Helping with the washing at Elizabeth Farm


One of the many interesting roles of the Sydney Living Museums’ learning team is having authentic replicas of objects specially made for use in our school education programs.

At Elizabeth Farm we have students role-playing assigned convicts from 1828. This immersive experience involves them doing jobs that a convict would have done for the Macarthur family.

One of these jobs is washing the clothes with a washboard.

It has become increasingly difficult to source a washboard made from wood and corrugated steel as the use of plastic is so prolific, so now we need to get them custom-made.

Members of the Hornsby Woodworking Men’s Shed have made authentic items for us in the past, so this time they worked on making us new washboards. They matched the old ones by using Kauri pine for the timber frame. This timber was actually recycled timber that came from a very old house. The results look completely authentic and are robust for extensive washing at the hands of school students.

These photos are of the completed washboards with some of the men from the men’s shed as well as the washboards being used by students at Elizabeth Farm.

  • Man using woodworking tools to make washboard.
  • Two men with rows of completed wood and tin washboards.

About the Author

Portrait of woman.
Naomi Manning
Naomi is passionate about teaching history and has worked in different contexts to do this over the years. Currently she working for Sydney Living...