Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953) and the squadron newsletters that he sent home. Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).

Pocket Guide to Australia

  “While I was on the boat, I was given a booklet about Australia to study...”
      - Earl Reinhalter, June 7, 1943

Here is that booklet, which the U.S. government distributed to troops heading overseas to Australia early in the war. The original size was 4¼" x 5¼". I personally scanned an original copy of the booklet. Notice that some pages have blue/grey ink. There is also an inferior reprint, published under the title “Instructions for American Servicemen in Australia,” which is entirely black and white.

The booklet is presented in two ways: (1) transcribed text, and (2) scans of the actual pages. In the transcript, I tried to duplicate the text exactly as printed, including non-standard punctuation and lapses in capitalization.

You can also download it in PDF format. If printing, it is best to print double-sided, as some graphics cover two pages and are meant to be viewed facing each other. In the transcribed version, I sometimes did an extra page break (leaving a blank page) in order to push the “left” side of a graphic to an even-numbered page.

      * transcribed version [5.3 MB]
      * scanned version [6.5 MB]

prepared by










The Other Side of the World

A Pioneer Land

The Empty Heart of Australia

The People “Down Under”

Waltzing Matilda

The Australian Commonwealth

The States

Miscellaneous Information

Australia at War


Australian Slang

Australia is about the
same size as the United
States.   It measures ap-
proximately 2,400 miles
East to West and 2,000
miles North to South.


YOU and your outfit have been ordered to Australia as a part of a world-wide offensive against Hitler and the Japs – a drive that will end in Tokyo and Berlin.
      You’re going to meet a people who like Americans and whom you will like. The Australians have much in common with us – they’re a pioneer people; they believe in personal freedom; they love sports; and they’re out to lick the Axis all the way. But there are a lot of differences too – their ways of living and thinking on all sorts of things – like tea, central heating, the best way to spend Sunday, or saluting officers and such. You’ll find out about all those, but the main point is they like us, and we like them.
      Since American troops first landed in Australia, the Australians have gone out of their way to welcome them and make them feel at home. Australian newspapers have used up newsprint (and it’s scarce) to print baseball scores and major league standings and home town news – and even American cooking recipes for housewives. The Government has made American money legal tender in the country and set up special exchange rates for American soldiers. And Australian audiences, at theatres and concerts, honor our national anthem by rising when the Star Spangled Banner is played.
      No people on earth could have given us a better, warmer welcome and we’ll have to live up to it.
      There is one thing to get straight, right off the bat. You aren’t in Australia to save a helpless people from the savage Jap. Maybe there are fewer people in Australia than there are in New York City, but their soldiers, in this war and the last, have built up a great fighting record. For three years now, they’ve fought on nearly every battle front of the war; they’ve suffered heavy losses in Crete, Libya, Greece, and Malaya; and they’re still in there pitching. The Australians need our help in winning this war, of course, but we need theirs just as much. You might remember this story when you get into an argument about “who’s going to win the war”: Not long ago in a Sydney bar, an American soldier turned to an Australian next to him and said: “Well, Aussie, you can go home now. We’ve come over to save you.” The Aussie cracked back: “Have you? I thought you were a refugee from Pearl Harbor.”
      But this isn’t supposed to be an Emily Post on how to get along in Australia. It’s simply a short guide book to give you a quick picture of what the Australians and their country are like, and what you may meet there.


AUSTRALIA is one of the newest countries in the world – yet the continent itself is one of the oldest. A hundred and fifty years ago, it was an empty land about the size of the United States, inhabited by only a few hundred thousand natives – the Australians call them “Abos” (for Aborigines) – living about the same way they did in the Stone Age.
      In a century and a half it has become a land of fine, modern cities, booming factories turning out war material, and fighting men, famous everywhere. It’s a land of great plains, millions of sheep and cattle, of gold mines and deserts and funny animals. And it’s one of the world’s greatest democracies.

On most maps, Australia is shown away down in the left-hand corner by itself, a fact that makes Americans think it’s a long way from nowhere. This map gives a truer picture of Australia in relation to the rest of the world and clearly indicates its strategic importance. You will notice that Australia lies below the equator whereas the United States lies above it. As a result the seasons are reversed. When it is winter in the United States it is summer in Australia and vice versa. The International Date Line runs north and south through the Pacific – just about at the fold of these two pages. When it is today on the left-hand page, it is yesterday for places on the right-hand page. When you are in Sydney, you are 18 hours ahead of San Francisco time. For instance when it is noon on Wednesday in Sydney, it is 6 p. m. Tuesday in San Francisco and 9 p. m. in New York. The normal shipping time between Australia and the West Coast of the United States is 3 to 4 weeks. Because of the war, sea transport now takes even longer. But aviation has brought the two countries close together. The regular clipper used to take 5 days and a special plane has made the trip in 36 hours.

