Six-bob-a-day tourists

A controversial tag…

In 1914 as Australia ‘rallied to the cause’ to muster a volunteer force to go to war, the daily wage of six shillings was offered to the lowest rank of private, with a scale upward for each rank. Although in today’s terms this is sixty cents a day, at the time it was a good wage considering all meals, accomodation and travel were covered by the Australian Government. At six shillings a day, the rate was one shilling under the minimum wage for an unskilled worker set by the Government in 1907. While many sent some money home, particularly those who were married or had struggling parents, many of the single men took advantage of their financial status when on leave.

When the term ‘six-bob-a-day tourist’ was coined it carried a derogatory overtone, suggesting that men were enlisting for the wage and travel rather than the call of duty, however many photos & postcards show the other side of the coin. When they had leave, they had money to spend, sometimes on the more socially frowned upon activities, but usually on tourism. They walked, took trains, rode motor cars and even donkeys to take in the sights of foreign lands they had only heard about in school. While in training in England many would befriend local girls and take in theatre or picture shows in their free hours and days.

Exchange the uniforms for civilian clothes and these photos are just like any other holiday snaps…

Digger & local couple Durban South Africa
Five cobbers relaxing in Wiltshire, England
Officers enjoy a rickshaw ride while on leave in Ceylon
Two diggers and a friend relaxing at the beach
Light horsemen take a donkey ride in Egypt