Turtle caught in a ghost net. Source: Alistair Dermer/GhostNets Australia
A ghost net is a plastic fishing net lost or discarded at sea from a fishing boat. It continues to drift with the tides and ‘fish’ on its own – that is, to entrap and kill marine life – sometimes for many years. A net’s ‘ghostly’ ability to continue fishing by itself has given rise to its name. Ghost nets have been recognised as an international problem since the mid-20th century, and the evidence for the term ghost net dates from this period. It is not an Australianism. However, collecting and using ghost nets as a source of art material has resulted in terms that are uniquely Australian: ghost-net art, ghost-net weaving, and ghost-net sculpture: Continue reading →
George Stubb’s painting ‘Kongouro from New Holland’. The painting was exhibited in 1773 and is the first known depiction of a kangaroo in Western art. It now resides at the National Maritime Museum in London.
Shark warning sign on Western Australian beach after fatal attack in 2012
by Mark Gwynn
Each year the Australian summer brings news stories of shark sightings close to shore, shark attacks, and the inevitable debate about how to protect beachgoers from such attacks. Australia, as an island continent with the bulk of its population inhabiting the coastal areas, has had a long relationship with sharks. This relationship is reflected in our culture and expressed by a number of terms in Australian English.*
'Anzac the kangaroo and Peggy the wombat joeys have become mates at the Wild about Wildlife Kilmore Rescue Centre.' Image source: Rob Leeson / Herald Sun
I confess—this blog is just an excuse to post an irresistible photo of a pair of orphaned joeys. For those readers who are not familiar with the term (or who would like to know a little of its history), joey is well-known in Australian English as the word for a young kangaroo, especially one still in its mother’s pouch. Continue reading →
Dampier's illustration of a 'guano' (a goanna), in 'A new voyage round the world' (1699).
We posted a blog recently with an interactive graph (devised by Tim Sherratt) showing the first occurrences of Australian words in print, as they appear in the text of the Australian National Dictionary (AND). One blog-reader asked us about the words that predate the First Fleet’s arrival in Botany Bay in 1788. Continue reading →
James Lambert drew our attention to the word dreysome time ago as a word that needs an entry in the Australian National Dictionary. A drey is the nest of a ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), a hollow construction of leaves, bark, twigs, and foliage.