Opening Up a New Continent. The year the Constitution of the United States was ratified, 11 ships sailed from England under the command of Capt. Arthur Phillip of the Royal Navy. They carried about a thousand passengers, bound for the other side of the world to settle a new land. Eight months later, after a voyage of 16,000 miles (there weren’t any Suez or Panama Canals in those days) they put in at Botany Bay in southeast Australia. It wasn’t a good spot for a permanent settlement so they moved on along the coast, finally stopping at the site of what is now Australia’s largest city, Sydney.
      In the left-handed way, the United States had something to do with the settlement of Australia. You see, England in the early days used to send its surplus convicts to America. But after the colonies had declared their independence, the British had to find some other place to send convicts from their over-crowded jails. Nearly half of the first group to land on the new continent were prisoners – men who were on the wrong side in politics, or had gotten into debt, or tangled with the harsh laws of the time in some other way. All told, in the first 40 or 50 years of the settlement of Australia, England shipped over about 160,000 so-called convicts, but the traffic was stopped by 1868.
      For 50 years, the colonists of New South Wales (the first settlement, around Sydney) stayed close to the coastal area, except for a few expeditions by boat along the coast line. The Blue Mountains, behind Sydney, kept the settler from penetrating into the interior of the continent, until in 1813, three pioneers, seeking new pasture for their growing herds, found a pass over the range and discovered the great grasslands on the other side.
      Gradually, in the next 60 years, a small group of inquisitive courageous men explored the vast continent – men like our own Lewis and Clark who helped open up the West.
      The population grew slowly in the early years, until a big gold strike was made in the Bathurst District of New South Wales. Not long after other gold fields were found – in Ballarat, once the richest gold mine in the world; and at the famous “Golden Mile” in Kilgoorlie in western Australia where miners could pick chunks of gold the size of your fist off the side of a hill. These successive gold rushes brought thousands to the continent and the population doubled in about 7 years.


IT MAY seem strange that 3 million square miles of land – about as many as there are in the United States – have only 7 million people living on them. But there’s a good reason for it.
      Only the fringes, the coastal regions, are fertile enough for good farming. A little less than half of all the land is dry and only a quarter of that is fit for pasture land under normal conditions. About a third of the country is good grassland for cattle and sheep raising and a fifth is fair-to-middling farming country. Then there is a tropical and semi-tropical region, along the east coast of Queensland and in the northeast section.
      The seasons in Australia, because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, are just the opposite of ours. Summer is in December, January, and February; fall comes in March, April, and May; winter in June, July, and August and spring in our football season, September, October, and November.

  The shaded areas of this map roughly indicate Australia’s “good country.” In these coastlands are found most of the farms, most of the industries and, therefore, most of the people. Much of the unshaded area is desert.

Space and More Space. There’s a signpost in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city that gives a pretty good idea of the bigness of the continent. It reads:

Cairns ........ 2,614 miles
Brisbane .... 1,349 miles
Sydney ...... 682 miles
Like Americans, Australians can travel thousands of miles in a straight line and still be in their own country. From Darwin in the north to Tasmania, the island state, just across the Bass Strait from Melbourne is 2,200 miles, and from Brisbane on the east coast to Perth on the Indian Ocean, is another 2,000 miles or so.
      Because of all the space, a lot of people get the idea that Australians live mostly on farms or on sheep and cattle stations (ranches). They don’t. Most Australians live in the coast cities – one-third of all the people living in the two largest, Sydney and Melbourne. And the greater part of them make their living in industry.
      In the southeast and the east are the best farming, cattle and sheep ranching and most of Australia’s industry. And there are the continent’s highest mountains, the Great Dividing Range, with large forests and good skiing in winter. The western and central parts of the continent are dry land, bare of people, except for the roaming tribes of “Abos.” The lakes you see on Australian maps hardly ever hold any water, they’re just dry salt-pans much like parts of our own southwestern desert region.


