Australian Dictionary

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Australia Decoded

Superb Parrot

Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii), Canberra, ACT
by JJ Harrison ( - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

suave as a rat with a gold tooth—(of a person) vulgar in a flashy way; poor taste in manner and dress.

sub-tropical rainforest—generally found where the rainfall is more than 1300mm annually and growing in fertile, eutrophic parent rocks (basalt and rich shales), generally favouring sheltered gullies from sea level to about 900m. There is normally a well-developed, multi-layered canopy of between 10 and 60 species of trees, many of which will exhibit the buttressing commonly associated with rainforest trees. Strangler species, including the ubiquitous strangler fig, stands of bangalow palms, woody vines and large epiphytes such as orchids, birdsnest fern, elkhorn fern and staghorn fern will be obvious. The ground cover will consist of ground ferns and large-leaved herbs, the more common ones being booyongs, yellow carrabeen, rosewood, the fig and lillie pillie families. Major occurrences of sub-tropical rainforest occur at Tamborine Mountain National Park, Lamington National Park, Border Ranges National Park, the lower and more sheltered reaches of Mount Warning National Park, at Minyon Falls in the Whian Whian State Forest and in the Nightcap National Park. The most convenient lowland example is on Stott's Island in the Tweed River, about halfway between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads.

subbie—sub-contractor, a person who agrees to do part of a job for the main contractor.

such is life!—an exclamation of resignation, tolerance, forced acceptance (Ned Kelly's last words before hanging).

suchlike—of such a kind.

suckhole—a sycophant.

suet—the harder fat near the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton.

Sufferer's Parasite—pseudonym for: Surfer's Paradise, Queensland.

sugar gliderPetaurus breviceps, a nocturnal marsupial that can glide for up to 50m from one tree to another. Gliding is achieved with the aid of special folds of skin connected between fore and hind limbs. Their habitats consist of forests and woodlands, especially when they have access to dense pockets of Acacia. They can thrive in strips and patches of forest that remain on cleared agricultural land, if tree hollows are available. The diet of the sugar glider in the wild primarily consists of pollen, nectar, insects and sap. The sugar glider occurs in most of northern and eastern mainland Australia as well as Tasmania.

sugar gumEucalyptus cladocalyx, found in only four distinct areas of South Australia—the southern Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island and two locations on the Eyre Peninsula. The bark is smooth and sheds to give irregular white, yellow and gray patches. It has white flowers and large gum nuts. Tolerates alkaline or clay soils. Suitable for slightly saline sites, hedges or windbreaks, shade trees, honey production, screening plants, frost tolerant plant.

sugar the pill—to try to make an unpleasant experience more bearable, tolerable.

sugarbag—the honey of wild Australian stingless bees, called sugarbag bees. There were few sweet foods available to Aboriginal people in traditional times and so sugarbag was highly prized. A careful eye and great tracking skills enable Aboriginal people to follow native bees back to their nests high in hollow trees. The tree was usually chopped down and all the contents of the hive were removed and placed in a paperbark container. The contents included honey, wax, yellow pollen balls and dead bees. Honey was seen as a much prized bush food and was often given as a gift. Large quantities of honey and pollen mixed with water is used to clean the gut.

sugarbag beesTrigona spp., belonging to the family Apidae, are small, dark bees (4mm) which form colonies in tree hollows and other cavities. They are one of the few species of native bees that form large social nests. Trigona produce a thin honey, which can be used as bush tucker. Trigona species are stingless and so are harmless to humans. Different sugarbag bees make different types of entrances for their hives. Some are thick, some are fine and pointed. Most native bees are solitary or live in very tiny hives so would never be able to pollinate commercial food crops.

sugarcane—a giant tropical grass. It belongs to a family of grasses containing some 5000 species, including barley, wheat, maize, rice and sorghum. Sugarcane traps the sun’s energy and converts it into sucrose (sugar) more effectively than any other crop. It grows best in warm, sunny weather, with freedom from frost, well-drained soil and at least 1500mm of rain or irrigation per year. It is thus highly suitable for the sub-tropical climate which prevails on the coastal plains and river valleys along Queensland’s eastern coastline. Indeed, the sugarcane industry underpins the economic stability of many coastal towns and cities along 2100km of coastline between Mossman in Far North Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales. Around 80% of sugarcane is grown north of the Tropic of Capricorn, which passes through the city of Rockhampton in central Queensland. A small quantity of sugar is produced in Western Australia’s Ord River region as well. Overall, about 98% of Australia’s sugar exports originate in Queensland, where sugarcane is the state’s most important agricultural crop. About 95% of Australia’s cane farms are owned and operated by sole proprietors or family partnerships with the remainder operated mainly by private companies. Sugar milling companies own less than 2.5% of total cane area. Most cane farms in Australia range in size from 30 to 250ha, with the average 80ha-farm producing around 6000 tonnes per year. Most of Queensland’s 26 sugar mills (raw sugar factories) and the three in New South Wales were established more than 100 years ago. The first new mill built in Queensland in over 70 years began operating near Mareeba on the Atherton Tableland in 1998. Queensland sugar mill owners also own, operate and maintain over 4100km of narrow gauge railway. More than 94% of the cane crop is transported over this system to 23 sugar mills. In the 1999-2000 crop season 4.47 million tonnes of sugar was shipped through seven sugar terminals at Queensland ports. These facilities, with storage capacity of more than two million tonnes, comprise the world’s largest bulk sugar handling system.

sugarwoodMyoporum platycarpum, medium to tall tree growing 3m—9m high and 2m—4m wide. It is an ornamental, drooping-foliaged tree with white flowers in early summer. Drought and frost tolerant. Endemic to Australia, ranging across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria's dry areas on loamy and clayey soils. Saccharine exudation can be eaten. This is reportedly laxative and may be produced by an insect rather than by the plant.

suit (one) down to the ground—completely acceptable, appropriate or adequate to (one).

suit the action to the word—carry out a promise or threat at once.

Sullivan's Cove—site of the first attempt at permanent settlement within the Port Phillip district. Lieutenant Colonel David Collins transferred his settlement from Port Phillip Bay to the mouth of the Derwent River. On 15 February 1804, Collins, with the first detachment from Port Phillip in the Ocean and the Lady Nelson, anchored off the new settlement at Mareeba on the Risdon. On the 17th, he selected an area on the western bank, naming it Sullivan's Cove. This was almost the same place name Collins had used for his previous settlement at ‘Sullivan Bay’ Port Phillip, after John Sullivan Under Secretary of State at the Colonial Office in London. The population of the fledgling colony was increased to 433 in June 1804 when the Ocean returned from Port Phillip, where it had taken aboard the balance of the original expedition. From the camp on Sullivan's Cove, the city of Mareeba on the Hobart has grown.

sulphur-crested cockatooCacatua galerita, a large, white parrot, measuring 45cm—50cm. It has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. This is a noisy and conspicuous cockatoo, both at rest and in flight. The most common call is a distinctive loud screech, ending with a slight upward inflection. Their range extends throughout the northern and eastern mainland, and Tasmania. Their popularity as a cage bird has also increased this range, as these birds either escape or are released deliberately in areas where they do not already occur. Sulphur-crested cockatoos are found in a variety of timbered habitats and are common around human settlements. The birds stay in the same area all year round. The species also occurs in New Guinea and the Aru Islands, and has been introduced into New Zealand and Indonesia. The sulphur-crested cockatoo's normal diet consists of berries, seeds, nuts and roots. It also takes handouts from humans. The species has become a pest around urban areas, where it uses its powerful bill to destroy timber decking and panelling on houses. Feeding normally takes place in small to large groups, with one or more members of the group watching for danger from a nearby perch. When not feeding, birds will bite off smaller branches and leaves from trees. These items are not eaten, however. The activity may help to keep the bill trimmed and from growing too large. Sulphur-crested cockatoos, along with many other parrots, are susceptible to a widespread viral disease known as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), which causes the birds to lose their feathers and grow grotesquely shaped beaks.

