Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Two Australian icons: the Hills Hoist and the Dunny

In a post a few days ago I mentioned the terms dunny, dunny man, dunny cart and dunny lane.

Older Byters may recall their childhoods where toilets were located outside and consisted of a pan under a wooden seat. Often a choko vine grew over the roof. Those memories may include going to the toilet at night, barefoot on the wet grass, stepping on snails and having to leave the door open to catch a bit of moonlight for light. And that’s not mentioning the spiders, insects, maggots and smells. Not all childhood memories are fond ones.

Still, it was preferable to the first time I experienced a traditional toilet in Asia, but that’s a different story.

The term “dunny” has been first recorded in 1933 in Australia. It derives from the 18th century English word “dunnakin”, meaning a toilet. In Ireland it was spelt “dunnigan”. That word in turn derived from dialect words for excrement such as “danna”, or its colour “dun”, with the word “kin” meaning house.
The Great Australian Dunny
        - Anonymous

They've destroyed our Aussie heritage,
Remember that old shack,
Now it's inside called a toilet,
T'was the dunny out the back.

We've lost too much of bye-gone-days,
It's progress you'll hear 'em say,
But they'll never know how the dunny helped,
To pass the time away.

They came in different sizes,
Some a two hole stand,
Perched above a big deep hole,
Poo-looted but never bland.

It's awkward when ya visit,
Whisper, "Where's the toilet Jack",
For when it was a dunny,
She was always out the back.

We never had a Toilet Roll,
Hooked on a Silver Ring,
Only squares of old newspaper,
Tied up with a piece of string.

The jokes were old the ones we told,
As kids in old Lockhart,
About poor old Dan the Dunny man,
with his Horse and Dunny Cart.

The walk was often muddy,
From the dunny to the gate,
But ya met the nicest people,
If the job in hand could wait.

The red backs might attack ya,
There was nothing much to fear,
They always sneaked up from the back,
So you'd just protect your rear.

The local rag was there to read,
Had my first smoke in the shack,
The news was never "Stop Press" stuff,
In the dunny out the back.

Unique out little dunny was,
Borrowed money from the bank,
Made from corrugated iron,
Just like a water tank.

Modern housewives have a problem,
Keeping toilets fresh and clean,
And when it was a dunny,
Folks could smell where you had been.

I had to walk my sister,
to the dunny one dark night,
She was doubled up with gastric,
And in an awful plight.

As she walked into the dunny,
Let out an awful howl,
For sitting on the wooden seat,
Was a sleepy big grey Owl.

Well sister left that dunny,
About the speed of light,
And the Owl left us a message,
to prove he got a fright.

It just doesn't seem to be the same,
The acoustics seem too good,
Don't enjoy it like a dunny,
Although I know ya should.

I'm leaving this city rat race,
Where a dunny's called a loo,
Back to the bush and buy some land,
Out back of Dunedoo.

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