EXCEPT for the 70,000 or so primitive “Abos” who roam the waste lands, the Australians are nearly 100 percent Anglo-Saxon stock – English, Irish, Scotch, and Welsh who through courage and ingenuity made a living and built a great nation out of a harsh, empty land. They built great cities, organized a progressive democracy and established a sound economic system, for all of which they’re justly proud.
      And they’re proud too of their British heritage and to be a member of the British Commonwealth – but they still like to run their own business and they take great pride in their independence. They resent being called a colony and think of themselves as a great nation on their own hook, which they are. And it’s natural that they should find themselves drawn closer and closer to Americans because of the many things we have in common. They look at the swift development that has made the United States a great power in a few generations, and compare our growth with theirs. Nearly 40 years ago, an Australian statesman said of the United States: “What we are, you were. What you are we will some day be.” And just a short time ago Australian War Minister Francis Forde said: “We feel that our fate and that of America are indissolubly linked. We know that our destinies go hand in hand and that we rise and fall together. And we are proud and confident in that association.”
      You’ll find the Australians an outdoors kind of people, breezy and very democratic. They haven’t much respect for stuffed shirts, their own or anyone else’s. They’re a generation closer to their pioneer ancestors than we are to ours, so it’s natural that they should have a lively sense of independence and “rugged individualism.” But they have, too, a strong sense of cooperation. The worst thing an Australian can say about anyone is: “He let his cobbers (pals) down.” A man can be a “dag” (a cutup) or “rough as bags” (a tough guy), but if he sticks with the mob, he’s all right.
      If an Australian ever says to you that you are “game as Ned Kelly”, you should feel honored. It’s one of the best things he can say about you. It means that you have the sort of guts he admires, and that there’s something about you that reminds him of Ned Kelly. Kelly was a bushranger (a backwoods highwayman) and not a very good citizen, but he had a lot of courage that makes Australians talk about him as we used to talk about Jesse James or Billy the Kid.

      Of course, the best thing any Australian can say about you is that you’re a “bloody fine barstud.”
      You’ll find that the Digger is a rapid, sharp, and unsparing kidder, able to hold his own with Americans or anyone else. He doesn’t miss a chance to spar back and forth and he enjoys it all the more if the competition is tough.
      Another thing, the Digger is instantaneously sociable. Riding on the same train with American troops, a mob of Aussies are likely to descend on the Yanks, investigate their equipment, ask every kind of personal question, find out if there’s any liquor to be had, and within 5 minutes be showing pictures of their girls and families.
      One Aussie, a successful kid cartoonist, who got himself transferred to an American unit for a week, could have run for mayor and been elected after 2 days in camp. He knew the first name and history of every man and officer and had drawn portraits of some of the officers.
      Being simple, direct, and tough, especially if he comes from the “Outback”, the Digger is often confused and nonplussed by the “manners” of Americans in mixed company or even in camp. To him those many “bloody thank you’s” and “pleases” Americans use are a bit sissified. But, on the other side of the fence, if you ask an Australian for an address in a city you happen to be, he won’t just tell you. He’ll walk eight blocks or more to show you.
      There’s one thing about Americans that delights him. That is our mixed ancestry. A taxi driver told an American correspondent about three soldiers he hauled about one night: “One was Italian, one was Jewish, and the other told me he was half Scotch and half soda,” said the hacker, roaring with laughter.
      There’s one thing you’ll run into – Australians know as little about our country as we do about theirs. To them all American soldiers are “Yanks” – and always will be.
      Australians, like Americans again, live pretty much in the present and the future, and pay little mind to the past.
      If they are still in effect, you might get annoyed at the “blue laws” which make Australian cities pretty dull places on Sundays. For all their breeziness, the Australians don’t go in for a lot of drinking or woo-pitching in public, especially on Sunday. So maybe the bars, the movies, and the dance halls won’t be open on Sundays, but there are a lot of places in America where that’s true too.
      There’s no use beefing about it – it’s their country.

It’s the Same Language Too. We all speak the same language – the British, the Australians, and us – our versions of it. Probably the only difficulty you’ll run into here is the habit Australians have of pronouncing “a” as “i” – for instance, “the trine is lite todi.” Some people say it sounds like the way London Cockneys talk, but good Australians resent that – and it isn’t true anyway.
      Thanks to our movies, the average Australian has some working knowledge of our slang, but it’ll take you a while to get on to theirs. To them a “right guy” is a “fair dinkum”; a hard worker is a “grafter” and “to feel crook” means to feel lousy; while “beaut” means swell. Australian slang is so colorful, and confusing, that a whole chapter is devoted to it at the end of this book.
      Also, the Australian has few equals in the world at swearing except maybe the famous American mule skinner in World War I. The commonest swear words are bastard (pronounced “barstud”), “bugger”, and “bloody”, and the Australians have a genius for using the latter nearly every other word. The story is told of an old-timer who was asked when he had come to the continent. He replied: “I came in nineteen-bloody-eight.”

