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St. Helena Island: “The Hell Hole of the Pacific”

St. Helena Island: “The Hell Hole of the Pacific”

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494 Part VIII: The Part of Tens

1891, for example, there were 17 murderers, 27 men convicted of

manslaughter, 26 men convicted of stabbings and shootings, and countless others who had been convicted of assault, rape, and other violent


Because of this, St. Helena had to be secure — and it was. Drowning and

shark attacks were fierce deterrents. Queensland’s bushrangers —

including the infamous Captain Starlight — murderers and thieves toiled

together to build this unique prison system using locally quarried stone

held together with cement made from the island’s lime kiln. By the turn

of the century, St. Helena had more than 300 prisoners, housed in a maze

of buildings surrounded by a high wall. It operated as a self-sufficient

settlement, and even exported some of its produce to the mainland,

including bricks for many of Brisbane’s buildings.

Today, the prison ruins are a tourist attraction, with a small museum in

the restored and reconstructed Deputy Superintendent’s Cottage. Entry

is by guided tour only, and you can visit the ruins of the blacksmith

shop, punishment yard, sugar mill, prisoners, warders and children’s

cemetery, lime kiln, as well as the olive grove.

Commissariat Store, Brisbane

Brisbane was a penal colony from 1825 until 1839. The original Moreton

Bay convict station was established at Redcliffe in September 1824, but

this site was abandoned after a few months in favor of the Brisbane site,

20km (13 miles) up the Brisbane River. By 1831, there were 1,066 convicts and 175 soldiers living here.

The Commissariat Store, in William Street, is believed to be Brisbane’s

first stone structure and is among the few remaining relics of Brisbane’s

convict era. It was constructed by convict laborers from 1828 to 1829 as

a two-story building, with a third story added in 1913. The building now

houses the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

The Old Windmill, Brisbane

The only other convict-built structure remaining in Brisbane today

(besides the Commissariat Store — see the preceding section) is the old

windmill on Wickham Terrace. Built in 1828 under the command of the

feared and loathed Captain Patrick Logan, the Commandant of the

colony, the mill was constructed to grind maize.

Why, you may ask as you gaze at this “windmill,” are there no sails on it?

Well, it was originally fitted with heavy sails but due to a mechanical

flaw, they failed to work properly. And this is where the convicts enter

the picture again: Wind power was replaced by the “never-ending staircase” of a treadmill, where convicts were forced to work as punishment,

Chapter 24: Ten Convict Connections


almost as dreaded as the lash. The treadmill was used from 1829 to 1837,

when the windmill was repaired.

At least one public hanging took place here, in 1841, with the projecting

arms of the windmill used as a gallows. After free settlement, the windmill became a signal station in 1861, and later served as an observatory,

a fire lookout, and a television transmission tower.

You can’t enter the windmill, but you can admire the outside from

Wickham Terrace, and most tour buses include it on their routes.

Chapter 25

Ten Expressions You

Need to Know

In This Chapter

ᮣ Deciphering the meaning of Australian slang

ᮣ Hoping no one is insulting you


he Aussie version of the English language can be largely attributed

to convicts who created new words and expressions to add color to

their conversations or to conceal their ideas from the authorities. In this

chapter, we introduce you to some common Australian expressions you

may well come across.

Buckley’s Chance

No chance at all, as in: “You’ve got Buckley’s chance, mate!” Some claim

it comes from the name of the convict William Buckley, who escaped

from Port Phillip in 1803 and lived for 32 years with Aborigines.


Someone who dresses badly, as in: “He’s a dag.” Dags are clumps of

matted wool and dung that hang around a sheep’s rear end. The word

dag (originally daglock) was a British dialect word that entered mainstream Australian English in the late 19th century.


In the early 1920s, an Australian racehorse called Drongo came very

close to winning major races, but in 37 starts he never won a race. Soon

after the horse’s retirement, racing fans started to use the term for other

horses that were having similarly unlucky careers. Soon after, the term

became more negative, and was applied also to people who were hopeless cases or used to describe a fool, a stupid person, or a simpleton. So

if you’re called a drongo, it’s not a compliment!

Chapter 25: Ten Expressions You Need to Know



A toilet — though it’s not one of the more polite versions of the word.

The dunny was originally any outside toilet. The word comes from

British dialect dunnekin meaning “dung-house.”

Fair Dinkum

“It’s true!” or “Is that true?”, depending on the context and inflection.

