Share your recollections of days gone by....before they fade from our collective memories and are lost forever.
Neville Briggs
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Post by Neville Briggs » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:07 pm

There is no doubt that one of the inestimable luxuries that we enjoy in 21st Century Australia, is the flush toilet.
In my prepubescent days, our family lived in a mid-western suburb of Sydney and I took for granted, the convenience of the flush toilet.

That toilet wasn't yet positioned inside the house. It was half-way down the yard at the end of an all-weather concrete path and was housed in a brick cubicle covered by a tile roof.The walls were lined with a soft lime plaster, painted with pale green calcomine.
The cistern was a concrete tank, fixed nearly two metres up the back wall and when you pulled on a long dangling chain, the water rushed down a lead pipe to do the required flush.
Conveniently, there was a garden tap fastened to the wall just outside the toilet door for hygenic sluicing of hands. I was always a bit wary of the rafters and crannies in the brickwork because I was sure that these were colonised by killer spiders, only too eager to spring out and do damage to a young lad at his most vulnerable.

Of course, if you needed to do no. 1 in the middle of the night, there was an enamelled tin pot under the bed. For no. 2 requirements, you just had to wait until after " curfew " hours.

When I was 12, our family moved to a new house in an area north east of Parramatta, which was , in those days, semi-rural.
The loo there was also down the yard, in an unlined fibro cubicle with a tile roof, but this one didn't flush. It was a sort of sheet metal commode with a hinged lid which upon opening, revealed a black tarred tin. Over the course of each week, this tin gradually filled up with noisome human detritus until it disappeared; to be replaced by an empty tin.
I say disappeared, because the removal and replacement of the odious tin was carried out by the dunny man; a phantom figure whom I never laid eyes on or even heard.
We still had our chamber pots in operation then.

I didn't like the pan dunny. When you lifted the lid to use the seat, there was this dark space between the tin and the sides of the seat, which I imagined housed hordes of gruesome killer red-back spiders and hairy things. Before I took my seating, I would get a stick and scrape around the inside of the seat to dislodge any lurking horrid creatures. The thought of black hairy arachnid legs groping my ( in those days taut ) behind, was worse than the thought of venomous fangs.

The smell of the pan dunny didn't cause much concern, as I recall. There was some sort of deodorant product dangling from the wall, but I supposed we just got used to it.

Eventually, after about four years, the sewage system was connected and, luxury of luxuries, we got an inside loo.
Tipping out the pot in the morning was a chore we didn't need to do anymore.

I wonder what line of business the dunny man went into?.
Last edited by Neville Briggs on Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.

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Post by mummsie » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:12 pm

We had one of those awful outdoor dunnies that had to be emptied for years. My older brother [who had a warped sense of humour] once played a prank on me, he waited till dark one night,[there was no light in the dunny]and lifted not only the seat, but also the hinged part that was only lifted to remove the pan, yours truly went flying in backed up and sat, you guessed it, splash!!! into the pan.
Funny thing was, he was prepared, he was in the process of running me a bath when I reached the back verandah. AAAAH, Big Brothers.

the door is always open, the kettles always on, my shoulders here to cry on, i'll not judge who's right or wrong.

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Dave Smith
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Post by Dave Smith » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:40 pm

Neville the Dunny out the back! There are lots of stories like yours, not as well told I might add, the bottle of stuff for the smell and to kill al the bities was mostly Phenyle it sure took the smell away from the pan but the Phenyle didn’t smell that good either.

I have placed on you thread a poem that came to me via the Internet, I don’t know who wrote it but do apologise in advance to the author, don’t mean to Hijack your thread but it goes with what you are talking about.

The Dunny Out the Back (Seen posted on the web with a number of different titles)
© Judy Jenkinson

They were funny looking buildings, that were once a way of life,
If you couldn’t sprint the distance, then you really were in strife.
They were nailed, they were wired, but were mostly falling down,
There was one in every yard, in every house, in every town.

They were given many names, some were even funny,
But to most of us, we knew them as the outhouse or the dunny.
I’ve seen some of them all gussied up, with painted doors and all,
But it really made no difference; they were just a port of call.

Now my old man would take a bet, he’d lay an even pound,
That you wouldn’t make the dunny with them turkeys hangin’ round.
They had so many uses, these buildings out the back,
You could ever hide from mother, so you wouldn’t get the strap.

That’s why we had good cricketers, never mind all the bumps,
We used the pathway for the wicket and the dunny door for stumps.
Now my old man would sit for hours, the smell would rot your socks,
He read the daily back to front in that good old thunder box.

