wattles, turkey bush and native fuchsia. Commonly utilised as a drought reserve.

spinifex hopping-mouseNotomys alexis, can survive without drinking water. During drought its water requirements are met from moisture in food—seeds, insects, plant roots—and from metabolic water made from carbohydrates in the seeds that it eats. To reduce water loss the hopping-mouse has no sweat glands, excretes almost dry faeces, and has one of the most concentrated urines of all mammals. The hopping-mouse digs a deep, sloping tunnel 1m—2m down to where the desert sand is damp. There it digs several vertical entry tunnels and for protection fills in the first, long burrow. Burrows are scattered and not easily detected. The humidity in the burrow is increased by communal living. The hopping mouse is active on the surface at night, when it is cooler, looking for food. At any time of the year, even in drought conditions, the hopping mouse can breed but most often does so in spring and summer and in good seasons. To conserve water the mother produces concentrated milk and drinks the urine of her 3 or 4 infants.

spinifex parrot—1. the night parrot. 2. the Princess parrot.

spinifex people—Aboriginal people of parts of central Australia.

spinifex pigeonPetrophassa plumifera, the predominantly brown, crested pigeon of northern Australia. They prefer higher rocky country and red soil regions between the major watercourses of the catchments. They are often seen after rain, strutting an elaborate mating dance. The pigeon is reasonably common through the northern regions of the Lake Eyre Basin. Also known as white-bellied plumed pigeon, red-plumed pigeon, plumed Pigeon, western plumed-pigeon, red-bellied plumed-pigeon.

spinifex sandplain—hummocks of spinifex and scattered shrubs and the interior desert sandplains mean that the land system has a moderate cover, although cover is temporarily reduced following either bushfire or a controlled burn. Most of the vegetation present is unpalatable to cattle and grazing has a negligible effect on average cover at increasing distance from water. Average cover levels increase over the first kilometre from water in both the dry and wet periods, and then increase more gradually to 12km. The infertile sands mean that there is little that pastoralists can do to improve the grazing value of spinifex sandplain. Controlled burns temporarily remove the harsh spinifex and encourage the growth of shorter-lived colonizing species, some of which are marginally palatable to cattle. However, the spinifex sandplains do support very large numbers of termites and have a diverse lizard population, and thus have an important role in biodiversity.

spinner—1. (cricket) a. a spin bowler. b. a spun ball. 2. the player who tosses the coins in two-up (come in spinner).

spiny-headed mat rushLomandra longifolia, a widespread and common rush growing in sandy soils, where it acts as a sand binder. A sedge-like plant to 100cm, forming dense tussocks of stiff, long, flat, near parallel-sided leaves, up to 10mm wide, making them very suitable for weaving mats. Aboriginal women gathered the smooth, strap-shaped leaves from the water's edge to make baskets. Common in heathlands and forests of Queensland, NSW, the southern half of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Utilised as a landscape plant around water features. Will also grow in heavy clay soils.

spiral pandanusPandanus spiralis, occurs throughout the sub-tropics, the tropical coastline and savannah, often in dense stands. All Pandanus species have this screw pattern of producing leaves, though it's not always clearly visible. Pandanus spiralis is the source of fibre used by Aboriginal people in making traditional crafts, including baskets, fish traps, dilly bags, wall and floor mats, and even shelters. In fact, the Pandanus genus is well used by the locals, wherever it grows. And in several places, especially islands, there is not much more growing than just these hard shrubs. So people use fruits for food and medicine, the leaves for weaving and the oil of certain species for perfume. Also known as screw palm.

spit—a projection of beach materials from land into the sea.

spit the dummy—display sudden anger, hostility, petulance; lose one's temper: e.g., Steph really spat the dummy when her pet cocky chewed up her best shoes.

spitting chips—extremely angry, annoyed: e.g., Dad's spitting chips because you pranged the car.

spitting distance—a very short distance: e.g., He moved into a house within spitting distance of the pub.

spiv—black-market dealer or petty criminal, especially one who dresses in a vulgar or flashy manner and does no regular work.

spivved up—dressed in formal attire; dressed in one's best; dressed in a gaudy or flashy manner.

splash out—spend money lavishly: e.g., After winning the Tats, Felicity splashed out on a new wardrobe.

