Water was always a scarce commodity and was carefully conserved. Although we had the waterhole across the road to fill our dam we relied on tanks for drinking water. They were a breeding ground for mosquitoes so we usually had their larvae at various stages of development swimming around in our glass. I fished them out with a spoon although most adults drank them regardless.
Our small bathroom boasted a chip heater with a shower over the bath but it became unusable after my father experimented with using coal instead of small pieces of wood. From then on we had to light a fire under the copper in the laundry and carry the water in buckets up the back steps to the bathroom. Consequently baths were not taken more than once a week and were shared by the family. The rest of the week I was given a bowl of hot water, soap and a washer with instructions to “wash up as far as possible, down as far as possible, and then wash possible”.
Washing clothes was also a complex task. The fire under the copper was lit and the clothes dropped in the boiling water with Sunlight soap. They were swirled around with a stick before being dragged into one of the tubs full of cold water. From here they were pushed through a mangle, which consisted of two rollers connected by cogs and powered by a hand crank. The sheets went in the first wash and were accompanied by a “blue bag” which kept them white. The washing water, when cold, was thrown over the lemon tree as it was supposed to deter bugs.
Our property was known at “The Waterhole” because of the gravel pit across the highway. At the front of the property was a small fibro shed with The Waterhole written in large letters across the gable. It had been used for selling fruit to passing travellers so it became my job to sell our Wickson plums at the weekend. They ripened around February when we were inundated with thousands of plums. I have never seen them anywhere since and cannot attest to their flavour as I was heartily sick of them.
Chip Heater Picture http://monissa.com/432pages/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Img_3570.jpg