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One hundred years ago Australia was only 14 years out of federation; a very young nation indeed! Let’s reflect on how things were different in 1915.
- There were no supermarkets: people made butter, soap, clothes, furniture, and bread at home among many other things.
- Australian soldiers fought for the first time under the Australian flag, as opposed to that of Britain’s in WWI.
- Women wore corsets with a boned body and fastened by hooks and eyes!
- Over the past 100 years the Australian population has increased from five million to twenty four million.
- In 1915 there were 4,289 Australians ‘born at sea’, meaning they were born on a boat coming to Australia.
- When required to specify what religion they belonged to, a lot of people wrote ‘don’t care’ and many wrote ‘Infidel’.
- Washing clothes took a lot of hard work. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) and bluing (a dye added to the water) were used instead of detergent.
- Bathing was done once a week. Without running hot water the weekly scrub-down took quite a while to prepare. One by one the children would hop into the same bath water. The bath was filled by bailing and emptied by ladling!
- There was no electric light so people went to bed at dusk. Candlelight and kerosene lamps were used when needed. There was gas lighting but few could afford it.
- Bathrooms and toilets were a rarity. Instead there was a ‘dunny’, which was a can with a seat resting on top of it. The dunny was located in the backyard inside a small shed. The waste was removed by the ‘nightmen’ (so called because the waste collection was at night).
- Transport was by train, horse and horse-drawn vehicles, and bullocks.
- By the early 1900’s the steam ship became an established mode of transport. Many shipping lines now travelled by the newly opened Suez Canal. The steamboat reduced the length of the journey to Australia by 35 to 40 days (Sailing ships depended on the weather and could take four months to reach Australia).