DISCLAIMER: Read this only if you can handle knowing that Shit gets REAL. Also, stay tuned because soon I’ll be posting a tentative schedule for new topics & series ideas to help everyone better understand what I’m trying to do here. In the meantime, read, enjoy, pee your pants laughing, secretly identify – whatever.

Toilets are not things that particularly interest me, but for some reason, a number of my friends and family members have questioned me about toilets in Australia. Everybody wants to know, “When you flush, does the water spin the other way.”

Usually this is an inquiry meant to illicit laughter – a reference to The Simpsons – but more often than not, there’s a follow-up. Typically it’s a display of knowledge and serious inquisition. “Well, you know it’s the opposite side of the world, so it should spin the other way. Does it?”

Shut. Up.

First of all, I’d be taking a 50-50 guess to know which way toilet water flushes in America because watching toilets flush has never been a hobby of mine.

Secondly, if and when I do happen to catch toilet water leaving the bowl in Australia, it doesn’t appear to be spinning in any direction. It’s more of a gushing waterfall effect, and I have ZERO interest in closer study to make a distinction.

My point is, I could probably answer the question, but I’m not gonna. Ever.

What I will tell you is this: Australian toilets are definitely different than American toilets. Here’s why …

1. Potty Language

In Australia, you go to the toilet, not the bathroom or the restroom. This is reflected in both the spoken language and the signage everywhere you go. It used to gross me out, but it was unavoidable. Whenever I would politely ask to use the restroom or the bathroom, all I’d get was a blank stare. Then I would have to awkwardly clarify that what I needed was a toilet. These days, toilet is just as normal a word as any and it actually gives me a little twinge of satisfaction every time I say it in front of an unsuspecting American.

On the other hand, calling a toilet a dunny is still something that doesn’t sit well with me. You see, in Australia, toilets are also called dunnies, but it’s kind of informal and I think it’s supposed to refer to more of an outhouse. It’s something you mostly seem to hear from the tradies, a.k.a. construction workers. So take that how you will, but basically it’s a slang thing and it’s gross. And yet, due to sheer overexposure, I still catch myself saying it every now and then, and it always makes me feel dirty.

And speaking of dirty, I need to quickly mention the lingo revolving around The Acts themselves. For example, what I call peeing and pooping is politely referred to as weeing and not weeing by my Australian mother-in-law and is otherwise known to my sister-in-law as chucking a piss and doin’ a poo. On the other hand, when you get on the piss in Australia, that actually means you’re getting shitfaced in the universal sense, so as you can see, it’s not always easy to keep up with all the shit talk. See what I did there? Butt wait, there’s more …. lolz.

2. Functionality

Thankfully Australian toilets are far easier to use than to talk about. You see, in Australia, the common toilet is a bit more advanced than in America. First of all, Australian toilets give you 2 flushing options: A half-flush (for chucking a piss) and a full flush (for not weeing). Depending on your business transaction, you make your flush selection by pushing the corresponding button and the appropriate amount of water dispenses. Personally, I love this because I give water conservation a big thumbs-up.

Which brings me to my next point about functionality: There is a significantly small amount of sitting water in Australian toilet bowls, especially when compared to the bountiful supply in American toilet bowls – yet another great feat of water conservation. For an America-to-Australia conversion, this isn’t really an eye-catcher, but for Australians using an American toilet, it’s a shocking revelation.

Why? Well I happen to know a particular Australian bloke who, after making serious use of an American facility, went in for a bum-clean and came out with dripping, shitty, wet knuckles. I think it even happened to him more than once during his visit to America, and I would be inclined to say that he’s not the only Aussie to mistakenly dip his appendages into America’s high-water toilet bowls.

But when it comes to logistical mishaps, I’d have to say that residential Australian toilets take the cake with their shitty spatial orientation.

3. Residential Layouts

Public toilet layouts are pretty normal, although most tend to be glorified drop toilets no matter how urban the terrain. On the other hand, residential toilet layouts are usually pretty awful. Maybe you’ve heard the English (or whatever) term water closet? Well, it’s obviously derived from a floor plan because in Australia, residential toilets are quite literally kept in closet spaces. Meanwhile, the shower, sink and bathtub counterparts occupy a separate area. The separation is a good idea in theory, and we’ve adopted this in America as a half bath setup, which is great because sometimes all you need is a toilet and a sink. On the Australian front though, it’s more of a one-fifth bath setup. Think I’m exaggerating? Think it’s not a big deal?

Imagine yourself at an acquaintance’s house-warming party about to shit your pants thanks to last night’s homemade curry dinner. You ask for directions to the toilet, and your host tells you, ‘Down the hall, first door on your left.’ You walk down the hall at a painfully normal pace, clenching both butt cheeks, and you push open the first door on your left ready to breathe a sigh of relief. And then you realize you’ve opened the door to a broom closet that has mistakenly become the storage space for a toilet.

In this broom closet, in addition to the toilet, there’s a small clearing of tiled flooring with a weathered stack of old magazines in the corner, four blank walls and a textured ceiling. If you’re lucky there might be a window or a fan vent, but sometimes it’s just a plain, old, shoebox.

Anyway, as you’re closing the closet door, you glance up just in time to make eye contact with another guest settling in against the wall, securing their place in line to use the toilet next.

And now here, in this claustrophobic closet with finite airspace, mere feet away from another party guest, in this space too small to become a human starfish, you are left to take care of your private business. And then when you’re done, you’ll exit the closet without washing your hands and search for a nearby sink. Sometimes you find one, but sometimes you just have to avoid eye contact with everyone at the party so you can speed-walk your way to the only wash basin you’ve seen all night, which is in the kitchen where you’ll have to get the dish soap out from under the sink because not all Australians have heard of hand soap. (Australians, out of genuine curiosity, I would love to know, at this moment, how many of your kitchen sinks are equipped with readily available hand soap. This is not sarcasm – I sincerely cannot tell if this is simply a personal thing that I’ve haphazardly been exposed to many times or if it’s a cultural norm.)

On rare occasions, you might encounter a normal bathroom with a toilet and a sink and air to breathe, but for some fucked up reason, claustrophobia is the preferred floor plan for the predominant number of residential Australian toilets.

I honestly just don’t think it’s too much to ask for a toilet to be accompanied by a sink and a bit of legroom. I understand that it’s a way to save space to make a little extra room for more exciting areas of your home, but bathrooms are kind of important. Not really a place to be cutting corners.

And maybe I’m a bit prude, but I would prefer a little less transparency and a bit more discretion when it comes to what’s going on behind that door. I mean, when you’re at party, you don’t expect the guests to be taking showers, but isn’t it nice to think that the girl who went in before you is fixing her hair and makeup and washing her hands and not just shitting for 10 minutes straight? For fuck’s sake, I think this is a reasonable request that’s in everyone’s best interest.

But now this topic is turning into a bit of a bummer, so I think we’ll end this here. That’s kind of all the shit you need to know about Australian toilets anyway.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Heidi Broome
    May 29, 2017 1:30 am

    I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants!!

  • Yewww I got a mention haha

  • Ashley Barnes
    June 1, 2017 2:09 am

    But think of how differently the other night would have gone for Taylor if it had occurred in Australia. Actually, don’t think about that. I don’t want to be held responsible for your night terrors.


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