Language of the Outback

Family Tree Novel Series Language of the Outback

Adopting new words and terms helps better describe your Outback and how you lived it. Family Tree Novel readers are introduced to a variety of Australian, American, and Qweepie vernacular throughout the novel series. Choose to adopt or to adapt these terms in your Outback language.

Aborigine: the Australian people whose ancestors were indigenous to the continent before colonization

Aint: aunt

Aussie: Australian

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi: is a cheer or chant often performed at Australian sport events

Australia: flat, dry, country that is also a continent the size of the United States

Barbecue: both a cooking method and an apparatus, meat is cooked slowly over low, indirect heat and flavored by the smoking process. Also the title of the Dawson Springs’s annual homecoming event established in 1949.

Baccastix: name given by Driew to a tobacco stick used to hang tobacco plants from scaffolds and tobacco barns. Driew’s baccastix burns with a low level light, similar to a torch.

Barbie: barbecue grill for grilling food

Billa bing bong boom: falling head over heals

Billa bong: ponds created when a creek or river waterway changes path, leaving the branch as a dead end

Bloody: very

Boomerang: a curved, flat piece of wood traditionally used by Australian Aborigines as a hunting weapon (Gulia also uses this as a term to mean “right back at you” or “come again” and to avoid saying something mean-spirited)

Blue: fight (“He was having a blue with his sister.”)

Bluey: pack, equipment, toe, also redhead

Boozer: heavy drinker of alcohol

Bother: male sibling referred to as brother

Bounce: a bully

Bourbon: a barrel-aged, distilled spirit made primarily from corn

Bushie: someone who lives in the bush

By jingo: an expression of assent or assurance

Caddywompus: non-derogatory word to describe functions or actions associated with uncharacteristic behaviors, socially or physically

Calaboose: jail

Candlestix: name given by Driew to a flaming wooden “stick” that burns with a low level light, similar to a torch

Cassowary: large flightless bird native to Australia, shy until provoked, what capabilities to inflict fatal injuries to dogs and people

Chrissie: Christmas

Cicada: an insect with wide-set eyes and membrane-like wings. Its loud, cryptic song is produced by dreamlike vibrations. It is divided into two species that live in Australia and around the world.

Colour: Australian English uses ‘our’ and American English ‘or’ spelling for the word color

Coydog: a wild, candid hybrid resulting from a coyote and a dog mating

Cricket: a bat and ball game with eleven players; the world’s second most popular sport

Crikey: in awe, amazed, astonished

Darwin: a capital city in Australia

Digger: a soldier

Dingo: free-range, wild dog introduced into Australia’s habitat

Doovalacky: used whenever a person cannot remember what something is called

Down Under: term comes from the fact that Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere

Estray: legal term, any domestic animal wandering ownerless

Extinction: the end of a species

Fella: also spelled fellow, feller, fullah, fulla, and balla, and is combined with adjectives or numerals, or is used to indicate plural pronouns. Examples: big fella business = ”important business;” one-feller girl = ”one girl;” sing out, big fella = ”call out loudly;” me fella = ”we” or ”us.”

Feral: became wild after escaping captivity or civilization

Florida: 27th state of the United States, a southeastern U.S. peninsula between the Gulf of Mexican and the Atlantic Ocean, nickname the “Sunshine State” for its numerous days of sunlight

Fossick: prospector or to search, rummage. Example: “Are you fossicking through the garbage?”

Furphy: false or unreliable rumor

Galah: fool, silly person

G’Day: hello

Georgia: 4th state of the United States, has the largest land mass of any U.S. state east of the Mississippi River, nickname the “Peach State” for its peach trees

Govies: governesses

Half past: time is told as half past the hour

Heterochromia: dual eye color condition thought to be hereditary, a disease, or caused by an injury

Holiday: vacation

Joey: infant marsupial

Kentucky: 15th state of the United States, centrally located and nicknamed the “Bluegrass State” for the bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil

Knock back: refusal (noun), refuse (verb)

Kussin: cousin

Lacrosse: contact sport that uses a long-handled stick called a crosse

Lamingtons: a square sponge cake with chocolate icing and coconut dusted over the top

Larrikin: prankster

Malle: a eucalyptus species whose biomass is converted into ethanol or electricity (Hayder’s use the word to describe a type of moonshine created from the eucalyptus species’ biomass)

Mamaay: Australian grandfather

Marsupial: a class of mammals, most of which carry their young in a pouch

Mate: friend

Mickey Mouse: excellent, very good; in some parts of Australia the phrase means inconsequential, frivolous, or not good

Milk bar: corner shop that sells takeaway food

Milko: milkman

Mob: family, group of people, or herd of kangaroos

Momu: Australian grandmother

Mongrel: despicable person

Moolah: money

Mozzie: mosquito

Muddy: mud crab

Mum: mother

Never Never: the center of Australia, Outback

Northern Territory: third largest Australia federal division; the least populous of Australia’s eight major states and territories

Oldies: parents

Opal: rare, natural gemstone of Australia; formed in sandstone with some iron oxide content, usually as fossilized tree roots

Outback: interior of Australia, the back country, or back yard

Pennyrile: the geographic area of Kentucky named for the pennyroyal plant

Pennyroyal plant: a species of flowering plant with fragrant spearmint leaves, the essential oils of which are used in aromatherapy; the plant is also high in pulegone, a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function.