Some people believe it originated in the 1850s, during the Australian

gold rushes, when thousands of Chinese laborers came to Australia in a

bid to make their fortune. It’s possibly derived from the Cantonese ding

kam, meaning “top gold.” It may also originate from the East Midlands

dialect in England, where dinkum meant “hard work” or “fair work.”


You’ve certainly heard this one! And it really is the standard Australian

greeting, used at any time of the day or night, though it’s not used as an

alternative to farewell, as good day might be in other countries.

Hard Yakka

Hard work! This expression is derived from yakka — an Aboriginal word

for “work,” from a language once spoken in the Brisbane region.


A short, squat beer bottle often encased in a stubby holder (a foam

casing) in warmer climates. The stereotypical Australian male is often

depicted drinking a stubby, while dressed in a pair of stubbies (the trade

name for a pair of men’s brief shorts).


This common Aussie slang word refers to food, as in: “Fancy some

tucker?” By the late 18th century, it had developed its association with

the consumption of food and drink. So, a school canteen is a tuckshop,

and bush tucker is wild food.

You Right?

“Do you need my help?” It’s often used by salespeople and is the

Australian equivalent of “Are you being served?” or “May I help you?”


Quick Concierge

Fast Facts

American Express

To report lost or stolen traveler’s checks or

credit cards, call % 1800/688 022 in Australia or 02/8223 9171.

The main American Express office in

Sydney is at Level 3, 130 Pitt St., near

Martin Place (% 02/9236 4200). It’s open

Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to

5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Amex also has offices in Melbourne,

Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth. See individual chapters for opening hours and locations. In all states and territories, you can

find American Express foreign exchange

services within some Westpac Bank



ATMs, also called “cash machines” or

“money machines” in Australia, are

widely available in most towns and cities.

The Cirrus (% 800-424-7787; www.

mastercard.com) and PLUS (% 800843-7587; www.visa.com) networks span

the globe. Check the back of your card to

see which network your bank is part of,

and check online to find ATM locations.

Area Codes

Each Australian state has a different area

code: 02 for New South Wales and the

Australian Capital Territory; 07 for Queensland; 03 for Victoria and Tasmania; 08 for

South Australia, the Northern Territory,

and Western Australia. You must dial the

appropriate code if you’re calling to a state

other than the one you’re in; however, you

also need to use the code if you’re calling

outside the city you’re in. For example if

you’re in Sydney, where the code is 02 and

you want to call another New South Wales

town, you still dial 02 before the number.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard are universally

accepted in Australia; American Express

and Diners Club less so. Discover card is

not accepted. If your card is lost or stolen,

call the following Australian toll-free numbers: Visa, % 1800/450 346 or 02/9251 3704;

MasterCard, % 1800/120 113; American

Express, % 1300/132 639 or 1800/688 022;

Diners Club, % 1300/360 060 or 03/8643


Currency Exchange

Travelex is one of Australia’s major foreign

exchange bureaus, with around 80 outlets

around the country, including at all major

airports and in the larger cities. You can

find locations at www.travelex.com/au

or by calling % 1800/637 642.


When entering Australia, as well as when

returning home, keep in mind Customs


Appendix: Quick Concierge

Australia is a signatory to the Convention

on International Trade in Endangered

Species (CITES), which restricts or bans

the import of products made from protected wildlife. Examples of the restricted

items are alligator, bear, coral, crocodile,

giant clam, monkeys, wild cats, zebra, as

well as American ginseng, some types of

caviar, and orchid products. Banned items

include ivory, rhinoceros products, sturgeon caviar, tortoise (marine turtle) shell,

and tiger products. Keep this in mind if you

stop in other countries en route to Australia,

where souvenirs like these may be sold.

Australian authorities may seize these

items. (Some of these items are also

banned in the U.S., Canada, and Great

Britain, so check first before you leave

your home country.)

Because Australia is an island, it is free of

many agricultural and livestock diseases

and invokes strict quarantine laws for

importing plants, animals, and their products, including food. Dogs at Australian

airports detect these products (as well as

drugs). Amnesty trash bins are available

before you reach the immigration counters

for items such as fruit.

Don’t be alarmed if, just before landing, the

flight attendants spray the aircraft cabin

(with products approved by the World

Health Organization) to kill potentially

disease-bearing insects. For more information on what is and is not allowed, contact

the nearest Australian embassy or consulate, or Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, which runs

the Australian Quarantine and Inspection

Service (% 02/6272 3933; www.affa.

gov.au). Its Web site has a list of

restricted or banned foods, animal and

plant products, and other items.