Australian Songs and Singing. Australians, like Russians, are natural group singers. It’s one of the great differences you’ll notice between American camps and Australian – the singing.
      Aussie soldiers and girls know every American popular song from Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home to the latest tune of a year or so ago. The very latest jive stuff may confuse them a bit, but they’re catching on after listening to American regimental swing bands. The hit song in Australia today is Bless Them All, which has become almost a national epidemic – the Aussies sing it with curious variations from the original lyrics.
      A standard favorite all over the country is Australia’s own folk song, Waltzing Matilda. In fact the Aussies have made it a classic all over the world. When the Anzac troops made their first assault on Bardia, they did it to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. They sang it in the heat and fever of Malaya.
      At first this song may seem less warlike than, for instance, a song called The Australaise, which makes liberal use of the word “bloody.” But it is no less militant. The swagman (hobo) of the song represents the common man struggling against the oppressive exploiter. He prefers death to slavery and it is this defiant attitude which the Aussies hold dear. You’ll find the words on the next page.


Words by A. B. Paterson; music by Marie Cowan

Once a jolly swagman1 camped by a billabong2
Under the shade of a coolibah3 tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy4 boiled.
“You’ll come awaltzing Matilda, with me!”

Waltzing, Matilda, Waltzing, Matilda,
You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me.
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled.
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”

Down came a jumbuck5 to drink at the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker6 bag.
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”

Waltzing, Matilda, Waltzing, Matilda,
You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me.
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag.
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”

Up rode the squatter7 mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers one, two, and three:
And his “Where’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?”
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me.”

Waltzing, Matilda, Waltzing, Matilda,
You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me.
And his “Where’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?”
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”

Up jumped the swagman, sprang into the billabong.
“You’ll never catch me alive,” said he.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass – by that billabong.
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”

Waltzing, Matilda, Waltzing, Matilda,
You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass – by that billabong.
“You’ll come awaltzing, Matilda, with me!”


1 Swagman, a man on tramp carrying his swag, which means a bundle wrapped up in a blanket.
2 Billabong, a water hole in the dried-up bed of a river.
3 Coolibah, eucalyptus tree.
4 Billy, a tin can used as a kettle.
5 Jumbuck, a sheep.
6 Tucker, food.
7 Squatter, a sheep farmer on a large scale.

The Australians Eat and Drink Too. Australians are great meat eaters – they eat many times as much beef, mutton, and lamb as we do – and a lot more flour, butter, and tea. But they don’t go in for green vegetables and salads and fruits as much as Americans. Some of the best fruits in the world are grown along the tropical coasts of Queensland, but the Australian, nevertheless, is strictly a “meat and potatoes guy.”
      There are a couple of libelous stories going around about Australian food. Housewives “down under” are supposed to make the coffee with a pinch pf salt and a dash of mustard, but that’s probably just another Axis propaganda story. The other one is that “outback,” as the Australians call the dry country, when you order your dinner of beef or lamb and two vegetables, the vegetables you get are fried potatoes and roasted potatoes. That probably isn’t true either. You may think it’s a gag, but you will get kangaroo steak or kangaroo tail soup in the “outback,” especially if you go hunting yourself. They’re supposed to be tasty.
      Meat pies are the Australian version of the hot dog, and in Melbourne, the substitute for a hamburger is a “dim sin,” chopped meat rolled in cabbage leaves which you order “to take out” in Chinese restaurants. But because of the demand, hot dog and hamburger stands are springing up in large numbers. So you’ll probably see signs like this when you get around the country a bit: “500 yards ahead, Digger Danny’s Toasted Dachshunds.” But you won’t find drug stores selling sodas or banana splits.
      Drinking in Australia is usually confined to hotel bars, during the few hours they’re allowed to open – they close at 6 p.m. in most places. The main drink is beer – stronger than ours and not as cold. Hard liquor is fairly expensive and much less commonly drunk than in America. They also make some good light wines.
      But the national drink is still tea, which you will find is a good drink when you get used to it. Along the roads you’ll see “hot water” signs displayed – Australian motorists take along their own tea and for a few pence, from the roadside stands, they can get hot water and a small tin can (billy can) in which they brew their tea. But since the war began, there isn’t any motoring.

