Introduction: Handy Tricks From Australia

Picture of Handy Tricks From Australia

Somewhere over the rainbow is the magical land of Oz, a parallel universe where they call "ketchup" "tomato sauce". They've got their own ways of doing things, and here are some random ones I saw there.

To see more handy tricks,
try Handy Tricks from Guatemala
and Fifty Handy Tricks.
and More Handy Tricks
and Handy Tricks Volume Six!

For a bunch of things that didn't work, check out How Not To.

First Trick: "Shadow Board" Tool Organizing
Here's Ross Griffith, Saul's dad in his garage in Sydney. If you organize your tools this way your kids will turn out just as well as Saul did.

By drawing outline "shadows" around each tool, you can tell instantly where each tool is supposed to go, and which tools are missing. This trick isn't unique to Australia, but if you look carefully you'll see that everything is exactly backwards, because it's in the southern hemisphere :).

Step 1: Catch Sandworms for Bait

Picture of Catch Sandworms for Bait

Sandworms are millipede-like animals that look just like the critters with the same name in the movie "Dune".

This Aussie gent is catching them for bait at Hawks Nest, New South Wales.
He's about halfway between the high and low marks of the waves. The area of sand that's being actively washed by the waves now, but is fully exposed between the waves.

He's got a mesh bag of chicken giblets or fish parts in his left hand and is holding it against the sand bottom. In his right hand is the tool for grabbing the worms. Either a trowel with a sieve attached or a gripper sort of like a large pair of needlenose pliers. I saw people using both types of objects. If you're quick I think you can use your bare hands, but the sandworms are pretty scary looking and active.

I would have gotten better pictures, but I asked him "Ok if I take some pictures?" and he said "Not at all", which means "go right ahead", but I thought he meant the opposite.

Step 2: Easy Solar Water Heater

Picture of Easy Solar Water Heater

Someone made their own water heater on the NORTH-facing side of their tile roof.
That's right, the NORTH side. They're in the southern hemisphere so during their winter the sun is up here in the north, shining us a warm summer.

To make this solar collector they just put many loops of black hose on the roof. I assume there's a waterpump somewhere in the system circulating the water into a storage tank or swimming pool.

Step 3: Moveable Curb

Picture of Moveable Curb

These portable curb modules can be arranged into any shape, and are too much trouble for impatient motorists to edit on their own. Good for experimenting with civic planning, changing traffic, parking, etc at will.

Step 4: Improvised Clothesline From Bicycle Cable Sheath

Picture of Improvised Clothesline From Bicycle Cable Sheath

Someone took a long bicycle brake cable, pulled the inner cable out, and put eye-screws into the ends of the remaining part.
The threads of the eye screws engaged with windings of the spring sheath.
Then they stretched the springy cable and hooked the eyes of the eyescrews over hooks in the wall.
Pretty damn technical for a clothesline. Perhaps they are sold this way as a product here.

Step 5: Busking Bottles

Picture of Busking Bottles

This gent is playing musical bottles in Sydney, Australia, in April 2004.
At his left is an empty jug, presumably emptied into the bottles to tune them.
He is banging away energetically on them with wooden spoons. It sounded really good.

He appears to have arranged the suspended bottles like a piano keyboard.

If you want to make it super-easy,
you could also arrange them in groups as notes of chords (cords of chords :) )
so that there will be no wrong notes within a group.

Step 6: Folding Sailboat

Picture of Folding Sailboat

16 or 18 foot folding sailing dingy. Composed of 5 body panels with canvas hinges between them and two transoms. This is the largest specimen of the type I've seen. Note the large number of bench thwarts. I believe it was intended as a lifeboat.

Step 7: Garb for Cement Work Under the UV Hole

Picture of Garb for Cement Work Under the UV Hole

A brim and rear sunflap are added to this hard hat to make it into a wide-brimmed hat.
Green gaiters keep gravel and sand out of the boots. Long sleeves and pants would have added to the UV protection, but this gent appears to appears to like his tan.


