Bread delivery & street vendors

“EXTRA!!! EXTRA!!! READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!” would be the call of the newspaper vendors after calling out the headline of the day. Those were the days when the newspaper boy would walk down the street dragging a trolley or similar loaded with newspapers. Some would stand outside railway stations to sell the papers.

But at one time there were many other vendors who performed similar roles. The “Rabbitoh” would wander down the road and call out “Rabbitoh” and housewives would go out to the street and purchase rabbits for which to make the evening meal of rabbit stew. Back in those days there were not any refrigerators in the home in which to store meat or any other produce.

Homes would have an “Ice Box” to keep the produce as fresh as possible. The Ice Box naturally needed ice, so the “Ice Man” would call perhaps weekly with large blocks of ice. He would ride his horse and insulated cart down the road and again the housewives would purchase a large block of ice to keep the food fresh. He would have a huge pair of tongs and with a leather sash over his shoulder would carry the block to the kitchen and deposit it into the Ice Box.

Also as these days were before the invention of the “Hills Hoist”, washing would be strung along a line that had been erected between two posts or perhaps trees. As washing was hung along the line the weight would pull the line closer to the ground such happenings saw the creation of the occupation of the “Clothes Prop Man” would wander down the street selling poles with which to lift the sagging clothes line up from letting the washing hang on the ground.

With the population being more widely scattered and sometimes to travel to the nearest shop for the purchase of bread or milk being some distance away, bakeries and milk producers would have drivers with their horse and cart (later motor vehicles) home deliver fresh bread and milk to homeowners.

Travelling tinkers would also wander down the various roads offering to sharpen the knives or scissors in the households.

Before the easy availability of electricity or gas many homes had open fireplaces in which they lit their coal or wood fires for heating in winter or fuel stoves for cooking. This provided another opportunity for a person to take loaded carts or wagons and sell fuel to the households to keep warm in winter or for cooking on a fuel stove.

At one time there would also be the soft drink sellers who would leave a crate of your favourite aerated drinks at the front doorstep. Names like “Dale’s”, “Swing”. “Sharpe’s” and “Crystal” all come to mind when recalling the various drink vendors.

Naturally we should not forget the calling of the “Milko” who would deliver fresh milk and cream to the household. You would leave the empty glass milk bottles out on the front step or verandah and the milko would collect them to take away and replace them with fresh full bottles.

Those times of the visiting baker or the milko does not seem to be all that long ago, certainly within the memory of a lot of our readers.


Memories of growing up locally, or when you moved into our community are welcome. Tell us your experiences from school days, sporting clubs, holidays, work or group organisations.

If you have a funny or interesting neighbourhood storyies, we would like to publish them! Write to: 17 Rose St, Baulkham Hills, NSW, 2153. Email to [email protected]. Share on Hills District Memories at or Hawkesbury Happenings & Memories at

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