I’m just going out the back for a while.

Across this wide brown land, when the going gets tough, the man of the house gets going – out the back door to his shed.

My blog readers who hail from non-antipodean shores may not be aware of this Australian obsession. Traditionally, the Australian urban dream has been for a house on a quarter acre block. This is plenty of room for a good sized dwelling, a garden just large enough to require an unreasonable amount of maintenance and a nice, cozy shed.

The ultimate refuge of last resort for the beseiged male, the shed may have begun life as a car garage from which the car has been banished, or, if the owner is lucky enough, it was purpose built. Here’s what the typical shed might contain:

  • A bar fridge, stocked (with beer. No other beverage is acceptable)
  • An old TV and a transistor radio circa 1965. (Real men still only listen to AM radio).
  • A comfortable chair. Facing the TV.
  • Tools (often dusty, sometimes rusty)
  • Sporting and exercise equipment (also often dusty, sometimes still in the packaging.)
  • A half-rebuilt motor vehicle, up on blocks. The oil stains below it are dry.
  • A pile of well thumbed old Playboy or Hustler magazines, (not in plain view).
  • (for the more techically inclined) a PC with net access (not dusty)

The humble shed has saved and broken marriages. For retirees, the shed can be a godsend. It gets the newly idle breadwinner out of the hair of the lady of the house. In fact, some municipalities here have set up “community sheds” with all the above stuff (except perhaps the magazine pile) for men who have no shed of their own to come and use!

On the other hand, all too often you hear the complaint “he spends all his time in the shed” from attention starved younger wives.

Sadly, the shed is in decline. In inner urban areas, the ¼ acre blocks are increasingly being subdivided and an extra house added. No room for the shed any more. The housing market is also very tight. It’s hard for young folks to buy a house, so they’re renting. You can’t really make a shed your own if you’re renting.

Here’s my own shed.

There are two hang gliders under the shelf with the blue cover, and a complete undercarriage with engine behind me that you can’t see. Sadly, there’s no fridge, no Hustler magazines and the tools are all in active use.

And here’s the one I had before that. I’ve moved up in the shed prestige stakes.

Update: My Daughter The Writer, has pointed out that there’s no snappy conclusion to this blog post.

That’s right. There isn’t.


4 Responses to “I’m just going out the back for a while.”

  1. 1 Doug October 5, 2007 at 3:02 am

    Now, that’s a huge shed. You would have loved my house in Texas — we had a detached garage which we didn’t use. The previous owner liked to fix up vintage cars. You could have done wonders with that shed.

  2. 2 John Halbrook October 17, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Now, that’s a shed! I always wanted to know what a proper Aussie shed looked like. Now, I’ve got the picture. Ending or no.

  3. 3 microsoar October 17, 2007 at 9:23 am

    John H, you’re always welcome to drop by and get the full experience in person if you’re in the area.

  1. 1 Balls and Walnuts - more than you ever wanted to know » Once Upon a Time on TCM Trackback on October 5, 2007 at 4:19 am

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