About furphies | furphy

About furphies | furphy

You've might have heard someone say telling furphies or that was a bit of a furphy and wondered what they meant or where the expression came from.


The word furphy is a uniquely Australian idiom, a way of saying that something is an exaggerated story, a false report or a rumour.

The Furphy family has a long history in central Victoria; John Furphy moved from Kyneton to Shepparton in 1873 and that's where the story began. John Furphy set up a smithy in the then-tiny town of Shepparton and, within a few years, he'd become well known as a blacksmith, a wheelwright, and also as an agricultural machinery supplier.

A decade after setting up his business in Shepparton, John Furphy and his long-time employee Uriah 'Cocky' Robinson, came up with the idea of a mobile water tank, and within a few years, Furphy water carts were familiar sights.

The carts had Furphy painted on the sides in vivid, dark red paint which led to 'furphy' becoming a byword for rumour around the time of World War One.

Furphy water tanks were selected to supply water to the Broadmeadows camp just out of Melbourne in 1914, when the troops were embarking to the First World War. These tanks were used for hygienic water supplies at the latrines.

This was one place where the troops could gather and in their anxious state, they were very, very keen to find out what was happening. The officers didn't disseminate much information, so obviously, it was an ideal spot for rumours to become rife. With the tank there, with the large lettering on the side, they associated the rumours with the word 'furphy'.

That went overseas then to Gallipoli in the First World War, and has become a word that's still used today."

At first, it was an exclusively Victorian word - then more and more Australians from other states began to pick it up. The earliest example of 'furphy' in writing was in April, 1915, in a diary entry written by Staff Sergeant John Treloar, when he was camped near Cairo:

"Today's 'furphy', for never a day goes by without at least one being created, was about lights being prohibited in camp on account of the possibility of a German airship raid. Some of the troops do not suffer from lack of imagination."

Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians in War

Dr Laugesen published a dictionary called ‘Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians in War,’ in which she outlines the ‘slanguage’ used by Australians at war.

In her dictionary Dr Laugesen defines furphy as a rumour or false report; an absurd story and states that the word furphy “originated from the name of the firm J. Furphy and Sons who manufactured water carts in Shepperton, Victoria which delivered water.

Troops who gathered around the water carts would swap stories, many of which had no basis in fact, hence the name furphy.

J. Furphy & Sons

J. Furphy & Sons is an Australian engineering icon, established in 1864 and is still family owned (5th generation) operating from its base in Shepparton, Victoria. The company is renowned for its historical links to rural Australia and in particular its most famous product - the Furphy Water Cart.

With over 140 years in the business, J Furphy & Sons is your first choice for reliable manufacture and supply of a range of metal services.

Melbourne Link About furphies | furphy Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window The Famous Furphy's Water Cart Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Why are furphies? :: ABC Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Furphy Foundry Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window J. Furphy and Sons Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window Telling furphies - Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians in War Link opens in new browser window

Opens in New Window furphies | furphy | furfy | Link opens in new browser window

Also See...

Also see Urban Legend | Melbourne

0  LOVE IT    Do You Like This Page? Click here to LIKE..

Link opens new page Page Access > Update | Edit Details | Mobile Friendly Version

Link opens new page Content Access > View Category | Melbourne

Click here to edit / update this page

Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Instagram
Melbourne What's On In Dec 2015 >

The Process
View The Process
A razor-sharp political satire, which mercilessly dissects the immigration policies of both parties, and depicts with humour and ...

Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
View Melbourne's Exclusive Magic Show
Witness Impossible Occurrences, one of Melbourne's most exclusive attractions. Award winning magician Luke Hocking intrigues ...

Check Out
Brain Beats 2015
View Brain Beats 2015
Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer Foundation Launch Time is ticking down to Summer’s biggest party! BrainBeats2015 presented by Garnier has the global | Read On..

What's Hot

Our Pick
Jurassic World: The Exhibition
View Jurassic World: The Exhibition
Get closer to dinosaurs than ever before in Jurassic World: The Exhibition! Based on one of the biggest blockbusters in cinema history, the Exhibition immerses audiences of all ages in scenes ...

Top 10 Web Sites About MELBOURNE
View Top 10 Web Sites About MELBOURNE
It's All About Melbourne Melburnians must be the luckiest people on earth. Not only do we get to live in the world's most liveable city but we also enjoy some of the most interesting web sites in ...

Stay in touch | Get our newsletter every Tuesday