Be Australian, Buy Australian

“G’dafternoon!” boomed the cheery blonde behind the Virgin Blue desk. “Got any bags to check in?”

We heaved our giant suitcases onto the scale. Virgin Blonde tapped away at the keyboard, then suddenly froze and gasped. She whipped off her shoe and started pounding Gareth’s suitcase with the pointy heel.

“That’s got the bugger. There was a spider on yer bag!” she explained to our blank, jet-lagged stares.

“Oh! Well, thanks for killing it for us!”

“No worries.”

I wanted to leap across the counter and kiss her. Just for sounding so bloody Australian and reminding me I was home at last.

Our first day back was beautifully surreal. After two and half years I’d forgotten just how Australian the Australian accent can sound. We’d arrived in Melbourne at 1am and spent the next few hours in the airport hotel, where Gareth got his introduction to Australian television.

First up was a rugby league semi-final replay. Every player seemed to be called Jason, Brett or Mick. Gareth grinned as they slobbered breathlessly through their post-match interviews.

“Howzit feel Brett? Howz it feel to be goan to the grand final?”

“Aww I’m stoked mate! But full credit to the other team!”

He particularly loved the low-budget local commercials, especially the plumbing company that urged you to, “Be Australian, BUY AUSTRALIAN!”.

“Boee Ostrayan, BOY Ostrayan!” Gareth parrotted gleefully.

Then it was time for Rage, a legendary music video show that goes from midnight til dawn. The familiar theme tune and graphics filled me with a nostalgia so overwhelming I nearly wept, as happy memories flooded back of endless nights spent watching the show in various stages of intoxication. I soon dozed off but Gareth was instantly hooked, “Just one more clip and I’ll go to sleep. OHH this is a good one! Last one I promise.”

A few hours later we staggered into the sunshine, gazing in awe at the endless blue sky. We walked through the carpark to the terminal and I crowed at the familiar sight of Australian number plates. After checking in with the exterminating Virgin Blonde, we grabbed lunch at an airport cafe.

“Oh my god, this pizza has VEGETABLES ON IT!”

“Why is there salad on the side?” Gareth asked, “Where’s the chips?”

“Ha ha ha.”

“And why does my coffee taste so good? And why do we have a pile of change from a twenty dollar note?”

“This is just the beginning baby. You’re in Australia now!”


Soon enough we arrived at the amusingly named Canberra International Airport.

“Ladies and gentleman,” said the flight attendant, “As you disembark from the plane, please be sure to follow the witches hats into the terminal.”

“Follow the witches hats?!” asked Gareth. “What the hell is a witches hat?”

“You know, the orange pointy things.”

“Like a traffic cone?”

“Like a witches hat!”

My dear friend Jenny was there to greet us. As we drove through Canberra, I admired the sprawling orderliness of the roads, the manicured lawns; the logic of roundabouts.

Gareth was busy bird watching.ย “WHOA! Look at that big pink bird!”

“That’s a galah.”

“There’s another one! And a white one!”

It didn’t take long to settle back in. As the days went on my speech slowed, I dropped my G’s and the colloquialisms came back. Gareth really got into the spirit too; I’d catch him laughing at the television and practicing his accent. “Today in Brizben: foine, sunny and twenny-noine dugrees!”

I loved how totally Oz my friends and family sounded. At one point a car in front of us failed to indicate before turning a corner, and Jenny yelled, “JEEZ, thanks for the blinker mate!”. Gareth still loves to say that one.

And of course, The Mothership. Distance makes one cherish her Teacher Voice and colourful turn of phrase all the more. Not so her insane need to fling open every door of the house in the mornings to let the Fresh Air in, even during a late cold snap.

“Are you cold, Gareth? You’re sitting there shivering!”

“Oh I’m fine, Mrs -”

“Don’t bullshit me, Gareth!”

I’d missed the Australian news too, how there’s wacky phrases that would never cut it on the BBC. One night there was a report on a netball match and the graphic behind the presenter simply read: FLOGGED.

“Flogged?” Gareth looked confused. “Flogged?!”

“Well derr!” I snorted, “Flogged! To defeat convincingly!”

Would you believe, he didn’t know what trifecta or dink meant, either!

