Aussie lingo: Blockie

By Frank Povah 7 November 2013
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Ever ‘done a blockie’? Well, Frank Povah tells us how that word came about.

‘BLOCK’ WAS FIRST USED in this country to describe land parcels of 10 to about 30 acres subdivided by colonial governments for hopefuls who sought to wrest a living from unwilling soil. 

It became widely used for subdivisions along the Murray after irrigation schemes made fruit growing possible in the arid country along its course. By the late 19th century, the occupiers of the smallholdings became known as blockers, soon synonymous with ‘battler’. 

Blocker became blockie, in particular the Murray’s ‘fruit blockies’, looked down on by the sheep barons with their vast holdings.

History repeated in the 1960’s-80’s, when disillusionment with the ‘consumer ethic’ and, later, soaring interest rates saw city dwellers rush to buy a piece of rural heaven. Estate agents passed on “rolling country acres” at vastly inflated prices to unsuspecting townies.

It’ll be interesting to see if blockie survives to describe the 21st-century ‘rural lifestyler’ who seeks the peace of the countryside on “10 rolling ha, b&t hmstd, 6br (2 w ens) 5bath, wd flrs, wdheat & pool”.

Source: Australian Geographic Issue 84 (Oct – Dec 2006)

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