splendid everlastingRhodanthe chlorocephala, an upright, sparse plant with white daisy-like flower heads on stems. Found throughout woodlands and grasslands of south Western Australia, extending into South Australia. Mingled with other ephemerals it forms vast carpets of flowers from Coral Bay east to the desert fringe.

splendid fairy-wrenMalurus spllendens, a small bird, 12cm-14cm that vocalizes with a metallic-sounding, fast twittering, along with pips and squeaks. adult male bright blue, female dull brown plumage, retaining a blue tail. As with most fairy-wrens, these birds live in tight groups consisting of a breeding pair and helpers, usually young from the previous seasons. The female builds the nest, incubates and broods the young while the other members of the group collect food, remove waste and defend the territory. Males may visit neighboring females to mate. Breeds Sept-Jan. Nest of domed cup of grass, bark fibres and spiderweb. Eggs 2-4 white. Australian Distribution: 3 races. Nominate race: south-west Western Australia, wheatbelt and goldfields. Race M. callainus, Central Australia. Race Mmelanotus eastern SA, western NSW, southwest QLD. small birds that live in groups in M. woodlands with open undergrowth, in south-west and inland south-east Australia. Splendid Fairy-wrens hop around through the understorey in small groups searching for insects to eat during the day. They pick up insects in their beak and swallow them whole. They remove the hard outer layer of seeds and then crush the seeds with their strong, straight beak.

splendid tree-frog—(see: magnificent tree-frog).

splendid wrenMalurus melanotus, a common, medium-sized bird (12cm-14cm). Found in arid acacia scrub, mallee and dense shrubbery in forests and woodlands. Its diet consists of insets. Three to four spotted eggs are laid in September to January. There are three races: splendid wren in the West, turquoise wren in the Centre and the blackbacked wren in the East of Australia.

split on (someone)—betray, inform on (someone).

Split Rock—an Aboriginal art gallery within the Lakefield National Park, famous for its giant figures known as Quinkans. The age of the paintings has not been determined, but archaeologists have evidence of local Aboriginal settlement being the oldest in Australia. The area was in use for up to 13,000 years. Located near Laura, Cape York Peninsula, in Far North Queensland.

Split Rock Dam—a minor ungated concrete faced rock fill embankment dam with concrete chute spillway across the Manilla River, upstream of Manilla in the north-western slopes region of New South Wales. The dam's purpose includes flood mitigation, irrigation, water supply and conservation. The impounded reservoir is called Split Rock Reservoir.



sponge finger biscuits—Lady's Fingers.

spot-on—1. correct; absolutely right. 2. excellent; very good. 3. exactly on target.

spotted black snake—Queensland's 14th most deadly snake, found in open plains and downs, in eucalypt forests and woodlands, grasslands and pastured and cropped lands. St George to the Beaudesert-Ipswich area. To 1.5m, back black, dark grey or occasionally light brown, sometimes with light bands or blotches. Belly grey or blue-grey.

spotted bowerbirdChlamydera maculata constructs and avenue-type bower with walls of grass up to 50cm high. A lot of variation exists within a population in the width of the bower, the way the decorations are displayed, whether it has two walls or three walls, and whether it uses straw and sticks or just sticks. Among spotted bowerbirds, the males who use finer straw tend to mate more. Chlamydera maculata is the only one of the bower builders to align the walls east-west instead of north-south. Also unique is the female's viewing position within the bower. She watches the male's show through a wall, which is of an unusually loose weave, instead of through an open end. It's quite a show too, more intense than in most bowerbird species. Instead of the usual soft calling, these guys scream their heads off. Males rush at the bowers that shelter a female, often crashing into the wall. They pick up the snail shells or bleached sheep vertebrae that they have scattered by the hundreds around the clearing and toss them much farther than other bowerbirds, up to a metre away. The females seem extremely choosy, usually just flying away after the show. Only a small percentage of the males in a population manage to mate. Females prefer males with the most intense displays.

spotted brown snake—Queensland's 17th most deadly snake, found in grassed blacksoil plains and plateaux of central and western areas. To .8m, head usually dark grey, back fawn to pale brown, often with dark flecks, belly cream with orange-pink spots.

