- noun a try. Usually in the phrase ‘give it a burl’, meaning to make an attempt at, to try (a task or activity). Probably a blend of the colloquial expressions ‘have a bash’ and ‘give it a whirl’. Give it a burl is one of many Australian expressions given currency in Britain by the cartoon strip The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, written by Barry Humphries, which ran in the satirical magazine Private Eye between 1965 and 1974. Some of the more colourful of these expressions were in fact coined, or embellished, by Humphries himself, but this phrase was well established in Australia by the early 1960s.