AE 495 – Expression: Dodge a Bullet

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use to DODGE A BULLET like native speaker.

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AE 495 – Expression: Dodge A Bullet

We all recognise the face, I mean, how could we forget? 15 years after the Port Arthur Massacre that photo of Martin Bryant still sends a shiver down the spine.

Nowadays, we like to think that his eyes are a little crazy and that expression is ever-so-slightly off kilter, but that’s all in hindsight. The fact is, apart from being a bit troubled as a kid and intellectually limited, really Martin Bryant could be anyone’s son, but he just so happens to be Carlene Bryant’s son, and the burden of that has been devastating for her.

Carlene Bryant is tormented by the same questions that trouble us all. What made a seemingly ordinary if dim-witted young man go out and kill 35 people?


What is going on, you mob? How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English, although that’s about to change as some of you may know.

If you listen to the recent episode, this podcast is going to have a slight pivot, a slight shift and a slight change in focus to hopefully focus more on just general English. Obviously, guys, though it is going to be from me an Australian English speaker so, I’m going to be using Australian English all the time. The odd slang word, the odd expression, all of that sort of stuff, hopefully still Australian guests and everything on the podcast, but I want to sort of broaden my horizons a little bit and get other folks on the podcast from all over the world, whether they’re English-as-a-second-language speakers or they are native speakers of English from South Africa, America, England or wherever it is. I want to sort of broaden and things out a bit.

So, thank you so much to everyone who sent me an e-mail responding to that last Walking with Pete episode. I think it was 494, a lot of you got back to me and the overall consensus from you, guys, was that it was a good idea to be focusing more on general English. Obviously, you will still get exposure to all kinds of dialects, but primarily Australian English as that’s what I use, as I said, but hopefully we’ll start covering other topics, hopefully things like collocations, I’m really keen to do a course with that and Kel is thinking about helping me with that as well so, that might be the first thing that we tackle and we’re probably going to be putting that into a course in the Aussie English Classroom as well.

So, as usual, this podcast the Aussie English Podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom. If you would like to learn English from a more sort of in-depth, thorough study kind of perspective, where you get courses every single week and you get courses from all the previous expression episode, sign up at

If, however, you aren’t interested in studying courses or maybe you just don’t have enough time to study, but you still like reading the transcripts and you want access to the MP3s as well, go to and you can sign up there for the price of one coffee a month to be able to get all the transcripts, you’ll get unlimited access to the transcripts for each podcast episode. Anyway, guys. It has been a really good day. It has been a really good day!

A few things happened. And one really, really big thing, but I think I’m going to have to wait and tell you about that in the near future, but it is my one-year anniversary with Kel tomorrow.

So, we went out today, though, and had dinner, that was amazing. We also went out at sunset and took some amazing photos at a lake nearby called Blue Lake, in Ocean Grove, and this is this amazing lake where there are so many different bird species all in the one area. And I’ve been there probably five times in the last week and a half. It is phenomenal.

Anyway, moving on to this episode, guys, the segment at the start there, guys, was from a 60 Minutes report about the Port Arthur massacre and I wanted to talk about this because it’s a big part of Australian history and it has shaped gun laws in Australia and obviously talking about guns is related to today’s expression to ‘dodge a bullet’, but before we get into that, let’s do the Aussie English joke, ok?

And it’s a good one, it’s a ripper of a joke today, guys! A good pun, alright? So, here it is, here’s the joke:

Why do you call a gun that doesn’t kill anyone? What do you call a gun that doesn’t kill anyone?

A ‘vegun’…It’s so stupid! ‘A vegun’.

Get it? right? Cause vegans are people who don’t eat any meat or any animal products, right? I think they avoid milk and honey anything that’s come from animal that they just eat plants, right? So, what do you call a gun that doesn’t kill anyone? A ‘vegun’… Oh my gosh, I need to get some better jokes.

