How to Be as Laid Back as an Aussie in 9 Easy Phrases

By: Cristin Kelly

Even those with merely a passing acquaintance with Australia from, say, The Crocodile Hunter or those “throw another shrimp on the barbie” tourism spots know that Aussies love their clever turns of phrase. Picking up a few useful slang terms is a great way to quickly initiate oneself into the culture, and no matter how hard you resist, all but the most hardened expat is bound to be shortening words and adding O’s to the end within a year. It’s just so melodic and fun to talk to talk like an Aussie.

Now, for us tightly wound Americans, it is one thing to pick up a few “arvo”s and “budgy smuggler”s into the lexicon, but it’s another level entirely to achieve a true blue Aussie attitude: You’ve got to be laid back; have an easy sense of humor; and pour the weekend’s first glass of Shiraz at 4p.m. on Friday before even leaving the office.

These popular Aussie phrases exemplify this attitude and are a starting place to begin the process of kicking back, relaxing and living the Australian Dream.

1. No worries: It’s like “you’re welcome,” but with sand between its toes and a James Squire Golden Ale in its hand. May also mean, “I can do that for you.” Add a “mate” at the end for the total package. No worries is more than a phrase, it’s a way of life, so much so that the next four phrases are all variations on the theme.

Example:”Thanks for inviting us to your BBQ. It was a ripper!”
“Ah, no worries, mate.”

2. No dramas: First variation on “no worries.” Basically the same, but with a bit more oomph behind it.

Example: “Thanks for inviting us to your BBQ. It was a ripper! Sorry about breaking that bottle of red wine on your white carpet..”
“Ah, no dramas, mate.”

3. Too easy: Another variation on “no worries.” Particularly useful when someone is asking you to do something. That something can, in reality, be either easy or not.

Example 1: “Can I please have a glass of water?”

“Too easy.”

Example 2: “Can I please have a half-caf double shot soy latte with no foam extra hot?”

“Too easy.”

4. She'll be right: Another variant on “no worries,” which is best used when assuring someone that everything is well under control.
In my experience, I must suggest that you’re cautious with she’ll be right-ing tradies and service people who make you think they’re promising to deliver a product or service when they’re really headed to the beach.

Example: “The dining room table I ordered two months ago hasn’t arrived.””

“I’m sure it’s on its way. She’ll be right.”

5. She'll be apples: Exactly the same as “she’ll be right,” only healthier.

6. I'm putting that in my too hard pile: When you get she’ll be right-ed, what’s likely to have actually happened is that your request has been put into the “too hard pile.” The too hard pile is the place where things go when they’re not a lot of fun or too difficult to complete without completely bumming you out. It’s a good idea to drop things on the too hard pile on your way to happy hour. It will still be there tomorrow, and you can re-examine to see if it’s gotten any easier.

Example: “Did you deliver that dining room table to the customer who lives up five flights of stairs?.”

“I put that in my too hard pile.”

7. Take the piss: Aussies tend to like everyone on an even playing field, and if they see a bit of a quirk (for instance, not being laid back and “no worries” enough), they are certain to give you a hard time. We Americans sometimes struggle with the Aussie sense of humor, but if you protest, you’re likely to be told, “Loosen up, mate!  I’m just taking the piss!”. It can be a little rough, but it’s generally good natured.

Example: “Mate, you look like in a battle of wits,you’d be unarmed.”

“That’s rude.”

“Relax! I’m just taking the piss.”

8. Early mark: What’s more laid back than getting to go home early? Here’s a slang phrase that means just that. Done a great job at work or had a hard day? Someone may grant you an “early mark,” or, hey, just grant one to yourself.

Example: “I hauled that dining room table up five flights of stairs. Early mark!”

9. Chuck a sickie: Early mark is great, but what’s even better is an entire day off to do some grilling, or surfing or just laying around in front of the television all day. To achieve that, call on the great Australian tradition of chucking a sickie. In the U.S., we might call it a “mental health day” because, honestly, taking a day off just because we feel like it would be so ... un-American. Ring up work, tell your boss you’re sick, cough into the phone a couple of times, and voila. The day is yours. Don't feel guilty about it, either. Nothing more laid back than that. Just don’t do what a colleague of some friends of mine did: chuck a sickie and then proceed to check into multiple bars on Facebook. Be smart, people. It’s a laid back country, not a free for all.

