Who’s afraid of the Hills Hoist

I am not comfortable with the current penchant for tv gardening shows to unceremoniously bag the great Aussie, environmentally-friendly icon – the Hill’s Hoist.

Why are they considered soooo passe on every current Australian tv gardening show?

As far as I’m concerned, Hills Hoists are a modern marvel: a labour-saving device that’s ecofriendly as well.

For the uninitiated, the Hills Hoist is a wonderfully and simply engineered clothesline.


The Hills Hoist allows you to stand in one place and hang all clothes for a family of 4 with ease. They adjust up and down with the turn of a handle. And they promote the use of solar power to dry clothes. Sunlight is also a great disinfectant, and clothes always smell so much fresher after they’ve hung in the sun to dry.

They also double as a fabulous bit of backyard play equipment for the kids. Who hasn’t been yelled at by their mother as they’ve taken a flying leap at the arms of the hoist and propelled themselves around in a wild spin?

They are so much more efficient than those few bits of line perched on the side of the house that fold up or down … but are usually just at head height as you round a corner so that you knock yourself out.

But some gardening “guru” has decided that Hills Hoists are daggy, ugly and have no place in Aussie backyards anymore. Every modern gardening show makes a point of removing them to “gel with the garden aesthetic”.

Well here’s something that these gurus don’t seem to understand … most people have to do laundry at least once a week. Drying it on a clothes line that can be moved such that you don’t have to lug an overflowing basket around makes this job easier … and also, people are less tempted to use electronic clothes dryers. These gurus also don’t seem to understand that most families don’t throw enormous backyard parties more than once a month (or year in my case). Ergo, the clothes line gets more use than the water feature and seating for 5000.

Perhaps Hill’s should design a new hoist. Maybe if it could transform itself into a large umbrella with the pull of a lever then the garden gurus wouldn’t hate it so much. Maybe if it were a “designer” feature like a garden sculpture that garden gurus would *want* to put in gardens instead of a bunch of exotic weeds that they insist on planting … (Duranta, purple fountain grass and jacarandas are not environmentally friendly garden choices for Australian gardens!)

I say leave the hoists standing loud and proud in the backyard.

Long live the hills hoist!


Pictures of our garden

Our garden is in bloom.

Our garden is based around our favourite native plants (with the odd exotic mixed in). The garden looks best during mid winter and midsummer when different plants flower. … not that we really get much difference in seasons here, and many of the plants flower year-round, but the garden really puts on a show twice a year.

In summer, the striking beauty of the pink, red and orange Corymbia crosses can stop traffic.

But right now, the garden is giving me a great amount of pleasure – especially the front yard:

front yard lrg

The garden is quite showy with the yellows and pinks of the Xanthostemons,

xanthostemon med

goldenpenda med


Grevillea sml

and Leptospermums in flower.

Leptospermum Merinda med

I’m also rather fond of our Xanthorrhoea species which is structurally stunning:

Xanthorrhoea sp

Oh and the chooks – let’s not forget them…..

chook house med

No veges in at the moment, so no fresh veges (although we are getting plenty of citrus, passion fruit and the odd pawpaw as well as a few herbs to add a bit of interest) … but maybe we’ll consider planting something soon as we can bucket water onto the vege patch as needed now that water restrictions have eased slightly.

It’s not easy being Green

Nope – I’m not on my high horse preaching here (well maybe just a little bit) …. I just want to say that there’s a big difference between being a “green-groupie” and truly considering your own household environmental impact in a sustainable, balanced way.

For example – my friend’s daughter’s teacher is on a personal mission to save the world through reduced consumption of toilet paper. This might sound like a great idea but according to my friend, what she’s saving in bog roll, she’s spending on napisan and washing powder: a prime case of not looking at the bigger picture of only letting a 5 year old child have a single sheet of 2-ply after a number 2.

Its also a bit like people who go on and on about being “green” because they have “acreage” with a few gum trees on it …… but they happily tell you this from inside the comfort of their McMansion (that’s so large they need acreage just fit the square footage of the house), with their ducted air-con, big-screen tv, their large, his-n-hers 4WDs parked in the garage and enough furniture made from Indonesian timber to fill a shipping container (and in some cases, that last bit is meant literally!). I’m often tempted to ask them if they’d consider moving to a high-rise unit in the city and turning their entire block over to native vegetation as that would be a far “greener” thing to do.

Its also like an old neighbour who frowned upon my use of disposable nappies on our kids, and yet would regularly ask to put his excess garbage into our (never full)  bin : the irony was lost on him.

I’m more in favour of leaving the lip service aside and weighing up how you can minimise your environmental impact in a way that makes a real difference. I know few people who I’d consider to be truly “green”. Ironically, they are also the least “boastful” on the subject because they know that they aren’t as “green” as they could be. I try not to comment much as I know that there’s heaps more we could be doing … but I feel we are generally heading in the right direction…

Speaking for myself, we do what we can but its often not as “glamorously green” as others, for example: most of our furniture is 2nd hand or has been “liberated” from road-side dumps (we have a lot of things that have been rescued from the hard garbage); we don’t have a lot of power hungry devices and the air-con unit is more of a wall decoration as its rarely running; we turn off appliances at the wall and turn off lights when we leave a room; things that need batteries are few and far between and of those that do, its rechargables all the way; the garden is full of native plants as well as fruit and veges; we have chooks to “recycle” our kitchen scraps; fuel is too dear to use the car all the time; and I know how to use my top-loading washing machine to save the suds so they get a few turns through the machine before we pump it onto the garden and end up using less water than a front loader (and of course I only use a low sodium, garden-friendly detergent).

I know that we could be doing lots more so I generally try not to preach. For example, I wish the new styles of cloth nappies were around when my kids were babies – I may have been more tempted by them over the old style that I could never quite get onto tiny bums without serious leakage making an extra load of sheets a day.
On the up side, our electricity bills are pretty low in comparison to other 4-person households in the area and we generally stick to the “140L per person per day” rule for our water consumption as well (at the moment we are averaging 120L/person/day … still a heck of a lot, but we are always improving).

So what am I trying to say here is that actions speak louder than words.   Be positive about what you’ve done but don’t berate others for what they are (or aren’t) doing.  Do your bit quietly … or if you must tell other people, do it by showing them your low utilities bill!