10 Phrases You Should Know Before Visiting Australia

Tuesday, 20 February 2018
I recently travelled back to the US for a bit of a forced holiday. It would seem each time I return "home" it feels less and less like my actual home. Everywhere I went, I felt like a tourist in the town I grew up in. While change is the only true constant, the rapid rate of accelerated change (not necessarily in a positive direction) made my little hometown look completely unfamiliar. 

Not only had the facade of the town completely changed, but it would also appear the people had too. Or at least, I had. I did not view this as a negative. It's only natural living in a different country would make me a foreigner to the locals. Even my friends and family often struggled to decipher what I was saying. 

The fact that people regularly had to ask what the bloody hell I was talking about made me laugh a fair bit. Many people would scream that I needed to stop speaking Australian because I was in America. Mate, I was speaking English. Same as the rest of America. 

It made me question, was it worth reverting to the American way of saying various words and phrases only to face the same ridicule when I returned home? In my mind, it wasn't worth using the extra brain power to translate between the two dialects of English and often used the Australian slang. 

A day did not pass where I wasn't asked, "I'm sorry but what in the world are you talking about?" But what if the situation was reversed? What if my friends were on holiday in Australia? What are some of the most common phrases they would need "translated"? 



A warning to all those who venture to Australia. Do NOT greet any Australian by saying "G'day mate. Wanna throw another shrimp on the barbie?" You will be promptly deported from the country. Also, avoid the word root. Unless you're prepared for a fascinating conversation to proceed. 


1. "How ya going?" 
If you're coming from the US, this is the same as "How are you?". While Australians will not look at you like you're nuts if you say "How are you," you're generally greeted with a warmer response if you use "how are you going."

I frequently used "how are you going" when I was back in the US and got heaps of funny looks and questions from this phrase. 
2. "TA." 
Aussies shorten everything! I cannot stress this enough. "TA" is a great example of this. Instead of saying "thank you" after a transaction or being helped, simply say "TA." 

3. "She'll be right."
This is another way to say "don't worry about it" or "it'll be alright." If it sounds a bit too foreign for you, simply use "no worries." 
4. "Good on ya mate."
Using this phrase is another way of saying "well done" or "nice job." 

5. "It's my shout."
A word to my American friends, if you're going out with a group of Aussies, you're going to be paying for drinks in rounds. It's rare that people will order their drinks separately. When you're going to cover the round or the bill, it's your shout. Want to make friends quickly? Tell them the first round is your shout. 

6. "Yeah, nah" or "nah, yeah."
Depending on how you use this will dictate what you're trying to convey. "Yeah, nah" is another way of saying no whereas "nah, yeah" is saying yes. If you're from California, these two phrases will be no surprise to you. 
7. "I'm knackered."
You're exhausted. Even if you tried, you couldn't muster up the strength to put on your rally pants. It's time to take a nap and rest up for the next adventure. 

8. "Feeling a bit crook."
Starting to feel under the weather? You may be a bit crook (sick). Sometimes things can get a bit rowdy in Australia so having this phrase up your sleeve will help heaps. 

9. "Taking the piss."
The word piss has about 20 different meanings in Australia depending on how it is being used. If you're poking fun at something, you're taking the piss. 

10. "Where's the/your local?"
Every suburb has their own local, the pub where people who live in that suburb go to drink. Many locals tend to have pretty decent food and cheaper drink prices than if you decided to go out in the CBD. Plus, you'll make some awesome Aussie friends instead of being surrounded by tourists. 

Bonus Phrase"A few tinnies short of a slab" or "a kangaroo loose in the paddock." I absolutely love these phrases. They're similar to "a few fries short of a happy meal" or "not the sharpest tool in the shed." They both bring a smile to my face every time I hear them. Please, everyone, use these! 

There are quite a few other slang words that are beneficial to learn prior to visiting Australia, especially if you're from the United States. Keep up to date with everything Adventures in Aussieland so that you're fully prepared for your trip to Australia. If you've ever visited this incredible country, what were some of the words and phrases that confused you the most? Share them in the comments below.


