Now you see it … OZ Scenic Public Toilet #32

Last Updated on March 24, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ

Semaphore streetscape, Adelaide, South Australia
Semaphore streetscape, Adelaide, South Australia

What’s a nice Scenic Public Toilet doing in a street like this?

Who knew that exploring Adelaide beachside suburb Semaphore would reveal such an intriguing blend of almost tasteful camouflage and cutting edge convenience technology?

Is that a dunny I see before me???
Is that a dunny I see before me???

Actually, who knew there WAS such cutting edge convenience technology??

Accidentally wandering into the main street’s residential zone after trawling the Semaphore shops for loot, as one does, I’d already turned to go back when Pilchard nudged me.

‘Look over there,’ he murmured with a coded jerk of the head that the unaware and/or unkind would immediately dismiss as a muscle spasm.

I looked.

I saw nothing. Pilchard smiled evilly.

‘What?’ I demanded, exasperated. This wasn’t the first time he’d pointed out something I would find ‘exciting’, like a bird on the fence or an unusual plant. But this time, apart from an undeniably attractive streetscape offset against the blue South Australian summer sky, I could see nothing.

The well-disguised public amenities on a Semaphore Street, South Australia
The well-disguised public amenities on a Semaphore Street, South Australia

‘Can’t you see the toilet?’ Pilchard asked, with more than a touch of smugness.

This time I looked more carefully. The antique lamp posts, some stone fronted cottages, a bus stop. And – another bus stop?

Actually, no.

In case you were wondering ...
In case you were wondering …

The tiny structure’s muted tones, a carefully executed mural showing bare-branched autumn trees behind a wrought iron fence against a sepia sky, blended in nicely with the stonework behind.

It was almost a shame to desecrate such a brilliantly cunning disguise with a blatant sign that was a dead giveaway. If approaching the building from the street, that is. As the average user probably wouldn’t, given that this loo was no drive-in!

And the appropriately yellow pedestrian signs on the footpath warned that this was a potential crossing point for approaching users.  I could only imagine how much more effective such a disguise would be in autumn, when apart from the sepia, the actual trees would match their mural counterparts.

I wondered how many people mistook it for the bus stop.

Which one's the bus stop? Semaphore street, Adelaide, South Australia
Which one’s the bus stop? Semaphore street, Adelaide, South Australia

No matter.

I grabbed my camera and took off.

'Semaphore Reflections'
‘Semaphore Reflections’

‘Do you actually need to use the loo?’ Pilchard called out behind me.


‘That’s sick,’ he murmured and headed for the bus stop. Quite rightly too.

Not everyone would accept that a lone man hanging around a public facility with binoculars in hand was actually birdwatching …

While his partner was inside taking photos …

A symphony of sterile stainless steel, automated accessories and instructive communications, enhanced by the piped music softly playing to – I guess – assist one’s ‘performance’, the glare of the interior made it difficult to effectively capture the ambience in the 10 minutes I had before the door would automatically open.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the visually impaired users for whom the braille translations must be intended would actually find all the signs given their random scattering around the inordinately large interior.

More than a basin - this is a WORKSTATION!
More than a basin – this is a WORKSTATION!

How would one know, for example, that the soap/water/dryer basin inset wasn’t a urinal? And whatever one thought it was, why would one then think to test for braille instructions along it’s top??

And who could guess without looking how far below the toilet tissue touch button the tissue actually emerged???

Grafitti - and non-Braille instructions!
Grafitti – and non-Braille instructions!

That’s if it DID emerge – I would have had more luck if I’d hit the button with a hammer, or a well-executed karate kick.  Neither of which would have been remotely possible if I’d actually been seated on the loo.

I hoped the next user appreciated the toilet tissue I left behind.

Other than graffiti left by the imaginatively spelt ‘Ebanie’ (now preserved forever right here!), the only sign with NO braille accompaniment was the instruction for exiting the amenities in the case of power failure.

Of course while the power was ON, everyone would know exactly where to find the large exit button at the LEFT of the right-opening door, wouldn’t they?

