Australian Boys' Clothes: Activities

Figure 1.--This photograph from the 1960s shows Australian boys at a training clinic for cricket. It sows what boys in the 1960s were wearing at school.

HBC has collected information on a variety of activities in which Australian boys have participated in over time. Many of these activiities involve specialized costumes. Other images show trends in Austrralian boys' clothing over time. Some of the activities include choir, choir, dance, games, religious observation, school, sport, and many other activities.


Australia as a former British colony inherited the English choral tradition. Australia was created as a prison colony. Moden Australia show the English heritage in may ways. The Australian ireverence and skepitism toward authority is a clear inheritance of that early prison heitage. Australia like America also received large numbers of immigrants from Cathlolic countries, especially Ireland. Australia is not a country that one easily assocaites with boy choirs. There are, in fact, quite anumber of boy choirs in Australia. HBC has some information about several individual Australian choirs.


We do not yet have much information on dance in Australia. We do have some information about ballet. An Australian reader tells us, "Aussies have enjoyed many dance films as part of its deeper classical culture, a legacy of the British mother country." There are several Australian films that deal with dance, including ballet, including "Strictly Ballroom", "Tap Dogs" and "Razzle Dazzle".


Many opular games were the ones brought to Australia by English settlers. Many popular Australian games are the same ones played by English boys. A HBC reader remembers playing marbels as a boy. Other popular games were brandy (I'm not sure what this means), freetag, leapfrog, and policeman. One Australian readers rembers conkers fights as a boy. He writes, "I played conkers with my friends frequently in the May-September or January-Summer holidays. I had some welps and slight bruising from being constantly hit by a conker on the knuckles and boy it stung. I played lots of boardgames like 1970's long lost Parker Brothers board game "Masterpiece" with famous oilpaintings up for auction and such and still have it today and still play it to but I have added new paintings via the computer and new charcactor role playing cards and more valuation clip on cards with the mystery price on it. "Free Policeman" was a made up game where you get slip of paper and write a nasty death or exucution or some other horrible tortures to place on your players or prisoners and 1 slip of paper has Free Police written on it and each player picks a slip of folded paper from a bucket and after each person lines up for their punishment. They give the paper to the incumbent Free Policeman and he sets about seeking justice by what is written on a slip of paper like shot or some silly like hung, drawn and quartered but hopefully not for real. Other board games were 'Bugs' (plastic parts put together with the throw of a die), Chinese Checkers, Draughts (checkers), 'Ludo,' 'Monopoly,' 'Mouse Trap,' 'Snakes and Ladders, 'Skittles,''Sorry,' tiddily Winks, Yhaetze, and various card games. Popular outdoor active games included Rounders (similar to baseball), Chasey, HopScotch, Cowboys and Indians, The Lone Ranger, tag, and Cops & Robbers. A special favorite was Brandy--branding someone by throwing a wet tennis ball at the body or legs. The "hit" boy because your team mate and the brandees can not move until ball is thrown and only until the catch the ball or brand a new brandee). Party games included 'Blind Man's Buff, Egg & Spoon Race, Chook Chase (chase a chicken and if you catch it you keep the chicken as a pet and it is usually a good laying hen), Musical Chairs, Pin The Tail on The Donkey, and Spin the Bottle. One of my favorites was Jimima. A balloon game where you have to keep the balloon in play and in the air,The first person to miss keeping the balloon in the air gets a Jimima--a black bark or bad score and first player with ten Jimimas loses the game and gets their ears pulled by the former loser. Marbles was a perenial favorite. There were a variety of rope games, especially jump rope and rope ring/hoop games."

Toys and Play Items

We do not have much on Australian toys yet. Australia is a a small country in trms of population and thus does not have a huge photographic record in comparison to America, Britain, Germany and other countries. And unlike America and Europe, distance has mean less dispersal of photographs. As best we can tell, the toys Austrilian children played through World War II were brimarily English toys. This means Mecano rather than Erector sets. Austrlian trade was still primarily with Britain. We do not know of any specifically Australian toys. We supose that a boomerang might be agood candidate, but we are not sure that boys commonly played with them. Mostly australian children played with toys created ad often maufactured in other countries. After the war, trade diversified and America became more important. Another factor at play here is that Austrlia nenefitted from the post-War recovery an expansion, both in Japan and America. Affluence of course affects toy purchases. We hope to expand this section as we acquire more information on Australia. Before the War, bicycles were popular, but many families could not afford them. After the War as the modern economy began to take shape, most families could now aford bikes. We note photographs of boys riding bikes in the 1970s that look very American.


