Back in the Day: Australian Backyard Icons

It’s a shame backyards are becoming smaller and less common in Australia — growing up in a large backyard created so many uniquely Australian memories for generation after generation. We recently had fencing contractors replacing our wooden paling fence with a new Colorbond option, and it got us thinking about some of the great Australian backyard icons. Let’s get a little nostalgic with a trip down memory lane… or, memory yard…

The Hills Hoist

Most Aussies grew up thinking these height-adjustable, rotating contraptions were the universal standard for clotheslines. How shocked when we first discovered it was only Aussie backyards that made use of them! Whether it was getting in the way of a game of cricket, acting as a hanging merry-go-round for young children to dangle from or, indeed, drying our clothes and linen, the Hills Hoist has its place as the ultimate Australian backyard icon.

The dirty Autumn swimming pool

Festooned with gum leaves, twigs, tennis balls and, ordinarily, a giant vacuum cleaner which doesn’t quite seem to be doing its job, the festy backyard swimming pool that appears around the months of March and April is one of the most well-known Australian backyard image. The build-up of autumn leaves are a little too much to bear for the average busy Aussie homeowner — and hey, it’s not like we’re going to be swimming in it again until the warm summer months anyway, right?

The wooden paling fence

If only we could have a dollar for every splinter our mums tweezed out of our grubby little fingers as a result of attempting to jump our neighbours’ fence to see our mates, retrieve lost balls and, generally, be curious little human beings. And that’s if we were lucky enough not to cop a rusty nail or two in the process! Nostalgia aside, wooden paling fences have been replaced with safer, better-looking timber fences these days and, to an even larger extent, Colorbond fencing . In fact, Colorbond fencing has become so ubiquitous in Australia that, in the not-too-distant future, we may even be looking at Colorbond as a new Australian icon!

The game of French cricket

We’re not saying we expected to see raucous games of French cricket taking place on the lawns of the Eiffel Tower the first time we travelled to France — but we were definitely disappointed when there weren’t. While the origin of the name “French Cricket” is a little iffy, there’s no doubt that the game — which involves a single batsman standing stationary with his or her legs as the stumps while everyone around them attempts a dismissal — helped wile away many hours in Aussie backyards.

The Victa lawnmower

It may have been sold to an American company in 2008, and the old school designs most often associated with the name ‘Victa’ may have been replaced by flashy new models, but the Victa tradition still remains strong in Australia. In fact, the Victa lawnmower had an entire piece dedicated to it at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games! If you’ve still got one lying around, just make sure you clear the yard of sticks, stones and toys before using it, lest you see these objects hurtling across your yard with maximum mow-mentum (see what we did there?)

The sprinkler

So simple and so very, very awesome. Under the guise of watering the lawn and gardens, mum and dad would place a small device on the grass and kids from around the neighbourhood would congregate to spend the day running back and forth over the jets. You remember, right? Oscillating sprinklers were the best; they throw up large walls of water that we burst through with all the gusto of a superhero. Just be careful not to kick your toe on the metal — that’s game over.

Honourable mention:

  • The noisy Kookaburra
  • Wind chimes on the patio
  • The upside down wheelbarrow
  • And, of course, the barbecue.
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