spotted catbirdAiluroedus melanotis, occurs from Maryborough in Queensland to southern NSW, in rainforests at altitudes above 500 meters. The common name comes from its distinctive, wailing call that is said to sound like a cat. Although they are members of the bower bird family, the catbirds form permanent pair bonds, and established pairs maintain their territory year round. A fruit eater for most of the year, the catbird becomes a predator during the breeding season and raids the nest of other small bird species, taking their young as well as frogs, lizards etc.

spotted cuscus—a fluffy, woolly-furred mammal with a short head, pointed muzzle, small rounded ears and wide-open eyes which adapt to the dark. Solidly-built, the cuscus is about the size of a house cat, 32 inches long, with its prehensile tail comprising nearly half that length. The cuscus is a marsupial of the Phalanger family (a type of possum). Shy and nocturnal, the cuscus sleeps all day in a tree hollow or clumps of dense vegetation. At night it leaves the nest to feed upon fruits and leaves, as well as insects, birds and eggs upon occasion. It inhabits lowland tropical rainforests and adjacent mangroves in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. It lives exclusively in trees and navigates the rainforest canopy with precise, slow movements using its "two-thumbed" hands and large claws, with its long tail for balance. Only the male spotted cuscus has spots. Breeding appears to take place throughout the year. The female has a forwardly-opening pouch with room to nurse four young, but often only one is raised. The young stay in the pouch for more than four months after birth, and spend another month on the back of the mother. With few natural enemies, the cuscus' dwindling population is attributed to the illegal pet trade industry and hunting for their beautiful fur in shades of orange, honey, cream, and gray.

spotted galaxia—(see: spotted mountain trout).

spotted gum—a component of dry sclerophyll forest. The spotted gum doesn't lose all of its leaves every year, although it does shed its bark; neither does it have dormant periods. Its growth is continual, enabling it to generate a growth spurt whenever conditions are right. In dry times, its sclerophyllous leaves don't lose much water. Spotted gums are a group of species including Corymbia maculata, C. variegata and C. henryii. Lemon scented gum (C. citriodora) is a very close relative. The four species comprise the section Politaria in the genus Corymbia (they were formerly placed in the genus Eucalyptus). The Politaria are distributed from upland tropical regions of north Queensland, through southern Queensland to southern New South Wales.

spotted handfishBrachionichthys hirsutus, a small, highly unusual, bottom-dwelling fish. Handfish 'walk' slowly on their pelvic and pectoral fins, which look rather like hands (hence their common name). Five of the eight identified handfish species are found only in Tasmania and Bass Strait. The spotted handfish is endemic to Tasmania's lower Derwent River estuary. In 1996, the spotted handfish became the first Australian marine fish to be listed as endangered. Scientists, government and the community are involved in a federally-funded recovery plan for the spotted handfish led by CSIRO Marine Research. The biggest threats to the spotted handfish are from illegal collectors, habitat disturbance by dredge or net fishing and from the introduced sea star. The spotted handfish was once commonly seen in the deeper bays of south-eastern Tasmania, in areas of sheltered sand or mud at depths from 2m to 30m.

spotted mountain troutGalaxias truttaceus, a small fish, usually 120mm—200mm. Able to tolerate a direct transfer from fresh water to the sea. Feeds mainly on aquatic and terrestrial insects. Spotted mountain trouts feed from the entire water column and the surface, occupying a niche equivalent to that of the introduced brown trout, a species with which it has difficulty competing. Also know as spotted galaxia, mountain trout. Its conservation status is rare (Victoria). Its distribution is patchy in still or slow-flowing streams at low elevations close to the sea in the southern mainland, especially in Victoria and the southern part of Western Australia as well as Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands.

spotted tree frog—this amphibian is confined to 16 rivers in several widely-scattered river catchments in eastern Victoria and Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. It has disappeared entirely from four streams in the area and is declining in distribution along several others. Usually found among boulders or debris in or beside fast-flowing mountain streams and rivers, the frog breeds in the water in spring and the tadpoles develop over summer.