Example: “Look at this weather. How can I go to work when it’s this nice out?”

“Chuck a sickie. I’ll meet you at Bondi in an hour.”

Australia, of course, is a bustling country full of workers taking pride in their jobs and putting in plenty of long hours. It’s certainly not all chucking sickies and putting things in the too hard pile. However, from an American point of view, Aussies have really mastered the work-life balance and, in general, have natural (if sometimes a wee bit harsh) senses of humor. It makes for a culture where it’s easy to be relaxed and happy, once you can master the balance for yourself. Whether you’re an expat in Australia or just want to try to live more like an Aussie, a shift in vocabulary might be the first tactic in taking ownership of an easygoing lifestyle. No worries, mate. She’ll be apples.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingCristin Kelly is an American expat living in Australia. Blog description: An American in Sydney discovers the "opal-hearted, wilful, lavish, sunburnt country" of Australia. Life Down Under from the coffee shop to the Opera House with no worries, mate.
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Contest Comments » There are 41 comments

Mrs. Chasing The Donkey wrote 10 years ago:

Ahhh yes!!!!!! As an Aussie expat (now in Croatia) I miss some of things slang / phrases. She'll br right and you'll win!

Kathleen Borne wrote 10 years ago:

This is spot on! Too true about the Aussies mastering the work life balance. Still taking notes on that for myself!

Christy Evans wrote 10 years ago:

Now I really want to visit Australia! This is hilarious, I might have to try some of these on!

Yankee Girl wrote 10 years ago:

As someone who is traveling down under soon, this will help me understand what the natives are saying! Thanks, Cristin!

An American In America wrote 10 years ago:

I think I have Aussie fever because as an American (and former expat) I exhibit many of the symptoms of the laid-back Australian lifestyle such as sipping Shiraz before 5 pm, using the phrase "taking the piss," and chucking a sickie every now and then. Great blog!

Natasha wrote 10 years ago:

Hilarious, as per usual Cristin! Love the too hard pile... somed days, evertyhing's in the too hard pile! ;)

Tracy Noelle wrote 10 years ago:

Great article! You really have a hang on Aussie slang! Reading your explanations put a smile on my face the whole time - good on ya!

Kristin wrote 10 years ago:

This makes me imagine Australia as sunny and wonderful all the time. I'm not going to do any research, just read your blogs about it and then when I talk to people in public about it, I'll be like, I have this 'Friend' (I will not mime the quotations)and SHE SAYS this is what it's like to live there. So then I'll seem slightly cool, as if I have ex-pat POTENTIAL, right?!! Right.

Lindsay wrote 10 years ago:

As a fellow expat in Australia these are right on! It took a bit getting used to but being "laid back" has it's great benefits!!!!

EmmaK wrote 10 years ago:

Brilliant stuff! Thanks for explaining all these phrases. I am still laughing about looking up 'budgie smuggler' and finding out it means those guys who wear tight Speedos and leave nothing to the imagination!

DK wrote 10 years ago:

Too right! Always amazed how many people chuck a sickie when the sun is shining.

Judy wrote 10 years ago:

You can moonlight as a Aussie-American translator, to help avoid bar fights from misunderstandings! The more you wrote about "She'll be right", the more inclined I was to interpret it as if speaking of oneself in the third person, with an added word: "She'll be right back." (Not.) :-)

Neb wrote 10 years ago:

Very funny Cristin! Fair dinkum the best article I have read on Aussie slang!

Caroline Kelly wrote 10 years ago:

Your blog made me wish I was back in Sydney, but that's in the too hard pile - loved it!

Pam Barnes wrote 10 years ago:

As always, Cristin is an insightful, talented writer who makes her writing seem effortless. She has so kindly shared her Aussie experience with humor and delightfulness for the reader!

Laura Miller wrote 10 years ago:

This is important insider info for travelers and expats alike! Great job, Cristin!

