Over the years, Australians have punched well above their weight when it comes to new inventions.
From Vegemite, to the Hills Hoist, Australians have given the world products that not only have become brand names in their own right, but have made the lives of millions around the world easier. We look at a number of Australian inventions that we have all grown to know and love.
This iconic rotary washing line coupled with a mechanical hoist, remains a firm fixture in many Australian backyards. Originally designed by Victorian Gilbert Toyne in 1912, in 1945 Lance Hill of Adelaide further refined the design and sold it under the name of the ‘Hills Hoist’. The Hills Hoist is an enduring Australian icon in more ways than one. In 1974, a Darwin family reported that the only thing left standing, and working, after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist.
Foster's Lager, one of only a handful of truly global beer brands. Along with the more down to earth Victoria Bitter, and the premium Crown Lager, Fosters could well be considered as being some of Australia’s favourite beverages. If we are talking about household names and sheer numbers sold, these three icons are in a class of their own.
This spread made from the waste leftover of beer brewing yeast was invented by Dr Cyril Callister and launched by food entrepreneur, Fred Walker in 1923. Today, it's still one of Australia’s favourite foods and is exported to more than 100 countries around the world, and has itself spawned a number of imitations around the globe including Marmite.
The Staysharp knife
In 1966, Dennis Jackson, a design engineer for Wiltshire Cutlery, invented a spring-loaded sharpening block inside a sheath, which sharpened the knife every time it was taken out. Two years later, Stuart Devlin (who had designed Australia's decimal coins) was hired to create a plastic scabbard and handle for the knife. In 1971 they started a series of ads featuring well-known fashion model and mum, Maggie Tabberer. Since then more than 8 million Staysharp knives have been sold, with patents and design registrations in 37 countries – a true-blue Australian brand.
First invented by chemist George Nicholas as a form of Asprin in a tablet in 1916. By 1940 it had become the world's most widely used headache treatment. Today, it is a firm fixture on every chemist shelf from Broome to Brunswick.
The concept for Google Maps was created by the Australian team of Google, with the initial concept then taken over by the Danish-Australian brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, who created an interface to which they initially gave the name of ‘Walkabout’. It was launched in 2004 under the name Google Wave, which we now know as Google Maps.
The famous 'budgie smugglers' were invented by Peter Travis who became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008 for his Speedo invention — or as the Sydney Morning Herald put it, “for creating the nation's best-loved stretch of nylon”. Travis invented the skimpy bathing costume while working for Speedo in 1961 and today it is exported all over the world and can be seen on beaches from Coogee to Cancun and from The French Riviera to the Gold Coast.
YOUR SAY: What's your favourite Australian invention and why? Tell us below!