Guest Post: Janet Gover


Janet Gover

G’day and thanks for having me on the blog.


Most of my readers may not realise that I don’t write my books in English. I write them in Australian. What’s that? Do I hear you thinking it’s the same language? It isn’t really.


Everyone jokes about Aussies saying ‘bonza’ and ‘g’day’, but these are just slang, and every culture has its own slang. I’m talking about proper words. Formal language not slang. Australia does have a language of its own. Here are a few Australian words. How many do you know?








and of course, let’s not forget waltzing matilda.


Some words simply have a different meaning in Australia.


In the UK, for example, a squatter may be a person living illegally on property they don’t own. Often this brings to mind an image of homelessness or poverty. In Australia, a squatter is a rich landowner – usually the owner of many thousand acres of land and many many sheep.

Other words are uniquely Australian. A doona, for example, is what in the UK is called a duvet and in the US is called a comforter.


Billabong means a small lake. The origin of the word is thought to be aboriginal.


Ute is simply a short form for a utility vehicle. A bit like the American Truck – although Aussie utes tend to be smaller. In Australia, a truck is what the UK calls a lorry.


Confused? I admit even I get a tad confused at times. I want to avoid doing that to my readers. So when I use uniquely Australia words in my books, I have to be careful to phrase the sentence in such a way that a UK or US reader can understand an unfamiliar word. If my editor e-mails me and asks what a word means, I know I haven’t done it right, and have another go.


But at the same time, I don’t want it to read badly for an Australia reader who knows what the words means.


Which brings me to Waltzing Matilda – Australia’s most famous folk ballad. It’s known all over the world, but I wonder how many people know what ‘waltzing matilda’ actually means.  This is a reference to a swaggie. Ah, that’s another Aussie word isn’t it? A swaggie is a hobo: someone who travels on foot from town to town with a swag (his bedroll) on his back. A swaggie will work somewhere for a short time in exchange for food and shelter, then move on. Waltzing refers to going on the road like that. And Matilda is the swag he carries in his back. So ‘come Waltzing Matilda with me’ means going on the road. The poem also features a squatter, a billabong and a jumbuck (a sheep).


And last but not least – what is a brumby? It’s a wild horse. They word may have aboriginal origins, or may come from a man called James Brumby, who let his horses run wild when he left his property.


There are a lot of brumbies in The Wild One. There’s a billabong too … and utes … well, all things Australian really.


Because I write in Australian.


A huge thank you to Janet and Lu at Choc Lit. 




JanetGover-croppedJanet lives in Surrey with her English husband but grew up in the Australian outback surrounded by books. She solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, explored jungles with Edgar Rice Burroughs and shot to the stars with Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. After studying journalism at Queensland University she became a television journalist, first in Australia, then in Asia and Europe. During her career Janet saw and did a lot of unusual things. She met one Pope, at least three Prime Ministers, a few movie stars and a dolphin. Janet now works in television production and travels extensively with her job.


Janet’s first short story, The Last Dragon, was published in 2002. Since then she has published numerous short stories, one of which won the Elizabeth Goudge Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She has previously published three novels with Little Black Dress, Flight to Coorah Creek was Janet’s debut with Choc Lit.

Janet Gover | Website | Twitter | Facebook |





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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Janet Gover

  1. Anyone you know have a couple of Tinnies after work? 🙂

    Growing up in the UK in the 1980s and beyond, we had “Neighbours” and “home and away” on the tv with some very attractive young people on our screens. I think Alan Dale, who spent much of 2000s in every US show possible (Ugly betty, NCIS, 24 etc), hates being reminded that people still know him as “Jim Robinson”.

    My sister can always tell when I’ve been talking to Aussies or Kiwis – somehow I instantly pick up the AQI and it takes effort to drop it!


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