But of course I could see whether or not the door was locked by the lights next to what surely must be (or why use it) the international ‘lock’ symbol – an open or closed padlock, although visually impaired users might have some difficulty given the absence of a) braille or b) raised surfaces.

Door sign, Public Conveniences, Semaphore
Door sign, Public Conveniences, Semaphore

And while I was unperturbed by the absence of a flush-button – these clever conveniences flush themselves, an action triggered by a) using the handbasin/ urinal; or b) exiting the amenities – I wondered what an illiterate person or a child would make of it.

The visually impaired person would, of course, find the braille instruction to this effect while feeling around for the flush-button, right??

While tempted to see what happened when the door opened of its own accord in 10 minutes, I returned to the street. After all, in a country with few public amenities outside parks, gardens, shopping centres, service stations and rest stops, this rare example of suburban street amenities next to a bus stop MUST be in demand! Or why build it there in the first place?

Surely by now there’d be a queue??

But the street was inexplicably empty.

After a few steps, however, the solution was clear.

Of course! The camouflage was working!!

PS Guess what?  This FAAAABULOUS loo features in my awesome book “Aussie Loos with Views!” – more HERE!

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  1. What a novel concept, actually making public restrooms look artistic. I love it!

    Check out my awesome travel blog sometime soon 😛

  2. Now I know I’ve seen everything 🙂 They take good care of you folks down under. It good to know you’re documenting this for posterity. Have a great weekend, Red. Blessings…Mary

  3. Red
    My 3rd try at reading this post. Always interruptions. What a loo. I wonder if one were on the bus and decided they had to “go” ….. if they could get a transfer, visit the loo and get on the next bus, using the trans
    You cut your hair. Looks great.

  4. @Hilda – I was starting to get worried. It took me nearly 10 minutes to work it all out!!!
    @SFlaGuy – You could be right. This is Hospital chic meets techno glamour – not like a good ol’ Aussie dunny at all!!!
    @PDP – I saw them first on the Gold Coast – where they were seriously vandalised and not all the ‘features’ were working properly!!! But this one is either fairly new, or no one much can find it!
    @Filip – It was a surprise to me too. They’re not normally in the suburbs!
    @Glen – It’s a gift. I’ll write the handbook one day!
    @ladyfi – I would have missed it if not for Pilchard! My ‘loo’ radar obviously wasn’t working as well as it should have!!!

  5. This has to be the most high-tech toilet I have ever seen! I know a lot of people (including myself!) who’d be absolutely confused in there. Adore the camouflage, though!

  6. It is in an odd spot Red.. I’ve seen these loos in Paris and other parts of Europe, I remember more than one occasion where they’ve been a real ‘relief’!!

  7. Great camouflage, but a strange place to have a loo, right in the middle of a residential area. Well, it must be needed there, otherwise why would it be built there?

  8. I don’t remember seeing the inside of Scenic Public Toilet before. Probably for the best. I don’t think it would make as good a calendar as the one I have now.

  9. @MJWC – Haha, I never thought of it as ‘inviting’!!! But I guess it is compared with some of the ‘dunnies’ I’ve featured before!! Just so long as no one’s mistaken the basin for a urinal …
    @George – Yes! But I DO wonder just WHY it has to be so effectively camouflaged – isn’t the point of a public loo to actually find it??!! Have a good weekend!
    @LONDONLULU – Ha! I think parts of OZ have a long way to go too … this is probably the cleanest loo I’ve stumbled across, but maybe that’s because no one except me and Ebanie have used it???!!!
    @Sami – My thoughts exactly. Maybe I was just there at the wrong time …
    @diane b – Call me a dinosaur, but I can’t see how toilets and electronics go together at all!!
    @FruitCake – I’m SO with you on being caught with my knickers down – I know I should have waited 10 mins to see if the toilet announced it’s intention of opening the door, or just did it!! Latex gloves seem very sensible, especially if the less educated have decided the basin really IS a urinal …
    @eileeninmd – I was STOKED to find this one … although I have Pilchard to thank!! It’s a bit different from my usual dunnies, but it sure brought a smile to my face!
    @Are We There Yet – Thank you!! Just wait ’til you see the next one!!! Grafitti becomes art in about 50 years, so just think of the young as the artists of the future!