Platypus: a semiaquatic Australian mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth, and the sole living representative of its family classification

Pig-footed bandicoot: a small marsupial of Australia that is presumed to be extinct

Poa: a genus of about 500 grass species, native to temperate regions of both hemispheres, and commonly named “bluegrass”

Quid: make a: earn a living

Ripper: great, fantastic

Sand Shoes: tennis shoes

Shag on a Rock: obvious

Shonky: underhanded

Sing-song: a repeated rising and falling rhythm of a person’s voice

Sinister: female sibling referred to as sister

Songline: one of many paths across land and sky, marking an Aboriginal creator-being’s route during dreaming

Spiffy: excellent, great

Stalactite: a type of mineral formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, hot springs, or man-made structures such as bridges and mines

Stalagmite: a type of rock formation composed of minerals that rises from the cave floor due to the accumulation of material deposits

Sunshine State: official nickname of the U.S. state of Florida and the Australian state of Queensland

Swag: rolled up bedding etc. carried by a swagman

Spook: ghost-like apparition

Stuffed, I’ll be: expression of surprise

Ta: thank you

Tallo: water from a mineral spring, containing salts and sulfur compounds; may be “sparkling” due to gases

Tall poppy syndrome: when someone becomes popular others try to cut them down

Tasmania: an island state of the Commonwealth of Australia located south of the Australian mainland, and is the 26th-largest island in the world

Tasmanian tiger: thylacine or thylacinus cynocephalus (Greek for “dog-headed pouched one”), largest native Australian carnivorous marsupial of modern times, believed to be extinct. Named because of its striped lower back; also called Tasmanian wolf.

Testimony: proof or evidence of something by its appearance or existence

Tobacco: a product prepared from the cured leaves of the tobacco plant, which is used around the world

Tucker-bag: food bag

Uncool: uncle

Vegemite: dark brown Australian food paste prepared with various vegetable and spice additives combined with leftover brewer’s yeast extract

Victoria: territory of Southern Australia

Water Boarder: tourists who visited Dawson Springs wells between the 1890s and 1920s—the “Water Boarder” era

Water well: a structure dug into the ground to access groundwater in underground aquifers. Water is drawn by hand using buckets or mechanically by a pump. Well shaft linings of wood, stone, or metal create wall stability.

Willy Willy: whirlwinds that represent spirit forms in Aboriginal myths. Spirits may emerge from the spinning vortex of dirt and punish children who misbehave.

Wolle paper: handmade paper created from rotting Wollemi pine

Yer: your or you’re

Yowah nut: found in the far South Western mines at Yowah in Queensland, ironstone stones resembling ‘nuts’ which contain precious opal within their center

“Blend of Australian fable and southern culture.”—Sam R. Staley review of “DOWN UNDER”

Down Under: Kussins is the kind of book that will delight early and middle-grade readers and leave parents befuddled, in a good way. The book is the second volume published by the quirky and fun Family Tree Novels by award winning children’s book illustrator M.W. Adams, and follows the very normally abnormal Qweepie family. (No, the family name is not misspelled.)

Driew is the youngest boy in the Qweepie family, and he is constantly tormented by his older “bothers” and “sinisters.” Now that his older sister Killiope is off to boot camp following her high school graduation, older brother Pester has taken up the mantle of chief bully. He combines with other kids in the town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky (a real place) to make Driew’s life miserable.

But the young lad is resilient, and Drew soon finds himself in the company of his Australian friend Guilia and two other boys—Cain and Able—working on the neighbor’s farm. The respite is enough to keep him relatively safe, at least safe enough to develop friendships with other children nearby. But tension and danger escalate as Driew finds his compassion putting himself in vulnerable situations.

As Driew faces each incident and disappointment, he becomes aware of the circuitous and unpredictable turns of life and the mosaic that makes up human nature. What seems clear in one moment is revealed as complicated and knotty in the next. His humility grows, and the reader grows with him. The arrival of a supposedly extinct species of Australian dog seems to arrive just in time to resuscitate his purpose in life.

The Family Tree stories are a rich blend of Australian fable and mythology with the upside of southern culture. Driew’s story is told in “moments,” those events along a “songline” that influence his understanding of life and reveals his path as his life plays out during “dreamtime.” He has already mastered the magical art of sing-song, an ability to summon objects as well as conjure effects such as fire for a torch at critical times.

