Australians: what do you call the main shopping street in a town?

I was reading this article on anonymous threats to Australian climate scientists, and noticed this threat:

In the UK the phrase “main street” is never used. The correct term is “high street”. In fact, I only ever heard the phrase “main street” recently from Sarah Palin’s campaign speeches during the election, and it’s definitely an Americanism to my ears.

Further, I know quite a few Australians. I also grew up watching a fair bit of Neighbours (I have two younger sisters, shush). Yet, I have never heard the phrase “main street” being uttered by an Australian.

Do Australians typically refer to the main shopping street in a town as “main street” or “high street”?

The main street not Main Street.

Definitely the main street. I hadn’t heard the term “high street” until I moved to the UK for a couple of years. To this day I still find it a weird phrase. What’s so high about it?

The main street of Penrith is High Street.

High in this context means “excellent” or “best”. Like “high society”. I always assumed Australia followed the UK convention here. Is there anywhere else in the Commonwealth where “high street” is the default convention?

Agreed, its the main street or the main drag.

In one Victorian town, Echuca, the main street is called Hare St, although the street running parallel is High Street. Several towns have both High Street and Main Street and sometimes neither is the main street.

That’s the phrase that wouldn’t come to me the main drag.

New Zealander chipping in. First I heard of ‘the high street’ was in the UK.

I’m not sure we give it a specific name in New Zealand, we just called it ‘town’ as in, ‘I’m going into town, do you want to come?’

I’m with sandra_nz for Australia, too. Definitely not ‘the high street’, but maybe High Street if that’s its name. But we mostly wouldn’t use ‘main street’ unless that was the actual name. I would recognise the term ‘the main drag’, and possibly use it. I would say ‘in town’ or use the actual name of the street, or say ‘at the shops’.

It’s usually “the main street”, but in NZ at least, “the main street” of small towns is often called “High Street” (after the English fashion) or “Main Street”, just to be confusing.

But in both Australia and NZ, the only people I’ve heard refer to “The High Street” (in reference to the main street of a town) have been British expatriates.

Do you pronounce it “The MAIN street” in Australia, like in America, where you pronounce it “MAIN street”, or do you give equal emphasis on both “main” and “street”?

Equal emphasis on both, IME.

Another Aussie chiming in. I grew up in a small town, lived in a couple and have lived in major cities. I’ve never heard of “The High Street” except from British tourists or ex-pats. I’ve never of “Main Street” or “The Main Street” at all except from the US presidential campaign.

In the small towns I’ve lived in, I guess you’d call it “the shops” or “town” or “main drag” (maybe). In the cities there’s no real need or purpose as there’s always many major streets or such well-known streets that you call them by their name.

As others have noted, I’d say neither. I think sandra_nz’s response is the best.

Where I grew up, in rural New Zealand, it was so small there was literally only one shop. Indeed, if you visit there today, there is still only the same one shop. So it was “going to the shop.” When going to places with more than one shop, we would name the specific village/town, or call it “going in to town.”

Here in Australia, I say “going to the shops” or “going shopping” or possibly “going to teh shopping centre” and rarely get more specific than that. However, the one exception was when I lived near Chadstone Shopping Centre, which is relatively widely known, when I always said “going to Chadstone.”

Not South Africa. Here, it’s the Main Road.

Not in Canada. The main street of a town or city will always be known as “the main street”–never “the high street.”

New Zealander here. Aucklander. We called it “Queen Street” (that being, y’know, the name of the street) or “town”. I didn’t hear “high street” until I came to the UK. I have heard the main drag before, and I think it’s used in NZ, albeit not nearly as commonly as “the high street” is used in the UK.

Another New Zealander…

we also used “down town” or “shopping” In an unfamiliar town it would normally be called “the main drag”

In America, “The Main Drag” is often considered slang but nearly everyone would understand it if you said it. We never use “High Street” and most people wouldn’t know what you meant by that except from the context. If you said “The Main Street” people might assume you meant Main Street, but also might assume you were just talking about the primary street of the area, which was not necessarily the primary densely packed commercial street of the area.

I don’t recall if I ever used the phrase “The Main Drag” myself, but now I won’t because it’ll be associated in my mind with the band in Rock Band 2 (“A Jagged Gorgeous Winter”.)