Life in Australia at the turn of the twentieth century was very different to the way it is today. The way people lived, worked and spent their leisure time was greatly determined by their status in society.
Life in the city was very different for each class. The working class, or unskilled workers, lived in detached or semi-detached houses in the city centre, so they were close to their work. They paid extremely high rent, there was no sewerage and they could not afford to employ any domestic servants. For the middle class, or skilled workers, life was a bit easier. They lived in the growing suburbs around the city centre, and could afford to buy their own homes with a mortgage and the cost of travel to and from work each day. Most could afford to employ one or two servants, and save some money each year. The wealthy class lived in areas of prime real estate value, away from the factories. Their homes were large with backyards and space for the numerous domestic servants they employed.
Country life was similar to that in the city – your class determined your standard of living. However, even for the wealthy class, access to resources was limited. People relied on mail order catalogues for their clothes and other needs, and there wasn’t an extensive range of education opportunities. Community life revolved around Sunday church and people relied on wood and kerosene for light, heat and cooking. For the poor, life was even harder as they had little money and no stable home.
The jobs people held at this time reflected their class. The working class held positions in factories, which involved strenuous physical work and a 12-16 hour working day. Often, children of working class families were also sent out to find a job to help support the family. Children as young as eight worked in factories, doing jobs adults couldn’t do, such as cleaning out small spaces in the machinery. Middleclass men were known as the ‘white collar workers’, and had jobs such as teachers,...