North Ipswich resident Sue Wykes used to do the midnight dunny run as a child, fending off all those creepy crawlies.
In fact, she has fond memories of heading to the outside loo under the cover of darkness, an experience that sent shivers down the spines of most youngsters.
“We were living in Bundamba then. I was the eldest of four girls and my mother had to come with us. She’d sit on the step and it was always the time we had long chats about things,” Ms Wykes said.
Ms Wykes retained a soft spot for the old thunderbox.
Her current house for the past 37 years has the most perfectly restored loo with a view. The house and outside toilet are more than a century old, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Of course we have inside toilets, but I am an outside dunny lover from way back.
“My husband and I have a real interest in social history so our dunny takes pride of place in our backyard. The outside is painted to match the house but we have preserved the inside, which still has the original seat and pan,” she said.
“I remember when I was growing up, everyone’s greatest fear was getting caught on the loo by the night soil man. Needless to say, we always remembered when it was collection day.”
Ms Wykes was a recent guest of Queensland Urban Utilities’ inaugural VIPee tour of Australia’s first Looseum.
The quirky mini-museum features three restored thunderboxes and is located at the Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant Innovation Centre.
Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said the tour was held last Saturday, 30 June.
“We welcomed 80 excited ‘VIPees’ to be privy to the backyard dunnies, which were restored to their former glory by Wynnum Manly and Districts Men’s Shed,” she said.
“Visitors even got a chance to sit on the thunderbox for a quirky photo op – but they had to dodge a few creepy crawlies.
“For some, it was a trip down memory lane, for others a history class, but for everyone it was a great insight into how far our sewerage network has come.
“Our guests also had an opportunity to check out the cutting-edge research underway at our Innovation Centre, where scientists work alongside engineers and operators to find new and exciting ways of working.”
The Looseum was set up after Queensland Urban Utilities launched its nation-wide Great Backyard Dunny Search.
Ms Wykes said she submitted photographs of her dunny to QUU and was excited to see a photo of her backyard dunny etched in history at the Looseum.
“I have 12 grandchildren and I like to remind them what life was like,” she said.
“They get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing it. And using it … we still have the original pine box in there and the tin can, but a possum sleeps in it at the moment.”
The popular Wykes thunderbox has also featured on Channel 7’s Flashback segment and other media.
She also collects other toiletry items: old hospital bed pans.
“I have more than a hundred of them, most packed away now. They come from all around the world.
“There is one from Nurse Linda Richards (1841-1930), America’s first registered nurse, who trained under Florence Nightingale (in London in 1877).”