“I remarked to the agent, that it was nice to have an extra bathroom. She looked at me and smiled and said no, the house has only one bathroom and one toilet. Thinking that the one toilet was equal to a half bathroom in the USA, I said OK.”
This may seem like an odd topic for us to discuss here, but we get lots of questions about Australian toilets so we’ll do our best to cover the subject.
We’ll let Donna explain her first experience buying a home in Australia. “I was interested in a lovely little town in the Blue Mountains in NSW. The real estate agent took me to see an older home. We had gone through the house and I was in the back looking at the laundry area they’d built on to the side of the garage.”
“We went back into the house for another look around and this time I had a real good look at the bathroom. What a surprise. I couldn’t find a toilet in there at all. The agent, seeing my confusion, said no, the toilet is the one you saw next to the new laundry room.”
Donna’s confusion was understandable.
In the USA a standard bathroom has a bathtub and shower, sink and a toilet (all in the same room). A three-fourths bathroom has a shower, sink and a toilet. And a half bathroom has only a sink and toilet. This is sometimes called a guest bathroom and would be located near a main entertaining area.
In Australia, on the other hand, we typically put the toilet in a small room of its own which means there is NO toilet in the bathroom. In modern homes the toilet is in the house, however in really old homes you may find it in an addition built out back.
Americans should not confuse this with what they call a half bathroom (or guest bathroom). In Australia there is NO sink in the room with the toilet. The sink is in the bathroom with the bathtub / shower.
Aussie bathroom humour
When our American friend Sara came to visit us the first time, she asked where the bathroom was, being in need of the services there. David, our resident larrikin, replied, “down the hall and the first door on the left.” She returned and again asked for the bathroom. He gave her the same directions. So she looked again. Now desperate, she returned saying she couldn’t find it. “Ah,” David said with a grin on his face, “Do you want to wash your hands or use the toilet?” Blushing Sara said, “the toilet”, and he gave her directions to it.
Yes, he knew exactly what she wanted the first time she asked. Aussies have a great sense of humour . . . especially at the expense of our American friends.
Differences in toilets
And finally one last story about toilets. Sharon told us about her experience with American toilets on her first visiting there. When she landed and went to use the airport toilet in Seattle she found them all out of order. So she headed for her hotel, checked in and quickly went to her room. Tired and now quite upset, Sharon rang the desk clerk to complain that her toilet was not working. They sent someone up, he looked at it and gave it a flush. Then turned to Sharon and said, “It looks like it’s working OK”. She smiled, thanked him and sent him on his way.
It turns out that Sharon was alarmed by the water height in the toilet bowl and thought they were stuffed up. The airport and hotel toilets were working just fine. They just use a lot more water than Sharon had ever seen in a toilet bowl.
The water is extremely low in our toilets compared to American toilets. The water in the toilet bowl is about nine to ten inches down from the rim while in the American version, it’s only about three to four inches from the rim. So splashbacks adds an element of surprise for the Aussie visiting the Yanks, but we won’t go into that here. We leave that to your imagination.
American toilets also have only one flush lever. We have two buttons. In the picture above left the person is pointing to the half-flush button. You can choose from a full-flush or a half-flush depending on whether what you’re flushing is liquid or solid. (Yes, we’re trying to keep this discussion clean, but as this is being written the jokes in the office are flying. Sorry, we can’t share them. We’d lose our family-friendly rating.)
So we’ll move on … another difference in toilets is that in most American homes you’ll find a toilet plunger (see image to the right). By pumping it up and down inside the toilet bowl, it uses pressure to unblock whatever is stuck. You get the idea.
Anyway, it’s something you do NOT need to use in Australia. We build proper toilets. They are so highly prized that Caroma Australia (inventor of the dual button system) now exports to over 30 countries around the world. So if you Yanks are tired of plunging, buy one of our toilets.
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