sultanas—seedless golden raisins used in puddings, cakes, breakfast cereals etc—including Sultana Bran (equivalent to the American Raisin Bran).

sun lounge—a room with large windows, designed to receive sunlight.

sun orchid—any of about 45 plant species of the genus Thelymitra, family Orchidaceae, distributed throughout Australasia. The flowers of all species have a hooded column with tufted, comblike, or earlike appendages. A sun orchid derives its name from its habit of remaining closed except in strong sunlight. Some self-pollinating species never open their flowers. Sun orchid flowers appear in a multiplicity of colour and form, predominantly all shades of blue (most unusual in the worlds orchidaceae) including purple, magenta, maroon, red, pink, range, yellow and white or hi-coloured can be lined, striped, peppered, speckled, spotted and blotched with contrasting colours. Over all there is a lustrous sheen that has to be seen to be believed.

sunbird—(see: yellow-bellied sunbird).

sundowner—(obsolete) swagman who arrived at a place at sunset so that he could ask for food and shelter without having to work in exchange.


Sunshine State—(the...) Queensland.

super—1. excellent; first-class; extremely pleasing. 2. high octane petrol. 3. superannuation. 4. superphosphate fertiliser. 5. supervisor; superintendent.

super-duper-pooper-scooper—gumleaf (i.e. leaf from a gum tree) used in lieu of toilet-paper.

superannuation—in Australia refers to the arrangements which people make to have funds available for them in retirement. Superannuation arrangements are government-supported and encouraged, and minimum provisions are compulsory for employees. For example, employers are required to pay a proportion of an employee's salaries and wages (currently 9%) into a superannuation fund, but people are encouraged to put aside additional funds into superannuation. The minimum obligation required by employers is set to increase to 12% gradually, stepping annually from 2013 to 2020. An individual can withdraw funds out of a superannuation fund when the person meets one of the conditions of release contained in Schedule 1 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994. Before 1992, reasonably widespread superannuation arrangements had been in place for many years under industrial awards negotiated by the union movement between wage increases. In 1992, the Keating Labor government introduced a compulsory "Superannuation Guarantee" system as part of a major reform package addressing Australia's retirement income policies. It was calculated that Australia, along with many other Western nations, would experience a major demographic shift in the coming decades, resulting in the anticipated increase in age pension payments placing an unaffordable strain on the Australian economy. The proposed solution was a 'three pillars' approach to retirement income: a safety net consisting of a means-tested Government age pension system; private savings generated through compulsory contributions to superannuation; and voluntary savings through superannuation and other investments. The change came about through a tripartite agreement between the government, employers and the trade unions. The trade unions agreed to forego a national 3% pay increase which would be put into the new superannuation system for all employees in Australia. This was matched by employers' contributions, which were set to increase over time to a proposed 12%. Subsequent changes meant this has been capped at the lower employer rate of 9%. Since its introduction, employers have been required to make compulsory contributions to superannuation on behalf of most of their employees. This contribution was originally set at 3% of the employees' income, and has been gradually increased by the Australian government. Since 1 July 2002, the minimum contribution has been set at 9% of an employee's ordinary time earnings. The 9% is thus not payable on penalty rates but is payable on remuneration items such as bonuses, commissions, shift loading and casual loadings. Though there is general widespread support for compulsory superannuation today, it was met with strong resistance by small business groups at the time of its introduction; there were fearful of the burden associated with its implementation and its ongoing costs. The Howard government was criticised by former Prime Minister Paul Keating for its reluctance to increase the compulsory rate of superannuation. Keating argued that had the compulsory rate been 15% since 1996, rather than the current 9%, total superannuation assets in Australia would be approaching $2 trillion—almost double the current level. After more than a decade of compulsory contributions, Australian workers have over $1.28 trillion in superannuation assets. Australians now have more money invested in managed funds per capita than any other economy. Compulsory superannuation in combination with buoyant economic growth has turned Australia into a 'shareholder society', where most workers are now indirect investors in the stock market. Consequently, a lively personal investment marketplace has developed, and many Australians take an interest in investment topics.

superb fairy-wrenMalurus cyaneus, a tiny bird, to a length of 160mm. Adult male superb fairy-wrens are among the most brightly coloured of the species, especially during the breeding season. They have rich blue and black plumage above and on the throat. The belly is grey-white and the bill is black. Females and young birds are mostly brown above with a dull red-orange area around the eye and a brown bill. The superb fairy-wren makes a brooding purr, a threat call, as well as a low churring sound. To advertise, defend territory and maintain contact with one another, both sexes have a song with loud, rapid notes ending in high-pitched trills. Superb fairy-wrens are found south of the Tropic of Capricorn through eastern Australia and Tasmania to the south-eastern corner of South Australia. In this range they are seen in most habitat types where suitable dense cover and low shrubs occur. They are common in urban parks and gardens, and can be seen in small social groups. These groups normally consist of one male and several females and young birds. Superb fairy-wrens feed on insects and other small arthropods. These are caught mostly on the ground, but may also be taken from low bushes. Feeding takes place in small social groups. The breeding season is quite long, July to March, but most activity takes place around September to January. The nest is a dome-shaped structure of grasses and other fine material. It is usually placed in a low bush and is constructed by the female. The female incubates the three to four eggs alone, but both sexes feed the young. Other members of the group will also help with the feeding of the young.

superb fruit-dovePtilinopus superbus—in Australia the superb fruit-dove is a mainly summer visitor to the drier types of rainforests, regrowth and adjacent dense vegetation. It is most commonly found in north Queensland, only rarely in the south-east. The superb fruit-dove eats a great variety of fruits from laurels, palms, myrtles, figs and other plants. Despite its colourful plumage it is usually difficult to observe. Even birds calling loudly can remain unseen. It is generally seen alone or in pairs but sometimes groups gather at fruiting trees. Although they spend most of their time in the upper foliage of the rainforest, the nest is often placed just a few metres above the ground. The main call is five to six clear, deep whoops.

superb lyrebirdMenura novaehollandiae, named for its fanned tailfeathers, which resembles the musical instrument of the same name. Their history goes back 40 million years—they are probably the oldest Australian songbird—believed to be the oldest on earth.The superb lyrebird has an elaborate courtship ritual, centred on a display mound of scratched-up earth, measuring up to 90cm wide by 15cm high. Each lyrebird territory may include 10 to 15 display mounds, which the displaying male may visit in turn. When courting, the male bird stands on a mound, spreading its tail over its head and singing a loud, clear song for as long as 20 minutes. They are also the true masters of mimicry, often going through a range of as many as 40 different calls of other birds and animals during a performance as the male dances on his specially prepared mound. They also mimic human-produced sounds, e.g., sirens and phones. The male is dark brown on the upper part of his body and lighter brown below, with red-brown markings on his throat. His tail feathers are dark brown above and silver-grey below. Females of the species are smaller than the males, with similar colouring but without the lyre-shaped tail. The females' tail feathers are broadly webbed with reddish markings. Young male superb lyrebirds do not grow their lyre tails until they are three or four years old. Until this time, they usually group together and are known as 'plain-tails'. Their diet consists of insects, worms and small land molluscs.The superb lyrebird lives in forests east of the Great Dividing Range, most frequently in the Sherbrooke Forest area, although not plentiful in number now.

