Buckley’s chance

Here is an Australian expression for you.  I never heard it in the US so I recommend you not using it there if you want to be understood but since it is an interesting little story I’ll tell you anyway.

Old William looking quite adapted to live in the outback, pic: australiangeographic.com.au

Buckley’s chance is the Aussie equivalent of a “snowballs chance in hell”: zero, none, zilch, pretty much impossible.  The phrase originated back in the days when Australia was England’s favorite place to send their convicts to.  One of those convicts, William Buckley, managed to do the impossible: he escaped once in Australia (Melbourne area), walked for days, ended up with the Aborigines and lived with them for many years (35 is the number I heard but haven’t independently verified). In those days living with the Aborigines for such a long time, I guess, seemed just as imposible as escaping the watchful eyes of the British.

Legend has it that after his many years with the Aborigines Buckley eventually returned back to so-called civilization, gave himself up to the authorities, and was pardoned.

Instead of using the full phrase, Aussies like to abbreviate it and just say “Buckley’s” in contexts like this:

“I lent David $50,do you think I can get it back.”

“Buckley’s!  That guy is totally unreliable and probably spent you money on drugs already.”

I was introduced to this Aussie saying by Paul Anderson, of Escape Discovery Adventures during a wonderful one-day Great Ocean Road excursion.

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