Why yes, I am once again writing about toilets on this here blog. In my defence, when you spend as much time as we have in foreign bathrooms (“new day, new loo” could be our catchphrase), they become a focal point. Sad, yet true.
I am pleased to report that Australia’s toilets get high marks from us. In fact, 4 out of 5 Fab5’ers recommend them (more on the one dissident later). No need to dwell on the fact that our rating benchmark is based on our most recent experiences in South East Asia, where BYOTP was a must (“Bring your own toilet paper” for those not in the know.)
But seriously, public toilets are everywhere here. No need to sneak in the back door of a McDonald’s or worse yet, use the facilities at a dodgy gas station. Better still, they always have toilet paper, sinks with running water and hand dryers. Soap? Admittedly it’s a bit hit and miss, but antibacterial hand gel works in a pinch.
Proving that Australians can turn anything into a competition, public toilet cleanliness is serious business here. I draw your attention to the key sentence on a sign posted in a bathroom in the quaint town of Ross, Tasmania (photo below): “… We want to maintain our standard of having the cleanest toilets on the [Heritage] Highway.”
Two things are clear: 1. They aim high in Ross; 2. This tourist town clearly understands the psyche of the weary traveler.
Oddly, Cen does not share our affinity for Aussie commodes. From Melbourne to Ross to Bicheno, he’s walked into public bathrooms, glanced around suspiciously and deemed them unacceptable.
So I try reason. “You don’t even have to sit down. It’s fine.”
When that fails, I jog his memory… albeit a little less patiently: “Remember all those icky bathrooms you used in Malaysia and Cambodia? This is much better, ISN’T IT?!”
But no, apparently when you are an 8-year old boy, toilets that are sweltering hot, likely flooded and quite possibly lacking basic equipment (like say a working flusher) are preferable.
Being the empathetic mother that I am, I inquire further: “ARE YOU MAD? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS TOILET?”
“It’s dark,” comes the quiet reply.
And there you have it. Australian public toilets are not sufficiently illuminated for my child. Apparently they leave too much room for the imagination… Ah, yes, stinky reality can’t hold a candle to the horrors a kid can conjure up in a dark lavatory.
But then came the mushroom toilet. Yes, you read that right. A toilet in a mushroom. I should probably mention this was at the kids’ outdoor play area in the Launceston city park. Brilliant if you ask me.
I saw my opportunity to turn the toilet tide. I called Cen over. He eyed the strewn pieces of toilet paper on the floor with some disdain. But who can resist doing their business in a mushroom? No one, I tell you. Not even Cen.
And so, I stood guard… because if having a toilet in a mushroom in an outdoor city park was not inexplicable enough, the fungus did not have a proper door. Only a lower half door.
A few minutes later, Cen emerged. Mission accomplished.