To stand she-oak

May 15, 2015

A query came to the dictionary about the phrase ‘stand she-oak’ with a citation from the Hobart Town Mercury of 1857:

A splitting match was decided a few days ago at Lady's Bay near South Port, between Henry Self of Port Esperance and George Hargraves who lives on the ground. Self challenged his friend to split the best and most 5 feet palings in six hours, for £10 aside, the winner to stand she oak for the friends of the respective competitors, who had mustered in considerable numbers to witness the contest.

Colonial Tasmania had a locally brewed beer called ‘she-oak’.  It came from a brewery on She Oak Hill, opposite Old Government House in Hobart. The owner was asked how he had arrived at such a good brew, and he replied that he had put she-oak in it. Who knows if this is true or not. Others were not so complimentary. There is mention of the beer in a debate on the Eight Hour Movement in South Australia where it was said that working men, who could not afford good liquor, ‘were obliged to content themselves with pouring down their throats that abominable slush called ‘she-oak’.

So to stand she-oak for someone is to buy someone a beer. A Tassie beer.


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