Laundry observations in an Australian summer

24 12 2022

There are a LOT of things I hate about an Australian summer, not least of which are the relentless heat, the hot easterly winds coming from the inner part of the continent, the flies, and the always-present threat of bushfires. But one of summer’s joys is hanging the washing on the line and it being dry by the time the second load is ready to go out. Then bringing in the washing and smothering your face into the smell of the sun and fresh air that lingers for hours in the towels etc. Burning your hand on the metal spring in the pegs isn’t so wonderful, however! (guess who left the peg bucket outside in the sun for 30+ minutes this morning?)

For those living in other climes, nearly every Australian who lives in a house with a backyard has a clothesline, even if they also have a dryer. And when the weather’s fine and if we have the time to do so, we peg out our laundry to dry in the sun. I realise this may seem like an old-fashioned novelty to many of my friends and family in other parts of the world, and it certainly isn’t recommended if you live in a cold climate (when I lived in Canada, I recall naively pegging out my clothes on the outside line when it was -5C — they didn’t dry, instead they froze 🙂 )

I also remember living up north (particularly the Pilbara region of Western Australia) and there we had two big issues with laundry. One was that the cold water was often hotter than the hot water! (In those days, the cold water was piped to the town across about 20+ miles in aboveground pipes.) And the other was that in the hottest time of the year we had to hang our laundry out at night to avoid bleaching and rotting from the harsh sun.

BTW, we’ve never owned a dryer in the house where we’ve lived for the past 13 years—we hang out our washing all year round. There’s rarely a run of more than a few days a week of wet weather in the middle of winter. The clothes take longer to dry in winter, but invariably they do, or we help them along by hanging them over a portable clothes rack in the house.

Firefighting aircraft call signs (southwest Western Australia)

13 12 2022

It’s bushfire season and already the firefighting aircraft have had their work cut out for them.

This post is for me to save me having to click on all the call signs on FlightRadar24:

  • BDOG125, BDOG642, BDOG646 – spotter planes?
  • BMBR132, BMBR139 – Hercules C130 (the big ones!)
  • BMBR605, BMBR608, BMBR611 – yellow air tractors
  • DUJ – yellow air tractor
  • EGU – helicopter, possibly a spotter
  • FBIR661, FBIR662 – helicopters
  • FCO, FCU – yellow air tractors
  • FNE – yellow air tractor
  • N260UH – Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopter
  • NID – yellow air tractor
  • PEK – yellow air tractor
  • PKAR644 – spotter plane?
  • SPTRxxx – state government (spotter?) planes, likely used by the DBCA and/or DFES

Other aircraft:

  • FDxxx – Royal Flying Doctor (planes and helicopters)
  • RSCxxx – RAC rescue helicopter

Directory of Western Australian teachers, 1900-1980

9 12 2022

As part of researching my family history, I use quite a number of online resources (this post on my professional blog lists the main ones:

One I’ve used a lot is a digital database of Western Australian teachers from 1900-1980 ( Why? Because quite a number of my extended Western Australian family were teachers, including me and my mum. Back in the day, this directory was published each year, with several copies delivered to each public school in the state. We called it ‘the stud book’! And we used it back then to see where our colleagues had been posted, check their qualifications and years of service (if we were competing for seniority-based promotion), even their middle names and the married names of the women (many married locally and didn’t leave the town, so they’d appear in the stud book the following year under their married name). It was a valuable resource then, and it still is. Either in the 1980s or by the early 1990s the Education Department of the day either decided to no longer publish it as a printed book, or not distribute it so freely to schools, or went digital with this information (if it was digital, it wasn’t available to teachers in schools). Whatever the reason, the stud book seemed to disappear from schools. I taught until early 1992, and as I was a teacher-librarian, I was the custodian of many years of stud books in my school (available to the staff only, not to students), but I know in the last few years I was there we didn’t get the annual stud book.

So I was delighted to discover a fully searchable database of all the stud books from 1900 to 1980 on, of all places, the Carnamah Historical Society and Museum’s website. Why was this surprising? Well, for those who don’t live in Western Australia, Carnamah is a dot on the map in the central wheatbelt (the town’s Wikipedia entry is correspondingly tiny, but the link from there to the Wikipedia entry for the historical society uncovers a wealth of information: Carnamah is about 200 km north of Perth and has a population of around 400 people. So why did Carnamah do this and who was the driver for it? It would’ve taken many many thousands of hours of scanning and typing and editing the data—there is no easy way to get those hundreds of pages (all in a tiny font size and with deep gutters in the books) each year into a digital form, and I’m sure the state Education Department wasn’t willing to share any digital information, assuming they had it.

I still don’t know who the driver is for this most useful website (they aren’t resting on their laurels either—they recently added 80,000+ records of Western Australian car registrations from 1915 to 1928:, but I had occasion to contact them recently. Back in the late 1940s my mum was a ‘monitor’ at Carnamah Primary School and she had some photos from that time that I shared with the person who looks after their Facebook page and website. In my email to him I congratulated him and the historical society on making the old stud books available as a searchable database. He shared back this information:

The school teacher index was a slow burn but we got there. We were assisted by Work for the Dole participants at a number of locations across metro Perth.

What a fantastic use of resources! And what a fantastic resource freely available to anyone in the world. Well done, Carnamah Historical Society.