When is a loo not a loo?
When it’s just that little bit different.
Travelling blogger Marion Halliday (known online as Red Nomad Oz) has released her book Aussie Loos with Views! published by Explore Australia.
The book features Gunnedah’s Lyrical Loos at Wolseley Park in its “Only in Australia: The Novelty Factor” section.
Self-professed “dunny discoverer” Marion says the book guarantees a loo that will appeal to everyone, from the “tiny bush tardis” tucked into the hillside at Ormiston Gorge in the Northern Territory, to the Thargo Thunderbox in Thargomindah, Queensland.
Marion says the loos started out as a “byproduct” of exploring Australia but had become an important part of defining Australia’s cultural landscape.
Marion visited Gunnedah’s loos in 2010 and wrote about it on her blog:
“At first glance, this public toilet in Gunnedah, Central NSW seems unremarkable, right?
“Especially when compared to the wonders and delights of the Australian public toilets already on display in these pages …
“But … Gunnedah’s offering can hold its head high in the public toilet pantheon, because it offers a complete poetry-themed amenities experience!
“At the end of Gunnedah’s ‘Poets Drive’ featuring 16 Aussie poets, the brochures encourage tourists to visit the ‘Lyrical Loos’! If you think, as I first did, that this is just a cutesy way of describing a convenience block, you’d be wrong! It’s a literal description – the continuous loop recording of famous Australian poems plays throughout the building to match the external silhouettes of poetic scenes!
“But wait! There’s more!!
“Choose a cubicle by your preferred poet and poem – conveniently etched on each door to aid the selection process.
“Then, when seated inside doing what comes naturally, take the time for quietly reflecting on your selected poem, against the backdrop of the recorded recitation.
“Alas, the rain that had dogged our trip was drumming so loudly I couldn’t hear the recording, but full marks for a unique Australian experience! Perhpas it was just as well – I’m not quite sure how I’d react to hearing one of my favourites, My Country, in these circumstances… Maybe next time!!
“One day we’ll return to complete the experience. Gunnedah is not only famous for commemorating Australian poets, but it’s also Australia’s koala capital! Perhaps appropriately for this post (!!), the only evidence of koalas on this visit (August 2010) were the droppings around our camper trailer under the eucalypts in the caravan park …”
A spokeswoman for council said Gunnedah’s iconic “Lyrical Loos” were completed in January 2004 as the crowning glory of the Poets Walk / Drive initiative, a project undertaken by Gunnedah Shire Council in partnership with the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society and other poetry minded community stakeholders.
“The Lyrical Loos have been an unexpected yet welcomed point of interest for visitors to our community and have quickly become one of Gunnedah’s more quirky and talked about tourist attractions,” she said.
“The booming voice of the narrator often catches people off guard as popular poetry from well-known Australian poets is piped throughout to provide those visiting with some entertainment during their moments of contemplation.”
Murals featuring The Man from Snowy River, Said Hanrahan and Waltzing Matilda by local artist, Lorraine Maddigan, were put up on the outside walls in June 2009.