We think that hunting was common in colonial Australia, although we have few details. Hunting was not very common in England, except for the uppler class. Gun ownership was not widespread. This changed with the colonists in Australia. We believe that hunting in colonial Australia, like colonial America, was an important source of sustiunace for the family. This meant that boys got involved at a fairly young age. The major differences were that the Australian colonists did not face a native population that was a ignificamnt physical threat. And of course the wildlife species were very different. Hunting continued into early-20th century Austrlia. Hunting and racing were the two favorite pursuits of the colonial gentry in Australia, but both were pursued by a much larger portion of the population, in part the gentry did not own much of the land as was the case in England. Hunting in Australia seems quite similar to early-20th century America. I am less sure just what developed in the 20th century. I think the rapid urbanization of Australia affected the popularity of hunting. Despite its Out Back image, Australia is one of the most heavily urbanized country in the world.


We see Australian children involved in wide range of outings, commonly family outings. The major cities had parks, although the parks were not as well developed as European city parks. We do not yet have information on Australin city prks. Families might go out into the country for outings like picnics. Beaches became popular destinations for family outings, although we are not sure when this brgan. Of course today Australia is famed for its beautiful beaches, but we are unsure when they became popular. Some families in the 19th century dressed formally for these outings, similar to trends in Europe. We gradually see the adults and especially the children dressed more casually. In particular it was common for Australian children to go barefoot. This was not common in Europe, except for poor or working class children. We also notice the adults and children wearing sun hats.

School Uniforms

A school uniform consisting of a blazer, school tie, and dress pants which is worn by boys in many countries, especially English-speaking countries. This uniform evolved in England during the late 19th century and spread to the English colonies which at the time spanned the globe. Australia of course was one of those countries. Australian schools, despite the widely different climate tended to follow the British styles very closely until the 1960s when they begun to develop their own distinctive styles and standards. Schoolwear was of course affected by overall Australian boys' clothing trends.


Aboriginal communities from time immemorial have had animitic beliefs as is the case of other primitive people around the world. These beliefs have been retrained and often mixed with Christianity. Australian aboriginies are a highly spiritual people without a formal religious structure. Britain began the European settlement of Australia, introducing Christianity (late-18th century). This meant the Anglican Church. The pattern of immigration has basically determined religious patterns. Using convicts to populate the country meant that Brirain introduced large numbers of people who were culturally Christian, but with a heathy scepticism for organized religion. While the Anglican Church was the established Church, there wre many other demominations in England. The Scotts brought the Pgresbeterian church. And the English brought the many other Protestant sects like Methodists. And the Irish brought Roman Catholocism with them. Emigration from other countries, for many years limited to Europe, introduced other religions over time. The Anglocan Church re,ained the ;argest until being overtaken by the Catholics (1980s). At the end of the 20th century about two-thirds of Australians identified themselves as Christians: Roman Catholic (25 percent), Anglican (20 percent), Protestant (20 percent). The principa; Protestant denominations are the Uniting Church, Methodist, and Presbyterians. There are also Orthodox Christians centered in the Greek community. As Australian reformed its immigration laws, there are now Muslims and Buddhists as well as smaller numbers of Jews and Hindus. About one-third of Australians have no religious affiliation or decline to reveal it.


Australians see themselves as a sortuing nation. Popular sports includes basketball, baseball, cricket, footy, gridiron (meaning American football, but only occasionally with protective gear), rounders, table tennis (ping pong), tennis, and volleyball. One sport evolving from football/rugby which is destinctive to Austrralia is Australian Rules Football--affectionally called "footy". An Australian reader tells us, "I played soccer and I love the game. I also played-mini league Aussie rules footy. I also enjoyed tenpin bowling and kanga cricket (a softer ball and easier rules apply in this version of the game)." I'm unsure about the relative popularity of the various sports, but suspect that football and rugby, perhaps footy, are the two popular. Hopefully our Australian readers will provide some details. Cricket is both popular at the private schools.

Youth Groups

Australian youth organizations are basically the local organizations originally founded in England. Interestingly, the history of these offered by these groups primarily recounts the founding in England rather than than the history in Australia. The only two groups familiar to HBU is the Boys' Brigade and Boy Scouts.


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Crerated: November 5, 2002
Last updated: 11:54 PM 5/13/2010