superb parrotPolytelis swainsonii, a large, brightly coloured parrot generally seen in small groups, pairs or small parties. The male is green overall with a bright yellow forehead, throat and cheeks. A broad red band on the breast and blue shoulders. Tail green above, black below. Bill is pink and eyes yellow-orange. Females are duller in colour than males and lack the yellow and red colours. She has red flecks on the thigh feathers and a bluish tinge on the cheeks. The underside of the tailfeathers are tipped with pink and eyes are yellow. Immature birds resemble adult females, but with brown eyes. The superb parrot lives in small flocks which disperse in pairs to breed. They forage both in trees and on the ground and are often active in the early morning and late afternoon. Restricted to interior New South Wales. Forest and woodlands (esp. river red gum), box or mixed box and white cypress pine woodlands and cereal crops. Feeds on seeds, nectar, blossoms, fruit, insects and their larvae and spilled cereal grains. The usual nesting site is a tree hollow, generally at great height. The female incubates the eggs and the male attends and feeds her during this time. Both parents are involved in rearing the young. Also known as: barraband parakeet, scarlet-breasted parrot, green leek.

supply teacher—substitute teacher.

Supreme Court—(see High Court of Australia).

sure cop—a certainty.

Surfers Paradise—located 83km from Brisbane, Surfers holds a special place in the iconography of the Gold Coast. It is the town and beach which symbolises the lifestyle and the aspirations of the people who are coming to a 'paradise for surfers'. The pre-colonial occupants, the Banjalang people, knew of the delights of the area long before Europeans arrived. The area around Surfers (as it is commonly known) was renowned for its excellent fishing grounds. The coastline here was traversed by Captain Cook in 1770, by John Oxley in 1799 and 1802, and the opening of The Broadwater was noted in 1822 by John Bringle. White settlement of the area commenced with timber-getters in the 1840s and agriculture in the 1860s; sugar was being grown by the late 1870s. Cobb & Co coaches started offering a service to and from Brisbane in the mid-1870s, the railway arrived in 1889 and a coastal road was completed in 1923. The origins of the modern town really date to 1923 when James Cavill paid £40 for a block of land and proceeded to build his famous Surfers Paradise Hotel. The great change in the area occurred in the 1950s. An influx of tourists coincided with an easing of building regulations which resulted in an ocean front of endless high-rise apartment blocks. The 'City of Gold Coast' was created in 1959 and canal-based residential developments emerged in the 1960s which intensified concerns about the impact on the natural environment.


Surveyor-General—(hist.) an office established early in Australian history for the management of Crown lands. European land settlement commenced in 1788 when Governor Phillip claimed possession of the land for a penal colony on behalf of the British Government, and all lands were vested in the name of the Crown. From 1791 to 1831 Governor Phillip, and later Governor Macquarie, issued free grants of land on behalf of the Crown. Governor Macquarie also instituted leasing of land between 1809 and 1821, and in 1825 the system of selling land was introduced. After 1831, land was only sold at public auction, and the governor's discretionary power of refusing applications for land ownership was abolished. The Department of Lands and Public Works was formed in 1856 to cater for the expanding functions of the Surveyor General's office. In 1859 the Department of Lands became a separate entity.

Surveyor-General's Corner—the point at which Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory meet. Fewer people have been here than to the South Pole. However, due to an early surveying error (lack of a chronometer in the early 1920's), the WA border to the north is out of line with the border to the south by about 120m. There are actually two posts to mark the realignment which was agreed to by the Surveyors General of each state. The WA border follows the 129th longitude. Located south of Docker River, Western Australia.

surviving a bushfire—if you are fighting or can't escape a fire, you need to cover all bare skin with non-flammable clothing. Cotton or wool is good. You'll also need sturdy work boots, a wide-brimmed or hard hat, goggles and gloves. If you are caught, the safest place is inside a building, away from hot air and flames. A fire will usually pass in ten minutes. If you are not near a building, a car is better than being in the open. Keep a woollen blanket in the car and get under it if you are caught out.

suss—1. suspicious; distrustful; e.g., I'm a bit suss about him and his actions. 2. deceitful; underhanded; clandestine.

suss out—investigate.

Sutherland, George—in 1819, as Master of the brig Governor Macquarie, he spent seven months on Kangaroo Island gathering a cargo of seal and kangaroo skins, and salt. He made the first overland crossing from Nepean Bay to the south-west coast, and his exuberantly misleading report on the island's potential led the South Australian Company to locate its first depot there at Kingscote in 1836.

swag—1. pack carried by travellers, hikers etc. 2. stolen goods; thief's plunder. 3. a large number.


swagman—(hist.) an old Australian and New Zealand term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag (bedroll). Also characteristic of swagman attire was a hat strung with corks to ward off flies. Particularly during the Depression of the 1890s and the Great Depression of the 1930s, unemployed men travelled the rural areas of Australia on foot, their few meagre possessions rolled up and carried in their swag. Typically, they would seek work on stations and in towns they travelled through, and in many cases the farmers, if no permanent work was available, would provide food and shelter in return for some menial task. Another form of the swagman was the "pack horse bagman" who rode a horse and led one or two pack horses in his travels, typically in the Northern Territory. The pack horse bagman called in at stations where he would work shoeing horses, mustering, repairing bores, etc. Before motor transport became common, the Australian wool industry was heavily dependent on itinerant shearers who carried their swags from station tostation, but would not in general have taken kindly to being called "swagmen". Outside of the shearing season their existence was frugal, and this possibly explains the tradition (of past years) of sheep stations in particular providing enough food to last until the next station even when no work was available. Some were especially noted for their hospitality, such as Canowie Station in South Australia, which around 1903 provided over 2,000 sundowners each year with their customary two meals and a bed. A romanticised figure, the swagman is famously referred to in the song Waltzing Matilda, by Banjo Paterson, which tells of a swagman who turns to stealing a sheep from the local squatter. The economic depressions of the 1860s and 1890s saw an increase in these itinerant workers. During these periods it was seen as 'mobilising the workforce'. At one point it was rumoured that a 'Matilda Waltzers' Union' had been formed to give representation to swagmen at the Federation of Australia in 1901. During the early years of the 1900s, the introduction of the pension and the dole reduced the numbers of swagmen to those who preferred the free lifestyle. During World War One many were called up for duty and fought at Gallipoli as ANZACs. The song And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda tells the story of a swagman who fought at Gallipoli. The numbers of swagmen have declined over the 20th century, but still rising in times of economic depression. Swagmen remain a romantic icon of Australian history and folklore. Swags are still heavily used, particularly in Australia, by overlanders. There are still a large number of manufacturers actively making both standard and custom-design swags. Swagmen were often victims of circumstance who had found themselves homeless. Others were rovers by choice, or else they were on the run from bushrangers. Many were European or Asian migrants seeking fortune on the goldfields. Swagmen ranged in age from teenagers to the elderly. Socialist leader John A. Lee's time as a swagman while a teenager informed his political writing, and also featured directly in some of his other books. Novelist Donald Stuart also began his life as a swagman at age 14. Several of his novels follow the lives of swagmen and Aborigines in the Kimbereley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia. Many swagmen interacted with Aborigines along their travels; bushwear designer R.M. Williams spent his latter teen years as a swagman travelling across the Nullarbor Plain, picking up bushcraft and survival skills from local Aboriginal tribes, skills such as cutting mulga, tracking kangaroos and finding water. At times they would have been seen in and around urban areas looking for work or a handout. Most eyewitness descriptions of swagmen were written during the period when the country was 'riding on the sheep's back'. At this time, rovers were offered rations at police stations as an early form of the dole payment. Not all were hard workers. Some swagmen, known as sundowners, would arrive at homesteads or stations at sundown when it was too late to work, taking in a meal and disappearing before work started the next morning. The New Zealand equivalent of a sundowner was known as a tussocker. Most existed with few possessions, as they were limited by what they could carry. Generally, they had a swag, a tucker bag and some cooking implements which may have included a billy can. They carried flour for making damper and sometimes some meat for a stew. They traveled with fellow 'swaggies' for periods, walking where they had to go, hitch hiking or stowing aboard cargo trains to get around. They slept on the ground next to a campfire, in hollowed out trees or under bridges.

