What's the go with the memes? A roundup of Australia's best in 2018

A form of madness gripped the country this year. As all about us people lost their heads – over leadership, plastic bags and trips to Hong Kong – Australians on the internet, by and large, kept theirs and made comedic hay.

Usually – it is no shame to admit – Australia relies on the rest of the world for memes, but 2018 was a bumper crop for homegrown content. Fed and watered by political chaos, Australian memes grew strong and flowered. We made some real beauties – here they are.

Knickers the big cow

The list must start with the big boy. The lad who grew too large for the slaughterhouse, Knickers, the humongous unit, became an international celebrity in November, when an expertly framed TV shot shocked the world.

7 News Central Queensland

An enormous steer in Western Australia is making headlines. At 194cm ‘Knickers’ is the largest in his category in Australia. Story: #7News

November 27, 2018

Originally unearthed by the ABC, the massive 1.94-metre-tall Holstein Friesian steer is taller than Arnold Schwarzenegger and only 8.7cm shorter than the world record. Everyone loved him.

christine teigen

Damn that is one huge cow. this is why I buy internet on flights. I almost saw that 6 hours after you guys did

November 28, 2018


I’ve decided to die at the hands of the big cow

November 28, 2018

Matt Burke

Another broken promise

November 28, 2018


Peter FitzSimons: The truth is that for the first time since Federation we don’t have a universally recognised national hero.


November 27, 2018

The laws of tall-poppy syndrome meant that he then had to weather a storm of slander. A misleading attack article from the Washington Post claimed he was somehow “a lie”, while jealous Canadians dug up their own, far less interesting big cow.

The Washington Post

The big cow is a lie.

November 28, 2018

popular ? belief

okay if the backlash to big cow is just going to be the media searching for progressively bigger cows ad infinitum I’m all for it

November 29, 2018

Thankfully, Guardian Australia’s expert analysis confirmed Knickers was indeed a big, beautiful boy.

Mark Latham wore a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM’s XI

The meme that explains itself. On the fateful day of 20 January 2016, the former Labor leader wore a dirty polo shirt and oversized shorts to the prime minister’s XI – an annual invitational cricket match in Canberra.

The Twitter user @mesut_ausil saw him, and the image never left his mind. Over the next two years, he unrelenting tweeted the phrase in increasingly inspired ways, frequently wrapping in news, memes and current events.

In July @patr1ceo created a compilation of greatest hits and spread it to a wider audience.

From its origins:

12 Daves of Christmas

@tfswebb Latho was at the cricket in Canberra yesterday. Almost walked past him without noticing as his clothes were ill fitting and grubby

January 21, 2016

To its development:

12 Daves of Christmas

How are you going to reform Islam when you couldn’t even pick out a clean shirt to wear to the cricket last year?

April 18, 2017

12 Daves of Christmas

ABC stands for

Bwearing a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the
Cricket in Canberra two years ago

July 16, 2018

Seasons came and went but the message stayed the same:

12 Daves of Christmas

Top 10 cricket games I’v been to:

10. You
9. Can’t
8. Rank
7. Them
6. They’re
5. All
4. Unique
3. And
2. Good
1. The PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago where I saw Mark Latham wearing a dirty polo and oversized shorts

July 5, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

Here’s a handy explainer to help you understand the Mueller investigation:

Individual 1 = Mark Latham
Campaign staff = dirty polo
Russia = oversized shorts
Election = PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago

December 8, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

I am calling a special party meeting to require a 2/3 vote to wear a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago

December 3, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

I get a lot of questions about the time I saw Mark Latham wearing a dirty polo and oversized shorts at the PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago, so I have put together a FAQ to help people out

October 5, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

To All The Boys Who Wore A Dirty Polo And Oversized Shorts To The PM’s XI In Canberra Two Years Ago

August 26, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

“Mark Latham wore a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago”

October 18, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

My brain starts leaking out of my ear as I try to somehow relate the big cow to Mark Latham wearing a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago

November 28, 2018

Eventually, Latham blocked him.

“Well … well”

The South Australian Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi became an international meme this year with a 14-second interview.

ABC Politics

When asked what she thought of @SenatorCash‘s comments about female staffers in Bill Shorten’s office, @senatorlucy seemed lost for words… #auspol

February 28, 2018

In it, she responds to a tricky question from a reporter by saying “Well … well,” then laughs before leaving.

The footage came from February, when Gichuhi was asked about the then employment minister, Michaelia Cash, casting aspersions on young women in Bill Shorten’s office.

Gichuhi dodged the question masterfully and a meme was born. Americans picked up the video, mostly without knowing who she was, and applied it to a range of generally awkward scenarios.


someone: are you gay?