  Sydney (population 1,302,890) is the capital of New South Wales. It is the site of the first permanent settlement in Australia (1788).
  Melbourne (population 1,046,750) is Australia’s second largest city and the capital of Victoria. It’s an overnight train ride from Sydney.
  Canberra is the National Capital, serving Australia just as Washington, D. C., serves the United States.
  Here is Mount Kosciusko, 7,328 feet, the highest mountain in Australia.
  The richest silver-lead deposits in the world are located here at the famous Broken Hill mines.
  Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, the tropical state, and Australia’s third largest city (population 326,000).
  Tasmania, the island state famous for its apples, is about the size of West Virginia. Capital is Hobart (population 65,450).
  Here, along the coast off Adelaide, the largest sharks ever caught by regulation sporting tackle have been landed. Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and the fourth largest city (population 323,000).
  Cape York, northernmost point in Australia is only about 100 miles across Torres Strait from the island of New Guinea. It is 335 miles from Port Moresby.
  Darwin, the northern bastion of Australia’s defense system. It is 1,700 miles from Adelaide by air.
  Australia’s richest gold field is at Kalgoorlie. More than $600,000,000 in gold has already been taken from the famous “Golden Mile.”
  Here are Australia’s biggest trees, the karri and jarrah, comparable in height to America’s redwoods. Perth (population 224,800) is capital of Western Australia.

Sports-Loving People. As an outdoor people, the Australians go in for a wide variety of active sports – surf-bathing, cricket, rugby football, golf, and tennis. The national game is cricket and the periodic “test matches” with England are like our World Series. Cricket isn’t a very lively game to watch, but it’s difficult to play well. Not much cricket is being played nowadays.
      The Australians have another national game called Australian Rules Football, which is rough, tough, and exciting. There are a lot of rules – the referee carries a rule book the size of an ordinary Webster’s Dictionary. Unlike cricket, which is a polite game, Australian Rules Football creates a desire on the part of the crowd to tear someone apart, usually the referee – some parks have runways covered over, so the referee can escape more or less intact, after the game is over. The crowd is apt to yell “Wake up melon head” or some such pleasantry at the umpire, but they don’t think it good sportsmanship to heckle the teams. Australian soldiers play it at every chance. In one camp the boys used Bren gun carriers to clear the field to play on and that afternoon 500 out of an outfit of 700 got into a game.
      Yes, and the Australians play baseball too. We think we have a monopoly on the game, but the first American units found out differently after being walloped by Australian teams. Before the Americans arrived not many Australians turned out to watch a baseball game – it was primarily a way for cricketers to keep in shape during the off-season. Now crowds of 10,000 turn out to see Australian and American service teams play – and they’re getting into the spirit of our national game by yelling “Slay the bloke” when the umpire pulls a boner.
      If you’re good at sports you’ll probably be more popular in Australia than by being good at anything else. One of the national heroes is Don Bradman, a stockbroker from Adelaide, who was the nation’s greatest cricket player – he rates more lines in the Australian Who’s Who than the Prime Minister.
      A good many Australian sports champions are familiar names on American sports pages. Bob Fitzimmons, who won the heavyweight title from Jim Corbett was Australian born. And American tennis fans have seen the great Australian teams in action – with men like Jack Crawford, Vivian McGrath, Adrian Quist, and John Bromwich, who took the Davis Cup from us in 1939, just before the outbreak of the war. The Aussies also won the cup from us just before the last war, in 1914.
      And in golf, there is the famous trick shot expert, Joe Kirkwood, who is a familiar figure in American professional tournaments.
      Probably more people in Australia play some sport or other than do in America. There are a lot of good tennis courts and golf courses, in some cases provided by the municipal authorities, which are inexpensive to play on.
      But above all the Australians are the No. 1 racing fans in the world. Most cities and towns of any size have race tracks and some like Perth have trotting tracks which used to be lighted up for night racing before the “brown-out” (the Australian version of the black-out). The big event of the year is the running of the Melbourne Cup, established in 1861, 14 years before our Kentucky Derby. It’s a legal holiday in Melbourne the day the race is run. There’s one main difference between Australian racing and ours. Their horses run clockwise.

The Gambling Fever. As one newspaper correspondent says, the Americans and the Australians are “two of the gamblingest people on the face of the earth.” It’s been said of the Australians that if a couple of them in a bar haven’t anything else to bet on, they’ll lay odds on which of two flies will rise first from the bar, or which raindrop will get to the bottom of the window first. If an American happened to be there, he’d probably be making book.
      The favorite, but illegal, game along the Diggers is “Two-Up” which is a very simple version of an old American pastime, matching coins – that is, it’s the favorite game after the one of putting a buck or two on a horse’s nose. The Australians wouldn’t approve of the Chinese who said he didn’t want to bet on a horse race, because he already knew one horse could run faster than another.