Almost eight months since we returned to Scotland, I thought my accent had diluted again – it’s something you have to do if you want the natives to understand you. But Gareth is always there to point out that I am still true to my origins. The other day I made vegie burgers for lunch, and was choosing my condiments.

“Ohh. I reckon I feel like some HP Sauce on mine.”

“You feel loike HAITCH POYEE SORCE?” he cackled, “Oi moight have some of that HAITCH POYEE SORCE too!”

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! Iโ€™m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

27 thoughts on “Be Australian, Buy Australian

  1. Yes, the accent gets me every time I go home too. Upon each visit it gets more strine. Last visit (my fourth in 8 years) I practically needed a local to interpret for me! Hee, hee.

  2. too true ๐Ÿ™‚

    incidentally if anyone is confused:

    dink โ€“ To give somebody a lift on the back a bicycle.

    trifecta – a variation of the perfecta in which a bettor wins by selecting the first three finishers of a race in the correct order of finish (according to!)

  3. Loved the post, Gareth made me laugh. I didn’t know what dink was…well here in Canada (probably US too) the dink is the another name for penis, like “don’t be a dink!”. Trifecta…I’ve heard of it, though never bet on horses, I think they just say tri though at the track.

    Love australian and scotish/irish accents, when a customer comes into my PT job with one, I try to get them to talk more so I can listen ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. awww…cant wait to get the same feeling of nostalgia and appreciation for all things “strine” when i visit home after a year and a half being in the states! starting sound more and more like a yank these days!!

  5. visiting from DG and have to say love your writing! i’m living in Canberra as we speak and it’s glorious… your interpretation of Gareth made me chuckle quite loudly so much that my section were wondering what i was reading! oh it’s just research i told them not so convincingly… i’ll be coming back here, love it!

  6. Laugh? I nearly got busted for surfing the net at work.

    Crikey indeed!

    p.s Another pearler of an entry mate, made me homesick for Oz and I have been back home for 2 years now after 6 years in Ol Blighty. Gold. Pure Shauny gold.

  7. I loved this post. When I lived in Germany for a year I got back and a few days later told my Mum that I had never realised how often she said “beaut”.
    A friend of mine is about to marry a man from Yorkshire, who for some reason is very tickled by the Aussie accent in the phrase
    “Park the car” ???? Paaark the caaarr
    He also seems to think its good to keep the washing machine in the kitchen.

  8. I too, loved this post! Having just come back from Aussie and being a frequent visitor from here in Kay-way-land, your post brought it aaaaaall back. You’re in your prime, woman! Roar!

  9. priceless! my favourite when going back home and passing through johannesburg airport is the piped voice on the travellator thingy that says in this very strong south african accent, “exit ahead, push trolley now!” unfortunately I cannot qrite like you, you will have to imagine the accent. I can repeat that one for hours!

  10. Would that be the “Steve Irwin patented CROIKEY” that Gareth used?

    Hee hee

    Lovely post as ever Shauna, keep up the good work.

    Pol x

  11. We’ve been back in Oz four months now and Jacob has already picked up a bit of an aussie accent. Since most of his english speech still has a bit of a dutch accent this makes for a hilarious combination. Being in his master-of-the-universe phase he’s had us rolling on the floor with laughter as he loudly declares that everything is “MOINE, moine, moine, moine!”

  12. “endless blue sky”?

    What is this freak of nature you mention? The sky has CLOUDS. Clouds are GREY.

    endless blue sky… ppffftttt!

    As for the accent thing, I was the same when we lived in England. Two weeks back in the glorious country of my birth and I’d spend the first day back at work with people watching me speak. Completely bemused they’d turn to each other and say “OK, I caught something that sounded like ‘time’…” “Ohhh I heard ‘meeting’ I think… ”

    But then THEY all speak funny…

  13. cheers fellas!

    MOINE! moiiiine! that is a classic, faith!

    gordon – yes, it is almost disturbing now to see a white cloud. looks… unnatural!

    Emma – nice one, the mothership says beaut too!

    As for the washing machines, one has no choice but to have the washing machine in the bloody kitchen! a separate laundry is quite uncommon over here. there just ain’t the room!

    i remember when we stayed with friends back in oz, their laundry was bigger than our spare bedroom. hehe..

