7 Australian Idioms That Will Confuse Most Brits

We really love Australia here in Britain. The stunning landscapes, the amazing weather and the friendly English-speaking locals are enough to make any Brit want to emigrate – and many already have! Despite being on the other side of the world, we are lucky to have a close relationship with our Aussie friends thanks to modern communication. However, despite sharing a language, there many Australian phrases that completely confuse most Brits. Here at Cherry Call, we’ve collected a few of our personal favourites that you can test out next time you make a cheap call to your friends and family Down Under.

As crook as Rookwood

This phrase is one that you won’t want to hear from any Aussies you know. The definition is seriously ill, really sick, or at death’s door. The saying stems from Rookwood being the biggest cemetery in Australia. With any luck, the speaker is only being melodramatic when they use this one!


Every society has one – a Drongo is essentially a fool, or a bit of a no-hoper. This derives from a racehorse of the same name that ran in the 1920s, but the horse never won a single race out of its 37 starts. Other popular phrases include someone whose “life doesn’t go to the top floor” or whose “lights are on but no-one’s home”.

Go off like a frog in a sock

It only takes a little imagination with this one to understand what it means. A frog literally being put in a sock would likely go absolutely berserk – and that’s what the phrase means. A similar British alternative would be “hopping mad”.

Like a shag on a rock

To an innocent Brit, this one may sound a little rude. ‘Shag’ in Australian refers to a type a bird, rather than a verb made popular by Austin Powers. A regular behaviour of the Shag is to stand on a rock alone with its wings outstretched as it dries off after diving for fish. The phrase therefore refers to feeling lonely or exposed, rather than anything else!

Woop woop

No, this isn’t a way of expressing half-hearted excitement. Woop woop essentially refers to any isolated place. Due to the fact that there are many isolated and uninhabited areas of Australia, locals often refer to these areas generally as ‘woop woop’. Any small town out in the sticks will fall under this category.

Knock up

This is another phrase that has a completely different meaning in British English. If you ever travel to Australia, don’t be concerned if someone says “shall I knock you up in the morning?” This is simply a way of asking if you would like somebody to knock on your door.

May your chook turn into emus and kick your dunny door down

Here’s one that any Australian will be impressed you know. This is a way of wishing somebody bad luck. It’s not likely to be one that you will want to use on a regular basis, especially when you’re on the phone to your Australian relatives. However, it’s a great one to say just for fun, or a good one to use when moaning about your boss.

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