Aussies are well known for being innovative and inventive. We see a problem that needs to be fixed, or we simply think of something that makes life easier; and we love to get inventing.
So I thought for something a bit different, you might enjoy reading about some of the best Aussie domestic and consumer inventions of all time. And you may be surprised to see some on my list that you probably didn’t realise are home grown.
Most appear to be so simple, but yet they are ingenious, and most garner the same reaction in most of us: “why didn’t I think of that?”. Makes you proud to be an Aussie.
It doesn’t get more Aussie, and iconic, than this. The rotary washing line with hoist quickly became, and remains, a fixture in Australian back yards. The original rotary clothes hoist had been designed by Gilbert Toyne in Geelong in 1912. However, Lance Hill of Adelaide further developed the design from 1945 onwards and marketed it under the name of the Hills Hoist. He later added and patented the winding mechanism in 1956. Along with the Two Stroke Lawn Mower (another great Aussie invention), the Hills Hoist was featured in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The good old Aussie Hills Hoist is put to work. Photo: Frances Andrijich.
The Electric Drill.
Patented by Melbourne inventor Arthur James in 1889.
Kiwi Shoe Polish.
Despite its name, this household staple was invented by Melbourne businessman William Ramsay together with his partner Hamilton McKellan in 1904. It was launched as 'Kiwi' in 1906 and soon became, and still remains, the most successful shoe polish in the world.
He chose the name 'Kiwi' because of his New Zealand wife, how sweet... Because of that, we’ll forgive him for not naming it ‘Kanga’.
Kiwi Shoe Polish.
If you’ve ever had to clean a toilet, you’ll be thankful for this one; developed in Australia in 1945.
Created in 1902 by J.A.Birchall of Launceston when he had the idea of gluing individual sheets of paper together into a conveniently usable form. Genius!
Aerogard Insect Repellent.
The essential ingredient to this famous insect repellent was invented by entomologist Dr Doug Waterhouse at the CSIRO in 1963. That year, he found out the Queen was coming. Who better to test it on thought Doug. He got some of his fly repellent to The Queen's people and told them what to do. Sadly, they were too scared to spray Her Maj from close enough and she was left unprotected.
But the Queen’s staff tried it the next day while playing golf and it worked a treat.
Doug's new fly repellent worked. So what did he do? In a country crying out for an effective insect protection did he develop it, market it, sell it, see it become hugely popular and become obscenely rich?
A couple of days later a nice man from the Mortein insecticide company rang up and asked him how he made it. And oops, Doug revealed the formula. The Mortein company patented it. That was that. Mortein made the money.
Doug went back to the lab and kept inventing right up to his death aged 84.
Doug Waterhouse inventor of aerogaurd, maybe not rich, but clever. And thanks to you Doug we can now all “‘Ava Good Weekend”, even the Queen.
Above Left: Doug Waterhouse. Right: Aerogard.
Garage Roller Door.
The garage roller door in the form of a rolling overhead metal door was first produced by B&D in 1956 and soon became an icon of Australian suburbia. It’s now exported to, or produced under license, in a number of countries throughout the world.
Salt Water Chlorination.
The technique for salt water chlorination of domestic swimming pools was invented by Australian scientist, Len David, in his back shed in the 1960s. It’s regarded by many as a safer, more sustainable approach than conventional chlorination. It was released commercially in Australia in the 1970s where it spread rapidly. In later decades it was taken up by other countries around the world, particularly the USA.
So many great examples of Aussies just ‘having a go’. I can only hope that one day my handbag hangers are also seen as one of those, "why didn’t I think of that?" inventions. In the meantime, I truly hope they’re making your life easier. We’ll continue to save one bag at a time - from the tyranny of the wardrobe top, back of chairs and the abyss of the large chest where so many bags are left, uncared for, unloved and eventually unusable because of the damage caused.
I hope this article inspires you to go ahead and just start working on that brilliant idea you have. I’m sure all these inventors never dreamed their ideas would see the light of day and make such a difference the world we live in.
Go forth, be brave and invent.
Our beloved Handbag Hangers. Left: Grande. Right: Petite.
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” – Musical Innovator, John Cage.
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