15 year old me:

March 12, 2018


me: smoking weed hasn’t affected me at all

someone: count to 10


March 13, 2018

Josh Taylor

Me: how do you feel about being a meme?

Senator Lucy Gichuhi:

March 15, 2018

Needles in strawberries

In September needles were found in strawberries across the country. The scare spread to other fruits, tonnes of produce were destroyed and Scott Morrison upped the jail term for food contamination to 15 years.

Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured. After a few weeks, Australians began to laugh about the whole thing.

Alex Bruce-Smith

I realise nobody is online right now but my friend dressed up as a needle in a strawberry holy shit

October 27, 2018

Rob Stott

Walking back into the strawberry sesh after a tactical spew

November 5, 2018

What’s the go with the au pairs?

The question that dominated August had a convoluted back story. In March it was revealed that the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, had intervened to grant visas to foreign au pairs who were about to be deported by his own department. Apart from that tantalising, bizarre fact, the government refused to release anything else. In August, questions began to mount.

Why was Dutton granting visas to au pairs but not refugees? Who uses au pairs? The intrigue could only be expressed in one all-encompassing question: “What’s the go?”

Matt Burke

GENIE: You have three wishes.


1. What’s the go with the au pair story?
2. What’s the deal with the au pair yarn?
3. Seriously, what’s the go with the au pairs?

August 22, 2018

Initially driven mostly by @matttburke, the meme grew the more the government obfuscated.

Tim Stewart

.@PeterDutton_MP @quaedvliegs

Hey guys just getting a chain going where we can discuss what the go is with the au pairs

August 27, 2018

nina oyama

A Comprehensive Guide to Australian Slang:

Mate = friend
G’day = hi
Bloke = man
Sheila = woman
Barbie = BBQ
Arvo = afternoon
Servo = service station
Bottle O = liquor store
Flanno = flannellette shirt

What’s the go with the Au Pairs? = What’s the go with the Au Pairs?

August 30, 2018

Stephen Murray

My question to the panel: What is the go with the au pairs? #QandA

August 27, 2018

Tom Westland

SOCRATES: The rulers, being aware that their power rests upon their wealth, refuse to curtail by law the extravagance of the spendthrift youth because they gain by their ruin…
ADEIMANTUS: Yes but the au pairs, Socrates, what’s the go with them

August 22, 2018

flim flam

Don’t you hate it when you spill your cereal?

August 27, 2018

Eventually Guardian Australia revealed what the go actually was. There was a second au pair – and a polo player.

But the meme continued, and it now appears in Hansard numerous times.

Josh Butler

Border Force boss Michael Pezzullo gives long opening statement

Labor’s Murray Watt: “really there’s only one question today isn’t there”

[everyone waits]

“what’s the go with the au pairs”

September 4, 2018

Scott Morrison’s hats

After landing the top job in August, Australia’s new prime minister embarked on the boldest election campaign since “It’s Time” in 1972: he wore a never-ending series of new caps.

Llyod Pope’s Salad

Every few weeks I find myself staring at this image like I’m at the louvre looking at the Mona Lisa

October 31, 2018

Eliza Berlage ?

Prime minister Scott Morrison wearing caps: a photo essay

October 17, 2018

Alice Workman

Scott Morrison v meat pie

November 6, 2018

His headwear frequently combined with another meme – his terrible PR videos. There was the bizarre non-sit, the fake phone, and treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s tribute act – somehow even worse.

Scott Morrison

You asked about how we’re getting electricity prices down.
Here’s my answer.

October 23, 2018

Josh Frydenberg

If you own your own property – under Labor’s plan, it will be worth less.

If you rent your own home – under Labor’s policy, you will pay more.

Only the Coalition can be trusted to keep your taxes low & keep the economy strong.

November 13, 2018

The memes merged in a video message to Mick Fanning’s mum.

Scott Morrison

My thank you message to @Mick_Fanning‘s mum.

November 5, 2018

Jennine Khalik

yea too bloody right mate fair dinkum cheers to me cobber mick’s mum for the hat crikey struth it’s the vibe mate onya

November 5, 2018

Honourable mention must also go to Morrison’s Fatman Scoop video and the short-lived “who fuckin’ tonight” meme.

Plastic bag ban

At the end of June, Coles and Woolworths stopped giving out free single-use plastic bags across the country. Despite South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania already having bans in place, the rest of the country lost its mind.

Angry shoppers stole bags and attacked staff, while the News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt delivered an impassioned defence of the bags in print and on TV.