Alright, guys, so today’s expression is to ‘dodge a bullet’, to ‘dodge a bullet’, and this one came from Zinnia in the English classroom. She suggested this in the Facebook group for members of the Aussie English Classroom, we voted on it. Good job, Zinnia! This was a really, really good expression and I have used this quite a lot.

So, let’s go through to find the words in the expression to ‘dodge a bullet’. Obviously, there are only really two words here worth defining.

Dodge. To dodge something. If you dodge something, it is that you move out of the way, right? So, if something is coming towards you, usually something dangerous that’s going to hurt you if it hits you, you know, like a bullet, a rock, maybe it’s a car, maybe it’s a person on a bike. If you shift yourself out of the way quickly, if you move out of the way and you avoid being hit by that thing, you are dodging that thing, you have dodged that thing, you’ve moved out of the way.

A Bullet. A bullet is the ammunition that goes into a gun, right? It could be a hand gun, machine gun, but that is a bullet. There is gun powder in the bullet. There is a metal slug made from lead or tungsten some other kind of metal on the front, but the bullet is the entire thing, ok? A bullet.

Alright, so let’s define the expression, to ‘dodge a bullet’. If you dodge a bullet, it’s that you managed to avoid a difficult or unwelcome situation, you know, like being shot by a bullet. So, it is to avoid a difficult or unwelcome situation. It is also to have a narrow escape, to avoid injury, disaster, or some other situation, ok? So, overall, it is just to avoid something unpleasant, an unpleasant situation.

So, let’s go through some examples of how I would use the expression to ‘dodge a bullet’ in a sort of day-to-day life, right? If I was just using English as I normally do each day, alright?

Example number one. So, imagine you gone into the city to do some shopping. You’ve parked your car on the street in front of the mall or shopping centre where you want to go and do some window shopping, get some new clothes, whatever it is. You’re in a rush and you forget to purchase a parking ticket, though, you know, you need a parking ticket to stay in that spot. Maybe it’s two hours’ worth of parking in this two-hour parking spot and you forget to buy a ticket.

So, you rush inside and the ticket inspector is doing the rounds and eventually comes around and gets to your car and he starts looking at your car and is he is like ‘alright, there’s no ticket here… I better write a ticket to this person or for this person”…

So, as he starts to pull out his note pad, you know, that he is going to write this ticket up on, just in the nick of time, just before anything bad happens, you arrive and see that he is about to do so, and you start to apologise profusely. So, you say to the ticket inspector: I’m really sorry! I didn’t know that I was meant to buy a ticket here! I’m about to leave, anyway. Is there any way that you can find it in your heart to not give me a ticket today? Today is not my day. Please don’t give me a ticket!”, and for some unknown reason he decides to give you a pass. He lets you off the hook, he doesn’t give you a ticket!

So, you feel so lucky because you’ve dodged a bullet and you don’t have to get a ticket. You don’t have to pay the ticket fine that you would get. That could have been hundreds of dollars. You dodged a bullet. And in this case, the bullet was the ticket. You avoided the ticket. You dodged the bullet.

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The thing that it is, Aussie English today, right? With the Aussie English classroom, with all the

Example number two. Imagine you going to a footy match, right? A football match at the MCG, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the MCG in Melbourne. It’s one of the more famous places around Australia that you will see footy matches if you come here. So, you’re seeing your favourite match play. (It) could be Hawthorn or Essendon, and they’re playing against some other team that you hate, maybe Collingwood. They have to win this match, right? If they win this match, it means they can enter the finals for this year’s shot at winning the footy premiership. So, the game’s neck and neck the whole time, meaning that the scores are very, very close to one another and they keep passing each other, but your opponent’s team is just ahead of you the entire time until right at the end where your team just manages to squeeze forward and at the final siren it gains one point and wins the game, right? 70 to 71, for example. So, your team dodged a bullet when they won this match by one point and they got their chance to enter the finals. They avoided a bad situation, which would have been a losing this match that would have been the bullet, they dodged a bullet.

