We might seem laidback and go-with-the-flow, but don’t be fooled, us Aussies have massive brains that have creative juices flowing all over the place! We all know about the Hill Hoist and the Anti-flu Medication, but here’s a list of some lesser discussed inventions you probably didn’t think were born in the land down under.
1. THE FRIDGE
Yep, those big boxes that we take for granted to keep our food fresh and frozen were designed right here in Australia (in Geelong, to be precise) in the 1850’s by a man named James Harrison. Born in England, with a fisherman as a Dad, we imagine Jimmy grew up trying to find ways to keep Daddios latest catch nice and fresh, and a degree in chemistry later, and a move to the coldest state in Australia, he came up with the solution. Smart dude, he was, because it seems the miracle of refrigeration was a side hobby for him. His main passion was printing, and after years and years in the field, it’s thanks to him that Geelong residents got their very own newspaper, the Geelong Advertiser!
2. The notepad
3. Feature film
4. The longest kayak
AKA the Surf Ski. NSW brothers Harry and Jack McLaren must have been fitter than most of us, to even think about making something that goes off land. But then again, there might not have been alot else to do back in 1912 but come up with what is generally known as the longest kayak.
5. The tank
Aussies are famed for our friendly and laid back nature, so to invent something that would be one of the most important machines used to fight wars isn’t something we would have straight up guessed originated in Australia by a man named Lance de Mole. To be fair, he didn’t invent it for wars. It was 1912 and he came up with the idea after dealing with rough terrain in Western Australia on his travels the year before, so the bright spark came up with the idea of a ‘chain-rail vehicle’. and must have known it’s benefits for use in wars, because he submitted his idea to the British War Offices, only for them to reject it, then formally recognise his work in 1919. Unlike now, where you can patent pretty much any idea as long as it’s new and unique, it must have been difficult for some to acknowledge foresight back in the day. According to de Mole’s Wikipedia page:
‘After the war, de Mole made his case to the Australian government. Inquiries from that government to the British one yielded little but polite responses that Mr de Mole’s ideas had unfortunately been too advanced for their time and thus were not recognised as they should have been’.
6. the electronic pacemaker
Can you imagine what it took to even fathom how to get a heart that stopped beating, to beat again? It’s a bit technical for us, so here’s an excerpt from the pacemakers Wikipedia page:
” In 1926, Mark C Lidwill of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital of Sydney, supported by physicist Edgar H. Booth of the University of Sydney, devised a portable apparatus which “plugged into a lighting point” and in which “One pole was applied to a skin pad soaked in strong salt solution” while the other pole “consisted of a needle insulated except at its point, and was plunged into the appropriate cardiac chamber”. “The pacemaker rate was variable from about 80 to 120 pulses per minute, and likewise the voltage variable from 1.5 to 120 volts”. In 1928, the apparatus was used to revive a stillborn infant at Crown Street Women’s Hospital, Sydney whose heart continued “to beat on its own accord”, “at the end of 10 minutes” of stimulation.“
6. splayd cutlery
You’ve seen it but maybe never really thought about it. Like most people, you probably thought it was just an elegantly shaped utensil, but it’s actually all your cutlery pieces in one, and has sold over 5 million pieces worldwide since it’s creation in 1943, by a clever buggar by the name of William McArthur, who saw women struggle whilst eating as they stood upright at barbeques, so he combined the knife, fork and spoon all in one neat little piece. And you know what we love the most? The brand is *just* this one piece of utensil. They haven’t added other products to the range, losing their authenticity. They’ve remained true to the product created in the beginning and branding and what you see is literally all you get, which is the knife/fork/spoon combo piece. Makes us want a set of them all the more!
7. Stainless steel braces
Yes, we led the way in painless (or at least, less painful!) teeth straightening.
You’re welcome, world.
Remember that sunny day back in 1956 when this guy from Adelaide, who went by the name of Percy Raymond Begg teamed up with a specialist in metal, Arthur Wilcock, to create a gentler way of aligning teeth? Yeah, we weren’t there either, but we bet that millions of people thank them for it each and every day.
8. medical ultrasound
Back in ’61, David Robinson and his mate George Kossoff worked at the Australian Department of Health, and it was there that they discovered the first commercially practical water path ultrasonic scanner in 1961. So when you get that very first image of your newbie in your tummy, don’t forget to give a shoutout to Dave & George…or maybe name your kid after them.
9. Dual flush loo
In 1980, we all got fancy and were given the option to buy a toilet with TWO flush options. Yes, we really moved up in the world that year.
It’s a pretty huge deal though, as it’s responsible for saving ALOT of water for every household, every year. And it’s all thanks to a man named Bruce Thompson, who worked at Caroma. They must have been so proud of him, and we hope he was gifted a throne fit for a royal for his achievements.
10. Spray-On Skin
Unfortunately, inventions by Aussie women were rare, if at all, way back when. Maybe due to the times, as they were, women played a part but the men got the credit? We don’t know for sure, but as they say, behind every great man….
We hope to see the tide change and more and more women added to the list of Australian (and global) inventors, but for now, let’s celebrate Dr. Fiona Wood. Back in 1992, she developed Spray-On Skin for burns victims, so she’s a legend. Her invention became famous after the Bali bombings, where the product was in high demand to help treat victims.
The Fiona Wood Foundation is always working towards improving the quality of life for people who have suffered a burn injury, and you can donate to help out here.
11. Blood test to prevent stillbirth
How did we not know this? That’s incredible!
In 2013, the geniuses working at Mercy Health, Melbourne, discovered a way to detect details in a mothers blood that indicates deprivation of oxygen and nutrients in the foetus. We’re not medical professionals, but we assume that this then allows the actual professionals to find ways to increase these issues in order to help deliver a healthy baby.
Miracles do happen, people.
Inventors Source, Wikipedia