Lyric FAQs

What is frangipani?
A species of South Pacific flowering tree. Frangipanis were very popular in home gardens during the youth of the members of MO - they have a medium sized fleshy white flower with a yellow centre. They are generally only 3 or 4 metres high and have twisted branches that are great for little kids to climb. Since climbing trees gave way to TV and computer games...they aren't grown so much these days.

What is a spoon?
It’s a surfboard! A type that looks like a spoon I suppose.

What is eucalypt?
The genus of trees is called 'eucalyptus', but in common speech we talk about 'eucalypts' as in 'Pete went bush and pitched his tent under a big eucalypt.'

What are the word mumbled by PG at the end of Wedding Cake Island?
No one but Pete and the boys would really know - and it looks set to stay that way. A couple of suggestions that sound quite plausible are "There's lines of swell round the Byron harbour" and "Decline to spellbound the environment hardened."

However, Brenton Boswell (Powderworker) writes...
"Many years ago, a friend of mine who was a drummer in my band, found hmself by sheer chance in Martin Rotsey's house, installing a burglar alarm for him. He took the chance to ask Martin the $64m question, and Martin WROTE IT OUT on my friend's drum skin in texta. I think my mate then gave it to me - or maybe not, I can't remember - if so, it's currently in storage or something, while I'm living over here in London.
Anyway, what Martin wrote was '...ride the swell round the Byron Pass, mate...'"

What is the Powderworks?
A Powderworks is a munitions factory.

What is Manhattanisation?
Manhattanisation is probably a phrase coined by Moginie/Garrett, and although there is no official definition, the probable meaning is that of Americanisation, except that it rhymes and sounds better than Americanisation...the image is more colourful as well, as it brings in Wall St.

Who are the 16 million mentioned in Progress?
The population of Australia when Species Deceases was recorded. Playing live, Peter changes it depending on what country he is in.

What is the Hercules?
General concensus is that it is a class of nuclear submarine. This would make sense to the rest of the song. Before I knew this I had always thought it refered to the popular US Airforce carrier plane.
Additionally, the song is a plea for the demilitarisation of the South Pacific. It was written in the context of the refusal by New Zealand to permit the entry of US nuclear armed/powered vessels. But it equally can be understood as against both French testing in the South Pacific territories and Australia's unwanted intrusion into the South Pacific. I've always thought the lyrics refer to Hercules aeroplanes. The words go 'Here come the Hercules, here come the submarines!'

What is the Gunbarrel Highway?
A road that is apparently a straight as a gunbarrel. It runs quite a distance into the middle of Australia.

What is the King of the Mountain?
It's a footrace and that was the lyrical meaning but it is also the title given to the winner of a car race and the song is often associated with that race.

What is a bullroarer?
Simply... a little bit of wood on the end of some string. If you have ever seen Croc Dundee II...he whirls it around his head in the middle of the film. You also hear it at the start of the song. It is an Aboriginal means of communication. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that different lengths of wood produce different sounds, and that different Aboriginal tribes use different sounds to communicate. It should be noted that bullroarers are sacred to individual tribes - there was controversy over the bullroarer sound used on D&D as one particular tribe objected because they felt it was too similar to their bullroarer sound (which women shouldn't hear).

What is a mopoke?
It is a bird with a very mournful call - really like the tone of the song.

What is the Blue Sky Mine?
Where Blue Asbestos is mined. The song is based on the book Blue Murder (written by Ben Hills). Peoples lungs rotted and no-one would pay compensation. Blue Sky Mining is an accounting expression referring to speculation on 'futures' (I think!).

When is (and what is) ANZAC Day?
25 April - the initials stand for Australia New Zealand Army Corps, it commemorates the first landing at Gallipoli Cove (Turkey) - this campaign proved to be a tragic military defeat and is frequently regarded as the event which marks the birth of Australia as a nation. ANZAC Day is a national holiday each year, and the most sacred day in the Oz calendar.

When is (and what is) Armistice Day?
11 November - it is the commemoration of the end of WW1 (known in Britain as Remembrance Day) Armistic Day now has an additional meaning in Oz as it was the date the Whitlam Labor govt was sacked in '75.

What temperature scale is referred to in Beds Are Burning when PG sings "forty-five degrees"?
General discussion in PW came to the conclusion tha the scale is centigrade. They also concluded that the scale mentioned in Bullroarer is Fahrenheit.

Where is...?
These questions can usually be answered by The Dead Heart Atlas at

What is a Quinella Holiday?
Quinella probably refers to gambling.

What are the "Stars of Warburton"?
Warburton's a place way, way out in the outback. From the remote sections of the Australian outback, the night sky is one of the darkest and most star-filled in the world. The stars of Warburton would be the amazing sight you see stargazing from there.

At the end of "Maralinga" Peter is singing something as the group sings "here at the end." What is it, and what does it mean?
"I've got to be here"

What is the Southern Aurora as heard in "Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond"?
The Southern Aurora is a train that travelled between Sydney and Melbourne.

What are "bindies" as mentioned in "Bells and Horns in the Back of Beyond?"
Actually, there are two kinds of bindi-eyes. The first are as described above. They can often grow on your lawn if it doesn't get enough water for the grass to keep them out. They are small (about 2-3mm diameter) with small (2-3mm) spikes.

The second variety are far more dire, and patches of them grow in hot, generally arid areas. The "prickles" on these things are small balls (aften as big as a small marble) with large, hard, poisonous spikes all around them. If you get one of these in your foot, you know it! The spikes can be as long as 1cm. They have been known to rip bicycle tyres apart.

What is the "Cloudland" mentioned in "Dreamworld"?
Cloudland was a landmark in Brisbane where everyone who was anyone went to and danced. I think the floor had springs in it. The infamous Deen brothers came in one night and bulldozed the building as it was on prime real estate. This was a very common thing in Brisbane for old buildings that were worth preserving - the Deen Brothers would come in at night time and by morning nothing would be left to save.

Where did the lines "You the mothers who sent your sons, wipe away your tears, for those who fought and those who fell become our sons as well" come from?
They came from a speech given by Kemel Ataturk about the Gallipoli invasion: -
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehemets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

What are Ghost Gums (as mentioned in Outside World)?
A type of Eucalypt tree native to the outback with a white bark.

What is the Lismore road?
Lismore is a small town in Northern NSW, the road to it is therefore the Lismore road.

What are Jacarandas?
Jacarandas are a tree with a bright mauve bell-shaped flower.

What is Maralinga?
Maralinga was a testing ground in South Australia for nuclear weapons. Britain fired their first A-bomb there in the 50's or 60's.

Who/What is Kosciuszko?
Thadeus Kosciuszko was a polish general. In the late 19th century another Pole - Paul Strezlecki - did a lot of exploring in outback NSW, QLD, SA, etc and he named Mt Kosciusco (the highest mountain in Australia) after his hero.

What's an EH drive-in?
EH is the model number of one of the old Holden car's from the 50's.

What's an Eski?
An Eski is an insulated box for keeping food/drinks/etc cold (derived from the brand-name Eskimo).