Dunny lane

YourLifeChoices’ 90-year-old columnist Peter Leith has covered a lot of territory in recent months, from lobbying the funeral industry for being too wasteful to expressing his delight in donating his body to a university for research. Today he returns to his Vanishing Australia series.


Even to this day there are, in parts of Australia, parallel rows of back-to-back houses whose back fences share access to a narrow, often cobbled lane. It is ‘the dunny lane’.

In days gone by, once a week, early in the morning the night man’s cart would traverse these lanes emptying and replacing the bins that stood under the wooden seats of all the backyard toilets.

If you were a newspaper boy, or a late party-goer, you would often see the night cart turning into or out of these lanes. The gigantic, somnolent Clydesdale horse and muscular, caped and hooded night man were familiar sights.

If you were a late party-goer and sought the solace of the backyard dunny before bed, your efforts might be interrupted by the pan being removed from beneath your posterior.

At such times, it was best to avoid starting a conversation.

Do you remember the night cart man? Were you ever interrupted ‘on the job’?

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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