Pressure Cleaner (author)2015-08-19

Good work cobber.

Perth Classifieds (author)2013-03-24

Thanks for showing this awesome stuff from land down under.

come and stay down here for a bit!
But dont go to aussie! No way! Go the full distance and go to new zealand!!
THATS where the parties at!! ;)

alittlerainbowninja (author)2013-04-19

My dad uses the hat and boot things from number 7 while working on heavy machinery near mines or quarries. They come in really handy especially because he has really sensitive skin since his full-body burns in 2002.

calyad (author)2012-11-08

Actually, long pants and long sleeved shirts are mandatory at all mine sites in WA now. I don't know about other industries and States.

dchall8 (author)2007-12-04

Another good tip would be to teach us Americans how to properly pronounce Aussie. From the Aussies I've met, the s's make a zz sound. It's (OZ ee) not (AH see). Hence, "Land of Oz." Or maybe y'all have given up on us as hopeless.

craig3 (author)dchall82007-12-04

its not even OZ in the first place, theres no Z or O in it its AUS and it pronounced with an S but different towns in Australia have different accents from other towns so its a bit different in every state

Lftndbt (author)craig32007-12-04

That's exactly what i was about to write... It's pronounced AUS SEE the same as, AUS tralian NOT OZ EE, people telling American's to pronounce it OZ EE are the reason it comes across as AH SEE... They can't pronounce OZ EE as we would..hence the AH SEE..

spanner1969 (author)Lftndbt2011-01-06

its a very simple bloody fix. Learn to speak English. and also listen to what us Australians are saying ... you pronounce it OZ ee .... like Ozzy Osborn .... unless you call him AHH See as well.

dchall8 (author)Lftndbt2007-12-05

Okay this is freaky because I've met maybe a dozen Aussies and they all say it the same way. And they seem a little perturbed at the way we pronounce it. I wonder if this is a case of two cultures separated by a common language. Have y'all heard American visitors using the word? Does it sound the same as when you say it?

Lftndbt (author)dchall82007-12-06

Unfortunatley phonetically, I don't believe the correct pronounciation is possible... ;( Maybe we will just have to live with being called Ah seeee... I'm not particularly found of the name Aussie anyway.... not sure where that abbreviatiion originated... From the chant perhap's....?

Well where d'ya think it'd originate from? We're from AUStralia, and we have a national tendency to abbreviate things, often adding either an "ee" sound or an "o" sound to the end, and let's face it, "Ausso" sounds wrong.

mammabeck (author)Lftndbt2007-12-19

Okay. well being an Ausie myself i must say Craig3 you're not necessarily correct. down here we have all different accents all over the place. especially in a place like Sydney where there are soooooo many cultures it's not funny! I agree with lftnbdt, the way we say Ausie would almost be impossible to convey phonetically as our accents are so different. much love, mammabeck

Lftndbt (author)mammabeck2008-05-31

!!! Another Aussie!! Fantastic... My plan begins.... ;)

idiotjohn (author)dchall82008-04-16

No offence, but americans say it weirdly... Although it doesn't have an O or a Z in it, it is pronounced Oz (as in the wizard of Oz) EE (as in eee pc)

mwwdesign (author)Lftndbt2008-05-30

We Aussies tell Americans to pronounce it 'ozzy' for a reason: it's how we bloody well say it. Except for you.

Lftndbt (author)mwwdesign2008-05-31

You obviously don't get the point of the discussion sir.
"it's how we bloody well say it."
Damn straight, couldn't agree with you more.
But you nor I will ever be able to convey that phonetically to an American person through the word ozzy. It just won't work..
This discussion hurt my head at the time of it.. ;)

Sure we could, tell'em to think of Ozzy Osbourne when they say it. Always works for me.

