Posts Tagged ‘Australiana’

image from ninglunbooks.wordpress.com

This may sound strange, but the first time I saw, let alone used a typical outside ‘Dunny’ was when I came to Australia in 1972. It is only strange in that coming from the UK, I am led to believe there used to be many outside toilets, but I had been fortunate not to come across any. Strange but true.

The summer of ’72 was hot and the family, who were already in Australia, did their best to take us around the South East parts of Queensland and see as much as we could over these summer holidays. It was on one such excursion when it was pitilessly hot, for someone from the UK winter anything over 25 degrees Celsius was going to be hot, and my bladder was screaming for release that I relented and entered my first ‘Long Drop’.

There are always a huge number of people who will regale you with tales of the perils of using the outside dunny and the long drop. The dunny was the home of the green tree frogs who would come out, especially once the heat of the day was over and would often jump up onto your nether regions as you were ensconced on the dunny.  Then there were the Redback spiders – whose bite was painful and on the nether regions could be extremely embarrassing as well.  “Always lift the seat before sitting down”, I was told.

Then there were the admonitions to check the walls and under the roof for daddy long legs or tarantulas that might decided to wander in on you.  That is of course forgetting about the odd snake which may have slithered into the yard between the house and the dunny. Altogether it did not seem to be somewhere I would really want to go if I could avoid it.

But first, the “Long Drop”. No one would say anything about it, simply smiled that “I can’t wait to see this” smile you knew was up to no good.

image from drawinz.com –

It was hot, we had been drinking copiously and bladders would not be ignored any longer. I approached this “Long Drop” with something akin to dread. Inside was a wooden box with a toilet seat on it. Taking all my spare courage I peeked over the edge since I could swear I could see daylight. All I could see was fresh air, yes, fresh air, and a huge drop going down and down and down.

You could say it was the most delicate seating I had experienced in my life to that point. I was terrified that if I sat down I would fall through this hole and vanish down the mountainside. I didn’t want to think about the specifics of how it worked, I simply wanted to find some relief and leave….. quickly. Needless to say my Australianised family thought it was the most humorous thing they had ever seen.  I didn’t repeat the experience. You can wait an awful long time before succumbing to needless torture.

Yet the most horrifying experience came when I visited my future  husband’s family property. They still had the old outside dunny. The house was a beautiful Queenslander and I simply didn’t think about the toilet, I  assumed it would be just like the one at home. We didn’t arrive until late in the afternoon so it was after dusk before I felt the ‘urge’.  Of course as soon as I mentioned it to my wonderful boyfriend he decided it was time to remind me about all those old stories I had heard when I first arrived in Australia. By this time I had been here just over two years.

So  I waited, and waited and waited until I couldn’t wait any longer. The outhouse was situated under an old spreading gum, shade for during the day, but of course in my mind easy access for any creepy crawlies and slithering reptiles who would delight in scaring the living daylights out of me.  So I took the easy way out and applied copious amounts of guilt on my boyfriend in front of his grandmother to walk me up the ‘garden path’. Big mistake. HUGE Mistake. GARGANTUAN mistake.

Torch in hand off we walked to the dunny. “You go first” he said.  Humpf! There was no interior light so once the door closed it was pitch black. I  had barely time to try to sit down before there was an almighty crash onto the tin roof! An unladylike strangled scream split the air. (I was trying to make a good impression on his grandmother). I almost launched myself off the offending dunny but nature could not be denied. 

A minute passed and then here were two more crashes onto the roof. This time the screech was not strangled and I very nearly had an accident. At the speed of light I was off the dunny, dressed and out that door. There I found, not a concerned boyfriend, not an army of snakes or bats or anything else in the critter variety but the huddled and tortured form of my boyfriend. He was holding himself upright, just, and trying to smother screeches of laughter from erupting from his throat, I could see by the light of the torch that he was red in the face and had  tears running down his face.

Fortune was with me. I grabbed the nearest loose object, which happened to be a cement hard lump of dirt and threw it with all my might at him. The resounding thud and choking sounds were more than satisfying as I stalked back to the house.  I had already connected with his grandmother so I was delighted to tell her what her grandson had done. He spent the night on the cold verandah on a day bed (in the middle of winter) and I snuggled under a beautiful doona with an electric blanket.

The moral of the story, it’s all very well to take the mickey out of someone but be prepared to face the consequences if they don’t take kindly to your sense of humour.

The final epitaph to the story is that I never entered another outhouse for many years, and that is one story which still gives me nightmares.

image from funnymemes.com.au

See, I’m telling the truth… tarantulas on the toilet roll.

Aussie saying…..

May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down.

image from http://www.sportingpulse.com The Dunny Race!

Retaining some semblance of dignity I have never been in a dunny race,



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