No-one wants to be the odd man out, especially in a foreign country. Here are some words and phrases I picked up along the way that may help you out. Choose Australian or Spanish.

AustralianPut Some Petty in the Shaggin' Wagon

The 'stralian lingo has been passed through many generations and is standard in speaking. So, 'have a go' or you'll be a 'no-hoper' at understanding any of it. (Hint: Don't even try to do an Aussie accent. They'll just laugh and point.)

  • Arvo: Afternoon. As in "Think I'll go 'ave an arvo sesh," (an afternoon surf).
  • Don't come the raw prawn: Don't try to fool me.
  • Manchester: Linen
  • Jumper: Sweater
  • After Darks: Sharks
  • Shiela: Girl
  • Fair Dinkum: Completely truthful eg: "You can trust him mate, he's fair dinkum!" There is actually a store called, "FDB", meaning Fair Dinkum Bargains.
  • G'Day: Hello! (pronounced G'Dai) Used frequently and naturally by Aussies. Is also frequently mispronounced by foreigners.
  • Mate:
    1. Your best friends, people you stick by through thick and thin.
    2. Used loosely as a general form of address
    3. Very handy when you haven't been introduced or have conveniently forgotten someones name. eg: " G'Day Mate! 'ow are ya? aven't seen ya for yonks!" (Hello,how are you? Haven't seen you for a long time.)
  • Lingo: Language or jargon as in: "I don't talk his lingo!"
  • Off:
    1. of food - rotten or tainted eg "These prawns are off!'
    2. in bad taste- eg "That joke was a bit off!"
    3. of health - not well eg "I'm a bit off to-day!"
    4. awful - eg "She's been really off today!"
    5. angry, furious, not impressed eg " It didn't turn out how he wanted it to and he went right off!"
    6. excellent, at it's best eg "The surf was goin' off this morning!"
  • Piece of Piss: piss (urinate) is considered an easy - known task that comes naturally therefore 'piece of piss' is a task that is easy to do.
  • Piss up: the drinking of copious amounts of alcohol, so described as alcohol quickly becomes urine.
  • Journo: Journalist.
  • Garbo: Person who collects garbage.
  • Milko: Milkman.
  • Servo: Place where you put petty (petrol/fuel) in the shaggin' wagon (a surfer's panelwagon (car with no windows in the back)).
  • Have a go: No matter what the odds in sport or life Aussies are expected to 'have a go'. If they don't they may be looked upon with contempt as a 'slacker', 'no-hoper' or 'gutless wonder'. Often heard being called out by spectators at sporting events. eg "'ave a go ya mug!"

Back to the top.


OK, I don't really know any Spanish. All I ever had was a pocketsize phrasebook from 1970. Nonetheless, while travelling through Mexico and Puerto Rico, these phrases helped out:

  • Donde esta la playa, mate?: Where's the beach, mate. (My South African friend always called everyone "mate" no matter what country we were in.)
  • Donde esta olas grande?: Where are big waves?
  • Agua: water.

    Back to the top.

    home/surf seasons/travel lingo/travel tips/pictures/links

This site was created by:
Robin L. Wood