Burke & Wills Web
www.burkeandwills.net.au
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2017

Food
biscuit
Pemmican mixed with flour to make a dough biscuit. The biscuit was then fried and eaten or mixed with water to make soup, known as ‘soup and bully'. The expedition made half a ton of biscuit in Melbourne which was then packed into barrels. The ratio of meat, meat-juice and fat to flour was twenty-six to forty. [Meat biscuit]
'cawitchi'
Used by Wills. 'thawirritji' (Yandruwandha), black bream, Hephaestus fulginosus.
'cupi'
Used by Wills. 'kapi' (Yandruwandha), small catfish, Plotosidae spp.

farinaceous

Used by Wills. Made of flour or meal; it is not clear whether Wills meant floury carbohydrates in general, or nardoo in particular.
fish
Wills recorded the Yandruwandha names for three types of fish found in Cooper Creek; cawiltchi, cupi and peru.
jerking
Process of preserving raw meat by air-drying it. From the Spanish ‘charqui' meaning dried meat.
Meat biscuit
Pemmican mixed with flour to make a dough biscuit. The biscuit was then fried and eaten or mixed with water to make soup, known as ‘soup and bully'. The expedition made half a ton of biscuit in Melbourne which was then packed into barrels. The ratio of meat, meat-juice and fat to flour was twenty-six to forty.
mussels
Freshwater mussels, Velesunio spp.
'padlu'
Used by Wills. 'mudlu' (Yandruwandha), bean-tree. Wills used it to describe the Bauhinia bean.
'peru'
Used by Wills. 'parru' (Yandruwandha), bony-bream, Flavialoas richardsoni.
pemmican
Preserved meat. North American Indian word from the Cree language. Lean meat with fat removed, is cut into thin slices and then dried in the sun. The dried meat is pounded and mixed with melted fat (and sometimes dried fruit or berries) before being compressed into cakes.
pannikin
Shallow pan or drinking cup made of metal, usually tin.
rats
Plague or Long-haired rat, Rattus villosissimus.
skilligolee
Also called skilligalee, skillygalee, skilly or smiggins. Convict or criminal cant word of the London underworld meaning thin weak broth, watery oatmeal porridge or drink made of oatmeal, sugar and water.

Geographical terms
argillaceous
Resembling or containing clay; composed mostly of clay.
billabong
Aboriginal word meaning branch of a river or creek that runs into a dead end or a waterhole that dries up or flows intermittently.
claypan
Shallow depression floored with impermeable clay, which can hold rainwater after other groundwater has disappeared.
Cooper Creek
The Yandruwandha called the creek Kini-papa. It was named Cooper's Creek by Charles Sturt on 13 October 1845 after South Australian judge, Chief Justice Sir Charles Cooper. The correct modern usage, as specified by Geoscience Australia's Gazeteer of Australia, is Cooper Creek.
Note: This website uses both terms - transcripts of historical documents maintain the original usage, generally Cooper's Creek or Coopers Creek. Contemporary references use the term Cooper Creek.
indurated
indurate - to make hard or harden. Used by Wills as a geological term as “indurated clay” - hardened clay.
mallee
Generic term for various trees of the species Eucalyptus; also as a term for the semi-arid areas in which these grow.
silicious
also siliceous meaning of, relating to, consisting of, or resembling silica.
zodiacal light
Also known as “false dawn”. A faint, roughly triangular, whitish glow in the night sky sometimes visible before sunrise or after sunset which appears to extend up from the vicinity of the sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. It is so faint that it is completely masked by either moonlight or light pollution. The zodiacal light decreases in intensity with distance from the Sun, but on very dark nights it has been observed in a band completely around the ecliptic. In fact, the zodiacal light covers the entire sky, being responsible for 60% of the total skylight on a moonless night. There is also a very faint, but still slightly increased, oval glow directly opposite the Sun which is known as the gegenschein. This phenomenon was first investigated by the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini in 1683 and first explained by Nicolas Fatio de Duillier in 1684.

Fauna
bustard Large Australian bird Ardeotis australis also called “plains turkey”.
cicadariae
Cicadas. Large winged insects of the order Hemiptera, capable of making an extremely loud shrilling noise. There are 202 species of cicada found in Australia , most of which are from the Cicadidae family.
native companion
Colloquial name for the Brolga, Grus rubicunda, a large bird of the crane family.

Flora
coolabah Eucalyptus coolabah Blakely & Jacobs.
(formerly Eucalyptus microtheca F.Muell., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 87 (1859)). From Kamilaroi: 'gulubaa'.
cotton vine
Used by Landsborough who described it as "a plant, probably the same cynanolium of which the unripe milky pod is eaten by the Aborigines about Lake Torrens".
Excoecaria
Used by Landsborough. A plant genus of the family Euphorbiaceae, comprising about 40 species. The milky sap of Excoecaria agallocha, also known as milky mangrove, blind-your-eye mangrove and river poison tree, is poisonous. Contact with skin can cause irritation and rapid blistering; contact with eyes will result in temporary blindness. It is distributed in Australia from northern New South Wales, along the northern coastline around to Western Australia.
Landsborough described it as a good-sized bush or small tree occupying the low depressions above the saline alluvial ground on the Gulf of Carpentaria which was milk-flowing and poisonous.
Erythrina

Used by Landsborough. Erythrina is a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering trees in the Family Fabaceae and distributed in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. The name 'coral tree' is used for many of these trees. Landsborough was probably refering to either:

Erythrina sykesii - Hybrid coral tree
Erythrina variegata - Tiger's Claw
Erythrina verspertilio - Bat's Wing Coral Tree/Bean Tree/Grey Corkwood

gidya
Used by Landsborough. Aboriginal name for Western Wood Acacia.
leopard bush