  14. I really enjoy your blog. It has saved me from the horrors of my incredibly dull job on numerous occasions and has inspired me to research living in Edinburgh (not weird sicko type, have been planning on living in UK for 2/3 years for ages) .

    anyway, nice to meet you.
    sort of, not sure of blog etiquette

  15. Having never left Oz in my 30 years I’ve never even heard of a “dink” either. Is it a Canberra thing?

  16. Damon: You’ve never given someone a dink? Where they sit behind you or on the handlebars? It’s actually illegal now, I believe…

    Definitely not just a Canberra thing, I’m Victorian ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Oh come on, did Virgin Blonde really say ‘Crikey’ AND ‘Bugger’ in the same breath?

    She must have been from Queensland.


  18. Oh my goodness, you had me in stitches. You also had me homesick and I bloody well live here!!

    Mothership reminds me of my Mum’s cousin, Cousin June, who lives in Sydneyand we’re in Melbourne.

    Anyway, don’t comment much but had to on this one – hilarious!!

  19. Ooh Rage!

    I’d forgotten how good that show was, super obscure stuff that would be shown there and nowhere else on the planet.

    It was everyone’s dream to be the guest programmer on Satdee nite!

    Mates of mine (Oz-Ska sensations The Porkers) got to Programme it.

    Good night! oh yes.

    Pol x

  20. Ah, but accent-mocking is evidently an essential part of married life. My other half and I became mildly hysterical in the middle of John Lewis recently over the pronunciation of the word “airer” .

    He: We need to get an errah.
    Me: A what?
    He: (pointing) An air-ah.
    Me: Oh, an ayrrur.
    He: Aye, my bonnie wee lassie.

    Maybe we’d better call the blasted thing a clotheshorse.

  21. thanks for the cack!!!

    i was sitting having a quiet cup of coffee the other day and these 2 aussie chicks came and sat next to me – they were chattering away like 2 bloody magpies, i’m sure nobody else near them could understand a word they were saying because they were talking so darn quickly.

    i just couldn’t stop snickering to myself and thinking “god luv ’em”

    only 48 more sleeps until we’re home in the land of the great big open sky!

    i’m headin straight off to the fish ‘n chip shop for a real hamburger with beetroot!! Mmmm beetroot! as they say you can beat an egg but ya cant beet-aroot ;o)


  22. Give us a dink!! We used to say (and do) that all the time when I was a kid! And I’m from Melbourne too. It’s funny, someone the other day was surprised when I used the word Bogan. They didn’t think anyone else said that. I say it all the time though. Usually when talking about the rocket scientists on Big Brother!

  23. Coming home to Queensland from Europe (or even down south) the accent is always a shock.. but even up here I’ve never heard anyone say crikey without being ironic or channeling Steve Irwin ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Top post..AbsoCrackup..I’ve come back to my native country after 5 yrs in Oz and it was a right pain trying to speak slowly and eloquently at job interviews and now at work(no wonder it took me a while to find it).Its nothing like the sanitised and manufactured stiff pommy/american hybrid accents people here are used to. The worst bit though, and to my disgust I’ve repeatedly caught myself doing this at the most inopportune moment, is very loosely and gratuitously employing the F word in place of whatever it is my mind can’t quite drum up..”The 15 percent’s the…effin…wot dya call it…the erm… commission, boss”.He dreads it when I have to be present, let alone make presentations at business meetings, wot with my unnerving ability to say “yeh nah” in the one breath.
    The coach at my soccer club would rather i acquainted meself with all the other blokes’ names than go “Oi” all over the pitch. It was so easy playing back in Oz..the word for “pass” being “Jason” or the oh-so-simpler “Jace”, especially early sunday after a particularly disgraceful saturday night out. Thats saturday nights in good old Oz..not nippy or cloudy..just effin disgraceful.

  25. Finally I have managed to get The Hubster to take up a job in Melbourne. We emmigrate there in a couple o’weeks. Thanks to Shauny’s readers for the comments… I’m tekkin it all in, tekkin it in. And yes, even in winter, we get lovely clear blue skies at this end of the world.

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