And until next time...
Stay curious!

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26 comments

  1. Ok this is actually hilarious, isn't it so funny that we all technically speak the same language but a few phrases can throw people off so easily? I grew up in canada with middle eastern parents so i would speak english at school and arabic at home. Sometimes I would mix up common expressions that just don't translate and get puzzled looks haha

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    1. Right? There was a phrase my housemate used the other day (not included on this list) and I had no idea what she was saying 😂

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  2. This was so interesting to me! I don’t think I’ve actually heard any of these. I teach ESL and sometimes my students have questions and phrases or idioms (ones I don’t know), so I have to google them and then have to explain it Isn’t an American phrase but it’s a ‘x’ phrase! Now I’ll know these are Australian if I get asked about them!

    I live in the South and we have lots of funny phrases that the rest of the States would be confused about!

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    1. I find it fascinating how the same language can vary so drastically depending on geographic location. My family in Michigan would often poke fun at my brother and I for having "California" accents.

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  3. I am quite surprised that other countries don't say "how are you going?" like us as we really do use it all the time, however I do feel like 7, 8 and 9 are mostly said by men who are 40+ 😂

    Indya || The Small Adventurer

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    1. I found it a bit strange when I first moved to Australia but now I agree with you! Why don't more people say "how are you going". My group of friends use 7&9 all the time. I wonder if it varies depending on where in Australia you reside increasing the likelihood of various phrases?

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  4. This is so cool! I want to visit Australia so bad and will definitely use these when I eventually travel there :)

    Kristen | www.sophisticatedgal.com

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  5. This is so funny! I had no idea there were so many phrases that as an American I just wouldn't get visiting Australia. Australia is on my list, so this will come in handy!

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    1. It really wasn't something I thought of either. That was until I couldn't understand half of what people were saying!

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  6. These are awesome and so funny!! I vote we implement these phrases here in America, stat!!

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  7. you can add the well known Australian movement "Grey nomads". Referring to all retired people that wonder around their caravans enjoying Australian natural goods.
    Yep, I was very surprised and confused when I heard it

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    1. I haven never heard that one before but its hilarious!

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  8. i think 'good on ya mate' might be my favorite and i'd love to visit australia, so this is good to know--thanks!!

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    1. It's one of my favourites as well!

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  9. This is really funny but worth knowing! I'd heard a few but not all of these.

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  10. This was really interesting to read through! Australia is top on my list of places to see, and I'll have to keep this list in mind!

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  11. I know of a few British phrases, but this is the first time reading Australian ones. I love learning about other cultures!

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    1. I was pretty shocked as well to find out a lot of British people didn't understand some Australian slang. Especially since a lot of Australian slang comes from British slang.

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  12. I want to visit this country one day. So, this is a good piece of information to have on hand!

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  13. I hope to visit soon!!
    Thank you for the tips!

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  14. These are great! We didn't know what 'paddocks' were until we asked... that ended up helping us out a lot with directions!

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  15. A lot of these are the same here in New Zealand so you'll recognise some of the slang if you visit both countries. Reading them, though, I hear them with an Australia accent which made me giggle :) Glad to hear you're enjoying living in Australia, it is a beautiful country (not as beautiful as NZ though ;) hehe) :)

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  16. I totally loved this list!! Being from NorCal, I totally get your #6! In fact, my boyfriend who's from Michigan calls it "The San Francisco Yes" lol where it's yes, no and no, yes. Your others cracked me up too, thank you for enlightening this Californian with those funny Aussie phrases.

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  17. "Good on ya mate" ;) for writing this post. Love learning new stuff every now and then so glad I came across this. <3

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  18. I lived in Australia for five years and I absolutely love their lingo! Still tickles me to this day :)

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  19. This is so funny to read as an Australian, when I moved to the UK I learned rather sharply that our lingo IS as weird as people thing it is! Great list :)

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