Example number three, ok? Imagine that you are an overweight person who’s been eating a lot of really bad food, a lot of junk food, right? So, lots of fried food, like fried chips, KFC, Maccas, you know, McDonalds. You haven’t been exercising very much. You haven’t been active. And to top it off, you’ve been working at a desk, you’ve had a very sedentary kind of lifestyle where you’re not moving around, you’re working in a desk 9 to 5 every single day. so, one day you feel some pain in your chest and the pain shoots up into your left shoulder and suddenly you realise you’re having a heart attack, you call 000, which is the police, the fire brigade, and the ambos, the ambulances in Australia and you get the ambulances to come and pick you up and take you to the hospital. So, they arrive, they whisk you off to the hospital and they save your life with the treatment that they give you, but only just, right? They only just save your life. It could have been a hell of a lot worse. You could have died. So, when you wake up in the hospital bed, the doctor might tell you this that this was the case you only just had your life saved. You dodged a major bullet and you need to change your lifestyle and get healthy. The bullet obviously being the, you know, situation where you could have died, the heart attack, the act of dying. You avoided this, you dodged a bullet, so it was a close brush with death. Hopefully you’ll change your ways and, you know, get outside do a bit of exercise, get the blood pumping a bit every day.

So, hopefully now guys you understand the expression to ‘dodge a bullet’. This is to manage to avoid a difficult or unwelcome situation, to have a narrow escape, to avoid injury, disaster or any undesirable situation. So, as usual let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you guys can practice your pronunciation, whether you try to nail the Australian accent, in which case copy me as much as you can or you’re just trying to perfect your English accent whatever English accent that is. Just listen and repeat after me, Let’s go!


To dodge

To dodge a

To dodge a bullet x 5

Good work! Good work! Now we’re going to conjugate through the different pronouns. I, you, he, she, we, they, it and we’re going to do so in the conditional perfect tense, right? ‘Would have’ plus the past participle of a verb, would have done, would have seen, would have thought, ok?

So, pay attention to how these are contracted when I speak naturally. I’m going to fully contract these sentences, guys, so if you would like to learn more about these contractions and the sort of steps to learning how to do this while you speak English, make sure you join the Aussie English Classroom and you’ll get a video today describing the pronunciation of these sentences and these contractions, ok? So, listen and repeat after me, guys, this is fully contracted, how I would say this normally, ok? Let’s go!

I’d’ve dodged a bullet.

You’d’ve dodged a bullet.

He’d’ve dodged a bullet.

She’d’ve dodged a bullet.

We’d’ve dodged a bullet.

They’d’ve dodged a bullet.

It’d’ve dodged a bullet.

That may sound weird, guys, but that is actually how I would say that when speaking really quickly and naturally, right? I’d dodged a bullet, he’d dodged a bullet. That’s how I would speak quickly and to get your head around these will really help you understand native speakers when they speak quickly, but also make you sound a lot more natural when you speak English.

Anyway, guys, let’s get into the Aussie English fact for today which is a bit of a somber fact, it’s a bit macabre, it’s a bit…. It’s a bit sad, but it’s worth knowing, guys, it is important that you guys know more about Australian culture if you’re coming to Australia and yeah that’s why I thought I would talk about this today.

So, today I want to discuss the Port Arthur massacre, guys. This occurred at, obviously, Port Arthur, the Port Arthur Historic Site in Port Arthur, Tasmania, on the 28th and 29th of April in 1996.

So, the Port Arthur Historic Site was a penal settlement that began as a small timber station in 1830 and it is a tourist attraction that you can visit in Tasmania, but tragically it is now well known in Australia for this massacre that happened where one of, if not the largest, mass shootings occurred in Australia. So, 35 people died and 23 were wounded. The murderer was Martin Bryant and he had a subnormal IQ and was intellectually disabled. And he pleaded guilty for the incident and was given 35 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

So, he is currently serving something like over a thousand years in jail in Tasmania. So, this event underpins some fundamental changes of gun control laws in Australia that came into place shortly after this incident.

