Aussie Lingo – And the Giggles are free!

If you’re heading to Australia, you may want to learn a few phrases.  While they certainly speak English, they do have a unique vocabulary that makes Aussie’s all the more endearing.  Personally, I’m aiming to avoid the root rats, but ratbag might be my new favorite word!

Examples of why you need the vocab – both could be seriously misconstrued!:
– Need some good oil for Oz in April? You need your jumpers and sunnies, but not your thongs.  
– For tea or brekkie, take the footpath and hold on to your ankle biter, pass the servo and go half a click.  The banana benders are heading that way so just follow them. 

The lists are long, but here were some of my favs….

Ankle biter : small child
Apples, she’ll be : It’ll be all right
Arvo : afternoon
Back of Bourke : a very long way away
Banana bender : a person from Queensland
Bathers : swim suit
Bikkie : biscuit (also “it cost big bikkies” – it was expensive)
Billy : teapot. Container for boiling water.
Bloke : man, guy
Bog in : commence eating, to attack food with enthusiasm
Boozer : a pub
Bottle shop : liquor shop
Brekkie : breakfast
Brown-eyed mullet : a turd in the sea (where you’re swimming!)
Budgie smugglers : men’s bathing costume
Butcher : small glass of beer in South Australia – From the theory that a butcher could take a quick break from his job, have a drink and be back at work
BYO : unlicensed restaurant where you have to Bring Your Own grog, also similar party or barbecue
Chokkie : chocolate
Click : kilometre – “it’s 10 clicks away”
Clucky : feeling broody or maternal
Coathanger : Sydney Harbour bridge
Cobber : friend
Coldie : a beer
Come a gutser : make a bad mistake, have an accident
Cook (noun) : One’s wife
Crack a fat : get an erection
Dag : a funny person, nerd, goof
Daks : trousers
Doovalacky : used whenever you can’t remember what something is called. Thingummyjig, whatsit.
Footy : Australian Rules football
Franger : condom
G’Day : hello!
Give it a burl : try it, have a go
Gobful, give a : to abuse, usually justifiably (“The neighbours were having a noisy party so I went and gave them a gobful”)
Going off : used of a night spot or party that is a lot of fun – “the place was really going off”
Good oil : useful information, a good idea, the truth
Good onya : good for you, well done
Goog, as full as a : drunk. “Goog” is a variation of the northern English slangword “goggie” meaning an egg.
Grog : liquor, beer (“bring your own grog, you bludger”)
Hooroo : goodbye
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock : Intellectually inadequate (“he’s got kangaroos loose in the top paddock”)
Mate : buddy, friend
No worries! : Expression of forgiveness or reassurance (No problem; forget about it; I can do it; Yes, I’ll do it)
Oldies : parents – “I’ll have to ask my oldies”
Oz : Australia!
Plate, bring a : Instruction on party or BBQ invitation to bring your own food. It doesn’t mean they’re short of crockery!
Plonk : cheap wine
Porky : Lie, untruth (pork pie = lie)
Quid, make a : earn a living – “are you making a quid?”
Ratbag : mild insult
Ripper : great, fantastic – “it was a ripper party”
Roo bar : stout bar fixed to the front of a vehicle to protect it against hitting kangaroos (also bull bar)
Root (verb and noun) : synonym for f*ck in nearly all its senses: “I feel rooted”; “this washing machine is rooted”; “(s)he’s a good root”. A very useful word in fairly polite company.
Root rat : somebody who is constantly looking for sex.
Rotten : drunk – “I went out last night and got rotten”
Seppo : an American
Servo : petrol station
Sheepshagger : A New Zealander
Sheila : a woman
Squizz (noun) : look – “take a squizz at this”
Stickybeak : nosy person
Sunnies : sunglasses
Tall poppies : successful people
Tallie : 750ml bottle of beer
Tea : supper
Thongs : flip flops
Tucker : food
Tucker-bag : food bag

Phillip Island’s Clifftop Boutique Hotel – A Gem I Should Keep to Myself

CLiff top - smith beach sunset

Sunset at Clifftop Boutique Hotel – Smiths Beach

There have been many times in my travels I realize how fortunate I am to have seen so much of the world and find amazing places.  Sometimes I love those places so much, I’m tempted to keep them my secret.  One of those is the Clifftop Boutique Hotel on Phillip Island.

My work trip to Melbourne was unexpectedly extended 6 days.  This meant I was to remain in the city over the weekend when the Grand Prix rolled into town.  The ever so pretentious Grand Hyatt, agreed to accomodate me but was going to increase my rate from $245 to $600/night.  Clearly the demand for rooms was pushing prices sky high and every other hotel was booked.  Knowing my expense report wouldn’t fly at that rate, I had to find a quick plan B for the weekend. 

Phillip Island seemed to call out to me as I was researching my options.  The lure of the ocean, the peace of the countryside, and the thought of spending Saturday surfing or walking along nature trails seemed to be just what I needed.  On top of that, the Clifftop Hotel was well reviewed, met my budget, and most importantly, had an oceanview room free both nights that I was going to be homeless.

