Things said incorrectly by Sydneysiders (A list).

still from the boxing kangaroo, 1896

There is a great divide across Australia. It causes minor squabbles and major fisticuffs. The fights have been extensively documented, as has the divide. And no where is this great division more more obvious than in the differences, linguistically, between Sydney and Melbourne.

Although often Melbunnies are incorrect, I can tell you with great certainty, being from Perth (the most distant capital city in the world), that Sydneysiders are incorrect like 99% of the time. The bridge goes to their heads (and at least our Arts Centre looks like an actual building instead of a deformed bird).

The rest of you: Pick a side, losers.

I can't find the ownership of this photo, let me know if you know it!

Things said incorrectly by Sydneysiders (A list) (AKA the great Aussie linguistic divide)

Juice boxes (also known, in this instance, correctly, as poppers).

Potato cakes (Melbourne, Perth) vs Potato scallop (Sydney) vs the completely incomprehensible Potato fritter (SA). (I really now want a deep fried potato slice)

Water fountain, incorrectly known as the bubbler (or the bubblr).

Queenslanders call suitcases ports, and they’re wrong.

Other things Queenslanders do: the eternal but. Versus the eternal Victorian tho.

Bathers; also known as swimmers and togs. I’ve heard cossie in Sydney so clearly it’s wrong (and also the name of a movie featuring Barry Otto (Miranda Otto’s dad), Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, and David Wenham, so obviously it can’t be a thing you wear in the water).

But Melbunnies are painfully tragic, and so there are some ways in which they’re imperfect. The following refusals to let go of their inferior and long distant past are prime examples:

The insistence on using ‘Safeway’ when the rest of the country has been Woolworths for eleven trillion years. Let go.

Southern Cross has been so named since 2005. Let go.

Say these words out loud: castle; dance. If it sounds like you’re saying ‘cattle’ and ‘farce’ then you’re totally wrong.

Zooper doopers. ZOOPER DOOPERS. NEITHER OF THOSE ARE REAL WORDS. They’re goddamn funny faces. (Liz disagrees; they’ve got a cool space theme and she’s gonna fight Steph to the death. But at least we can all agree that they’re superior to Sunny Boys (incidentally not called sunny boys in Perth – thanks to Amber for reminding me they’re called FREEZAS))

34 thoughts on “Things said incorrectly by Sydneysiders (A list).


    …though it’s been a while since I had either. I shall have to eat a lot of ice blocks this summer. FOR SCIENCE.

  2. This blog post is the best thing in the history of ever, even if you are wrong about Queenslanders and ports. (SHORT FOR PORTMANTEAU WE ARE CLASSY BUT ALSO LAZY. In fact, lazy could probably be described as the defining QLDer trait, which is why I will never deny my Queenslanderosity because own your shit, yo.)

    I have never heard of a Zooper Dooper in my life; we were Funny Face kids in central Queensland.

    While I’m rambling reminiscently, I was so confused about “potato scallops” when I hit Canberra, because my (British, in QLD) father called “scalloped potatoes” baking sliced taters with cheese and cream.

    Plus: slippery-dip versus slide; and I think there was something about telephone poles.

    1. 1) I have cousins who grew up in Queensland & we had HUGE fights as kids about things like togs & ports.

      2) I’m glad to see someone mention scalloped potatoes though – I’ve learned to call it a “potato bake” but it makes me sad to have to do so.

      3) In South Australia telephone poles are called “Stobie Poles”

      1. *points up* SAers call ’em Stobie Poles. Though, to be fair, a Stobie Pole is actually a different breed of fish (it’s made of, like, metal and cement rather than wood because, allegedly, SA had no trees).

        Also I think maybe there was a “telephone vs telegraph” pole thing, but the Stobie poles are the big deal.

  3. Ess

    Sand gropers call call nature strips “verges” – which is just plain weird and when will it stop? I would say drink tap instead of water fountain or bubbler. I feel like in primary school we called drink boxes something else, not poppers, but maybe the name of a brand perhaps? I’ll dwell on it instead of doing assignments and I’m sure it will come to me. I like the word Melbunnies except for the whole colonisation/introduced species damaging the environment thing. Maybe Melbilby instead?! 😉

      1. Ess

        it’s weird. what does it even mean? it’s a strip of nature in front of your house… it’s a nature strip. GEEZ!