Your Opposite Number, the Aussie. You’ll have a good deal to do with the Australian people, probably, but you’ll sleep, eat, and fight alongside of your opposite number, the Aussie.
      American newspapers and magazines have been full of stories about the Aussies – in Greece, in Crete, in Libya, at Singapore, and in the Burma jungles. All Americans who’ve had anything to do with them say they’re among the friendliest guys in the world – and fine physical specimens of fighting men.
      So far in this war the Australians have been in all the hot spots – wherever the going has been tough. And they have the reputation for staying in there and pitching with anything they can get their hands on – and if there isn’t anything else they use their hands. During the early days of the threatened Jap invasion of their continent, Australian pilots fought off armored Jap bombers with the only planes they had – often just trainers.
      The Aussies don’t fight out of a textbook. They’re resourceful, inventive soldiers, with plenty of initiative. Americans and British have the idea that they are an undisciplined bunch – they aren’t much on saluting or parading and they often do call their C. O. by his first name – but when the fighting begins, there isn’t any lack of discipline or leadership, either.
      Officers most often come up from the ranks, and they are a young group. The average age of Australian generals today is less than 50 years – about the same as our own. The greatest Australian general in the last war was a civil engineer by trade, and one of Wavell’s best desert generals was Sir Ivan Mackay, who was a school teacher and who put soldiering under “recreation” in his biography in the Australian Who’s Who.
      The story is typical of the attitude the Anzac has toward the business of fighting. During some tough going on the El Alamein sector in Egypt, recently, a group of Australians volunteered to knock out a dangerous machine gun nest, manned by members of Rommel’s Afrika Korps. As they were dashing in, one Aussie yelled to another: “Cripes, Bill, I tell you if the (censored) food in this outfit doesn’t get any better, I’m bloody well going to quit.”
      Australians are immensely proud of the record their men made in the last war – any country would be proud of it. You’ll see memorials to the dead of World War I all through Australia and they’re honored greatly by all the people.


AUSTRALIAN government is a mixture of both the British and the American systems. First of all it’s a federation of six states established in 1900 – roughly similar to the American system of 48 states. There’s a federal government with a Commonwealth Parliament, a House of Representatives and Senate, chosen somewhat on the order of our Congress, and responsible for making laws concerning defense, foreign affairs, trade and commerce with other nations, customs and other functions.
      Members of the Parliament are elected by popular vote and a Prime Minister from the dominant party is appointed and chooses a Cabinet from members of Parliament. This Cabinet governs with him until they lose the confidence of Parliament or there’s a new election. Governments in the six states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the island of Tasmania) follow pretty much the same procedure.

A Member of the British Commonwealth. Australia is a British dominion, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations – but that doesn’t mean Britain owns or rules Australia. The Australians govern themselves, as a separate nation, sending their own diplomatic representatives overseas and managing their own relations with foreign nations.
      At the same time there are certain traditional ties with Great Britain which the Australians value. The King, on the advice of the Australians, appoints a Governor-General as his personal representative, not that of the British Government. Also each state within the Australian Commonwealth has a governor appointed by the King, again on the advice of the state government involved. In addition to these the British and American Governments exchange high commissioners, much the same as other countries exchange ambassadors.

Political Parties. Today Australia has three major political parties – the Labor Party, oldest in Australian politics, the United Australia Party and the Country Party. The Labor Party represents the organized labor movement, and is the most powerful political group in the nation. The Country Party represents the country interests in the nation and the United Australia Party is identified with no one single group.
      Since the formation of the Australian Commonwealth in 1900, the Labor Party has been a dominant influence in Australian politics. Since 1900 Australia has had eight Labor Governments, and four of the six states today are governed by representatives of that party. Two states, Queensland and Tasmania, have had labor governments continuously for the last 20 years.

Australia’s Democratic Traditions. In many respects Australia is the most democratic government in the world. Certainly in the short space of 150 years, it has made many notable contributions to social legislation in which it has pioneered. It developed the famous Australian Ballot; it set up one of the first central banks in the world. Incidentally, much of the credit for its founding – it’s called the Commonwealth Bank – goes to an American immigrant to Australia, King O’Malley, a bearded Californian who became one of the nation’s political leaders early in this century. Australians like him for his impatience with ceremony and remember him for the phrase about stuffed-shirt officials – “gilt-spurred roosters.” Also the nation pioneered in social security and workmen’s compensation laws and developed a unique and workable system of industrial arbitration courts which have helped to reduce strikes and disputes to a minimum.
      Education in the lower schools is furnished by the state authorities and nearly everyone goes to the same government school – education being free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14. The present Prime Minister, John Curtin, was educated through what we would call grade school, and few of the Australian Prime Ministers or Cabinet Ministers have been college men.
      The state governments, for remote districts, have furnished correspondence courses and have set up agricultural colleges and technical schools. Each of the six states has its own university supported at least partly by the governments and there are no private universities in the country.