swainsonine—first isolated from the Australian legume Swainsona canescens, is a naturally-occurring, water soluble, polyhydroxy indolizidine alkaloid responsible for widespread deaths and poisonings of grazing livestock in North and South America, Asia and Australia. Animals develop pea struck ('locoism' in the US) after grazing several weeks on swainsonine-containing plants. The symptoms exhibited by affected animals: aggressive behavior, uncoordinated gait, weakness, and, finally, death. Other, less spectacular, manifestations include anorexia, lethargy, and immunological and reproductive dysfunction.

Swainson's peaSwainsona galegifolius, of inland New South Wales and Queensland, is a long-lived, shrubby perennial with a very long flowering season. Branches grow annually from the crown and reach a height of about 1m each year. In a crown crowded with new shoots, the outer ones tend to be pushed outward and lead to a more spreading shape. In groups, plants support each other and lead to a more upright habit. Branches are well clothed to ground level with fine pinnate leaves about 10cm long. They are smooth and sometimes greyish, forming a bold, graceful outline even without flowers. Flower spikes are up to 15cm long and are held well on long stems. They open to sturdy pea flowers nearly 2.5cm across in colours from pure white through clear pinks and mauves to magenta crimson; these are followed by balloon-like pods, often tinted pink. The best display is in November. Swainsona is poisonous to stock. Also known as the Darling pea.

SWALK—Sealed with a Loving Kiss—printed on the back seal of an envelope, letter.

swamp antechinusAntechinus minimus, an inhabitant of dense, wet heath, tussock grassland, heathy forest or sedgeland plant communities, usually on or near coastal plains. The species is relatively common throughout wet buttongrass moorland and coastal heath throughout Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands. The swamp antechinus is most active at dusk, although it does regularly forage during the day. Its diet includes insects, lizards, worms and spiders. The species is solitary. During the breeding season, the female develops a shallow, pouch-like fold in the mammary area, and gives birth after a four-week gestation period. Six young are born (there are six teats in the pouch) and are carried in the pouch for up to eight weeks. Young are then left in a den before becoming independent at about three months.

swamp banksia—(see tropical banksia).

swamp grassPaspalidium spp., a succulent and palatable grass that is actively sought by stock. It does not grow as vigorously as some other grasses and therefore is smaller in stature. It is also a grass that does much better in the warmer districts than in the cooler districts, so is generally confined to Queensland and New South Wales.

swamp gum—1. Eucalyptus regnans, commonly called swamp gum or stringy bark, can grow up to 100m. It is the world’s tallest flowering plant. Impressive stands can be seen around Russell Falls, Geeveston and in much of the north-east. As well as being valued by craftspeople it is important during the flowering season for Tasmania's honey industry. 2. Eucalyptus ovata, a medium to tall tree to 30m, often branching quite near to the ground. Bark dark brown and sub-fibrous on lower trunk, smooth and mostly pale grey on upper trunk and branches. Grows on poorly-drained clay or alluvial soils near watercourses or swamps, sometimes on slightly drier, undulating hillsides.

swamp harrierrCircus approximans, a familiar sight around the large wetlands and swamps of Australia, where it feeds and breeds. Pairs occupy large territories, building a nest on the ground in grass or bulrushes. The female incubates and broods the young while the male hunts. Food is exchanged in midair passes, and after the chicks are one week old, both birds drop food to the chicks in the nest. Siblicide is common when food is short or inconsistent. Swamp harriers have long legs that they use to snatch prey, aquatic birds and their young, frogs, reptiles, insects and small mammals. Breeds Sept—Jan. Nest platform of sticks, reeds and weeds in grass or rushes. Australian Distribution: South-west Western Australia, majority of Northern Territory, Queensland, NSW, following river systems.

swamp lilyCrinum pedunculatum, a perennial, large, erect and bulbous plant up to 2m tall with thick leaves up to 80cm long and 25cm wide. A native species which flowers in late spring-summer. Around Lake Illawarra the species is found in the upper saltmarsh zone along Windang Peninsula and the south-eastern corner of Griffins Bay.

swamp mahoganyEucalyptus robusta, a tree native to eastern Australia. Growing in swampy or waterlogged soils, it is up to 30m high with thick, spongy, reddish brown bark and dark green broad leaves. The white-to-cream flowers appear in autumn and winter. The leaves are commonly eaten by insects, and are a food item for the koala. It is an important winter-flowering species in eastern Australia, and has been planted extensively in many countries around the world. Its timber is used for firewood and in general construction. Eucalyptus robusta grows as a tree to around 20-30m tall, with a trunk up to 1m in diameter at breast height (dbh). The trunk and branches are covered with thick, red-brown bark, which has a spongy feel and is stringy—peeling in longitudinal strips. The long, irregular branches spread laterally, and form a dense canopy with the broad green leaves. Arranged alternately along the stems, these measure 10-16cm long by 2.7-4.5cm wide. The white or cream flowers are clustered in inflorescences of from seven to 13 flowers. The flowers appear anywhere from March to September, and peak over May and June. The woody fruits ripen by May to October. A xpecimen of the botany of New Holland specimens of E. robusta were first collected by First Fleet surgeon and naturalist John White, and the species description was published by James Edward Smith in his 1793 collaboration with George Shaw, Zoology and Botany of New Holland. Shortly afterwards, the description was reprinted verbatim in Smith's A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland, and it is this publication that is usually credited. Smith gave it the specific epithet robusta in reference to the size and strength of the full-grown tree. The common name of swamp mahogany comes from its preferred habitat of swamps, and its timber's likeness to that of West Indies mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni). Eucalyptus robusta belongs to a group of eight species of spongy, red-barked gum trees known as red mahoganies in the section Annulares, and is closely related to the bangalay (E. botryoides) and red mahogany (E. resinifera). It is distinguished from them by its larger flowers and fruit. Eucalyptus robusta often hybridises with forest red gum (E. tereticornis), the resulting plants having been given the name E. patentinervis. This species occurs in swamps and alongside estuaries in a narrow coastal strip, usually within a few kilometres of the ocean, from Rockhampton, Queensland south to Jervis Bay, New South Wales. It is also found offshore on Great Keppel, Moreton, Fraser and North and South Stradbroke Islands. It generally grows on heavy clay soils, but is also found on sandy clay and alluvial sand soils. It grows on sand on offshore islands. Found from sea level to altitudes of 50m above sea level, it grows in swamps or areas where the water table is high, generally fresh or brackish in nature. Older plants are able to tolerate salt but seedlings cannot. Eucalyptus robusta can also grow in highly acidic sulphate estuarine soils with a pH as low as 2.5. It is a dominant tree in swamp forests, often growing in pure stands or with other trees such as red mahogany (E. resinifera), red bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera), pink bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia), swamp sheoak (Casuarina glauca), snow-in-summer (Melaleuca linariifolia), swamp paperbark (M. ericifolia), and, less commonly, forest red gum (E. tereticornis). A long-lived tree, Eucalyptus robusta can live for at least two hundred years. Trees regenerate by regrowing from epicormic buds on the trunk after bushfire. The grey-headed flying fox eats the flowers, and the koala eats the leaves. Eucalyptus robusta appears to be one of several key species of eucalypt for the koala in Noosa Shire in Queensland. The musk lorikeet feeds on the nectar of the blossoms. It is a keystone species on the New South Wales Central Coast and Illawarra regions, where it is one of few reliable winter-flowering plants. Stands of E. robusta have been drastically reduced by land clearance. Some remnant trees in Robson Park in the Sydney suburb of Haberfield are the last vestiges of the Sydney coastal estuary swamp forest complex community in Sydney's inner western suburbs. Insects, such as psyllids and Christmas beetles from the genus Anoplognathus and the eucalyptus chafer commonly eat the leaves. The rectangular-lerp forming psyllid Glycaspis siliciflava eats only this species. The scale insects Brachyscelis munita and Opisthoscelis pisiformis form galls. The adult double drummer cicada lives in the tree, while larvae of the small staghorn beetle species Ceratognathus froggattii and another beetle, Moechidius rugosus, live and pupate within the thick bark. The wood-moth makes a thick, bag-like structure around a branch where it breeds. Eucalyptus robusta is known as the swamp messmate in Queensland. Swamp stringybark is another common name, and Gulgong and Gnorpin are old names recorded.

