Australian For Beginners: Australian Idioms

Australian For Beginners

True story: when a housemate in Australia asked me if I wanted to grab something at the milk bar I said ”No, I don’t drink milk.” Turns out a milk bar wasn’t a hipster place where you sit and drink obscure dairy cocktails, but a small local grocery store or cafe. Although I’ve had English language lessons at school since I was 11 I often embarrass myself in the real world. You don’t learn that in Australia they say “15 clicks from the CBD, mate” instead of “15 kilometres from the city centre, stranger.” Or that the she in She’ll be all right has nothing to do with her.

Anyway… Remember the Idioms of the World post? Well this is a more Aussie-focused style feature – Hotel Club and Aussie illustrator Jared Atkins takes us on a linguistic journey and shows some of the some typical, as well as some of the more quirky Australian sayings you might come across on your next trip down under. Maybe they can save you from some embarrassment, alright mate?

Australian Idiom

Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick


AustralianIdiom2 AustralianIdiom3 Mad as a cut snakeAustralianIdiom4 To off like a frog in a sockAustralianIdiom5

To see which way the cat jumpsAustralianIdiom6 May Your Chooks Turn Into Emus And Kick Your Dunny Door DownAustralianIdiom7

To Spit In The DummyAustralianIdiom8

As Useful As Lips on A ChickenAustralianIdiom9

Flash as a rat with a gold tooth


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Comment & Leave A Reply


  1. Good one! Never heard a few of them… but the clicks and mate is a sure sign the bloke is from down under!

  2. Very interesting! If I hear of them, I’m sure I’ll be perplexed unless I learn.
    I felt that studying a foreign language never ends when I was in Australia, but it’s also fun because I see some new ideas through these idioms – For example, I’d never thought of a busy lizard drinking!!

  3. As an Australian this is hilarious I love how strange it sounds to others. Even if I don’t use any of these, I have heard some of them and they still crack me up haha We do say things in a strange way ha!

  4. Good post! It is so hard being the new kid in a foreign land but at the same time it’s such an accomplishment to adapt to a new place. Australia is totally on my list of places to visit, I will keep in mind their English differs from American English.

  5. Love the graphics. As an Aussie I use about half of these rather regularly (although I say a poke in the eye with a *sharp* stick – perhaps a local variation?)!

  6. Ha! I probably only use “Go off like a frog in a sock” and “Spit the dummy” out of all of these!! Yeah Aussie slang is funny sounding…