spotted wobbegongOrectolobus maculatus, lives in shallow coastal waters to a depth of around 100m. They often lie on sand or rocky reef bottoms and are frequently seen by divers. It is easily recognised by its colour pattern, which consists of broad, dark saddles and distinct circles formed by groupings of small white dots. Flaps of skin resembling tassels on a rug surround the snout. The spotted wobbegong is most commonly found in temperate coastal waters, from southern Queensland to south-western Western Australia. Also known as carpet sharks because of their tasseled, rug-like appearance and bottom-dwelling habits.

spotted-tail quoll—(or tiger cat as it was once inappropriately known) is the second largest of the world's surviving carnivorous marsupials. Two subspecies have been described—a smaller one (D. m. gracilis) is found in northern Queensland. D. m. maculatus occurs from southern Queensland to Tasmania. The Spotted-tailed quoll is now threatened throughout its mainland range. They are most common in cool temperate rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and coastal scrub along the north and west coasts of the state. Spotted-tail quolls are largely solitary and nocturnal.

spotter's fee—sum of money paid as a reward to a person who reports something, such as an accident to a tow-truck company or news to a newspaper reporter.

sprat for a mackerel—the offer of something inconsequential in return for something profitable, valuable.

spreading flax-lilyDianella revoluta, a perennial herb up to 80cm tall. Flowers are violet-pink in colour and flowering occurs in summer. Produces round, azure-blue fruit up to 8mm in diameter. Around Lake Illawarra the species grows in the upper saltmarsh zone and is mostly associated with sedges and grasses.

spring-head—person with very curly hair.

Springbrook National Park—a World Heritage area in the Border Ranges of south-east Queensland. Ancient stands of Antarctic beech trees, over 2000 years old, grow in montane rainforest on Springbrook Plateau. The park also preserves rainforests and eucalypt forests in the cliff-lined headwaters of rivers and creeks flowing to the Gold Coast. The park covers 2954ha, comprising reserves on and around Springbrook Plateau, Mount Cougal to the east and Numinbah Valley to the west. Located in the Gold Coast hinterland of Queensland.

Springbrook Plateau—a remnant of the northern side of a once huge volcano that was centred on Mt Warning. The last eruption occurred more than 22 million years ago. The southern cliffs of Springbrook and Lamington continue in a great circle into New South Wales, marking the rim of that ancient volcanic crater.

sprout—person small in stature.

spruiker—someone employed to loudly advertise and solicit custom for a business.

spunk/spunk-rat—an extremely sexually attractive person.

spunky—1. sexually attractive. 2. fully of vitality.

square (one's) shoulders—carry (oneself) erect, especially in the face of obstacles, problems or misfortune.

square the circle—attempt the impossible.

square up to—face with courage: e.g., She must square up to the consequences.

square-tailed kiteLophoictinia isura, a medium-sized kite. Their wings are long and somewhat pointed, the tail long and forked, and the legs short. The plumage is mottled and streaked chestnut and black. The tail is dark brown, slightly forked, with four narrow black bars and a broad, sub-terminal black bar. The chin and throat are buff with narrow black shaft streaks. The rest of the underside of the body is chestnut, streaked with black. The tail quills below are silvery grey with a terminal dark grey bar. The eyes, feet and cere are yellow. The square-tailed kite omnivorous—it takes insects, young birds, reptiles, birds' eggs, occasionally poultry, but not usually carrion. All prey is taken on the ground. This species is apparently silent. The long, markedly angled wings held well above the back, and the almost square tail, make it look rather like a harrier in flight. It has some of the habits of a kite, soaring high over open country, scrubland or woodland, but avoiding dense forests, though preferring wooded areas. In Western Australia it likes sandy scrub, over which it flies low like a harrier. The large nest of sticks lined with green leaves is built in tall trees, usually 40-80 feet up. It is about 40 inches across by 20-30 inches deep, with a cup of around 14 inches across and 3 inches deep. It is normally built by the birds themselves, but is sometimes placed on an old nest of another species. It is sometimes found very low down when tall trees are not available. Other birds may be found nesting in the structure. Two or three eggs are laid sometime between September to November, with most breeding between October and December. The incubating female sits very tight. From most clutches only one young is reared.

squat—(hist.) 1. occupy a tract of Crown land in order to graze cattle or sheep. 2. act as a squatter.