Tobita (author)Lftndbt2008-02-15

lol, ASSHOLE, lol, jk, couldn't help myself:P

Derin (author)Tobita2008-08-22


spanner1969 (author)craig32011-01-06

Craig3 - The official derivitive of Australia is as you have pointed out AUS. ... BUT when pronouncing the word Aussie it is not Oss ie it is Ozzy as in Ozzy Osbourn (sp??) . When some one i speaking in slang the term Aus is a shortend version and is also pronounced Oz not Oss.

In every town in every state in Australia it is pronounced exactly the same way. there are no regional difference for this particular word.

I have lived in the west, East , north and southern parts of Aus and I KNOW this.

mwwdesign (author)craig32008-05-30

Totally wrong. I live here, in Australia. 'OZZY'

thepaul93 (author)craig32008-04-05

and your point is??????

mwwdesign (author)dchall82008-02-09

You're correct mate ;) And also it's not 'Mel-born' - it's 'Melbin' for Melbourne. (I'm from Sydney)

Warlrosity (author)mwwdesign2009-03-11


stuffman366 (author)dchall82008-05-27

so it sounds like ozzy? P.S Rock On!

Yeah, Ozzy.

Wobbly Wombat (author)2009-09-22

He is up to worksafe standards for his industry in that he is wearing steel capped work boots, hard hat, gloves, sunglasses and a hivis safety vest. Shorts and short sleeve shirts are because he is working in a hot dry conditions and as any fellow Australian will tell you, skin cancer is prevalent so he would also be using SPF30+ sunscreen (Company supplied as is all his safety equipment). We do have some of the most stringent safety standards in the world unlike some countries we care for our workers.

Onmy work sites all my workers must now wear long pants and long sleeves for the UV sun issue. I live in tropical north QLD.

Tamaresque (author)2009-11-11

 I've lived in every Aussie state and I've NEVER seen one!

spanner1969 (author)Tamaresque2011-01-06

You must have lived here YEARS ago. They are now mandatort Personal Protective Equipment that are required by companies to protect the worker from the harmfull UV rays from the sun.

All my workers MUST wear theirs when on a building site or they are dismissed. They actually get two warnings and on the third offence they are fired.

uminohoshi (author)Tamaresque2010-10-18

Me neither... Where are those things used in Oz? Wanna see em...

cmon_aussie_cmon (author)2010-02-27

I come from the land down under, where women glow and men plunder :)


Are there giant spiders in austrailia?

There are some like trapdoor spiders and bird-eating spiders but the smaller ones are usually more dangerous :)

Bird-Eating spiders!?

yeah they are like 16cm but we dont get them where i live we get huntsman spiders which are pretty much everywhere

thepaul93 (author)2007-12-29

aussie aussie aussie oy oy oy i just had to say that

lukeyj15 (author)thepaul932010-02-18

 i second that
oi oi oi

duck-lemon (author)thepaul932008-04-05

its Aussie Aussie Aussie OINK OINK OINK! He he we always beat the hardcore at rugby!

Agroking (author)duck-lemon2009-07-02

More Like THUGBY!!!

Warlrosity (author)duck-lemon2009-03-11


Since when, mate?

AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE OI OI OI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thepaul93 (author)duck-lemon2008-04-05


Wobbly Wombat (author)2009-09-22

Its a standard swimming pool water heater that is run via the filtration pump so we can swim all year round.

Wobbly Wombat (author)2009-09-22

Actually it is a flexible curtain rod for hanging cafe style curtains, not a bike brake cable sheath.

DuctTapeRules! (author)2008-07-10

Sydney? Eughk! (That's right, I'm a Melburnian- or however you spell it)
You crazy Americans- *mutters* miles per gallon, inches, feet, 'ketchup, mumble grumble...

awang8 (author)DuctTapeRules!2009-02-18

Melbourne? Eughk! (That's right, I'm a Brisbanian)

DuctTapeRules! (author)awang82009-02-19

Arctic Circle? Eughk! (That's right, I'm a penguin)

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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