Valerie wrote 10 years ago:

Ahh. The memories. I enjoy sharing a few choice Aussie slang phrases with my work mates from time to time. They LOVE the "too hard basket" - that one gets used a LOT. ;)

Anphy wrote 10 years ago:

Spot on. My favourites - the first 3. I have started using "no worroes" a lot :-)

Pearl Maple wrote 10 years ago:

Well done, you not only got the words but the context so well

Rachel wrote 10 years ago:

Haha! I feel like I just got a great translation guide for whenever I might make the trek down under! Sometimes I'm amazed that we all speak English.

Dana Logston wrote 10 years ago:

Hah, love it! I reckon most customer service people in Australia put most of their day to day tasks in the "too hard pile!"

Amy wrote 10 years ago:

Great article! As an American living in Sydney, I was one of those people who thought I would sound like a complete tool using most of the aussie lingo, but I find myself slipping it in more and more over the year quite naturally! Thanks for the laughs!

Amy wrote 10 years ago:

Oh, the early mark, what's that? Your B-team friends have never heard of such a thing. And, might I note, there were a few people we might have wanted to chuck the sickie at in hopes that it stuck. And then tell them we were just taking the piss. (Seriously, could really have used this vocabulary to our advantage a few years back.)

Mollie wrote 10 years ago:

As usual, this blog is hilarious and too true! My Mom liked it too! Too easy!

Christie wrote 10 years ago:

Hi Cristin, One of the things I have most enjoyed about living in Australia is taking note of language differences. I have written down dozens (hundreds?) of phrases and words. "Early mark" is a new one to me however. Thanks for a funny, informative post, and for a positive slant on the laidback Aussie attitude as expressed through language.

Wendy wrote 10 years ago:

Love the article Cristin, it is nice to see all the differences and learn the slang before heading to AU myself. Maybe this way I won't look at someone like a lost puppy when they speak to me lol

Rob Thoma wrote 10 years ago:

Excellent! Make me excited for my first trip to Australia...

Randy Topper wrote 10 years ago:

Love it Cristin! We could all use a dose of the Aussie "No Worries".

Kelli wrote 10 years ago:

This is fantastic! I love 'no worries'- it's become part of my vocab since moving overseas and it you've captures the essence of it perfectly!

Sonora Chase wrote 10 years ago:

Um, that sounds like an awesome place to live! How am I still in the States?

Ashley wrote 10 years ago:

Being married to an Aussie and living here from overseas, so true!! Love the blog- keep it up!

Rani Peluso wrote 10 years ago:

Lol Cristin! I really enjoy your perspective, never knew there was such a talented writer amongst us!

Tracy Zingg wrote 10 years ago:

I can't get over the "too hard pile". I definitely need to add that to my vocabulary, and life style. I will get a LOT less things done.

Lynn wrote 10 years ago:

Great article! Makes me want to take a trip Down Under!

Breege Oreilly wrote 10 years ago:

Omigosh! Had me snorting with laughter! A really witty, insightful piece. Thanks Cristin x

Alison Chino wrote 10 years ago:

I love the laid back ways of the Aussies and all the fun phrases/ways of describing it! You've captured some great ones here!

Eric Pugh wrote 10 years ago:

I am certainly ready for my visit after reading this wonderfully insightful piece. It's Friday in the States, maybe I'll "Chuck a sickie, " Nah just "taking the piss, " it's the last day before holiday break, but maybe I'll get an "Early Mark?! "

Laura Nessler wrote 10 years ago:

Great taste of Aussie language and culture--almost as good as going to Australia yourself! (well, that's a pretty big "almost"...)

Kristin Burnett Knight wrote 10 years ago:

C- you're such a clever & witty gal! I love reading the tidbits about your adventures and will absolutely use "she'll be apples" this weekend!

Caitlin Kelly wrote 10 years ago:

What a fun, interesting exploration of local slang. It can sometimes seem amazing that we all speak English!

Yvette Niesel wrote 10 years ago:

I've been following Cristin's expat blog for a long time now. She never fails to bring a smile to my face with her unique turn-of-phrase. As you can tell from this post, she's funny and concise. Awesome job, as usual...

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