squattage—(hist.) with so little of the land explored by whites, a Great Tradition of squatting came about. This was somewhat different to the more standard forms of squattage, wherein people with nowhere else to go take over a small run-down flat or portion of an abandoned warehouse. No, these squatters were altogether far more respectable people, stealing entire runs of land wholesale. The peculiar invisibility of the Indigenous population continued unabated, and there was many a poor squatter who found themselves sporting a spear through the guts without any inkling as to why or how it got there. This, and many other tragedies, would become a recurring theme in early Australian life.

squatter—(hist.) the term refers to early farmers who occupied huge tracts of largely undeveloped land on which they ran large numbers of sheep and cattle. Initially often having no legal rights to the land, they gained its usage by being the first Europeans in the area. It is known that many fought battles with the local Aboriginal communities in the areas they occupied. Whilst life was initially tough for the squatters, with their huge landholdings many of them became very wealthy and were often described as the "squattocracy". The descendants of these squatters often still own significant tracts of land in rural Australia, though most of the larger holdings have been broken up, or, in more isolated areas, have been sold to corporate interests. Their iron grip on Australia's agricultural land was broken up in the 1860s with the passing of "selection acts" that allowed ex-miners from the 1850s gold rush to claim areas of farmland at no cost. Whilst squatters tried tactics legal and illegal to discourage the "selectors" (for instance, taking out selections of their own which covered vital land such as watercourses), eventually wider settlement took place and smaller farms became the norm in more fertile parts of Australia. The power of the squatters, including their affinity with the police, is alluded to in Waltzing Matilda, Australia's archetypal folksong.

squatter king—a person who grazes livestock on a more than usually large scale.

squatter pigeonGeophaps scripta, a pigeon in the bronzewing family, which feeds, roosts, and nests on the ground. It prefers infertile, sandy soils and gravel where the grass grows only thinly, allowing easy movement. Squatter pigeons are restricted to the eastern half of Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.

squatter's chair/delight—an outdoor reclining chair.

squatterdom—the squatters collectively.

squatting act—any of several acts instituted by the Imperial Parliament to effect legal regulation of squatting within the Crown Colony of New South Wales. Despite these attempts to retain control through a system of pastoral licensing, there was a rapid extension of squatting in the years after the squatting acts were passed.

squatting lease—an agreement under which Crown land is occupied for grazing.

squatting license—a permit to occupy Crown land for grazing.

squatting system—the practice of occupying Crown land for grazing.

squattocracy—(hist.) a term of resentment used by non-landowners in reference to the squatters who had become prosperous by the mid-nineteenth century. The term was coined by combining 'squatter' with 'aristocracy'.

squib—1. mean, parsimonious person. 2. coward; despicable person.

squib on—desert in a time of need or crisis.

squiffed/squiffy—drunk; intoxicated.

squillions—a great amount, especially of money.

squirrel gliderPetaurus norfolcensis—an arboreal gliding possum. Preferred habitat includes open forest and woodland with an over-storey of mixed-age eucalypts, including gum-barked species, and a sparse understorey often containing Acacia species (particularly silver wattle). It nests in tree hollows and its primary food resources are nectar, sap of acacias and eucalypts, manna, pollen and insects. It has a patchy distribution, occurring in forests and in isolated habitat and farmland, often confined to roadsides and stream frontages. The squirrel glider is similar to its more common relative, the sugar glider, but has a bushier, more softly furred tail and is almost double the weight. Gliders have a fold of skin on each side of the body between the front and hind limbs, enabling them to glide through the air for up to 90m between trees. Squirrel gliders feed on invertebrates that they capture on the foliage and branches of trees, particularly beetles and caterpillars—including species with stinging or irritating hairs. When insect numbers are low they supplement this diet with eucalypt pollen, nectar and sap, and the gums produced by some wattles. Eucalypt sap is obtained from preferred food trees by making and maintaining incisions in the bark of the tree trunk or main branches. Hollows in trees are essential as den sites, allowing the squirrel gliders to sleep during the day and become active at night. They use a range of hollows at various heights in living or dead trees, but prefer hollows with a tightly fitting entrance hole about 50mm in diameter. They usually nest alone and several den sites within its foraging range are often used alternately.

squiz—quick, close look.