NEW SOUTH WALES, the first colony to be established, has the most population and the largest city – Sydney. It is a center of dairy farming, fruit growing, as well as of industrial activity, much of which is built around the famous Broken Hill Proprietary Co., one of the largest industrial organizations in the world. The head of the company, Essington Lewis, now in charge of Australia’s war production, was once a great football player (Australian Rules).
      In the northern and western parts of the state are the sheep and cattle ranches (stations) – where the great Merino sheep studs are – centers of scientific sheep breeding which have made Australia the best wool-producing country in the world.
      South of New South Wales is Victoria, the second most populous state in the Commonwealth, with rich wheat farms, gold, and coal mines.
      Northward along the continent’s eastern coast is Queensland, protected by the Great Barrier Reef. It is the most tropical part of the country, well suited for sugar growing and other tropical crops. In the western part of the state are important mineral deposits of gold, silver, many basic metals, and coal.
      South Australia is three-quarters dry, arid land with enormous cattle and sheep ranches. Most of the population is located along the southern coast, which has good farm land; the rest is sandy desert very much like our own Southwest.
      Western Australia has nearly a million square miles of land, most of which is treeless desert, but it also has the most productive gold fields at Kalgoorlie.
      Australia’s sixth state is an island off the coast from Melbourne – Tasmania, named for one of the early Dutch explorers. It is both a ranching and a farming area, producing wool and a huge crop of apples yearly.
      Besides the states, there is also the Northern Territory, a vast, unproductive area, governed directly by the Commonwealth. The only town of importance is Darwin, now garrisoned for protection against Jap invasion.
      Australia has, too, a section much like our own District of Columbia – the federal government area of Canberra, midway between Sydney and Melbourne, designed by an American architect, Walter Burely Griffin of Chicago.
      In addition, Australia has important territorial interests outside the continent. After the First World War it received, under league of Nations mandate, the former territory of German New Guinea. Rabaul, chief town and port of the area, on the island of New Britain, and Lae, on the New Guinea mainland, are in the hands of the Japs. It also has the former territory of British New Guinea, now called Papua – its population is about 1,600 whites and possibly 300,000 natives. Port Moresby is the main town and administrative center for the area.
      Australia also owns several other islands in the South Pacific, Norfolk Island and others.


AUSTRALIAN money follows the English system of pounds, shilling and pence, but its value is about 20 percent less than the English currency in terms of American dollars. An Australian pound contains 20 shillings, or 10 florins, and each shilling contains 12 pence or pennies.
      Official approval has been given to the circulation of American dollars, but you will probably need to learn how to make change in the Australian money. The following table has been prepared for your convenience.

      Weights and measures, the calendar, and measures of time are much the same in Australia as in America. Australia is, of course, west of the international Date Line, so that the date is one day ahead of the United States. For example, when it’s 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on Friday in New York, it is 3 o’clock Saturday morning in Sydney, Australia.
      A couple of differences in weights and measures – the British “imperial gallon,” used in Australia, is approximately 20 percent larger than our gallon, and the British bushel measure is 3 percent larger than the American bushel. The Aussies also speak of something being a certain number of “chains” long. A chain is 22 yards. Other differences are extremely small and unimportant.


“FIGHT, work, or perish” – that’s the slogan you’ll see all over Australia, and it means just what it says.
      Australia’s doing a lot more than just providing the Allied nations with fine fighting men; she’s equipping her own troops and those of Britain and the United States with a great variety of weapons and supplies – tanks, some planes, torpedo bombers, gun carriers, shells, range finders, as well as ships and food and clothing.
      Australia’s swing-over to high-geared war production is an amazing example of careful, intelligent planning, technical ingenuity and a ruthless cutting down of civilian consumer goods. In a good many lines of production, Australia had to start from scratch. In 1938 there wasn’t any aircraft industry, but by 1941 Australia had produced a thousand planes and production is being stepped up constantly. The Australians are proud of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber – as proud as we are of our Flying Fortresses. And they’re even prouder of the new Owen tommy-gun which they consider is simpler and cheaper to make than any other submachine gun in the world – and is particularly effective under tough conditions. It was invented by a 27-year-old mortar mixer from Wollongong, New South Wales, who was a private in the Australian army.
      You won’t have any trouble finding out that everyone in Australia is in the war all down the line. There aren’t many cars on the streets; taxis are hard to get; street lights have been turned off to save power; and the Prime Minister recently announced that all nonessential industries would be shut down for the duration. Clothes and food have been severely rationed and wages, prices and profits have been frozen for the duration. So life for the Australians isn’t as free and easy as it was, but they’re out to win the war and to hell with comforts.

