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From an unidentified Australian Aboriginal language. The term has been D′Arcy Niland′s 1955 novel The Shiralee (and two film adaptations thereof, one in 1957 and another in 1987), though its meaning is no longer well known.


shiralee (plural shiralees)

  1. (uncommon) Burden, load.
    1. (in particular, Australia, colloquial, dated) A type of swag that when rolled up resembles a leg of mutton, carried over the shoulder, usually with another load on the chest to balance it.[1]
      • 2001, Filton Hebbard, Memories of Kalgoorlie: Tales from the Australian Outback, page 183,
        The bag of food like a shiralee across his shoulders, the water container stuffed into the looseness of his shirt, the compass, not required for awhile yet, in his side pocket, and the rifle balanced in his hand.
      • 2006, Pip Wilson, Faces in the Street: Louisa and Henry Lawson and the Castlereagh Street Push, page 8,
        “Nothin′. A prickly gecko, mate. He dropped off your shiralee.”



  1. ^ 1957 September 27, D'Arcy Niland, Aboriginalities section of The Bulletin, quoted in “Shiralee,” entry in 1970, Bill Wannan Australian Folklore, 1979, Lansdowne Press, →ISBN, page 475.