The quirkiness of the novel is not a gimmick. The odd spellings, unusual references to concepts and myth, and juxtaposition of cultural commentary and Australian myth are intentional. The result is an unusually layered story that engages readers while promoting solid values and understanding of the human condition.

Mark Wayne Adams skill as a storyteller shows through with each turn of the page. He knows his audience, and his deep experience as a writer for young readers allows him to juxtapose wildly divergent storylines in ways that strengthen the tale rather than diffuse its power and focus. He includes enough fantasy and magic to transport young and old readers into new dimensions, to the point the forested acreage of the Qweepie family farm truly seems to be transformed from the Back 40 to the Outback.

Targeted toward a middle-grade audience, Down Under: Kussins is appropriate for any reader who has advanced to chapter books. Adults will likely stumble over of the strange spellings and unfamiliar references, but children will delight in the novelty, magic and fantasy of the story and characters. Mark Wayne Adams fresh approach to the series may well end up igniting an interest in the land Down Under for an entirely new generation.

Sam R. Staley, author of The Pirate of Panther Bay

Summer Reading List: “DOWN UNDER: Kussins”

The Family Tree Novel series’ steady, enduring story is like a tree growing against nature’s will toward the sky. Driew Qweepie’s perennial story buds, blossoms, grows, and falls from the twisted branches of the Qweepie family tree. The story’s sing-song rhythm creates a songline for readers to follow, scanning a century all told.

The book series begins with a boy starting walkabout, a historical rite of passage into manhood. The moments throughout walkabout are viewed by a magic man chasing along an untimely move from Dawson City, Victoria, Australia’s Outback, to Dawson Springs in rural western Kentucky. This journey becomes a boy’s tracing of his bloodline, discovery of country, and possible death.

DOWN UNDER: Kussins is part of our Summer Reading List for Students! Purchase your own or check the book out at the local library. If it’s not available at the library, request it be added.

DOWN UNDER: Kussins is written by Mark Wayne Adams. This is one of books in his award-winning Family Tree Novel series of chapter books:  STATION: OutlawsOZ: InlawsNO WORRIES: Momus & MamaaysOUTBACK: Bothers & SinistersDOWN UNDER: KussinsG’DAY: AintsMATES: Uncools, and WALKABOUT: Mates.

“A well-crafted work that reads like poetry.” —Ruffina Oserio, Readers’ Favorite

down-under-kussins-3d-book-cover-9781596160385-www-mwa-company-72dpiReviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

DOWN UNDER: Kussins by M.W. Adams is a family tree novel for young readers, a well-crafted work that reads like poetry, featuring very good and believable characters and a plot that will undoubtedly have readers turning the pages. The main character, Driew, is not an ordinary kid, and of course his parents think it is useless leaving him with a cellphone. From the very first page, readers are pulled into the world of the protagonist, a world that rhymes with a lot of tension and activities and danger. Very early in the story, the reader understands that Driew already has a huge problem dealing with his one sibling: “I don’t want to live another tortuous year as Pester’s little brother. Can’t Pester resolve his issues to become a loving brother?” The reader is pulled into the dynamics of family life and conflicts, but the adventure of Driew is what will take their breath away. Follow him down the hazardous path under.

The writing is like nothing I have read before, an original voice and a turn of phrase that has its unique signature. M.W. Adams has a bubbling imagination that comes out powerfully in the morphology of his writing, the cast of characters, and the compelling plot. The plot is fast-paced with a lot of drama and powerful scenes to pull the reader in. I read the entire story within twenty-four hours and enjoyed the plot lines, the characters, and the themes that center on the family. Down Under: Kussins is fun and entertaining.

“‘Down Under: Kussins is as exciting as it is entertaining, a real thrill ride.”—Divine Zape, Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

DOWN UNDER: Kussins by Mark Wayne Adams is a glorious read, tantalizing and absorbing, a book for young readers that will equally appeal to adult ones. The book reveals a lot of creativity and symbolism on the part of the author, starting with a stream of consciousness built about bullying Driew, one of the lead characters, and immediately draws readers into a beautiful adventure that centers on family values, and coming-of-age challenges.

Mark Wayne Adams has a unique style of writing and it is interesting to see how creative he gets with diction. The characters are very interesting and mature readers will be reminded of the young kids they once were, of a beautiful world they once inhabited, and dreams they once had. The characters are relatable, real, and watching them deal with challenges and conflict is a huge entertainment. The plot is fast-paced, imagined with a lot of surprises for readers. There is music in the writing, like the singing-things, a kind of music that moves with the plot and animates the action throughout the whole novel.

Besides the musical quality in the writing, readers are met with symbolism, and beautiful dialogues that help to enhance plot and characterization. This is a hilarious ride for young readers and the prose is certainly going to ring through their ears like music. They will love characters as compelling as Driew as they follow them through the adventure. DOWN UNDER: Kussins is as exciting as it is entertaining, a real thrill ride.