Victorianisms: things people from Victoria say and do differently


Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted June 10, 2022

Be careful before heading to the local pub in New South Wales and ordering a parma with a pot. You may as well be speaking Dutch.

While Australians have many things in common – a love of travel, saying ‘No worries!’ and a shared disdain of Americans saying shrimp on the barbie – state by state, there are some noticable differences, and we’re not just talking about the weather.

Whether it’s the type of fish and chips we have on a Friday night, how to address the local milk bar, or even how to order a beer, there are certain ‘Victorianisms’ that will make you stick out like a sore thumb if you cross the border. 

Mind your language: things only Victorians say and do

Parma versus parmi

There’s nothing more Australian (even though it’s really Italian…) than a parmigiana at the pub. However, as Aussies, we shorten everything – the servo, your rego, and of course, your parma.

Apparently, this doesn’t sit well with our friends higher up on the east coast, who like to tuck into a delicious… parmi?

Not on our watch.

Pot, middy, handle, or 'seven'

Whether you like your beers full-strength or alcohol-free, a 285ml glass of beer is widely known as a pot in the cultural state of Victoria.

However, find yourself flying an hour north or west and you’ll need to change up your order to a ‘middy’ in New South Wales, a schooner in South Australia, a ‘handle’ in the Northern Territory, or a ‘seven’ in Tassie.

If it gets too confusing, a 'stubbie’ is a universal measurement down under.

Bathers or a cozzie

When getting ready for a summer holiday or dip in the pool, Victorians know to stay safe and cool and pack a towel, sunscreen, hat, and their bathers.

Up north, it's much the same, although they’re packing a swimsuit, bathing suit, togs, or a cozzie. We know what they mean… but they’re bathers. To bath in.

Kinder comes before prep?

Here in Victoria, it's an exciting time to graduate kindergarten and get ready for school - which means starting prep, and then grade 1, 2, and so forth. In some states like New South Wales, this prep year is referred to as kindergarten, while the years before are known as preschool. 

Mudlarks, not peewees

The magpie lark, which appears as a smaller magpie bird, is often referred to as a mudlark by Victorians. However, in other states, the bird can be referred to as anything from a peewee to the Murray magpie. 

What's a milk bar?

Did you know many states like South Australia and Western Australia have never heard of the humble milk bar? Suggest it to them and they may get an image of a 1950s-style soda shop. In other states, these are really just thought of as convenience stores, grocers or delis. 


chicken parma

Is this a chicken parma, or parmi? Image: Getty. 

Potato cake, potato scallop, or fritter

When you investigate this one, technically, a potato scallop probably makes more sense. The art of covering thinly sliced potato with batter aligns with the French culinary descriptor ‘escaloper,’ meaning to cut finely.

Calling it a ‘cake’ may have derived from the British potato scones or fritters – but for some reason, it just sounds better, doesn’t it?

Flake or blue grenadier

On a sunny day, there’s nothing better than heading to your local for a round of fish and chips. Here in Victoria, it’s just assumed that the fish you get is a flake (shark), unless otherwise specified. Not so in other states.

In New South Wales, for example, your regular fish and chips are probably blue grenadier, snapper, or barramundi. In fact, if you ask for a flake and chips in Sydney, there’s a good to fair chance it’s not on the menu – that's if you get served at all.  

Drink tap, water fountain, or bubbler

Back in your school days, after running around for a game of 40-40, down-ball or Jack-in-the-pack, sometimes you’d get parched and head over to the drink taps or water fountain. Not so in other states like New South Wales, where those looking for a drink head over to the ‘bubbler’. It hasn’t quite taken off down south as yet.

Arvo or arvie

The abbreviations of ‘o’ verses ‘ie’ seems to rear its head when it comes to Victoria and other states. In Victoria, you’ll meet at the servo in the arvo. These diminutives don’t seem to have a constant around Australia, where other states refer to the afternoon as anything from the ‘arvie’ to ‘sarvo’ and even ‘arve.’ 

Rice paper rolls, not cold rolls

The popular Vietnamese takeaway item is known as a rice paper roll here in Victoria. Not so in South Australia, where they ask for a takeaway 'cold roll.' isn't that just... a sandwich? 

What comes first? Bacon or the egg

Ever seen a listicle of the best bacon and egg rolls and thought, something about that seems... off? Yes, it's alphabetical and all the words are the same, but somehow, the Sydneysider version of an egg and bacon roll just sounds... not quite right to Victorians. 

Face washer, or flannel

In Victoria, if someone refers to their flannel, your mind may go to a flannel shirt, or maybe flannel sheets come winter. Not so in New South Wales, where flannel is a... face washer. Victorias label is at least a lot more literal. 


child at a drinking tap

Did you have a drink from the 'bubbler' when you were a kid? Image: Getty.

Cocktail sausages, franks, cheerios, or 'little boys'

This one's a doozy. Apparently, the humble cocktail frankfurt, or cocktail sausage, is a party referred to as 'little boys' in New South Wales, savs or saveloys in South Australia, and cheerios in Queensland. This could be down to the brands that provide the humble footy frank in other states - but it's a cocktail frankfurt, thanks. 

Is Woop-Woop and Never-Never the same place?

Ask anyone in Victoria about travelling somewhere far and remote, and they’ll tell you it’s in ‘Woop-Woop’.

Interstate, however, ‘Woop-Woop’ can be referred to as anything from ‘Never-Never’ to ‘Beyond the black stump’ or Timbuktu. These have different meanings to us – if it’s far, you’re in Woop Woop, no doubt about it.

Icy pole, not an ice block

On a warm summer’s day, there’s nothing better than grabbing an icy pole from the local servo (not servie).

Not so in New South Wales, where they can’t wait to apparently grab… an ice block? Surely they’re not serving iced cubes on a stick up north, are they?

Ever heard of a sausage sandwich?

Whether it’s an election day or you’re heading to Bunnings or a community sports day, Aussies love a good sausage on bread. Down in Vic, we keep it simple – usually just called a sausage, snag, sausage in bread or sausage sizzle, or on voting day, a ‘democracy sausage’.

Not so in New South Wales, where debate rages on as to the correct terminology. Our east coast cousins insist that it is in fact a ‘sausage sandwich.’

However, we know a sandwich is two pieces of bread with fillings, so how can this be so?


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