The Bolt Report

BOLT: What really ticks me off is the dishonesty in selling this bag ban, that’s going to make shopping now so much more of a hassle. #theboltreport @SkyNewsAust


June 20, 2018

Eleanor Robertson

it is incredibly funny to me that Andrew Bolt is going to be furious about the plastic bag ban every time he goes to the shops for the rest of his life

July 1, 2018

The collective inability to deal became a fantastic meme.


Australians: We are better than Americans in that we handled a national firearms ban and buyback scheme with dignity and poise

Also Australians: I am completely unhinged about the supermarket not giving out free plastics bags and have decided this is the hill I’m dying on

July 1, 2018

Naaman Zhou

tfw you’re down the shops and there aren’t any plastic bags

July 2, 2018

The absurdity ramped up in August, when Coles backflipped on the ban because customers were having such a hard time adjusting – but then backflipped on that backflip the next day after fierce criticism.

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING

In September Four Corners dedicated a full episode to an interview of the former Trump adviser and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon by the senior ABC reporter Sarah Ferguson.

The move split her colleagues at the ABC, with many arguing it normalised Bannon’s dangerous views and gave him a pass on his history of racism and Islamophobia, months after he had lost any role with public influence or importance.

At the same time, the New Yorker festival was facing criticism – it invited Bannon to speak but backtracked after a fierce boycott.

Ferguson defended her decision, posting a chummy photo with Bannon and a series of hashtags referencing the New Yorker controversy (#NewYorkerBoycott) and calling for open-mindedness (#stopsilos).

Sarah Ferguson

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING #NewYorkerFest #NewYorkerBoycott #stopsilos @abcnews @4corners

September 4, 2018

The brashness of the photo offended some, and for others, spawned a meme. They copied Ferguson’s phrasing and applied it to either a) other far-right figures, b) weird pairings involving two people, or c) generally displeasing images.

Ben Mc

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING #NewYorkerFest #NewYorkerBoycott #stopsilos @abcnews @4corners

September 4, 2018

Tis the season to be Colley

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING

September 6, 2018

Matt Burke

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING #stopsilos

September 5, 2018

Tiger Webb

What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING #NewYorkerFest #NewYorkerBoycott #stopsilos

September 5, 2018


What’s wrong with this photo? NOTHING

November 28, 2018

I pull you close and whisper ‘G’day mate’

On the second last Monday before Christmas, the Nationals MP and assistant minister Andrew Broad delivered a horrible gift.

Broad resigned his post after New Idea magazine revealed he had inappropriately contacted a woman through a dating site while on an official trip overseas.

One message, revealed in the story, was so bizarre and cringeworthy it became a phenomenon. After asking, “Do you like Aussie accents?,” Broad followed up with, “I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper ‘Gday mate’.”

Sophie Benjamin

If sexuality is a choice, why would you choose a straight Australian man, I ask you.

December 17, 2018

Sally Rugg

Sad to confirm the phrase “gday mate” is now cancelled.

December 17, 2018

It was the perfect template.Any reference from the past 12 months could be pencilled in – a custom-made summary of the year.


g’day mate

December 17, 2018

Pat Carolofthebells ?

I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper “fold the Gold Coast Suns and give their licence to Tasmania”

December 17, 2018

Eliza Berlage ?

I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper “what’s the go with the au pairs?”

December 17, 2018

12 Daves of Christmas

I pull you close, run my strong hands down your back, softly kiss your neck and whisper “Mark Latham wore a dirty polo and oversized shorts to the PM’s XI in Canberra two years ago”

December 17, 2018

The meme that got away – ‘Privilege’

Finally, here one that never took off as it should have. This phenomenon-in-waiting was posted to Twitter by the journalist Rick Morton in November – unfortunately just one day before the emergence of Knickers, who overshadowed it just as he overshadows smaller cattle.

In it, two executives from the Retail Food Group appear before a parliamentary inquiry. Pretty uninteresting. Except that, for some reason, they have been advised by their lawyer that they must say the word “privilege” every time they speak.

Rick Morton


November 26, 2018

The Labor senator Deb O’Neil, incredibly confused, explains to them that they don’t need to. The Nationals senator John Williams adds: “Anything that is said here …you’re covered under parliamentary privilege [already].”

Tony Alford replies: “Privilege! My advice, with respect, is that I should use the term privilege prior to responding to any questions.”

Rick Morton

Here is the clip of that exchange. It gets better, though.

November 26, 2018

And so they do:

Rick Morton

This exchange between Wacka and Tony Alford is incredible.

November 26, 2018

Rick Morton

Privilege: Crust! cc @MichaelRoddan

November 26, 2018


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