An Australian Poem (author unknown)

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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 back yard, outside 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 even hide from mother, so you wouldn’t get the strap.

That’s why we had good cricketers, never mind 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 thunderbox.

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 a nail
on the dunny 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 your head.
Then the time there was a wet, the rain it never stopped,
If you had 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 a Zac,

Then you’re too young to have ever had,
a dunny out the back.

11 thoughts on “An Australian Poem (author unknown)

  1. Thanks for sharing this Kate. Also brings back (very recent) memories of African longdrops for me!!! Had the *pleasure* of becoming acquainted with those on my hols last Xmas and New Year. An interesting experience with all the flies!!! xx

  2. Oh, Memories! Ours was quite a trek from the house through lots of shifting sand so not easy to get to. Poor Dad had to try and dig a big hole (in the sand) to empty as the bucket filled! I have never been able to erase the feel of that newspaper – thank goodness for modern technology. It really was a “bush loo”.

  3. Hi Kate, ours was in the backyard, a nail for the newspaper stuck on the back of the door and a small candle in the winter to stop the water in the toilet from freezing. My grandfather used to sit in there until he had read his Daily Paper. Thank God when we eventually had an indoor toilet. Those were the days. But happy days. We were lucky because the worse creepy crawlie we had was a spider but they aren’t poison.

    • haha, met too! We had them on the farm, and as they filled up, they went further away from the house, quite a trek in the middle of the night! My eldest sister had a double one when she was first married, one for mum, and one sized for the toddler!

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