Today marks my fourth day in Australia, and I have to say this is a great place to spend time. My mission was to come down here and give Grainews readers a look at some uniquely Australian farm equipment. The best way to to that was hit one of the continent’s premiere machinery shows, Commonwealth Bank AgQuip, which is held just outside the small town of Gunnedah on the Liverpool Plains in New South Wales, one of the country’s most fertile farming regions.
Getting here meant flying into the nearest airport then driving on the left side of the highway for about 40 minutes.
Everyone here has been very friendly; the Australians are truly wonderful people. But, as the saying goes, we’re separated by a common language. If you’ve ever come here to talk about agriculture, it’s pretty easy to get confused during the conversation. Some things require interpretation. So should you ever decide to make the trip here, I’ve prepared a primer of Australian terms you’ll need to keep in mind in order to avoid being left with a dumb expression on your face.
This is far from a comprehensive Canadian-Australian dictionary but it’s a good place to start. So here is a list of some Canadian words and their Australian equivalent:
A seed drill (that can seed and fertilize at the same time) = combine.
A combine = a header
A combine header = a front
harvesting (combining) = stripping
Front-wheel assist tractor = four-wheel drive tractor
Four-wheel drive tractor = articulating tractor
small stock trailer = a float
A drop-deck semi trailer = a low-loader
A carriage-head bot = a coach bolt
A slasher = a mower
A grain cart = a chaser bin
Mustering = rounding up livestock
The afternoon = the arvo
A chook = a chicken
A whirly-whirly = a tornado
If you walk into a restaurant to get a cup of black coffe, just ask for a “Long black”.
Every time I stop and talk to someone, my knowledge of Australian increases. Fortunately, most here can speak Canadian, and everyone has been tolerant of my inability to speak their language. They gladly translate for me. That said, there have been times when I’ve come away from a conversation totally confused!
There is one phrase you’ll hear a lot down here: “You’re alright, mate”. I’m not sure yet of its exact translation, or even if it’s a statement or a question, but I find if you just reply “No worries”, that seems to work fine.
After the AgQuip show wrapped up on its final day, I decided to hit the left side of road again and see if I could set foot an a couple of farms to hear about the pressing ag issues of the day direct from those involved. I managed to speak to a lot of farmers at the show, but I wanted to talk to a few more and understand what kind of operation they ran. I also wanted to see some local farms and get a better feel for what their equipment fleets look like.
One of the farmers I met at the show invited me out to his 2,000 acre spread. That’s where I started the day. He thought I’d have good luck just cruising the highway and stopping in at whatever other farms looked interesting.
“Just make sure they don’t think you’re a Greenie,” he cautioned. Greenie is the local term for a rabid environmentalist/animal rights activist. In which case I could expect to have farmers put the dogs on me.
Everything worked out well, but if anyone had looked at me suspiciously, I had a plan. I was going to try the “You’re alright mate” thing.