Backpacker's Guide to Aussie Slang

Backpacker's Guide to Aussie Slang

14 February 2020

Sure Australians speak English, but between the Aussie accent and a ridiculous amount of slang and shortcuts, it’s easy to find yourself lost in translation. While we can’t help with the accent, we’ve put together a list of common words that all backpackers should know when coming to Australia.

Goon Bag

Alcohol in Australia is ‘spenny’ as hell (expensive). Unless you want to go without, you might want to become acquainted with an Aussie legend, the goon bag. These magical silver bags are filled with cheap wine and also double as a pretty sweet travel pillow.


When you’re super disappointed about something. Example: “I missed the last bus to Sydney, spewin!”

Woop Woop

If you’re looking for directions and someone says it’s in Woop Woop, chances are you have a fair way to go. Woop Woop means something is in the middle of nowhere.

Taking the piss

Taking the piss has nothing to do with urinating. Rather, it’s about having a joke, usually at someone else’s expense.


How’s it going (Or Garn)

Translation: How are you?


In Australia, thongs are what you wear in the hostel shower so you don’t catch a bunch of foot diseases, not what you’d see in a Sisqo film clip. If a tour guide tells you to wear thongs we promise they’re not being creepy (well probably not).


When you’re looking for places to eat you want to check for these three magical letters B.Y.O. B.Y.O basically means you can bring your own alcohol, avoiding the ridiculous prices you are otherwise going to be charged.

Chuck a sickie

For anyone looking to work in Australia, you’re probably going to need to know this phrase. Chuck a sickie is basically when you don’t want to go to work that day (every day) so you pretend to be sick to have the day off. When you’re going for job interviews, it’s probably best to pretend you don’t know this one yet.

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Yeah, Nah

Translation: no. Example: “Do you want to go to work today?” “Yeah, nah."

Old Mate

Many travellers have gotten confused, thinking Old Mate must be the life of the party that everyone knows but really Old Mate is a friendly Australian term to describe basically anyone.

Going Off

The surf can be going off, a party can be going off, even dinner can be going off (and we don’t mean mouldy)... going off means something is really, really good.


Smoko is a short break at work, particularly used for tradies (tradesmen). You’ll want to try and nab as many of these as possible if you’re working in Australia.



Yew is like an exclamation mark out loud. It’s used when something is really good or you’re really stoked (excited).


To froth something is to say you really like it. Backpackers usually froth goon, cheap meals and a sunny day at Bondi.


Having a couple of bevvies means you’re having a few drinks, or maybe you’re having a whole goon bag to yourself (we won’t judge you).

Ready to have a crack at the Aussie vocabulary? We promise you'll be right. And if you get stuck, give us a bell, we'll help you navigate any Australian related confusion!