Australia at the Turn of the Century
Weekends provided free time for some working peoples to relax and be entertained, though some families still had to work on weekends for the extra money. The upper and middle classes possessed a more comfortable life style due to their wealth. Because of their wealth, not all their time was devoted to work, therefore leaving more time for leisure activities.
Sports that were mostly restricted to upper and middle classes or those who could afford them were Tennis, Golf, Rowing, Hunting and Car racing.
Owning motor cars was very rare, and only the very wealthiest of families had them. Families who did have cars would travel to the country side or the beach for picnics. Garden parties, theatre and black and white motion pictures were also popular. Church was, and still is an important part of Sunday mornings.
Once high speed paper press was brought in, more and more books were being published and mass produced, this lead to improved literacy skills.
Back then, streets were dusty, dirty and noisy – crowded with people and horses. To cross the street, you had to walk through mud, dirt and horse manure. From the 19th century, life expectancy rose from 54, to now, 78. Up until 1980’s when bathrooms were installed, people had a ‘dunny’ or ‘privy,’ which consisted of a can with a seat resting on top. Because waste was not collected or taken away for weeks at a time, diseases were picked up and passed on more easily. When the flushing toilet came in, it was obviously the most hygienic choice, but not everyone could afford the upgrade. People often died from diseases that are easily prevented or treated today.
In the 19th century, electricity was invented, but again, not everyone could afford it in their home. Also the first telephone was introduced to Sydney in 1880. Up until 1906 it was illegal to swim at the beach between 6am and 8pm. In the 1860’s it was fashionable for woman to have a small waist and lots of bunched up material in the skirt of their dress. Under their dresses, woman would wear garments known as ‘crinolines’ and ‘corsets.’ Crinolines were used to make the skirt become like a bell shape. Poor families did not have nice dresses and clothes, they had rags, and the poorest of families didn’t even have shoes for their children.