swamp (one's) cheque—spend one's entire earnings on alcohol.

swamp orchidPhauis tankarvilliae, grows in Northern New South Wales and in Queensland, but unfortunately for the plant it grows in low-lying sandy, swampy, coastal land, and it's habitat has mostly been cleared for sugarcane and other agricultural purposes. Phauis has also been heavily collected by orchid fanciers. It is now rare and endangered, rarely seen in the wild, and totally protected. It was one of Australia's earliest recorded plant species, and was introduced into England in 1778 by Sir Joseph Banks. One of the more interesting things about Phaius is that in south Queensland all the the flowers on the spike open at the same time, and when pollinated, die. In Central Queensland half the flowers open first, and when pollinated, the next half open. In North Queensland the flowers seem to open one at a time. Flowers in September and November.

swamp paperbark—1. Melaleuca ericifolia, an evergreen tree of shrubby habit, native to coastal areas of mainland Australia and Tasmania. Characterised by white bark that peels off in strips as the tree grows; dark green, needle-like leaves on wispy branches; and creamy white flowers that resemble small bottle brushes. The nectar of swamp paperbark is an important food-source for local native insects and birds. 2. Melaleuca quinquinervia, a tall tree common in areas of coastal swamp, having papery bark that can be stripped off in sheets without damaging the tree. White flowers appear in terminal spikes, between February and May. This was once an important resources for Aborigines, principally for the construction of shelters. Also known as broadleaf paperbark.

swamp parrotPezoporus wallicus, a ground parrot to 30cm, including a 20cm tail. This parrot is terrestrial and largely nocturnal, also shy and elusive. Toward nightfall it becomes active and commences calling, fluttering above the vegetation. The breeding season lasts from September to December. The nest is a shallow excavation in the soil, lined with chewed stalks or leaves. Nests are generally situated at the base of a tussock or small bush and are always well-hidden by surrounding vegetation. The normal clutch comprises three to four eggs. Found in coastal and montane heathlands. Only known to be resident in floristically diverse heathlands that have not been burnt for at least 15 years, though may sometimes forage in adjacent areas that have not been burnt for at least six years. Relatively isolated small groups occurring from about Noosa in Queensland, through New South Wales and Victoria to South Australia. It also occurs in Tasmania, some islands of the Bass Strait and along the south coast of Western Australia, where it has been recorded from Fitzgerald River National Park and Cape Arid National Park. The western subspecies, numbering fewer than 450 birds divided between two populations in south-west Western Australia, is highly threatened. Previous geographic spread: as present, but continuous along the coastal distribution rather than the fragmented habitat that is now available. The western subspecies formerly ranged further north.

swamp peppermintEucalyptus rodwayi is a Tasmanian swamp gum related to E. aggregata of the mainland, this medium tree has a dense crown of dark green leaves and tolerates poor drainage. It has grey-brown bark and holds its lower limbs well. It is one of the very hardiest swamp gums.

swamp she-oakCasuarina glauca, a tree that grows in saline soils and other sites inhospitable to many other trees. This casuarina has been planted in agro-forestry systems primarily as a windbreak but also in woodlots for fuel wood and reserve fodder. The trunk is often killed by salt water but is easily able to regenerate by root-suckering. The main trunk is often buttressed and fluted, and the tree generally grows to 10-15m in height. Swamp she-oak is the most common casuarina of the Boondall wetlands in Queensland.

swamp starflowerCalytrix breviseta ssp. breviseta, an erect or spreading shrub that can grow up to 40cm high. The leaves are widely spaced, linear to narrowly elliptic, 2mm to 10mm long and are arranged alternately along the stem. The swamp starflower is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The main threats are weed invasion, firebreak maintenance, rabbits, inappropriate fire regimes, hydrological change including salinisation, rubbish dumping, grazing and trampling by horses, and dieback disease.

swamp tigerDanaus affinis, a butterfly that occurs widely from South Asia to Papua New Guinea and Australia, represented by many subspecies. D. affinis gelanor is easily separated from ssp. affinis from the southern Torres Strait islands and mainland Australia. In Australia and coastal Papua New Guinea, D. affinis is often associated with melaleuca wetlands and mangroves where the food plant, Ischnostemma carnosum grows.

swamp wallabyWallabia bicolor is not closely related to any other species of wallaby. Swamp wallabies are the only totally solitary macropod—it is very rare to see a mother swampy with young at foot, or two swampies together. A combination of genetic, reproductive, dental and behavioural characteristics separate the swamp wallaby from all other macropods, it is therefore classified as the sole living member of the genus Wallabia. While wallabies of the genus Macropus have 16 chromosomes, the swampy has 11 in the male and 10 in the female. Swampies inhabit all types of habitat, including moist thickets, rocky outcrops, rainforests, dry forests and even parts of the dry interior. They can be found all over eastern Australia, from Cape York to southern Victoria. They are browsers, feeding on a wide range of plants, shrubs, bushes, grasses, herbs, ferns etc, and are noted for the fact that they can eat poisonous plants, such as bracken fern and hemlock, without any ill effect, whereas these plants can kill humans and stock. Swamp wallabies are mostly a 'grizzled' black, with a black mask across their eyes, black ears trimmed in a golden-orange, black feet and hands and a black tail—with some having a white tip or white underside of the tail. Golden orange or rufous cheek stripes, and a golden orange belly makes this animal very attractive.

swamp weedSelliera radicans, a perennial herb with creeping stems and thick leaves 2cm—8cm long and usually shining. Flowers are a white fan-shape, occuring in summer. Around Lake Illawarra it grows in the middle and upper saltmarsh on sandy soil.

