My local memories: backyard loos - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photo: Supplied.


There was no sewerage in Wynnum when I was a child in the 1950s. While septic systems existed, most had a backyard toilet, often called the dunny. Rain, hail or shine we relieved ourselves by trekking up the backyard and making deposits in a can under a seat behind the privacy of the dunny door. Torches were a necessity and spiders a concern.

Once every week sanitation workers (dunny men) would come in their truck, remove the full can and replace it with an empty can so we could start again. They were busy men, not wanting to wait if someone was still in the dunny when they came to replace the can. It was embarrassing to be caught on the can by the dunny man. That was my mother’s greatest fear: she would wake up with a call of nature but was afraid to go until the dunny man had been. I can remember her sending me down the road on my bike to locate the dunny truck and return with an E.T.A.

The dunny trucks dumped and buried their load in what is now a local park. When I was in about Year 9, a dunny truck tipped over in Gordon Parade while heading to the dump with a full load. In those days there were no mobile phones, and most people did not even have landlines but somehow the word got around in no time. When school got out lots of boys hurried away to see the great calamity and give a full report to the rest of us the next day. For adolescent boys it was the preeminent event of the term.

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