This map makes clear how once having obtained holds in the Philippines and in Malaya, it was a relatively simple matter for the Japanese to jump from one island to the next until they dominated the area off Australia’s northern coast. It was from the bases of this northern coast and from the area of Port Moresby on New Guinea that the United Nations slowed the Jap drive south.


There isn’t any need for a lot of do’s and don’t’s for Americans in Australia. Common sense and good will go a long way there as they do anywhere else. As a matter of fact, the Australians, especially the girls, are a bit amazed at the politeness of American soldiers. And they say that when an American gets on a friendly footing with an Australian family he’s usually found in the kitchen, teaching the Mrs. how to make coffee, or washing the dishes.
      American troops have been welcomed in Australia with a good deal of warmth and feeling of close kinship. The feeling that we and the Australians are “cobbers” means a fast finish for Mr. Jap.


WHEN it comes to slang, the Australians can give us a head start and still win. Their everyday speech is just about the slangiest of all the brands of English.
      Both of us, the Australians and the Americans, are young peoples and we like new things – in our speech as well as in anything else. And when someone coins a new phrase, it spreads around in a few days – like “I dood it.”
      Even more than in ours, colorful, picturesque words and phrases are constantly being added to the Australian speech. Here is a choice selection which may help you to understand what they’re talking about:

drogo (a clumsy Australian insect) – rookie
sheila – a babe
cliner – another babe
sninny – a third babe
shivoo – a party
imshi – amscray – scram
shikkered – drunk
chivvy – back talk, lip
plonk – cheap wine
smooge – to pitch woo
stonkered – knocked out
boko – nose
shout – to buy drinks for the house
zack – a sixpence
ding dong – swell
yakka – hard work
bonzer – great, super
cobber – pal
wowser – stuffed shirt, sour puss
cow – it stinks
gee-gees – race horses
moke – a plug or nag
brumby – a bronco
billy – tin can for tea
matilda – a tramp’s bundle
swaggie – a tramp
drop the bundle – give up
ta – thanks
whacks – Dutch treat
beano – a gala affair
deener – a shilling
dinkum oil – Gospel truth
joes – the blues
sarvo – this afternoon
Nips – Japs
Jerries – Germans
Pommies – the British
tea – supper
dinner – lunch
supper – late snack
smokeo or smoke-oh – time out for smoking
pudding – dessert
abo – aborigine
lubra or gin – squaw
woop or woop-woop – the sticks
Bluey or blue – nickname for a man with red hair
Wacko – exclamation expressing anticipation, approval or delight
barrack – to root
barracker – loud sports fan
grafter – good worker
crook – to feel lousy
fair cow – a louse or heel
ta-ta – goodby
cooee – Yoo-hoo
shandy – mixture of lemonade and light ale
trouble and strife – the wife
rubbadedub – a pub, bar, saloon
Coolgardie safe – a rough wood and burlap food bin; substitute for a refrigerator in the “outback”
to skite – to boast
poke borak – to insult
burgoo – stew
cocky’s delight – molasses
stager – one who fakes an injury or shows off (from Australian Rules football)
Buckley’s chance – a long shot
wooloomooloo yank also Fitzroy yank – a flashy dresser
push – a mob or gang
shanty, leanto – a rough bush house
Joe Blakes or joes – the d.t.’s; or the blues
willy willy – dry storm tornado
face wash – washcloth
lolly shop – candy shop
wattle – mimosa (national flower – golden wattle)
Collins Street Squatter - a drug-store cowboy
tram - streetcar
petrol – gas
bushman – a backwoodsman, not an “abo”
Oscar Asche or Oscar – hard cash
plates of meat – feet
Jackaroo – a tenderfoot on a sheep ranch
squatter – sheep or cattle rancher
never, never – they dry country outback
diggers – Australians
bush – any part of Australia not a town or city; the sticks
stockman – a cowboy
John – a cop
God stone the Crows – my my
Wouldn’t (pronounced wood-nit) – popular term for any complaint; a contraction of “wouldn’t it give you a pain in the – ”
Cow coky – a dairy farmer
cocky – farmer
Bastard (pronounced “barstud”) – sometimes a term of affection
humdinger or bloody beaut – swell


Scans of the Original Booklet


The U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia” is included in the Kindle book of Earl Reinhalter's World War II letters! The book also contains all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.


This page established: September 22, 2019             Last updated: February 22, 2023

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