But what happened? What exactly occurred? Let’s chat a bit about the story.

So, Martin Bryant was this kid who grew up in Tasmania. He, for all intents and purposes, had two normal, loving parents. He was bequeathed about $600,000 in property in assets from this eccentric woman that he became really close friends with. She had apparently, like, 40 cats and 16 or so dogs that he was paid to take care of as a job, but she tragically passed away in a car accident and he gained all of this inheritance.

So, he went on many trips around the world from 1993 onwards and was withdrawing quite a lot of money during this time, obviously, spending it on himself and life experiences, but he also spent this money on some guns including an AR-10 semi-automatic rifle through a newspaper advertisement that he had seen in Tasmania and then later he went on to buy an AR-15. At the time, non-handguns in Tasmania were not required to be registered.

Switching on to his family, though. Bryant’s dad wanted to buy a bed and breakfast called Seascape, but unfortunately a couple called Noelene and David Martin bought the property before his father could organise his finances. Unfortunately, his father fell into a deep depression and ultimately committed suicide. And so, this, coupled with Martin Bryant’s best friend, that woman, having passed away, set him on a path to destruction. He blamed the Martins and described them as the worst people in his life.

So, what happened on the fateful day?

Martin woke up at about 6:00 AM and saw his girlfriend off to visit her parents. He switched on the burglar alarm and left the house at around 9:40. He went to the Seascape bed and breakfast and shot and stabbed both for Martins to death. He then travelled to the Port Arthur Historic Site parked his car in the parking lot near the Broad Arrow Cafe and entered the cafe with the sports bag and a video camera. He purchased a meal, ate the meal on the deck outside and then walked back into the cafe to return his tray. This is when the story becomes macabre.

He pulled out his bag on the table, pulled the gun out and started shooting at people. Within 15 to 30 seconds he had already killed 12 people in the cafe and 10 more were wounded. He moved into the gift shop, killed another 10 people and wounded two more. He walked out into the car park and killed another four people and injured another six. You see the pattern here. He just was on a rampage. He ended up getting into his car and actually sounding the horn and waving at people as he was leaving this scene.

He killed a number of people on the way out including a woman and her two daughters who were three and six. Just horrible. He ended up hijacking a car with a man named Glen Pears in that car and his girlfriend Zoe Hall. He forced Pears into the boot of his car, and then shot Pears’s his girlfriend who was trying to climb into the driver’s seat of her car.

He headed to the Seascape Bed and Breakfast again and forced Pears inside and handcuffed him to a stair rail in the house, and at some point, he also set the BMW on fire.

The police arrive shortly afterwards, and after an 18-hour stand-off, they caught him the next day when the guesthouse was set on fire and Bryant came running out of the house on fire himself with his back and buttocks severely burned.

He was arrested and taken for treatment in a local hospital where his victims were being treated and it was later discovered that Pears, the man he had kidnapped, had been shot before the stand-off had even begun.

So, by the end of the day, the body count was at 35 dead people and 23 wounded people. An incredibly tragic event and the only positive side to this event was the fact that after this, shortly after this, all states and territories of Australia restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a mandatory buyback scheme with the owners paid according to what they had in their possession.

Anyway, guys it’s an incredibly sad story, but I think if you come to Australia, if you go to Tasmania, in particular, you’re probably going to hear about how this happened and the tight laws in Australia surrounding guns. Australia is incredibly different from places like the U.S.. I have never seen a gun in public. I have never seen a hand gun. It’s just a very different place if you come here. That is something that you will see.

Anyway, guys I hope you enjoy this episode. I know it was a bit of a long one. Keep at it and I will see you soon.

See you, guys!

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