St Andrews Cross spiderArgiope keyserlingi, one of the most distinctive orb-weavers. This spider weaves a cross-shaped silk design of zigzag bands in the middle of her web. New research suggests the cross confuses insects and makes them more likely to fly into the web—the thick, silky crosses reflect a large amount of UV light, the wavelength of light insects use to guide their movements. Marie Herberstein from Macquarie University suggests that insects may perceive the cross as breaks in the foliage—escape routes marked by light which they automatically fly towards—and in doing so, fly straight into the spider's trap.

stack it on—to exaggerate one's emotions, story, alibi, excuse.

stack on—do lavishly; e.g., They stacked on a fabulous party for his birthday.

stack on a blue/turn—become extremely angry, emotional.

stack on an act—put on an act.

stagger juice—alcoholic liquor.

staggering bob—a newly-born calf.

staghorn fernPlatycerium superbum is found in Queensland, northern New South Wales and Malaysia, growing on both trees and rocks, generally in rainforests. Young plants develop deeply lobed, sterile leaves that stand out from the host tree and catch falling leaves from above, forming the nest area. With maturity, the true leaves of the fern have large, antler-like fronds that produce fertile spores. The dust-fine spores of these massive epiphytes float through the canopy and colonise trees with rough bark. The staghorn entirely lacks the ability to produce plantlets, and the single plant simply gets larger each season. Its distinguishing features include its evergreen nest leaves, absence of plantlets, and single fertile area at the first fork of true fronds.

staging post—a place for passing travellers to stay the night and have food before continuing with their journey the next day. Also a place to feed and water their horses and to offer the horses rest.

stamp duty—a duty imposed on certain kinds of legal document.

stand (cricket)—act as umpire.

stand a show—have a good chance of success: e.g., He doesn't stand a show against that sort of opposition.

stand around like a stale bottle of piss—to be forlorn, at a loss, neglected, idle.

stand down—1. withdraw (a person) or retire from a team, witness-box, or similar position. 2. cease to be a candidate etc.

stand for election—run for election. From the turn of the 20th century, women have participated in government in Australia. Following federation, the government of the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, allowing most women to both vote and stand in the federal election of 1903. The Crown colonies of South Australia and Western Australia granted women the vote before federation, the states of New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria also passed legislation allowing women to participate in government at the state and local levels following federation. Indigenous Australian women did not achieve suffrage at all levels of government and in all states and territories until 1962. Although Australia was the first country to allow women to vote and stand in elections, women were not successful in a federal election until 1943. In general, women have been slow to enter all levels of politics in Australia. Most states are yet to have a female Premier, and no major political party has a parliamentary female leader.

stand on (one's) digs—be resolute in the face of opposition; to remain firm.

stand on parade—stand at attention.

stand out like a bottle of milk/country dunny—figurative expression of loneliness and isolation.

stand (someone) down—terminate (someone's) employment: e.g., After 20 years' loyal service, our Alf was stood down by that mongrel company!

stand (someone) on his/her ear—1. to fight, bash, assault, defeat (someone). 2. (of an alcoholic drink) extremely strong, potent: e.g., This home brew will stand you on your ear.

stand-off half—(rugby football) a player who forms a link between the scrum-half and the three-quarters.

stand-over merchant—person who gains his wishes through intimidation, extortion etc.

stands out like dog's balls—obvious.

Stanley, Captain Owen—(June 13, 1811-March 13, 1850) born in Alderley, Cheshire, the son of Edward Stanley, rector of Alderley and later Bishop of Norwich. A brother was Arthur Penrhyn Stanley and his sister Mary Stanley. He entered the Royal Naval College at the age of fifteen, and for nine years served under Phillip Parker King on HMS Adventure and John Franklin in the Mediterranean. In 1836 he sailed to the Arctic as scientific officer on HMS Terror under George Back. In 1838 he was given command of HMS Britomart and sailed to Australia and New Zealand, returning in 1843. In March 1842 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In December 1846 Stanley sailed from Portsmouth in charge of HMS Rattlesnakewith the purpose of surveying the seas around the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.. The ship called at Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Simon's Town and Mauritius, arriving in Sydney in July 1847. Stanley died in Sydney on the return trip having accomplished the main objects of the voyage and was given a state funeral. In memory of his brother, Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey donated the font in Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch. The Owen Stanley Range is named after him.

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