Smith's Iron House

Being built of corrugated iron and unlined the house was very hot in summer and cold in winter. The open living area had a fuel stove with an open fireplace beside it. There were a table and chairs, dresser and other necessities. Kerosene lamps and candles were the only lighting available.  Kerosene came in 4 gallon galvanised tins, which were transported in wooden boxes, two tins to a box.  Subsequently these boxes became very useful, being converted into cupboards and storage and crude furniture of many styles. A dressing table would be three boxes on their side with a block of wood nailed to each corner for legs, the front covered with a draped frill of material usually cretonne (a cotton printed fabric with a coarser weave than sheets). A mirror would be hung on the wall above to complete the piece. A shoebox would have a padded seat, part of one side removed and again cretonne covered.  Another item used were wooden butter boxes. Butter came to the stores in packs of a pound or a half pound, I remember the name Norco printed on the box. Kraft cheese also came to the shops in wooden boxes (one of which I still have, minus the cheese). People in these times lived a very simple lifestyle and made very good use of everything around them. Literally everything was ‘recycled’ long before the term become fashionable.

All hot water came from kettles on the stove. The ga1vanise.d wash tub was brought inside at bath time.  During the winter condensation would form inside the iron roof and rain down on everything and everyone.  A big headache was that the lean-to chimney smoked badly causing everything to turn brown. The women would cut down small gum tree branches and push them between the rafters and the iron roof to give a clean appearance (just imagine the smell of the gums through the house, not to mention the dust and spiders etc).

Mother told me that you stepped directly onto the dirt floor, which was swept with a broom made from tea-tree twigs.  Eventually a few flat stones were laid on the floor to keep you out of the mud when the weather was bad.  Newspapers were used as lining for the shelves and cut into decorative patterns and folded to hang down over the rough edges of the timber. The dresser held the crockery, cutlery etc. pots, pans etc. were on shelves. A table style cupboard with gauze ends was where the jams, sugars etc.  were stored. Washing up was done in kerosene tin which had been cut in half sideways the other half was the drainer.  The family grew all their own vegetables, had fowls, ducks and cows, therefore able to be relatively self-sufficient. Yards were built near the house to contain the milking cows at night and of course the cow-bail and the horse. The cows were allowed to roam free during the day to forage for food, about 3pm someone would go looking for them and bring them back for the evening milking. The lead cow would have a cowbell attached to a leather strap which hung around her neck, so it was a case of walking and listening for the sound of the bell to locate them.