  10. @Fun60 – Haha, never thought of that! Maybe I’ve been captured on film for some new TV show!! Great story about yr friend’s daughter – how long did it take you to get outta there?!?!?!
    @Carole – There’s a lot to be said for loos being right out in the open – but only if you can find them!!!
    @Andrew – I’ll never pass by a well-blended exterior again without wondering whether there’s a loo lurking inside … or maybe the Braille will tell me!!
    @Rose – I suspect the days of the good ol’ Aussie dunnies are drawing to a close … all the more reason for me to hunt them out while they still exist! No Bush Stone Curlews anywhere near here!! And maybe this is a Saturday night after the pub bus stop???!!!
    @Jim – Well, it worked on me!!!
    @River – I suspect it’s been there awhile – I could have walked right past it & not noticed. Hell, I DID walk right by it & not notice!! I can’t imagine how confusing it’d be for anyone who didn’t understand English or Braille …
    @Saucy Kod – So glad our plight gave you a good laugh, haha!! It’s one of the more bizarre loo finds – but I’m sure there’s more out there just waiting …

  11. Hi Red, I really like the mural painted on the outside. It does seem to be in a weird location for a loo. And the inside is very confusing to me. Great find! Have a happy weekend!

  12. Weird setting, but very stylish exterior. Unlike Diane b I don’t fear being locked inside a tardis, I fear being caught with my pants down when my time is up.
    Usually there is only braille on an outside door here, and I guess it would at least provide reassurance about whether a loo is for ladies or gents once the blind person has located the toilet, and which side of the door to push. I’m impressed with the extra effort someone has taken, but just as puzzled by how one would find all those words to read. I guess if I were blind I would wear latex gloves in places like that, though.
    One of your best dunnies ever!

  13. I hate those toilets with electronic buttons to open doors. I always have a fear of being locked in. I rather like the camouflage look.

  14. The best disguised toilet ever! I would’ve walked right by and never known any better:) You are lucky that Australia recognizes how important well-kept public toilets can be (with the exception of some big cities, we’ve a looong way to go!)

  15. a decidedly different loo concept; I like it. Right out in the open with the passing traffic and all; it somehow seems like a safer option than being hidden down the back of a park amongst the shrubbery.

  16. Maybe it’s a piece of street art cleverly disguised as a toilet but not meant to be used as one! Reminds me of visiting a DIY store with a friend when her very young daughter proudly told us she had used the toilet on her own – horror of horrors, it was a display bathroom!

  17. What a nice way to disguise a toilet. You Aussies really know how to make even a toilet look inviting.

  18. Now that’s a real eye stopper – I think this is one of the most elegant you’ve found yet and if not, then most comparable. That bird watcher 🙂 has keen eyes, otherwise you might never have seen it. I am picturing Pilchard sitting with the binoculars and you taking photos in the toilet, which brings a smile to my face n laughter on my lips. Have a wonderful day.

  19. That’s new, it wasn’t there when I visited Semaphore this time last year. (Unless I just didn’t notice it)I walked up from Port Adelaide and walked right along Semaphore Road to the beach. It is a very clever disguise and pretty enough from the outside but the inside looks like a nightmare of confusion. It would take me ten minutes just to read all the signs, then the door would spring open and I’d be….exposed. I’ll stick to the loo down by the beach.

  20. This is an extraordinary find Red, whoever would have thought?!!
    Loos just ain’t loos anymore! Clearly it’s a good option for safety but it begs the question – why there of all places?
    Must be a heck of a queue for the buses at times, maybe they run awfully late a lot of the time.
    Hahaha, ‘Semophone Reflections’ 🙂

  21. Its exterior looks wonderful. Ok, maybe some issues with the Braille, but at least it is a start on something I have never thought about.

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