Hay St, Perth, looking east, early 1900sThis is the image I’m using as wallpaper on my desktop at the moment. It shows Perth in the early 1900’s, looking east along Hay St. It helps me get a sense of the times I’m writing about for my next book, which is coming along steadily.

As you can see, the streets in the city centre were paved, and electric trams ran up and down Hay St, having been introduced in 1899. But in other ways conditions were still quite primitive. Did you know that there were sporadic outbreaks of bubonic plague in Perth in this period? In 1906 there were 7 cases in Perth, 12 in Fremantle and 29 around the state, with 13 deaths. Typhoid was also endemic.

Perth had no sewerage treatment system until 1912. Everything (and I mean everything – sewage, dead animals, old clothes, broken furniture, rotting vegetation) got dumped in the “Claisebrook drain” to the east of Perth and flowed into the river. Rats abounded and the stench could be smelled in Highgate and  beyond. Work began on a sewerage system in 1906, but progressed very slowly because the government insisted that the pipes had to be locally made.

Perth in the 1900’s

One thought on “Perth in the 1900’s

  • October 12, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I’d never heard of that sort of thing in Australia. I guess we take it for granted that those types of things happened overseas, not here. Interesting slice of history.

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