by Ranger Kidwell-Ross, Editor of and Executive Director of the World Sweeping Association.

Malcolm Cameron


All of the following are terms I heard while in Australia, principally used by Malcolm Cameron, shown in the photo to the left. A few were also gleaned from other sources or overheard being said by others. Can you figure out what’s being said without looking below at the answers?



  1. A Blue
  2. As Happy as Larry
  3. Like a Bum in a Bucket
  4. Sort
  5. A Shoot (not on a plant)
  6. Whipper Snipper
  7. Chook
  8. White Ant
  9. Caravan
  10. Wet Hire
  11. Dry Hire
  12. Great Gray Nomads
  13. Footy
  14. Bush Ranger
  15. As Game as Ned Kelly
  16. Two Sandwiches Short of a Picnic
  17. Galah
  18. Let’s Hit the Frog and Toad
  19. Joe Blake
  20. Bore Water
  21. Yanni Yakka
  22. Hard Yakka
  23. Keen as Mustard
  24. Bugger Off With
  25. Shiny Bums
  26. Bit of a Lad
  27. Slow as a Wet Week
  28. Fit as a Mallee Bull
  29. Willie Wagtail

  1. A Blue: An argument or disagreement; not necessarily a fight. As in “When they started discussing politics a blue broke out.”
  1. As Happy as Larry: Whatever is being discussed is being described as very content. Does not have to refer to a person. The context I heard it in first was about a tree that was growing well and was, thus, as happy as Larry.
  1. Like a Bum in a Bucket: Describing something that is a very tight fit.
  1. Sort: To figure something out; to have something figured out. When I asked where I could go to get water at a restaurant the waiter offered to “sort that out for you.” He then brought a pitcher of water back to the table.
  1. A Shoot (this is not something on a plant): A trail that has been cut into the underbrush, usually on a hillside, in order to snake timber down to the water; i.e., a flume. We went by the small settlement of Skinner’s Shoot, which was named for someone named Skinner, an early settler who, presumably, was initially responsible for building the shoot.
  1. Whipper Snipper: In other locales this might be called a ‘string trimmer’ or a ‘weed eater.’
  1. Chook: A full-sized chicken, i.e., a grown chick. As in “Here, chook, chook.”
  1. White Ant: A termite but also used to quickly explain what happened to someone when they were sabotaged by someone they knew and/or worked with. “Sally wanted Fred’s job so, over time, she white anted him to get it.”
  1. Caravan: Camping trailer that is being towed. Would not be used for an RV or for a utility trailer.
  1. Wet Hire: When a piece of equipment, for example a sweeper, is rented out along with an operator. Rental company and operator are responsible for any damages that may occur.
  1. Dry Hire: When a piece of equipment is rented out with no operator; organization renting is liable for any damages, which probably would not be the case with a wet hire.
  1. Great Gray Nomads: Retired people who buy a caravan or RV and travel around Australia from place-to-place.
  1. Footy: Australian rules football; can be soccer or rugby. Signs are seen that advertise that a particular footy game will be on television. A restaurant also might advertise that, before you go, you should “pick up a meal you can take to the footy.”
  1. Bush Ranger: An outlaw who knows his area so well as to not be caught as well as to be in control of his surroundings.
  1. As Game as Ned Kelly: Ned Kelly was a notorious outlaw with a reputation similar to America’s Jesse James, since he only shot policeman and not civilians. Kelly built himself a partial suit of armor out of plowshares. He then defied the troopers to “come and get him.” Ultimately, the troopers sensibly shot him in the legs and Ned was subsequently hanged. Kelly’s armor is in a museum in Melbourne.
  1. Two Sandwiches Short of a Picnic: or, alternatively, “a few kangaroos short in the top paddock:” These are terms used to describe someone who is a bit dim.
  1. Galah: a medium-sized, social and very raucous type of gray and pink parrot. They’re known for acting silly, including dropping out of a tree and looking like they’ll hit the ground before starting to fly at the very last second. Also Galahs are sometimes eaten. Malcolm professes to have eaten a few and told me there’s also a saying that describes how to cook a Galah: “Throw the Galah in the pot with an axe head and boil it until the axe head is soft. The Galah is then ready to eat.” Someone might say: “Young Harry is somewhat of a Galah but he’ll be okay when he grows up a bit.”
  1. Let’s Hit the Frog and Toad: Derived from Cockney out of London, slang for let’s get going; i.e., let’s hit the road.
  1. Joe Blake: An alternate term for a snake; Malcolm noted that eight of the ten most venomous snakes in the world inhabit Australia, including the top six. Rattlesnakes come in at about 8 or 9.
  1. Bore Water: This is water from a hole that has been drilled down until water is struck. Central Australia is known for its artesian bores that have very hot water that flows out of the ground. When hot water flows from a bore hole, the very hot part is fenced off and the bore hole is allowed to flow such that where it has accumulated and cooled the cattle can drink it.

In Adelaide, I spotted a sign posted at the front of a house to alert passersby that water in use was coming from a bore hole. That  way, if a passerby saw them using water during the water restricted times in the summer they wouldn’t get turned in for their inappropriate water usage. Even though bore water is often very mineral-infused, in much of Australia potable water can be quite limited. As a result, some councils in dry areas will mix bore water with potable water for use in sweeper dust suppression as well as for washdown. Rosmech’s Colin Miller pointed out that bore water that had been used on one of their trade-in sweepers had corroded several areas of the chassis and sweeper metalwork.

  1. Yanni Yakka: This is aborigine for going for a ‘walk and talk.’
  1. Hard Yakka: Aborigine for difficult work.
  1. Keen as Mustard: This term would be used when someone is truly excited about something. For example, when invited to the concert “Bill was keen as mustard to go.” Somewhat of a double entente´ since Keen’s Mustard is a brand in the UK that known as being quite hot to the tastebuds.
  1. Bugger Off With: To take something; to go away with an item. “We can’t go boating today because someone else has buggered off with the boat.”
  1. Shiny Bums: Bureaucrats who make decisions. This is a term used when the decision is thought to be a wrong one. So called from a bureaucrat’s supposedly shiny trouser backs gained from sitting at their desks all day. Definitely a derogatory term.
  1. Bit of a Lad: Someone who is liked by those around him, usually who he’s trying to sell something to. However, they are known to not be able to close a sale because the people they call on don’t actually end up buying from them. Someone was called “a bit of a lad” because his reputation was that he called on existing customers, rather than taking the harder course of doing the harder work of calling on new prospects he hadn’t seen before.
  1. Slow as a Wet Week: When time is passing slowly for whatever reason. Could be used when no sales are being made in a particular time period.
  1. Fit as a Mallee Bull: Mallee is a place in Australia’s Victoria State where there’s little-to-no water and, as a result, it is very rough country. A bull, for example, has to be big and strong just to survive in that climate.
  1. Willie Wagtail: a small, wren-like bird that flits from place to place, chirping as it goes. Indigenous Australians (aborigines) called it the “messenger bird” because of its propensity to flit nearby, call out a few times, then flit away again. The trouble is figuring out what the message might be, sort of like figuring out the message in a Tarot card or iChing.

This concludes the WorldSweeper 2016 Australian Odyssey. However, we invite you to use the ‘Next Communique’ link below and continue on to our next stop, which is the continuation of our 2016 Odyssey: Next we’re off to Southern India!

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