Australia · music · photography

Iconically pegged out to dry


The Australian icon I will be focusing on today is something just a bit different and no, it is not a kookaburra, although they occasionally play a part in this story, being the gregarious birds that they are!

Today’s icon is the humble clothesline, or to be more precise, The Hills Hoist.

I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming! πŸ˜‰

The Hills Hoist, an Australian invention was first manufactured in Adelaide, South Australia in 1945 by Lance Hill and has become a standard item in the back yards of suburban Australia for several decades.

I would have been lost without my Hills Hoist during the years that my four children were growing up and even these days with only two children and two adults living at home, it surely does make washing day so much easier.


And as you can see, our Hills Hoist rotary clothes lines are not only useful for hanging out the washing to dry. Where would our kookaburras perch so near to the house without a clothesline being there? Mind you, they pay no regard to the fact that the clothes are clean before they hop upon their magical merry-go-rounds.

How do the folks in cold climates manage their washing days? I’ve heard that laundry rooms are built to be far bigger in countries where the weather is….um….not the best for hanging the washing outdoors to dry, shall I say.

Seriously, how do you dry your clothes when there is snow on the ground reaching up as high as the rooftops?! Are electric clothes dryers the norm in the Northern Hemisphere? When I contemplate such thoughts, I have to admit that perhaps I do take our predominantly fine weather for granted!

clothesline 3

Speaking of the weather, the song I have chosen for you to listen to today is “Weather With You” from Crowded House. The members of Crowded House are technically New Zealanders but they did make their name here in Australia, so we have claimed them as our own.

The video was filmed in Victoria and shows a cute little old caravan travelling around with the band, which leads me to another question. Here in Australia, taking a holiday road trip and towing a caravan behind the car is quite common place, but I wonder if this is the way families take their holidays in other countries?

As much as I love my home and wouldn’t want to part with my creature comforts for any extended amount of time, I must admit to rather enjoying travelling with a caravan. In fact I have lived in a caravan twice during my younger years. Just last year I wrote about my experience of travelling and living in a caravan for four months at one stage in my early life in a post I called “A Sea Change – (AKA An Adventure with my Reckless Parents!)”

My clothesline features in a number of the photos I add here, so the next time you see my Hills Hoist, you will know that it is yet another Australian Icon.

clothesline 2

“There’s a small boat made of china,
Going nowhere on the mantlepiece.
Do I lie like a loungeroom lizard,
Or do I sing like a bird released?

Everywhere you go you always take the weather with you,
Everywhere you go you always take the weather….” ~ Weather With You.

8 thoughts on “Iconically pegged out to dry

  1. I’m an Aussie, in Japan for a few years though now, and I miss the old hills hoist, and feel sorry for Japanese kids deprived of swinging on them. In winter, I basically wait for a sunny day, and the clothes seem to dry alright – though often they do have to be brought inside and hung near a heater. Caravans aren’t popular in Japan at all (roads are much narrower than Oz) but camping cars which pop up are, and there are plenty of highway stops with clean toilets and vending machines for travellers to stop at. ^^


    1. Hello Vividhunter, I’m pleased to meet you, and all the way from Japan too!

      I’m sure it is a very different culture over there, to ours here in Australia. The Japanese children would probably think our Aussie kids were a wild lot, the way they can find fun in everything, including swinging on the clotheslines!

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing some of your life in Japan. πŸ™‚


  2. I have a long clothes line that extends the length of the yard. At my last house I had one that looks very much like yours, but is not strong enough to hang off. I’m in Nova Scotia and because I am rather anal about the environment, I wait until it’s not raining to hang out laundry. I also have a drying rack for drying smaller items inside. Yes, pretty much every home or apartment in North America has an electric clothes dryer. It bugs me when I see how few people bother to hang clothes out even on lovely breezy sunny days. Sorta sad.

    Yes, there are camping trailers here or various sizes and types. No problems with highways here … I have a Honda Fit car and actually sleep in my car when I camp !


    1. Perhaps when washing is simply thrown into a clothes dryer time after time, due to the wet weather, it becomes such a habit that people forget that clothes can be dried in the fresh air! It is sorta sad, and think about the fresh, sunshiny smell of clothes that have been dried outdoors that people are missing out on too. I make a point of drying clothes outdoors whenever there is no rain.

      It’s good to hear that there are caravans on the roads of Canada. I may just want to visit there some time in the years to come, and it would be a fabulous way to explore the country. πŸ™‚


  3. I remember my mom always using a clothesline in the warm weather when I was a kid. While the smell of line-dried clothes was always nice, I never liked getting my jeans back from the line – always so hard and stiff! Yup, indoor dryers are very much the norm around here (my dryer is actually natural gas powered rather than electric) although in the summer I could definitely use a clothes line for all the towels that get used here!


    1. Karen, a trick that a lot of Australian surfers used, to soften their jeans when they were 100% cotton, was to wear them in the surf! It was said to soften the fabric and also hold the blue dye in the fabric! I think I’d be lost without my clothesline. πŸ™‚


  4. I have a long clothesline, and use it whenever the weather permits. As you already guessed, that’s not often during the winter months. I have a line indoors, in the basement, that I use occasionally, but the dryer is usually my best bet in the winter. My dryer is (like Karma’s) a gas dryer (propane for us rather than natural gas since there are no gas lines out here in the country).

    Another most enjoyable post, Joanne. πŸ™‚


    1. Now there’s another reason why we should have basements in Australia Robin. We may not have the freezing temperatures and the snow isn’t as wide spread, but we do have a lot of rain in the coastal areas, and an out of the way indoor area would really come in handy. I don’t think we have gas operated clothes dryers here. When Karma mentioned hers, it was the first time I had heard of them! We do learn a lot from our friends in different ocountries. πŸ™‚


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