While we often chuckle when overseas visitors struggle to comprehend friendly abbreviations like ‘arvo’ and phrases of true beauty, such as ‘up at sparrow’s fart’, we’ve all had times where we’ve struggled with state-based slang. From the Northern Territory’s love of pluggers to Queensland’s obsession with tallies and Victoria’s fixation with potato cakes, we’ve brought together the most commonly debated state-by-state terms to create a handy guide for your next cross-border adventure.
Thongs vs. Pluggers
While most of the country refers to our iconic, open-toed footwear as thongs, Queensland and the Northern Territory prefer to call them pluggers, in honour of the rubber plugs that fuse the straps to the soles. Just so you know, the highly sought-after double pluggers are the sturdiest form of thong and much less likely to foil their wearer with the dreaded plugger blowout.
Pot vs. Middy
Ordering a beer in Australia is more difficult than you might think, with various names corresponding to different sizes depending on where you are. A pot in Victoria and Queensland is a middy in New South Wales and Western Australia, while a schooner in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory is known as a pint in Victoria and South Australia. To add a final level of confusion, Queenslanders refuse to call big bottles of beer longnecks like the rest of the country, settling on tallies instead. It’s confusing, we know, so here’s a cheat sheet.
Potato Cake vs. Potato Scallop
Fish and chip shops around our sunburnt country have been locked in a war of terms for as long as we can remember when it comes to the delicacy Victorians know as a potato cake. In Queensland and New South Wales they’re known as potato scallops and in Western Australia and South Australia, potato fritters.
Icy Pole vs. Ice Block
A summer treat you’re likely to want after your beachside fish and chips is a good old fashioned icy pole – as they’re known in Victoria – or ice block, as is the standard term for New South Welshmen. Sometimes it’s just easier to pick and point.
Togs vs. Bathers
You’d think Australia would at least be able to agree on the garments we wear most often, right? Wrong. Those bits of lycra you wear when you go swimming are called togs in Queensland, bathers in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria and swimmers in New South Wales.
Mufti vs. Free Dress
A lot of the local lingo gets instilled in us during our school years when we’re young and impressionable. At least that’s the only excuse we’ve got for New South Welshmen referring to days where school uniform is optional as mufti days. They’re known – much more sensibly - as free dress days in Queensland and Western Australia and casual clothes days in Victoria and South Australia.
Rockmelon vs. Cantaloupe
You know those melons with beige, veiny skin and sweet orange innards? With the exception of Victoria, who ascribed to the European name cantaloupe, Australia knows them as rockmelons. Luckily the famous 90s band Rockmelons formed in New South Wales: cantaloupes just doesn’t have the same ring to it.