swamp yateEucalyptus occidentalis, a small to medium tree native to south Western Australia. It occurs naturally in open, grassy woodlands on the low alluvial flats that are subject to flooding and have clayey, sometimes saline soils. Swamp yate thrives in situations that most other trees will not tolerate. It will grow on alkaline, saline and waterlogged sites. It also tolerates dry sites, shallow, saline topsoil and dense clay subsoil. It has been planted widely for firewood and shelter in temperate regions of the world, including Israel, Italy, Morocco, Chile and Mexico. Also known as flat-topped yate.

swamper—1. an inhabitant of swamps or lowlands; one familiar with swampy terrain. 2. a general assistant, handyman, helper.

swamphenPorphyrio porphyrio, a large water bird that lives among dense reeds in freshwater lakes, swamps and streams. They are bright blue to purple on the neck and breast and browner on the back, with a short, bright red beak with a shield extending from the base of the beak towards the top of the head. The feet are equipped with three very long toes facing forwards and one very long toe facing backwards. The bird's range includes southern Europe, Africa, India, South East Asia, New Guinea, Melanesia, western Polynesia, Australia and New Zealand. They are usually found in permanent swamps and wetlands containing thick vegetation, usually reeds. They mostly live near the coast in groups of between one and 10, and feed on vegetation, small birds and the eggs of other birds. Also known as the purple swamphen.

Swan Coastal Plain—the area between the Darling Range and the ocean. The mouth of the Swan River begins at Fremantle, which opens onto the Indian Ocean. Tides cause ocean waters to flow into the Swan at Fremantle and diverge into the Swan River Estuary; the middle part of the river. This estuary joins the Canning River to the east and the Upper Swan and its smaller tributaries. At Wooroloo Brook, the Swan River becomes the Avon River. The Upper Swan River begins as the waters enter the coastal plain and ends where it connects to Helena River near Guilford. The plain is covered by shoreline and associated dune deposits from the Pleistocene and Holocene that overlie Paleozoic and Neogene deposits of thePerth Basin. The plain also includes large microtidal estuarine systems, such as the Swan-Canning Estuary and a number of lakes cut off from the sea by barrier dunes. The Swan Coastal Plain is transected by rivers flowing west from the Darling Plateau, and interspersed by wetlands.

Swan Coastal Plain Scrub and Woodlands ecoregion—15,200sq km of the south-western coast of Australia, exhibiting Mediterranean climate, forests, woodlands, and scrub 5,900. Running along the narrow Swan Coastal Plain, this ecoregion contains a variety of vegetation, from coastal dunes and sandplains to banksia and eucalypt woodlands. A diverse fauna is also found in this relatively high rainfall region. South of Perth, down to Cape Naturaliste, the Swan Coastal Plain forms a low-lying belt 25km—30km wide, bordered to the east by the Darling Scarp and the Precambrian Yilgarn Block. Progressing inland from the coast, coastal dunes with scrub-heath communities give way to woodlands. Kwongan (an Aboriginal term for heath-like vegetation), eucalypt, and banksia low woodlands occur on the soils of the coastal dunes. Christmas trees become locally dominant in drier areas. Shrubs are present, largely in wetter areas, with Acacia, Adenanthos, banksia, casuarina, dryandra, grevillea, and Hakea species found here. Eucalypt woodlands can be found on the sandy loams, loams, and heavy loams on lower slopes and valley floors. Tall tuart forests grow at the southern end of the plain. Tuart usually occurs in monospecific stands, but can also be found with E. decipiens and/or E. cornuta. In the south, pure stands grow with peppermint, while in the north, peppermint is replaced by small banksia trees and she-oak. Now largely cleared, marri woodlands grow on heavy soils, and marri-grass tree woodlands and shrublands also grow on the Swan Coastal Plain.

Swan galaxias—a brownish-olive fish that grows up to about 13.5cm, but commonly reaches 6.5-7cm. Its back and sides are covered with dense, irregular blotches or bands, and it has a creamish-to-silvery white belly with clear or slightly dusky fins. This species is endemic to Tasmania. As the species was discovered after the introduction of brown trout to the Swan and Macquarie River catchments in south-eastern Tasmania, the original distribution of the Swan galaxias is unknown. However, it is likely that it was widespread in the above mentioned catchments prior to the introduction of trout. The galaxiid population has since declined to the point where it is now presumed extinct in the main river and survives only in a small tributary. The Swan River population was used to stock other creeks through the translocation of adult and sub-adult individuals, so its genetic variability may be preserved in translocated populations. Translocations of adult individuals have been made between 1989 and 1995 within the Macquarie River catchment and other fish-free streams in an attempt to secure the species survival in the wild. This species is quite hardy and has the ability to maintain large populations in small streams that often have very low flows. In 1997, 12 breeding populations were known, including three natural and nine translocated populations. However, since that time, two new populations have been found and one rediscovered after being considered extinct, totalling 15 populations (six natural and nine translocated). Quantitative density estimates indicate that this species is quite abundant within its remaining natural range. However, the natural range is now restricted to about 9km of narrow stream. The densities of the translocated populations are extremely variabledue to differences in the availability of suitable habitat at the translocation sites. This species is confined to riverine habitats located at elevations between 300m and 500m above sea level. In the Swan River they have been collected free swimming or sheltering beneath rocks or marginal cover in gently to moderately swiftly flowing waters in a small, apparently spring-fed stream flowing through low dry scrub. Numbers were much lower in the more swiftly flowing waters. The Swan River population is now confined to a relatively steep section of the stream that has not yet been colonised by trout. In the Macquarie River, some of the populations exist in very small headwaters of creeks (as small as 1m in width) that barely flow for most of the year but contain permanent water. It is thought that such sites are fed by permanent springs. The streams that this species occupies are in the relatively arid part of eastern Tasmania. The streams are generally shallow (less than 1m deep) with gravel, cobble, boulder or bedrock substrates, and abundant streamside vegetation. Typically, the populations are found in areas where the streams flow through gently sloping valleys, with small pools linked either by shallow riffles or small cascades. While the species may have been much more widespread in the past, it appears well adapted to survival in small streams with very low summer flows and all the attendant challenges they pose (elevated temperatures, lowered dissolved oxygen levels, chemical variability and complete evaporation). The larvae occupy shallow, slow flowing water in small groups

Swan River—the geographical, historical, cultural and environmental centre of Perth. Originally called Black Swan River due to the black swans found there, the river has experienced dramatic alteration and degradation since the start of the Swan River Colony in 1829. Widespread clearing in the catchment and along the riverbanks, filling and excavation of river channels, modification of riverbanks and the removal of the limestone bar at Fremantle have all changed the river. The use of fertilisers in the catchment has led to an increase in nutrient loads in the river. Recent toxic algal blooms have resulted in fish kill and endangered the almost 1000 species of aquatic creatures and over 1.5 million people that rely upon the water quality of the Swan River.

Swan River Colony—(hist.) the first British colony in Australia founded exclusively as a private settlement on the basis of land grants, which were made according to the value of the assets and labour introduced by the settlers. The decision to instruct the Admiralty to take formal possession of the western portion of the Australian continent was an essential preliminary to the foundation of the Swan River Colony. Prior to the decision to found the colony, a party of convicts and soldiers had been sent to King George's Sound under the command of Major Lockyer. They arrived on 26 December 1826, but in 1831 the military and prisoners were withdrawn and the area was transferred to the Swan River Colony government. Lieutenant-Governor Stirling led a group of free settlers to the banks of the Swan River, where they established the Fremantle Port. However, the soils there were unsuitable for agriculture, which required the fertile land of the foothills within the Stirling Ranges. A second township was established at Perth, midway between the port and the agricultural lands. The site Stirling had chosen was on a route used by inland Aborigines to reach their coastal fishing ground. Clashes between settlers and Aborigines were common in the 1830s. Although established by free settlers, convicts were received into the colony until 1850, twenty-five years after its founding.