And if by chance that nature called sometime through the night,
You always sent the dog in first, for there was no flamin’ light.
And the dunny seemed to be the place where crawlies liked to hide,
But never ever showed themselves until you sat inside.

There was no such thing as Sorbent, no tissues there at all,
Just squares of well read newspaper, a hangin’ on the wall.
If you had some friendly neighbours, as neighbours sometimes are,
You could sit and chat to them, if you left the door ajar.

When suddenly you got the urge, and down the track you fled,
Then of course the magpies were there to peck you on the head.
Then the time there was a wet, the rain it never stopped,
If you got an urgent call, you ran between the drops.

The dunny man came once a week, to these buildings out the back,
And he would leave an extra can, if you left for him a zac.
For those of you who’ve no idea what I mean by zac,
Then you’re to young to have ever had, a dunny out the back.

TTFN 8-)
Last edited by Peely on Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added author's name to poem (based on info in "Lost Poetry" section)
I Keep Trying



Post by Heather » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:49 pm

Very clever Dave. Enjoyed it.

Heather :)

Neville Briggs
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Post by Neville Briggs » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:22 pm

I don't know how they did that job Marty. Someone had to do it ;)

That's pretty gruesome Sue. I did worse, when I was about 8, I fell into the large septic tank processor at Bulli Hospital. Probably came close to being drowned in it. Fortunately for me, I came out of it none the worse, except for requiring a bath and new set of clothes.

Thanks Dave..all true. :lol:
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.

william williams


Post by william williams » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:50 pm

some one has to do it thirty years ago I used to help me mate out when he was crook and this time he was bad and we raced him into Ballarats Hospital so muggins had to do the job 3 oclock in the morning down the yard I trots with an empty can replaces it puts the leak proof lid on swings it onto my shoulder just as their new blue healer bounds across the yard snarling and barking and I jumped back just as he reached his chains end now you thought that would be the end of it but no when I jumped back and stood up straight the catches on the lid tangled in the Hills cloths hoist and round and round I went bellowing out for them to come out and unhook me now bloody luck seems they were away for the week a few minutes passed when I heard footsteps then two and I repeat two flash light shone in me eyes and two flammin great copper asked was I having trouble and that flammin dog never shut up the whole time and I will not tell you the remarks those two made.
Ps They found that my mate had inoperable cancer and died three weeks later

Bill the old battler

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Dave Smith
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Post by Dave Smith » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:52 pm

Thanks John it does worry me using poems that I can’t name the author and I do try to find out so I guess I will just ask hey.

TTFN 8-)
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Post by Peely » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:19 pm

No worries Dave

It is lucky that I remembered seeing it and knew where to find the information. Often someone will know a title and a name of the author, so it doesn't hurt to ask. Unfortunately (possibly due to the fact that the poem has been passed around quite a bit), I was unable to find a definitive title.


John Peel
John Peel - The Man from Gilmore Creek

Neville Briggs
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Post by Neville Briggs » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:28 pm

At least ya didn't drop ya bundle Bill. :lol:
" Prose is description, poetry is presence " Les Murray.



Post by Rimeriter » Sat Aug 06, 2011 3:42 pm

Crikey, they're everybloodywhere.

The ‘Drought Breaker’ dunny stands stark in times sparse
at Winton in Queensland in a paddick so bare with
a surround made from iron and a roof built from tin,
it must be important for folks to go in.

A hollowed out tree trunk stands at Cobar in the west
of New South Wales and the locals consider it best
in this great country, by fortune and fame,
a ‘Bum in a Gum’ is it’s chosen name.
A slab from one side is conveniently cut
and two big tee hinges allow it to swing shut
into the doorway that is wide and is tall
to provide for the customer that is big or is small.

When a train rolls into Nevertire in dead of the night
a dinkum dunny is waiting for those not too aloof
or anyone else with time to aspire
to visit a dunny with a rusty red iron roof.

Then there’s the dunny fashioned only from steel,
forty four gallon drums and the top is plough discs
maybe the patrons would be running some risks
to sit down in this one just to see how they feel.
The flash flood at Mildura in nineteen seventy five
took a red rooster, some ducks and a hen
and a tide mark on the side wall is an indicator of when
wimmen should not use it and expect to stay alive
cuz there’s a time it should only be used by tall men.

But, just maybe the best dunny is the ‘Lavatree’ in NSW,
stood under a tree is only a few sheets of iron,
beside this mighty masterpiece every other dunny pales.
P’raps ladies would too, on a very windy day,
if the walls without a roof, were blown down or away.

(c). Rimeriter.

There used to be a really crook one between Cobar and Broken Hill.
Not at Little Topar. It was just a roadside stop-over. Due to the aroma, it is the only one that made me go bush before breakfast.

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