Friday, April 8, 2011

Land Down Under - Inventions

Australians are responsible for some life changing inventions and also some wacky and wonderful inventions - here are a few of my favourites.

If you’ve been following my Land Down Under posts, you’ll have seen some of the amazing places that Australia has to offer. All previous posts are available via the Land Down Under tab on my blog, I hope you enjoy the tour.

Hills Hoist – the Hills hoist was invented in Adelaide South Australia by Lance Hill in 1945. It was an invention borne out of necessity; his wife wanted something inexpensive to replace the line she was using to hang her washing on. It was made popular because of the winding mechanism which allowed it to be raised and lowered by turning a handle. The Hills hoist today is an Australian icon and many Aussie kids have fond childhood memories of swinging on mums clothesline.

Black Box Recorder – Today everyone has heard of the Black Box Recorder which is used to investigate plane crashes. It was invented in Melbourne by Dr David Warren of the Aeronautical Research Laboratories. Dr Warren decided that something crash and fire proof was needed to record the events leading up to an air disaster because in many cases there were no witnesses or survivors to tell the story of what had gone wrong. Despite it’s name, Black box flight recorders are actually bright orange with white reflective stripes to ensure it is easy to visualise in a plane wreckage.The first such recorder, called the ‘ARL Flight Memory Unit’, was made in 1958 but was not made compulsory in Australian aero planes until 1967.

Boomerang – A boomerang is a curved wooden device once used for hunting by the aboriginals, original boomerangs were also thought to be made of bone. The most well known type is the returning boomerang, which is a throwing stick that travels in an elliptical and returns to its point of origin when thrown correctly. In Australia they’re commonly found in souvenir shops, but are usually made of a cheaper wood and are purely for display purposes

Cork Hat – This hat was probably invented by a frustrated stockman who was sick of the hordes of flies buzzing around his face when working in the Australian Outback. It’s a slouch hat with bits of cork that hang from the brim and move easily when the wearer moves his head hence discouraging flies and insects from the wearers face.
Probably not the most fashionable item of headwear but definitely practical in the hot Australian sun to avoid the multitudes of flies and insects

Vegemite – Every Australian child grew up eating vegemite, a spread that was put on bread, toast, crackers you name it. Vegemite was invented by Fred Walker in 1923 and is made from the dark yeast extract leftovers of beer brewing, it’s supposedly one of the world’s richest sources of Vitamin B. This is a staple in the Australian diet, although many overseas visitors find it too salty and aren't keen on it.

Esky - The esky is a portable food and beverage cooler and most Australian families have at least one. It’s perfect for keeping food and drinks cool in the hot Australian climate. They are generally made of two layers: polypropylene on the outside and polyurethane on the inside. This makes it lightweight and portable with excellent insulation, throw in some ice and away you go. The Esky originally had a steel outside shell.

Wine Cask – This marvellous invention came from Thomas Angrove, who lived in my parents hometown of Renmark. The wine cask was a cardboard box which contained a soft flexible bag that was sealed without any air space. A tap was used to siphon off wine and the bag collapsed as wine was withdrawn which prevented the remaining wine from contact with air and therefore lengthened the life of opened wine. It also has the benefit that it fits nicely in the esky to take on a picnic or to the beach.

Dri-z-a-bone – comes from the term ‘dry as a bone’ and is the name for the traditional Australian stockman's oilskin riding coat . It was adopted by the early Australian settlers with the original design being adapted from those worn by sailors who wore jackets made from the sails of ships and waterproofed with linseed oil.
Linseed oil proved dangerous because of the flammable qualities around campfires and a man called T.E Pearson developed a waterproofing product in his back shed in Manly, NSW, the technique is still used effectively today to waterproof these jackets which have now become a popular fashion item

Baby Capsule - Truly one of the greatest inventions for mothers and babies. The baby capsule was created by Rainsfords in 1984 and consists of a bassinette type carry cot secured inside a base which is secured with anchor bolts and a seat belt. A release mechanism allows the bassinette to rotate in a crash, keeping the baby more upright and distributing forces uniformly over its body; at the same time, the bassinette pushes against an impact-absorbing bubble in the base.
There have been stories over the years of miraculous escapes for babies in capsules who have been involved in car accidents. I still recall seeing a photo years ago of a truck which had collided with the rear of a car and the baby seat had dropped down into the capsule casing and the the bull bar had gone over the top. Yes a lucky escape and the baby escaped with not a mark on it.

Ugg Boots – A must have in every man, woman and childs wardrobe is a pair of ‘uggies’. They’re sheepskin lined boots with a tanned outer layer and a synthetic sole and are the most comfortable footwear on the planet. They’ve also become somewhat of a fashion statement especially amongst movie stars.

I hope you enjoyed looking at some of the wonderful things that Australians have invented over the years. Next week join me on a tour of Adelaide, my home town located in South Australia.

Invention is the mother of necessity.~ Thorstein Veblen

1 comment:

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