Swan River daisyBrachycome iberidifolia, an annual flower that is variable in nature, with blue, pink, white and purple flowers centered with either yellow or black. A plant with numerous branches, it holds its fragrant, one-inch flowers upright on slender stems. Its foliage is finely cut and feathery, forming a loose mound up to 18 inches tall with equal spread. Named for the Swan River, Western Australia.

Swan River mahogany—(see: jarrah).

Swan River myrtleHypocalymma robustum, an open shrub that grows to 1.5m tall and has beautiful, pale to dark pink flowers in spring, July to November. The scented flowers cluster around the stem. Common in sandy woodlands in the south-west.

Swan River Settlement—(see: Swan River Colony).

Swan Valley—the upper Swan River is contained within the Swan Valley, which includes the land on both sides of the river, extending from the Darling Range in the east and running westwards toward Bassendean. This valley is regarded as the 'Birthplace of Western Australia'. The Swan Valley, only a few minutes from the centre of Perth, is Western Australia's oldest wine growing region, and is also home to a number of artist studios and galleries, including the state's largest private gallery.

Swans—the Sydney Swans VFL football team.

swear black and blue—guarantee; promise; profess great belief in; declare solemnly.


sweep—sweepstake; a form of gambling on horse-races in which the money staked by all the entrants goes to those who draw the names of the winning and placed horses.

sweet (as a nut)—1. satisfactory; okay; all right; in order: e.g., Don't worry, everything's sweet!. 2. anything that is easy to perform.

sweet cop—an easy job, career or task.

sweet F.A./Fanny Adams—nothing at all or very little.

sweets—confectionery; candy.

swift parrotLathamus discolor is a threatened species, largely due to the loss of its habitat. It is a migratory bird whose breeding range is largely restricted to the east of Tasmania, within the range of the blue gum Eucalyptus globulus . When they are feeding in small groups on flowers, they chatter quietly to themselves. Large feeding flocks also occur but these are noisy affairs with birds squabbling and chasing each other in and out of the trees. The swift parrot is 23-25 cm long, bigger than a budgie but smaller than a rosella. Streamlined for rapid flight, it is green with red on the throat, chin and forehead. It also has red patches on its shoulders and under the wings. It has a blue crown and cheeks, blue on its wings and a long, pointed tail. It can be readily identified in flight by its bright red underwing patches. After the breeding season, in February and March, the entire population flies north, dispersing throughout Victoria and NSW. Like other migratory species, swift parrots form into flocks prior to migrating. Some of these can be quite large, consisting of up to 500 birds. It appears they break up into small flocks of 10-20 birds to cross Bass Strait during the day.

swiftie/swifty—a deceitful act; trick: e.g., He tried to pull a swifty on me but I got wise to him.

swimmers—bathing suit; swimming costume.

swing—(politics) a discernible change in opinion, especially the amount by which votes change from one side to another: e.g., There was a 4-point swing toward Labor in the Illawarra by-election.

swinging lead—not pulling one's weight; not doing one's fair share of work; malingering.

swings and roundabouts—a situation affording no eventual gain or loss.

swish/swisho/swishy—glamorous; sophisticated; fashionable; luxurious: e.g., He took me to a very swish restaurant.

Swiss roll tin—jelly roll pan.

swiz/swizzle—1. a deception, fraud. 2. to swindle, deceive.

swordgrassGahnia sieberana, an Australian native plant, and larval food plant for the swordgrass brown butterfly. Urbanisation has been implicated as a threat to Gahnia, with fragmentation of the butterfly's limited range. These clumping plants grows in thickets with arching, strap-like, pale-green foliage with sharp edges. Each fruit tuft produces multiple stems bearing heads of minute flowers in spring and which reach two metres or more in height when mature, and contain numerous bright red seeds. They grow in moist areas. Also known as saw-sedge, red-fruited saw-sedge.

swordgrass brown butterflyTisiphone abeona, the wings of the adult butterflies are brown with

a broad yellow stripe diagonally across each forewing. The forewings also each have two eyespots, one large and one small, and the hind wings have one eyespot each. The caterpillars, which grow to a length of about 6cm, feed on various species of swordgrass. The pupa is green with a yellow line around the developing wings. It is suspended head down from a leaf of its food plant. The Adelaide Hills, in particular, have undergone sufficient loss of habitat to cause concerns for the butterfly as a significant species associated with remnant swordgrass communities in the region. There are a few reserves in and near the Dandenongs with particular emphasis on conservation for this special butterfly.

swot up on—1. study, learn hurriedly: e.g., I have to swot up on my maths for the test tomorrow.

swy—the game of two-up (German: zwei = two).

Sydney—on May 13, 1787, retired Royal Navy captain Arthur Phillip. set sail from Portsmouth, England, with the First Fleet. The 11 ships of the fleet arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788 with more than 1450 passengers, including 736 convicts, more than 200 marines, 20 civil officials and 443 seamen. Three major problems confronted the early governors: providing a sufficient supply of foodstuffs; developing an internal economic system; and producing exports to pay for the colony’s imports from Britain. Land around Sydney was too sandy for suitable farming, and the colony faced recurrent food shortages through the 1790s. Local food sources were largely limited to fish and kangaroo. Starvation was averted only by the arrival of ships bearing supplies of grain from Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Today, Australia's premier city is the economic powerhouse of the nation and the country's capital in everything but name. Built on the shores of the stunning Port Jackson, you would have to die and go to heaven before you see a more spectacular setting for a city. It's a vital, self-regarding metropolis, exuding both a devil-may-care urbanity and a slavish obsession with global fads.

Sydney Basin—a major structural basin containing a thick Permian-Triassic (290 Ma—200 Ma (million years old)) sedimentary sequence that is part of the much larger Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin. This extends all the way from Durras Lake (near Batemans Bay), in the south of New South Wales, north to Bowen (just south of Townsville) in Queensland, a distance of several thousand kilometres. The Sydney Basin is economically important, as it contains all the known large coal-fields in New South Wales and Queensland.

Sydney Basin bioregion—lies on the east coast and covers a large part of the catchments of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, Hunter and Shoalhaven river systems. It consists of a geological basin filled with near horizontal sandstones and shales of Permian to Triassic age that overlie older basement rocks of the Lachlan Fold Belt. The sedimentary rocks have been subject to uplift with gentle folding and minor faulting during the formation of the Great Dividing Range. Erosion by coastal streams has created a landscape of deeply cleft gorges and remnant plateaus across which an east-west rainfall gradient and differences in soil control the vegetation of eucalypt forests, woodlands and heaths. The Sydney Basin bioregion includes coastal landscapes of cliffs, beaches and estuaries. It extends from just north of Bateman’s Bay to Nelson Bay on the central coast, and almost as far west as Mudgee. There are three major cities in the basin: Sydney (4 million people), Newcastle (600,000) and Wollongong (400,000).

