australian culture and customs

find out how australians do things, how we see the world and the world sees us

jobs – chippy, sparky, brickie, dunny diver – what are you talking about?!

Why use the correct word when you can have some fun and bamboozle non-native English speakers?

  • chippy – a carpenter (they make chips when the cut up wood)
  • sparky – an electrician (they make sparks when they make electricity)
  • bricky – brick layer
  • dunny diver – plumber (they fix toilets, also known as dunnies in colloquial English) (this is less commonly used)
  • shiny bum – office worker or executive (because they sit on their bottom all day so it gets shiny)
  • desk driver – same as above
  • ivory tower – where a shiny bum works and is separated from understanding what the ‘real’ people do
  • shrink – psychiatrist
  • doc – medical doctor
  • garbo or garbologist – a garbage (rubbish) collector.  Garbologist is a joke because it makes it sound like a sophisticated job.
  • digger – Australian soldier (from when they dug trenches in the 1st World War)
  • trady – a trades-person
  • milko – milkman ( or woman) who delivers the milk to your doorstep
  • checkout chick – cashier (for a female and usually in a supermarket like Coles or Woolies) * Not everyone likes being called a c.c.
  • general practitioner (doctor) – quack (particularly a disreputable doctor)

Do you know any more?  add them to the comments and I’ll put them in the post.


42 comments on “jobs – chippy, sparky, brickie, dunny diver – what are you talking about?!

  1. seldombites
    February 10, 2013

    Awesome list. I would like to add Milko for Milkman (yep they do still exist), checkout chick for cashier & quack for GP.

    • Helene Markmann
      February 10, 2013

      Thanks ‘seldombites’, how could I have left these out?!

    • Anonymous
      July 23, 2022

      Chalky- teacher, Polly- politician, Wharfy- waterside worker, Posty- postal officer, Cow cockie- cattle farmer, Towny- town dweller

  2. Elia
    November 20, 2014

    postie (postman); copper (policeman); desk jockey (office worker); truckie (truck driver); journo (journalist); jackaroo (station-hand / stockman); ambo (ambulance driver); dole bludger (unemployed); greenie (environmentalist); Pollie (politician); surfie (surfer)

  3. Jim
    June 22, 2015

    chalky = teacher. Even though the blackboard jungle is becoming a whiteboard jungle

  4. Anonymous
    July 13, 2015


    • Helene Markmann
      July 13, 2015

      I can’t think of one for photographers although we do call a photo a ‘snap’ and say ‘point and shoot’ but I don’t think that is exclusively Australian. It can’t be a shotty because that’s a shotgun!

      • Anonymous
        September 1, 2015

        Shutter bug

      • Helene Markmann
        September 1, 2015

        Yes. Cheers. Helene

    • Anonymous
      October 20, 2017

      Shutter bug.

    • in Canada called Photogs

  5. magicklotus
    July 19, 2015

    What are musicians called?

  6. Anonymous
    March 21, 2016

    Digger comes from the fact that most soldiers came from the goldfields where they were digging for gold, nothing to do with digging trenches.

    • william
      April 2, 2022

      You’re absolutely bloody right there, Dig.

  7. Az
    August 30, 2016

    How have you forgotten about boileys hahaha they make the most money and are one of the main 4 trades.

  8. Anonymous
    November 7, 2016

    Firery – Fire Man
    The Filth (plus many others) – Police

    • Helene Markmann
      November 8, 2016

      Yes to firery for firefighter, no to The Filth – we call them cops here. I think the Filth is English.

      • Anonymous
        July 5, 2018

        Firey is correct. Firery not so much 🙂

      • Helene Markmann
        July 6, 2018

        It could be a sign of a dynamic evolving lexicon. Or a typo 😬

    • Max
      March 28, 2019

      “Firery – Fire Man” – and Fire Woman.

  9. Rich
    November 9, 2016

    Another nickname is Sheety.
    A sheet metal worker.

  10. Anonymous
    January 18, 2017


    • Helene Markmann
      January 18, 2017

      = dishwasher or ‘dish pig’. That vulgar name reminds me of ‘door bitch’ (obscene) meaning the (usually) female person who takes your ticket at the venue door.

  11. Rohan Gaiswinkler
    February 2, 2017

    shoppie – retail (shop) worker
    bushie – bushman
    cockie – farmer
    wharfie – dock worker
    bookie – bookmaker (takes horse race bets)
    shock jock – talk-back radio announcer

  12. Helen Rymer
    August 15, 2017

    Whinger. A person who complains constantly.
    Cobbee. Best mate. Rooted. Tired or run down.
    Dingos breakfast .means no break fast
    Ripper . Means great. Stoked . Meaning excited or elated.
    Hit the turps means . Drinking heavy.

  13. Anonymous
    September 21, 2017

    Very helpful for someone who had chippie wrong

  14. Susan Mahoney Button
    February 2, 2018

    Refrigeration/ Aircon tradies?

  15. Stuart McFarland
    March 1, 2018

    Bean Counter

  16. Anonymous
    March 23, 2018

    Chalky – a teacher

  17. Scooter Mitchell
    September 2, 2018

    Blowie for aircon / refrig tradies – that is qualified from my mate Rocking Rob who is one. Keep those names coming 🙂

  18. Gydle
    October 22, 2018

    Shrink isn’t strictly Australian, we use it in America too.

  19. Anonymous
    March 30, 2020

    How about a Dogs Eye a Pie

  20. Elia
    April 3, 2020

    Or for extra deliciousness: a dog’s eye and a dead horse (a meat pie with tomato sauce)

  21. Anonymous
    July 19, 2020

    lackey – someone who does menial jobs/tasks or errands

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