A helpful brochure, available from Australian consulates or Customs offices, as well

as online, is Know Before You Go. For more


information, contact the Customs Information and Support Centre (% 1300/363

263 in Australia or 02/6275 6666) between

8 a.m. and 5 p.m., except public holidays,

or check out www.customs.gov.au.

For clear summaries on what you can take

home with you after a trip to Australia,

check out the following:

U.S. citizens: Download the free pamphlet

Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.

gov or contact the U.S. Customs and

Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229

(% 877-287-8667) and request the


Canadian citizens: Write for the booklet

I Declare, issued by the Canada Border

Services Agency (% 800-461-9999 in

Canada, or 204-983-3500; www.cbsaasfc.gc.ca).

U.K. Citizens: For information, contact HM

Customs & Excise at % 0845/010-9000

(020/8929-0152 from outside the U.K.) or

consult its Web site at www.hmce.gov.uk.


In Australia, drive on the left side of the

road. Seat belts are compulsory for


The speed limit is 50kmph (31 mph) or

60kmph (37 mph) in urban areas, 100kmph

(62 mph) in most country areas, and sometimes 110kmph (68 mph) on freeways. In

the Northern Territory, the speed limit is

130kmph (80 mph) on the Stuart, Arnhem,

Barkly, and Victoria highways, while rural

roads are designated 110kmph (68 mph)

speed limits unless otherwise signposted.

The emergency breakdown assistance

telephone number for every Australian

auto club is % 13 11 11 from anywhere in

500 Australia For Dummies, 1st Edition

Australia. It is billed as a local call. If you

aren’t a member of an auto club at home

that has a reciprocal agreement with the

Australian clubs, you’ll have to join the

Australian club on the spot before the club

will tow or repair your car. Most car rental

companies also have emergency assistance numbers.


The current in Australia is 240 volts AC, 50

hertz. Sockets take two or three flat, not

rounded, prongs. North Americans and

Europeans will need to buy a converter

before they leave home. (Don’t wait until

you get to Australia; Australian stores are

likely to stock only converters to fit American and European outlets.) Some large

hotels have 110V outlets for electric

shavers (or dual voltage), and some may

have converters you can borrow — but

don’t count on it. Power does not start

automatically when you plug in an appliance; you need to flick the switch beside

the socket to the “on” position.

Embassies and Consulates

Most diplomatic posts are in Australia’s

capital, Canberra. Embassies or consulates with posts in state capitals are

listed in “Fast Facts” in the relevant state

chapters of this book.

In case you lose your passport or have

some other emergency, here’s a list of

addresses and phone numbers:

Britain: The high commission is on

Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra, ACT

2601 (% 02/6270 6666). There are also consulates in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane,

and Perth.

Canada: The high commission is on

Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, ACT

2600 (% 02/6270 4000). There are consulates in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.

Ireland: The embassy is at 20 Arkana St.,

Yarralumla, ACT 2600 (% 02/6273 3022).

There are also consulates in Melbourne

and Perth.

United States: The embassy is at 21 Moonah

Place, Yarralumla, ACT 2600 (% 02/6214

5600). There are also consulates in Sydney,

Melbourne, and Perth.


Dial % 000 anywhere in Australia for

police, ambulance, or the fire department.

The call is free from public and private

telephones. The TTY emergency number

is % 106.


See “Where to Get More Information”

later in this appendix, to find out where to

get visitor information before you leave


Internet Access and Cybercafes

Internet access is available just about

everywhere in Australia, including some

small Outback towns, which generally

have at least one cybercafe, coin-operated

machines, or both. Coin-op terminals are

available at larger airports. Major tourist

towns, such as Darwin and Cairns, have

whole streets full of cybercafes. Public

libraries in small towns are often a good

place to get Internet access, too.

Liquor Laws

The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Pubs

are usually open daily from around 10 a.m.

or noon, to 10 p.m. or midnight, although

hours vary slightly from place to place.

Random breath tests to catch drunk drivers

are common, and drunk-driving laws are

strictly enforced. Getting caught drunk

behind the wheel will mean a court

appearance. The maximum permitted blood

alcohol level for driving is 0.05 percent.

Appendix: Quick Concierge

Alcohol is sold in liquor stores, in the

“bottle shops” attached to every pub, and

in supermarkets in some states.


