loos in the looseum

We’ve set up the world’s first ‘Looseum’ to pay homage to a great Aussie icon, the backyard dunny.

This one-of-a-kind mini-museum in Brisbane features thunderboxes which have been restored to their former glory, as well as funny stories and photos from dunny-lovers across the nation.

Last year, Queensland Urban Utilities launched a search for Australia’s last remaining backyard dunnies, in a bid to capture this important history before it disappeared.

Our search uncovered more than 120 dunnies still standing proudly in backyards across Australia. Some dunnies had been transformed into garden sheds and chicken coops, and there was even the rare dunny still in use – sawdust and all!

We’ve chosen the best stories and photos to feature in our ‘Looseum’, which provides a quirky but important reminder of how far the sewerage network has come since the 1900s.

Before many areas were sewered, a trip to the loo meant braving the elements and warding off creepy crawlies to visit the backyard dunny. 

Night soil men used horse-drawn carts – and later, trucks – to collect and empty the waste bucket from each household’s dunny. It was a very different system to what we have now!

These days sewerage is a hidden service that we don’t tend to think about, but a lot goes on behind the scenes. In fact, more than 1.4 million people rely on Queensland Urban Utilities' sewerage network, which includes more than 9000km of sewer pipes, 332 pump stations and 29 sewage treatment plants.                    

View the online gallery to see all the submissions we received during our Great Backyard Dunny Search.

Tour the Looseum online

The ‘Looseum’ is located at the Innovation Centre at our Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant, which is an active work site.

We’ve set up this online gallery so you can visit the ‘Looseum’ from the comfort of your own home! Click to enlarge each image and read the caption.

Australia’s first Looseum The Looseum sign Dunny number one, which was rescued from Carina Early history of backyard dunnies in South East Queensland This dunny from Carina was destined for demolition before we rescued it Dunnies were often home to creepy crawlies like snakes and spiders Toad inside dunny number one Dunny number two, which was rescued from Toogoolawah The heydays of the backyard dunny The night soil man would visit each week to collect the full pan and replace it with an empty one Sawdust was used to cover the waste after each visit to the dunny There was no such thing as toilet paper, so people used newspaper instead We received dunny photos, stories, songs and even this painting as part of the Great Backyard Dunny Search Tongs like this were used to hold the pans when they were dipped in tar Dunny number three, which was rescued from Alderley Early history of the sewerage network in South East Queensland This dunny from Alderley was built in 1948 Every year, the night soil man would leave a Christmas card on the dunny seat We received this Christmas trinket as part of our Great Backyard Dunny Search A bit of light reading in the loo An overview of the Great Backyard Dunny Search The Looseum Sprung!

Read the display

To read the ‘Looseum’ signs, click on the thumbnails below to view a high-resolution version of the artwork. Each image will open in a new tab.

Early history of backyard dunnies in South East Queensland The heydays of the backyard dunny Early history of the sewerage network in South East Queensland An overview of the Great Backyard Dunny Search