Used by Beckler, either:

Flindersia maculosa
Flindersia collina

marsh mallows
Used by Wills. The marsh mallow plant is Althaea officinalis, a native of Africa. Wills was probably refering to Malva parviflora, the small-flowered mallow.
melaburus
Melaleuca, used by Wills
mesembryanthemum
Means 'midday flowering' and was applied to a member of the family Aizoaceae which is native to South Africa and is characterized by long lasting flower heads. Many species which were formerly placed herein have since been moved into other genera such as Carpobrotus, Delosperma and Sceletium.
pitchery/pituri/pedgery/bedgery
Aboriginal word from western Queensland meaning the shrub, Duboisia hopwoodii. The leaves were used as a narcotic by the Aborigines. The exact language group that the word came from is difficult to establish.
pigweed / purslane
Plant of the genus Portulaca with fleshy, edible leaves also known as pigweed. Contains vitamin C and often eaten by explorers.
polygonum
Bushy herb, Polygonum cunninghami which grows low to the ground.
portulac
Also purslane and pigweed. Plant of the genus Portulaca with fleshy, edible leaves which contain vitamin C. Often eaten by explorers. Most likely Portulaca oleracea.
roley-poley/tumbleweed
Used by Landsborough. An annual salsolaceous plant, Salsola australis. It grows in the form of a large ball, several feet high, on rich soil. It withers in the dry season, is easily broken off and rolled along by the winds, hence its name.
salsolaceous
Of plants that favour or are able to tolerate salt-impregnated soil.
she oak
Colloquial name for trees of the Casuarina genus.
triodia
Spinifex or porcupine grass, Triodia irrtans. Used by Landsborough. It has short prickles that horses dread going through it, and stock never touch except when it is very young or they are starving.
vetch
Herbaceous leguminous plant of the genus Vicia within the pea family Fabaceae.
western-wood Acacia
Used by Landsborough. Same as Gidya.

Aboriginal
billibong / billabong
A Wiradjuri word from central and southern New South Wales meaning the branch of a river cut off from the main stream.
gin
Port Jackson word meaning Aboriginal woman (now considered a derogatory term).
gunyah
Dharuk word of the Sydney region first recorded in 1803 meaning Aboriginal shelter, constructed of bark and leafy boughs.
humpy
Yagara word of the Brisbane region first recorded in 1846 meaning Aboriginal shelter.
gundy/gundy/goondie
Possibly a Wiradjuri word from the Wollongong area (kundi) meaning hut or shelter.
lubra
Tasmanian word first recorded in 1834 meaning Aboriginal woman (now considered a derogatory term).
mia-mia
Either Wathawurung and Wuywurung word of the Melbourne region or a Nyungar word from Western Australia meaning Aboriginal shelter, constructed of bark and leafy boughs. Variations include miam-miam and mya-myam etc.
piccaninny
West Indian variation on the Spanish word pequenino meaning tiny one. First used in English around 1687 and as a term of endearment towards black children. Used by Wills to mean Aboriginal child (now considered a derogatory term).
pitchery/pituri/pedgery/bedgery
Aboriginal word from western Queensland meaning the shrub, Duboisia hopwoodii. The leaves were used as a narcotic by the Aborigines. The exact language group that the word came from is difficult to establish.
white-fella White fellow - European, also 'balanda' in Arnhem Land, 'migaloo' in Queensland, 'gubbah' in south-east Australia, wajala in Western Australia and walypala in parts of northern Australia.
yabber Aboriginal pidin word for talk, often talk fast or excitedly.
yarraman/yarrowman
Aboriginal pidgin word for horse.

Military  
sepoy
from Persian Sipâhi meaning 'soldier'. A native of India employed as a soldier in the service of a European power. Specifically, it was the term used in the British Indian Army for an infantry Private (a cavalry Trooper was a Sowar), and is still so used in the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army.
sowar
(also suwar in Hindustani and Persian). Meaning 'the one who rides' in Persian, was originally a rank during the Mughal period. Later during the British Raj it was the name in Anglo-Indian usage for a horse-soldier belonging to the cavalry troops of the native armies of British India and the feudal states. It is also used more specifically of a mounted orderly, escort or guard. It was also the rank held by ordinary cavalry troopers, equivalent to sepoy in the infantry.
lascar
Lascar was the name used to describe a sailor from India or other counties East of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the sixteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth century. The word comes from the Persian Lashkar, meaning military camp, and al-askar, the Omani word for a guard or soldier. The Portuguese adapted this term to lascarim, meaning an Asian militiaman or seaman. Lascars served on British ships under 'lascar' agreements. The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers.

Clothing
merino shirt Shirt made of merino wool.
oilcloth Fabric treated with oil so as to be waterproof.
regatta shirt Heavy cotton shirt characterised by a striped pattern and a particular kind of weave.
swag Traveller's bundle of equipment and supplies.
wide awake Soft felt hat with a wide brim and low crown.

Letter writing
ult.
Abbreviation for ultimo mense, Latin for last month. Commonly used in 19th Century letters ie: 'reference your letter of the 12th ult'.
inst.
Abbreviation for instant mense, Latin for this month. Commonly used in 19th Century letters.
prox.
Abbreviation for proximo mense, Latin for next month. Commonly used in 19th Century letters.
favor
Commonly used in 19th Century letters meaning a letter, particularly a commercial letter.

Other
cooey 'Coo-ee': loud call used for signalling in the bush.
Mr Micawber Character in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield: he typifies the eternal optimist.
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www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2017, Dave Phoenix