Clifftop - view

The Clifftop Boutique Hotel

Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the scenery.  Perched on a lush green cliff above a beautiful beach ringed by craggy red rocks and perfectly khaki sand, I new immediately it was perfect.  As I entered, I was drawn in by a wall of windows that front the ocean and then greeted by the lovely, smiling face of one of the owners.  She took extraordinary care of me during my stay, booking my activities and meals as well as giving very good guidance about the best of the island.

My Room - Ocean Suite #3

My Room – Ocean Suite #3

My room also did not disappoint.  I fell in love with it right away.  It was what I wish my own beach house  in Florida looked like…Warm but modern, sophisticated yet laid back, and with the most exceptional views. Being here was blissful. 

Clifftop - view from my room

View from my room

Smiths Beach at Clifftop Hotel.  Photo by David Kleinert

Smiths Beach at Clifftop Hotel. Photo by David Kleinert

In addition to the care of the owner and the beauty of the rooms/views, there were other perks.  There is a private path down to the secluded beach, where I felt myself drawn.  When I resisted that pull, the private porch overlooking the water allowed me to soak in the scenery while I worked on my laptop.

Mad Hatter Tea Party Cake

Mad Hatter Tea Party Cake

The other things that made my stay a delight was that Clifftop is a happy place, owned by a beautiful family.  They were having a birthday and the owner, who is an extraordinary cook on top of everything else, made amazing goodies, including a Mad Hatter Tea Party cake.

I can’t adequately give Clifftop its due in words.  It’s a special place that I hope I get to visit again.  If I do, it won’t be soon enough.    Thank you, Clifftop, for a perfect weekend.
If you decide to come, visit their website. They take online bookings as well as have gift certificates if you are looking for a gift for someone special.

1 Marlin St Smiths Beach VIC 3922
(03) 5952 1033

*Please note there was no compensation for this blog review.  The opinions expressed were solely my own and completely heartfelt.

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Driving On The Wrong Side Of The Road – Eek!

driving - white kuncklesWhile I’ve been to 27 different countries, I’ve never had the pleasure of learning to drive on the left hand side of the road.  I usually use public transport or employ a driver.  But here I am in Australia, where there is no shortage of land.  I needed to get to Phillip Island, about two hours outside of Melbourne, where I planned to spend a weekend on the rural coast.

I started driving when I was 12, am adept at using manual transmissions, so I didn’t even think twice about it…Hmmmm, mistake number one.  To start, I went to the wrong side of the car to open the door.  However, the funniest bit was my attempt to get out of the Avis car park (Aussie speak for parking garage). 

After I finally got in the right door, I settled a few minutes, checked my mirrors, moved the seat, all the normal things you do when you get into a rental car.  I was sorted out and ready to go but I hiccupped a few times trying to remember to stay on the left hand side of the tightly parked garage.  I was doing okay, though.  That is, until I met another car.  I tried to turn on my blinker and hit the windshield wipers.  Then I couldn’t get the wipers off and instead they started going faster.  About that same time I realized I was too much in the middle of the path so the other car couldn’t get around me. 

I decided I should be courteous, forget about the wipers and just get out of the way.  Unfortunately, I looked up and realized the other driver was an impossibly hot guy in an Audi laughing at me.  Completely flustered, I managed to get over enough to give way to him.  With my wipers still running on full speed, he pulled up beside me and rolled his window down.  Mortified, I rolled mine down as well.  Mr. Hot Audi said, “Hey, no worries, you’re doing great, just go slow!”  Oof – utter embarrassment.

Driving - cute guy audi

Some other Mr. Hot Audi

All in all it turned out okay.  I made it to Phillip Island without incident and only two hours of white knuckled granny driving as proof of my challenge.

If you’re driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time, I recommend the following:

-Try to always go to the right side of the car to get in because it’s rather embarrassing if you don’t. Several times I had to pretend I meant to go to the passenger side and put my purse on the seat.
– Anytime you turn right or left, pause for another second. Make sure you’re going into the correct lane and not just following your instinct.
– While your wipers will surely get a work out since they’re on the side you’re used to using for blinkers, just try to think about it every time you need to signal.
– When unsure, I just told myself, “stay to the left, stay to the left”
– Remember the fast lanes are opposite from what you’re used to.
– Look in your mirrors, all of them.
– Do get GPS.
– Finally, and most importantly, don’t make eye contact with hot guys in Audis – especially if you’re in a Camry.

Chin Chin – A Magical Meal in Melbourne

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This week I’m on a whirlwind work trip to Melbourne, Australia.  After spending 28 hours in transit (in coach) to get here,  battling a 16 hour time difference jet lag, the start of a cold, and managing 15+ hour work days, I’m exhausted.  Mind you, I recognize that many people would love to have these problems, so I’m grateful at the same time.

As my meetings wound down and I returned to my hotel, I knew that once I went up to my room I wouldn’t be venturing out again.  So I mustered the energy and I went straight to dinner.  Thinking I was going to be stuck with the senior citizen early bird special, what I found was perhaps the best meal I’ve had in over a year!