Sydney Cove—a small bay on the southern shore of Port Jackson (commonly but incorrectly called Sydney Harbour), on the coast of New South Wales. It was the site chosen by Captain Arthur Phillip on 26 January 1788 (now commemorated as Australia Day) for the British penal settlement, which is now the city of Sydney. The First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove with 2 years supply of provisions. Phillip's instructions were to establish the settlement at Botany Bay, a large bay further down the coast. Botany Bay had been discovered by Captain James Cook during his voyage of discovery in 1770, and was recommended by the eminent scientist, Sir Joseph Banks, who had accompanied Cook, as a suitable site for a settlement. But Phillip discovered that Botany Bay offered neither a secure anchorage nor a reliable source of fresh water. Sydney Cove offered both of these. The Governor's working party cleared a camping ground beside the creek, which stole silently along through a very thick wood. Today, both the creek and the wood have disappeared beneath the streets of the CBD of Sydney. The head of the cove is occupied by the Circular Quay ferry terminal. On Bennelong Point at the northern end of the eastern shore of the cove stands the Sydney Opera House. On the western shore is the historic district known as The Rocks.

Sydney funnelwebAtrax robustus, a species of funnelweb spider with a potentially lethal bite. Antivenom is held at major city and regional hospitals, and there have been no recorded deaths since its introduction in 1981.

Sydney golden wattleAcacia longifolia, probably the best-loved wattle on the east coast. A very common shrub to 4m, with many thin branches. Its phyllodes are long, with a number of parallel veins. The bright yellow inflorescences are long, borne in the phyllode axils. Flowering: winter to early spring. Habitat: Sandy soils, in open areas. Often along roadsides. Distribution: Sydney, widespread from coast to mountains; New South Wales north coast to Victoria.

Sydney Harbour—the 240km of shoreline encompass approximately 54sq km of water, which translates to an enormous area for exploration and discovery. Although there are exclusive homes dotted around the water's edge, there are large tracts of parklands, reserves and gardens that balance the harbour environmentally. On a warm sunny day, the harbour is a vibrant blue and dotted with hundreds of sailing boats, cruise boats and ferries. The hub of Sydney Harbour is Circular Quay, a ferry terminus situated at the bottom end of the central business district. Government ferries depart from here for most parts of the harbour. From here its an easy walk or short ferry ride to The Rocks, the Toronga Park Zoo, Darling Harbour and Bondi Beach. Although we tend to associate the Harbour with the city of Sydney and its urban spread there are significant areas of bushland surrounding it which is protected in Sydney Harbour National Park and Crown and council reserves. Many of these offer extensive bushwalks where one can see the natural flora and, if you're lucky, some of the local fauna, such as the long-nosed bandicoot and little penguin.

Sydney Harbour Bridge—known as the "coat hanger". It took nine years to build, opening March 19, 1932. Its arch spans 503m, the top is 134m above the water, and it weighs 52,800 tonnes. There are eight vehicle lanes, two train lines, a footway and a cycleway. 200,000 vehicles cross daily.

Sydney Harbour National Park—protects various islands and foreshore areas around one of the world's most famous harbours. It contains rare pockets of the bushland which was once common around Sydney, and in these remnants you'll find a surprising range of native animals.

Sydney Opera House—sitting on Bennelong Point, virtually in Sydney Harbour and overlooked by the great Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House is completely exposed, as three-dimensional as the orange segments its forms are based on. It is all roofs with an imposing base, designed by Ove Arup. Originally the winner of an international open competition in 1957, it was a scheme that broke most of the rules. It was finally completed in August 1973.

Sydney or the bush—all or nothing; complete success or total failure.

Sydney rock oyster—endemic to Australia, they are found in bays, inlets and sheltered estuaries from Hervey Bay in Queensland to Wingan Inlet in eastern Victoria. They have a thick shell with a smooth exterior surface. Sydney rock oysters are capable of tolerating a wide range of salinities. They are usually found in the intertidal zone to 3 metres below the low water mark. Sydney rock oysters are "broadcast spawners", that is, eggs and sperm are released into open water where fertilisation occurs. Within hours of fertilisation the eggs develop into free-swimming planktonic larvae. The larvae swim in estuarine and coastal waters for up to 3 weeks, during which time they develop transparent shells and a retractable foot. The larvae then settle on a clean substrate, using the foot to find a suitable site. The foot is resorbed once the larva is attached. The shell darkens and the small animal takes on the appearance of an adult oyster. Growth rates vary with local conditions. Sydney rock oysters generally reach 40g—60g in 2—3 years. Sydney rock oysters change sex during life, starting out as male and later becoming female. They are filter feeders, straining planktonic algae from the water. They are prey to a variety of fish, including stingrays, mud crabs, whelks and starfish. There is no commercial harvesting of wild Sydney rock oysters. All commercial stocks are farmed.

Sydney sandstone—around Sydney, sandstone is as common as quartz. Most of the city lies on Hawkesbury sandstone, with just a few caps of shale on some of the higher ridges. And even if you dig deeper, down past the Hawkesbury sandstone, there are more sandstone beds in the slightly older Narrabeen Series. The rocks of Sydney form a saucer-like basin and, away from the city, the bottom of the Hawkesbury sandstone is above sea level. In valleys and cliffs, north of Long Reef or south of Port Hacking, this second form of Sydney sandstone starts to join the scenery. Even going up into the Blue Mountains leaves you on sandstone, for as you rise, the Hawkesbury sandstone rises with you. The Blue Mountains formed when the western side of the Sydney Basin was tilted one kilometre up into the sky. Sandstone has made the city of Sydney what it is today. All sedimentary rock is full of joints, vertical splits that cleave the large beds into smaller blocks, often running for hundreds of metres, slicing down through the geological millennia. These joints, combined with softer and tougher beds, help shape the scenery in sandstone country. Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay get their unusual "fern-leaf" pattern from a rising sea invading river valleys that followed the jointing patterns of the sandstone. Sandstone has even had a social effect. The sterile sandy soil around Sydney forced the early settlement to spread out, while the sandstone cliffs of the Blue Mountains hemmed in the European settlers for 25 years. The sand for Sydney's rocks may have come from Broken Hill originally, but it has been around Sydney for 200 million years. The sand left behind in the old stream beds is purer than usual, lower in clays and iron. This gives us a sandstone which is more strongly bonded, with less clay to weaken and give way. The Eora people of the Sydney region knew this good sandstone when they saw it; they made good use of it for their rock engravings all over Sydney.

Sydney-Bowen Basin—a major structural unit of New South Wales. The basin consists of Hawkesbury sandstone overlying Narrabeen Group sediments, which formed when the earth's crust expanded, subsided and filled with sediment between the late Carboniferous and Triassic. Coal deposits accumulated and the upper parts of the basin were covered in quartz sandstone by extremely large, braided rivers whose headwaters lay hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away and flowed in from the south and the north-west to deposit the Hawkesbury sandstone. Much of the basin landscape is elevated sandstone plateau, with the exceptions being the Hunter Valley and the low-lying Cumberland Plain. In the south and west, the basin ends in cliff lines formed on sandstones and conglomerates of the basal Permian sediments. The most significant feature of the bioregion is the Great Escarpment, of which the Blue Mountains is a part.

Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race—began in 1945 as a planned cruise down the east coast of Australia by a few members of the newly formed Cruising Yacht Club. Given the competitive nature of Australians, it quickly turned into a race and became an annual event. Today, the 600-mile race draws more than 100 competing yachts and is one of the world's great open ocean races. The races carry up to several thousand competitors in the Tasman Sea. The waters are subject to the effects of boisterous storms and the energetic East Australian Current system.

Sydneyite/Sydneysider—person who lives in Sydney.

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

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