Sayings of old Sydney


SAYINGS of OLD SYDNEY

The following are from a Royal Historical Society (RHS) talk given in 1901 by J P Guame, ‘Humours and past Times of Early Sydney’

SYDNEY COVE

was usually referred to as a joke i.e. ‘He’s a Sydney Cove’

 

JERRANDL

an Aboriginal word. Was adapted as slang to mean ‘I don’t know’

 

BAAL BADGEREE

an Aboriginal word, was used in slang meaning ‘no good’

 

YAHOO

apparently Surgeon General Collins of the ‘Supply’ thought he heard Aborigines calling out ‘Yahoo’ as if they were lost. It was nonsensical and the word became used to refer to people who ‘didn’t have a clue’. 1879

 

OH GREAT GOANNA!

Used by Surgeon Bowes, of the first fleet, when he saw a goanna for the first time. It became a popular expression for surprise.

 

JIMMIGRANTS, LICK SPOONS
AND BURGOO CLASS

new arrivals in the colony

 

SYDNEY OR THE BUSH.

This was a popular 19th century cry referring to the competition between the urban and rural sector. It is used to describe long odds as in gambling or other unlikely outcomes.

 

THE BIG SMOKE.

Country name for Sydney (and Melbourne)

 

KING STREET SWELL.

King street, in the city centre, was the fashionable street and, at one stage, housed the smart oyster bars. It is still the style strip of Sydney with international brand name products retailing there.

 

SHOOT THROUGH – LIKE A BONDI TRAM.

At one time Sydney as serviced by trams and trolley buses including the popular Bondi Beach service.

 

MORE FRONT THAN MARK FOYS
(Or Horderns) .

Both large city retailers with expansive windows

 

A DIAL LIKE LUNA PARK.

Sydney’s fun park has a large face as entrance gates. Dial is colloquial for face.

 

SOUTHERLY BUSTER

Name for the southern gales that usually hit Sydney in summer months. These high winds usually bring cooling relief on hot days.

 

MOUTH LIKE THE HARBOUR BRIDGE.

The ‘coat hanger’ is shaped liked a large smile.

 

BOTANY BAY BARFLY

Very early reference to Sydney’s drinking habits.

 

PITT STREET FARMER

Station owner who lives in the city rather than the land.

 

UP KING’S STREET

Infers that one is penniless and used because of the close proximity of the city law courts.

 

GONE TO GOWINGS

The advertising slogan of one of Sydney’s oldest general clothing retailers. It is used colloquially as in he’s gone but we’re not telling where.

 

OFF THE GAP .

The Gap at Watson’s Bay has been the site of many suicide jumps.

 

DRESSED UP LIKE THE MAN OUTSIDE HOYTS

At one stage the Hoyts cinema in George Street had an elaborately dressed concierge out the front of the cinema

 

THE MAN OUTSIDE HOYTS
TOLD ME.

As above and used when you do not want to provide accurate information.

 

HE’S BONDI (far from Manly)

Manly is a northern beach suburb. A play on words

 

HE WOULDN’T KNOW IF IT’S
PITT STREET OR CHRISTMAS.

Infers dim-wittedness

 

CROOK AS ROOKWOOD

Rookwood is a Sydney cemetery.

 

MORE HIDE THAN JESSIE THE ELEPHANT.

Jessie was an elephant at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. She died in 1939.

 

WOOLLOOMOOLOO YANK

An Australian who acted like an American.

 

GET OFF AT REDFERN

Used to describe coitus interruptus (Redfern is the station before Central railway)

 

UP THE CROSS

Refers to Kings Cross, the popular ‘red light’ area of Sydney.

 

MORE NUTS THAN THE BRIDGE

Nuts means crazies and the Bridge is Sydney harbour Bridge.

 

HYDE PARK BUSHMAN

Someone who knows nothing about the bush. Hyde Park is Sydney’s central parkland.