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St. Helena Island: “The Hell Hole of the Pacific”
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.
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.
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.”
“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 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.
“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?”
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
% 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
% 800-247-9297 in the U.S.
% 0870/850-9850 in the U.K.
% 1300/767 177 in Australia
% 0870/607-9090 in the U.K.
% 13 26 27 in Australia
% 13 16 45 in Australia, or
% 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
% 13 17 13 in Australia
% 020/8834-8888 in the U.K.
% 13 17 47 in Australia
% 0844/800-2380 in the U.K.
% 13 10 11 in Australia
% 13 15 38 in Australia, or
Thai Airways International
% 0870/606-0911 in the U.K.
% 1300/651 960 in Australia
504 Australia For Dummies, 1st Edition
% 800-538-2929 in the U.S. and
% 13 17 77 in Australia
% 1800/333 333 in Australia
% 13 67 89 in Australia, or
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
% 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
% 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
% 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
Quest Serviced Apartments
% 1800/334 033 in Australia, or
% 800-230-4898 in the U.S. and
% 8445/81 81 81 in the U.K.
% 13 63 33 in Australia
% 888-201-1718 in the U.S.
% 800-333-3333 in Canada
% 0800/374-411 in the U.K.