Two of the biggest map publishers in Australia are HEMA Maps (% 07/3340 0000;

www.hemamaps.com.au) and Universal

Publishers (% 1800/021 987 in Australia, or

02/9857 3700; www.universalpressonline.com). Both publish an extensive

range of national, state, regional, and city


HEMA has a strong list of regional maps,

while Universal produces a complete

range of street directories by city, region,

or state under the UBD and Gregory’s

labels. HEMA produces four-wheel-drive

and motorbike road atlases and many

regional four-wheel-drive maps (good if

you plan to go off the trails), an atlas of

Australia’s national parks, and maps to

Kakadu and Lamington national parks.

Both companies produce national road

atlases. Universal’s UBD Complete

Motoring Atlas of Australia publishes

street maps of regional towns in each


Australian auto clubs, visitor information

centers, bigger newsdealers, and bookstores are your best sources for maps. Gas

stations usually only stock a limited local

range. Maps published by state automobile

associations will likely be free if you are a

member of an affiliated auto club in your

home country, but you’ll have to pick them

up on arrival. Remember to bring your auto

club membership card to qualify for discounts or free maps.


Dial % 000 anywhere in Australia for

police. This call is free from public and

private telephones.


Post Office

For general information about postal services call % 13 13 18 anywhere in Australia. A postcard costs A$1.25 (US$1/£0.50) to

send anywhere in the world. A card will

take up to six working days to reach the

United States. Post boxes are red.


Australia is generally safe, but as anywhere else, it pays to keep your wits about

you, particularly in major cities, such as



Australia has strict anti-smoking laws, so

always ask if it’s okay before you light up.

Smoking is restricted or banned in most

public places, including museums, cinemas, and theaters. Smoking in restaurants may be limited — Western Australia

and New South Wales ban it altogether,

and in many other states, restaurants have

smoking and nonsmoking sections. In most

states, there are total bans in pubs and

clubs. South Australia will introduce these

bans in 2008, joining Queensland, Tasmania,

Western Australia, Victoria, the Australian

Capital Territory, and New South Wales.

Only in the Northern Territory can you still

light up in some parts of a pub.


Australia applies a 10 percent Goods and

Services Tax (GST) on most products and

services, including airline tickets bought

within Australia (although your international airline tickets to Australia are not

taxed, nor are domestic airline tickets for

travel within Australia if you bought them

outside Australia).

You can claim a refund of the GST through

the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) — and

also of a 14.5 percent Wine Equalisation

Tax (WET) — if you’ve purchased more

502 Australia For Dummies, 1st Edition

than A$300 (US$240/£120) from a single

outlet, within the last 30 days before you

leave. See Chapter 5 for details on how to

claim your refund. Call the Australian

Customs Service (% 1300/363 263 or

02/6275 6666) for more information. Items

bought in duty-free stores will not be

charged GST.

and you will be charged as much as A$5

(US$4/£2) a minute.

Basic groceries are not subject to the GST,

but restaurant meals are.


htm. The cost of a local call from a pay

Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef will be

charged a “reef tax,” officially known as

the Environmental Management Charge, of

A$5 (US$4/£2) per person every time you

enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


For directory assistance, dial % 12455 for

a number in Australia, and dial 1225 for

numbers to all other countries.

To call Australia from the United States, dial

the international access code 011 (or 00

from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand),

then the country code 61, followed by the

city code (drop the 0 from any area code

given in this book), and then the number. To

make international calls from Australia,

first dial 0011 and then the country code,

followed by the area code and number. An

international online telephone card such

as ekit (www.ekit.com) will allow you to

call overseas at much cheaper rates.

Numbers beginning with 1800 within

Australia are toll-free, but calling a U.S.

toll-free number from Australia is not tollfree. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Numbers starting with 13 or 1300 in Australia are charged at the local fee of A25¢

(US20¢/£0.10) per minute anywhere in

Australia. Numbers beginning with 1900 (or

1901 and so on) are pay-for-service lines,

Telstra pay phones are found in most city

streets, shopping centers, transport terminals, post offices, and along highways —

even in some of the most remote areas of

Australia. To find the nearest one, call

% 1800/011 433 or go to www.telstra.

phone is A$0.50 (US$0.40/£0.20), either in

coins or by using a phone card. Some

phones only take prepaid phone cards,

which you can purchase from newsdealers

and other retailers in denominations of

A$5, A$10, and A$20, and are good for

local, national, and international calls.

There are no access numbers — you just

insert the card and dial. Credit phones take

most major credit cards. In addition to the

pay phones in the usual booths, you may

find some called “blue phones” or “gold

phones” inside convenience stores.

