A to Z 2013: A is for Arlee, Alice and Aussie-isms

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)First and foremost, a big thank you to Arlee Bird from Wrote by Rote who started the A to Z challenges in 2010. Thanks Arlee for giving us more opportunities to make new blogging friends. You’re a star!


Alice Springs has its own particular status in Australia. It’s famous for being the town roughly in the centre of Australia and many miles from the coast. Known as the Red Centre, Alice comes with beautiful ranges and desert scenery which lends a very different outlook. As soon as you disembark from the aircraft the change in plants and trees is immediately noticeable.

Aerial view of Alice Springs and the McDonnell ranges.
Aerial view of Alice Springs and the McDonnell ranges…sorry about the horizon.

The bulk of Australia’s population crowds together along the coastal fringe, and the east coast at that. To live somewhere like Alice where the ocean is a minimum 1500kms away is definitely counter-cultural. However the Centre’s residents are generally die-hard devotees of the place looking on others as rather wimpish (Darwinites are reserved for special disregard).

Those who have read A Town Like Alice might imagine the town as some sort of oasis and I think would be sadly disappointed by the reality. Today it has a vexed reputation for racial tension and high crime rates. This is counterbalanced by the amazing Indigenous Arts and Crafts which are readily available and also the varied historic sites. As with most desert places Alice’s temperatures soar up to the 40s (Celsius) and down to around zero mid-year: heating and air conditioning are not really optional extras.

A view over the town centre towards the Gap.
A view over the town centre towards Heavitree Gap and the airport.

There is a local tradition that if you see the Todd (River) flood three times you’ll be in Alice Springs for good. At this point I’m pleased to tell you that I have only seen it flowing twice. Still it’s interesting to see the town and surrounds in rain as it gives such a different perspective.

Why Visit: For the Indigenous arts and crafts, the historical sites like the Overland Telegraph, the Alice Springs Wildlife Park, the wonderful National Parks nearby, and if you’re keen the Camel Cup and the Henley on Todd Regatta .


A is for Aussie-isms and today we’ll kick start some of Australia’s quirky colloquialisms. Some have been outdated by the influences of television but Australian adults of a certain era will certainly remember some or all of them. I’ll asterisk the ones which are not heard as often these days. In many cases, the significance or meaning is determined by the tone of voice or the context of the sentence.  

Arvo*: short for afternoon. eg I’ll come over tomorrow arvo. May be added to, eg arvo tea, for afternoon tea.

Arse: This is the Aussie version, not the American “ass” which we think is a donkey.  While vulgar this word is used in all sorts of ways other than to describe someone’s rear end: “He’s being a bit of an arse” might mean he’s being a pain or alternatively an “idiot” (in which case donkey would be a substitute rather than ass).  “Head over turkey” or “arse over tit”. Arsey on the other hand, means lucky. 

Arrogant: while this is a perfectly normal word, you really don’t want to be called this as it’s generally used as a definite insult eg he’s an arrogant bastard. Australians don’t like tall poppies!  

Aggro:  aggressive (stirring for a fight).

‘Ave: in lieu of “have” eg “’ave a go ya mug” (note, this is not “Ave!” in the church sense).

Apples: used in “she’s apples” ie it’s alright or it’s “all good“.

Ankle biter: child often used disparagingly eg “will someone get those ankle biters outside”.

Join me tomorrow for a day trip out of Darwin and some more dinkum Aussie colloquialisms for which the letter “B” is very popular!

30 thoughts on “A to Z 2013: A is for Arlee, Alice and Aussie-isms

  1. Love the Aussie-isms! My hubby and I (Canadians) watch Aussie TV shows sometimes and on occasion I’m not sure what they are saying. 😛 This could be helpful!

    1. Glad you think they’ll be helpful Bonnie 😉 Feel free to make a note of words or phrases that puzzle you -happy to give clarification if I can, though sometimes it also needs context. Thanks for visiting.

  2. I’ve just returned to spend a few months in Australia after living abroad for 12 years and I’m being constantly reminding of why I love being in Aussie…so this is a well-timed post for me to read! I’d love to spend some time photographing and exploring the NT, so I’ll be following your A-to-Z posts with great interest, looking for inspiration! Thanks for sharing, great post 🙂

  3. I love the Aussie-ism. I am studying to be an English language teacher and all the differing dialectical differences are very helpful.

  4. Have yet to get to Alice, not sure it’s really high on my list, but as Uluru and Kakadu are, I guess that would be added then. As for the Aussis-isms, can’t say I use any other than arrogant, but not quite in that context. love reading them though as it reminds me of my Pa… he would have given “Alf Stewart” a run for his money.

  5. Hello! Stopping in from AZ. Love your AUSSIE-ISMS! Though I’ve never been to Australia, I do have a few friends who live there and hopefully one day I’ll be able to save up enough money to go visit. (:

    1. Hi Elise, glad you’re enjoying the Aussie-isms…might be helpful when you get to visit! I hope you do as it is a different sort of place, and the Territory even more so. Pauleen

  6. I have a grandson who was a toe biter when he was in the creeping stage. He would sneak up on his sister and cousin and bite their toes. I can see getting the ankle/toe biters out of here! Looking forwards to more places and aussie-isms.

  7. Thanks for letting me know of another blogging prompt – hoping to get back into regular blogging on a theme now that we have resettled!

    1. hi Shauna, Hope you enjoy the travels here -many places will be familiar to you I’m sure. Look forward to reading more of your blogs now that you’re settled in. Pauleen

  8. I am already slack and we are only on day 2! – As you may recall A Town Like Alice is one of my favourite books. Your post has probably inspired a re-read!

    1. Yes I was thinking of you even as I wrote it. I guess that’s one book that won’t be downsized. Sometime you must tell me what speaks to you most about the book.

  9. I’m so glad to have found your blog. Love those Aussie-isms! I’ve met many wonderful people from Australia in my travels and soon will have a new Aussie nephew-in-law. Good reasons to visit there myself one day!

    1. Thanks Faye! I’m glad you’re enjoying the Aussie-isms -they should come in handy when you visit and I’m sure you’d love to see the sights whichever part you come to visit.

  10. Just found this and will read with interest. I have been to many of these places but the Kimberley and WA coastal areas remain on the bucket list. Maybe next year we will hook up the caravan and do the big lap. We would head up through Bourke to Longreach and start on new ground West of Katherine heading to the Kimberley. Or… we could head across the Nullarbor (another on the bucket list) and go clockwise. We’ll need a few months.

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