      2. I didn’t realise “verge” was a Perth thing! I just thought it was…you know…what it was called. PS when you lock a door using a button instead of a key is that called “snibbing”? Like “I snibbed the door as I left”? My girlfriend thinks my family made that word up (to be fair, there is precedence for this claim) but I was sure it was a real thing.

      3. Ess

        Nah, my family would use ‘snib’ as well! Kind of like the quick way of locking something instead of using a key to dead lock a door. Mind you, my family makes up words too (hoonoons, potits, glowers), so unless both our families made up THE SAME WORD!!

  4. OH GOD AUSTRALIAN REGIONAL LANGUAGE! So…I was born in country Victoria to super posh South Australian parents & lived in Perth for the formative ages of 2-14. Then we moved to Adelaide where I was mocked MERCILESSLY for both my hybrid accent (this also got me made fun of in Perth but in a kinder way. I think people thought it was cool cos I sounded British) & my weird names for stuff. I remember spending a lunch time crying in the toilets because of the ribbing I’d received over calling the thing I put my ponytail up with a “hair lackey” (apparently a “hair tie”) & also the complete collapse of my one attempt to get in with the cool kids when it became clear that I thought what I was wearing was called “triangles” (they called it a “string bikini”. The language problem may also have been exacerbated by the fact that they clearly thought I was ginormously fat). Private school girls are CRUEL.

    Now I live in Melbourne with my charming girlfriend from Canberra who calls juice boxes poppers (actually wrong), adds “eh” to the end of a lot of her sentences (super weird) & doesn’t know how to parallel park (apparently they don’t in Canberra. Not a language thing, but still weird). People are still confused by my accent, but I am now a linguistic chameleon who can ALMOST rhyme “dance” with “pants” without flinching.

  5. Well. Here is what I say (and I am always right about all things) based on my eastern suburbs of Melbourne upbringing.

    Poppers = Primas (no, the brand doesn’t matter)
    Water fountain = “the taps”
    SAFEWAY FOR LIFE (I said Safeway instead of Woolworths as recently as yesterday. I seriously don’t know how to change this)
    Liz is correct, they are Zooper Doopers, and you are wrongtown.
    And wrt castle/dance, it turns out that you can take the girl out of the bogan town, but you can’t take the bogan out of the girl. 😦

    1. the only acceptable safeways in the entirety of melbourne are a) those which were so cheap they haven’t rebranded (such as the safeway in springvale) and b) the unsafeway on smith street.

  6. Juicebox was the pejorative of choice in The Hairpin’s comment threads for a time and it made me very happy. Let’s take this to its logical conclusion and start referring to champions as poppers.

  7. The real dividing line is what you call that pale pink lunch meat which is primarily pork and breadcrumbs. Over here in WA, it’s polony. In the ACT/NSW, it’s Devon, and I think it also changes at the SA, Qld, NT and Vic borders, as well as crossing Bass Strait.

  8. Oh my god. I forgot they were called Funny Faces! I knew we had a name for them that wasn’t zooper whatever. Also: poppers! I completely forgot that’s what we called them as kids.

  9. Hmm as a Tasmanian I am intrigued. I feel like we share many similarities to Victoria with vocab but there were definitely ‘mainlander’ words.

    Juice Box = Fruit Box
    Potato Cakes, definitely not Potato Scallops.
    Bathers, Swimmers or Swimming Costume.
    Doona – a quilt is the handmade one to me
    Water Fountain AND Bubbler (Fountain in Launceston, Bubbler in Hobart)
    Zooper Doopers = Ice Blocks or Icy Poles
    White Out or Liquid Paper (I feel like the mainlanders used Tip-Ex?)
    Canteen or Tuckshop (for me it was dependent on schools, what else can they called?)

    As for accent, I definitely picked up the Cate Blanchett thing from my mother and grandmother. People think I’m from Adelaide sometimes.

    I love Melbilby by the way. 😀

  10. Oh gosh. You just reminded me of this.

    I feel like there might be another divide in how the first, short break at school is referred to. I always referred to it as recess, but based on the above I have a mix of Vic and NSW linguistic habits so I’m not sure if I’m just inventing this or not.

  11. Sara

    Hang on!

    Safeway has been their name here for yonks! There wasn’t a Woolies to be seen in Victoria until recently. And even though some have changed signage etc to Woolworths, some still haven’t. It’s just an old habit.. I still say it.

  12. I can’t help but notice that you ran out of Sydney-specific things rather quickly.

    (By which I mean that we all know Melbourne is better so just let us poor Sydneysiders hold onto our dignity okay?!)

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