Chin Chin & Go Go is a restaurant and bar in downtown Melbourne just off the tony address of Russell and Collins where my hotel the Grand Hyatt is located.  With virtually every haute couture label in existence within a stones throw away, I was pleasantly surprised to wander down Flinders Lane and find this little gem. 

Cool, funky, and focused on food, I knew as soon as I walked in I was in for a treat.  I settled into a small table and was immediately impressed with the cocktail list.  Innovative and interesting concoctions aplenty, with descriptions that made my mouth water.

Chin Chin Barramundi

Barramundi and Carmelized Pork Belly

I ordered a side and a main dish, both of which ranked among the best things I’ve put in my mouth in a VERY long time.  The main was crispy barramundi with green apple salad, and carmelized pork belly with peanuts, chili, and lemongrass.  It comes with two mounds of food – the fish and salad on one side and pork with chili on the other.  I was told to mix the two together, and what resulted was nothing short of magic.  The barramundi was perfectly light, accented by the tart, tangy sweetness of apples and what seemed like a sauce with a touch of vinegar.  When combined with the deep, rich carmelized flavor of the pork, the heat of the chili, and texture of the peanuts and salad, it all came together in a way that was perfection. 

Son in Law Eggs with Chili

Son in Law Eggs with Chili

The barramundi & pork dish would have been enough to make me sing all by itself.  Fortunately, I also had also ordered the son-in-law eggs with chili – more out of curiosity than anything.  What arrived was pure bliss…think soft boiled egg, battered with the most impossibly light coating, gently fried in such a way that there was not even a hint of oil, shared on a plate with sliced chili, fresh basil, and a tangy, dark sauce that complimented it perfectly.  The softness of the egg combined with the heat and flavor from the chilis and sauce again demonstrated the genius of the chef.  I found myself thinking, where has this dish been all my life? 

Sadly, the next thought was – oh, in Melbourne, Australia….far, far away.  Not exactly somewhere I can visit anytime I like.  However, with another 6 days here, I have no doubt I will have to return to Chin Chin – I simply won’t be able to stay away!

According to their website,  “Chin Chin Restaurant is open 11am till late, 7 days a week and focusses on South-East Asian cuisine with Benjamin Cooper as its executive chef.  We’re modelled on the hawker dining halls of Asia with a shared-eating concept and therefore have a walk-in only policy except for one table of 10-12.  We aim to serve you the freshest ingredients and all our sauces, pastes and relishes are made in-house.  We are open every day of the year except for Xmas day.  Our wine list has an all-Australian focus and every quarter we feature a local winemaker.”

Throw A Dinner Party That’s Actually Fun With Raclette

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One of the reasons I love to travel is that it exposes me to many new kinds of culinary adventures.  So many adventures, that it seems I can’t even recall them all.  In my mid twenties I spent two weeks in Switzerland and discovered a traditional cheese meal called raclette.  Those memories came flooding back when I was recently in Park City and attended a work dinner at a restaurant which served us raclette in front of a roaring fire.

With its roots in Switzerland, Raclette refers to a round of cheese that is traditionally heated in front of a fire and then scraped onto diners plates.  Our dinner in Park City used the traditional method and I fell in love with raclette all over again.  Warm, creamy, melted cheese – what’s not to love!

Raclette - Traditional Fire

Raclette – Traditional Fire

Since most people don’t have a stone hearth large enough to cook dinner, a more modern way of cooking and serving raclette was created.  It involves the use of an electric table-top grill and small pans, or coupelles.  The coupelles heat the slices of cheese along with other accompaniments. 

The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of small firm potatoes (Bintje, Charlotte or Raclette varieties), gherkins, meats and seafood, paprika, and other bits of goodies. The sides and cheese are put in the coupelles then placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese.  It’s a bit like fondue but using your own melting tray instead of a communal bowl.  It lends itself to an interactive, fun, relaxed dining party, with the meal often running to several hours.

Upon my return from Park City, I decided to throw a raclette party myself.  As only appropriate, it turned out to be a snowy night in Charlotte.  My condo has floor-to-ceiling windows, so the scenery was beautiful and while we we’re in the Alps completely appropriate.  We couldn’t have had more fun and the raclette as a smash hit.

If you plan to have a raclette party, I recommend making sure you have plenty of time for preparation.  While your guests will be cooking, the work cutting up all the sides and cheese is substantial. 

Most popular accoutrements from my party were:
– Pineapple
– Shrimp with truffle butter
– Gherkin pickles with Hungarian paprika
– Filet mignon with cremini mushrooms
– Cherry tomatoes with turkey bacon

Some of the wines that are commonly recommended to serve are Savoy, Fendant, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.  As always, I like to serve things most people have never tried before.  As such, I served a variety of wines that all worked well:
– Sincerely 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa
– Santa Margherita 2010 Pinot Grigio from Italy
– Edi Simcic 2011 Rubikon from Slovenia
– Weingut Michlits 2011 Pinot Noir Frizzante (ie bubbles) from Austria

If you plan to host a raclette party and need to shop for it:
To buy a raclette machine – visit,, or
To buy raclette cheese – Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca often carry it, Traders Joe’s carries it during the holidays, and you can always get it online at sites like