Time Zone

Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST or

just EST) covers Queensland, New South

Wales, the Australian Capital Territory,

Victoria, and Tasmania. Central Standard

Time (CST) is used in the Northern Territory

and South Australia. Western Standard

Time (WST) is the standard in Western

Australia. When it’s noon in New South

Wales, the Australian Capital Territory,

Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania, it’s

11:30 a.m. in South Australia and the

Northern Territory, and 10 a.m. in Western

Australia. All states except Queensland,

the Northern Territory, and Western

Australia observe daylight saving time,

usually from the first Sunday in October to

the first Sunday in April. However, not all

states switch to daylight saving on the

same day or in the same week.

Appendix: Quick Concierge

Australia’s east coast is GMT (Greenwich

Mean Time) plus ten hours. When it’s noon

on the east coast, it’s 2 a.m. in London (the

same day) and 6 p.m. in Los Angeles and

9 p.m. in New York (the previous day). These

times are based on standard time, so

allow for daylight saving in the Australian

summer, or in the country you’re calling.

New Zealand is two hours ahead of the

east coast of Australia, except during


daylight saving, when it’s three hours

ahead of Queensland.

Weather Updates

Two good Web sites to keep you up to date

with the weather where you’re going are

the Weather Channel (www.weather

channel.com.au) and the Australian

Bureau of Meteorology (www.bom.


Toll-Free Numbers and Web Sites


Air Canada

% 888-247-2262 in the U.S. and


% 02/8248 5757 in Sydney or

1300/655 767 elsewhere in Australia


Air New Zealand

% 800-262-1234 or

310-615-1111 in the U.S.

% 800-663-5494 in Canada

% 0800/737 000 in New Zealand

% 13 24 76 in Australia


British Airways

% 800-247-9297 in the U.S.

% 0870/850-9850 in the U.K.

% 1300/767 177 in Australia

Malaysia Airlines

% 0870/607-9090 in the U.K.

% 13 26 27 in Australia

www.malaysiaairlines.com.my or


Pacific Blue

% 13 16 45 in Australia, or

07/3295 2284

% 0800/670 000 in New Zealand



% 800-227-4500 in the U.S. and


% 0845/774-7767 in the U.K.

% 13 13 13 in Australia


Regional Express

% 13 17 13 in Australia



Cathay Pacific

% 020/8834-8888 in the U.K.

% 13 17 47 in Australia

Singapore Airlines

% 0844/800-2380 in the U.K.

% 13 10 11 in Australia




% 13 15 38 in Australia, or

03/8341 4901

Thai Airways International

% 0870/606-0911 in the U.K.

% 1300/651 960 in Australia



504 Australia For Dummies, 1st Edition

United Airlines

% 800-538-2929 in the U.S. and


% 13 17 77 in Australia

www.united.com or

% 1800/333 333 in Australia



Virgin Blue

% 13 67 89 in Australia, or

07/3295 2296

Shangri-la Hotels and Resort

% 866-565-5050 in the U.S.

% 866-344-5050 in Canada

% 0800/028-3337 in the U.K.

% 1800/222 448 in Australia


Major hotel and motel chains

Accor Asia Pacific

% 1300/656 565 in Australia, or

02/8584 8666


Hilton Hotels

% 800-445-8667 in the U.S. and


% 0870/590-9090 in the U.K. and


% 0800/293 229 in Australia


Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

% 888-591-1234 in the U.S. and


% 0845/888-1234 in the U.K.

% 13 12 34 in Australia


Medina Serviced Apartments

% 1300/633 462 in Australia, or

02/9356 1000


Rendezvous Hotels

% 1800/088 888 in Australia


Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

% 800-325-3535 in the U.S. and


% 0800/325-3535 in the U.K. and


% 1800/073 535 in Australia


Stamford Hotels & Resorts

% 1300/301 391 in Australia


Voyages Hotels & Resorts

% 1300/134 044 in Australia, or

02/8296 8010


Westin Hotels

% 800-937-8461 in the U.S.

% 1800/656 535 in Australia



Major car rental agencies

Mirvac Hotels & Resorts

% 13 15 15 in Australia

Apollo Motorhome Holidays

% 1800/777 779 in Australia, or

07/3265 9200



Quest Serviced Apartments

% 1800/334 033 in Australia, or

03/9645 8357


% 800-230-4898 in the U.S. and


% 8445/81 81 81 in the U.K.

% 13 63 33 in Australia

www.avis.com or


Radisson Hotels

% 888-201-1718 in the U.S.

% 800-333-3333 in Canada

% 0800/374-411 in the U.K.


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