Saturday, February 4, 2012

Photo of the Week: Charcoal Cooler (Cobah, Australia)

Continuing the journey in Outback Australia, the photo of the week shows an early evaporative cooler used to counter the harsh heat. This charcoal cooler and others using similar principles were used in the heat of outback Australia as a refrigerator from the late 1800s through to the mid-1900s, when electricity or generators were not around. Water in a tray under the fridge is drawn up through the charcoal by the chimney at the top cooling (and de-odourising) everything inside.

Based on the invention of the Coolgardie Safe which relies on wet hessian bags for a cooling effect, various cooler models sprang up around Australia in early times before electricity was available in many remote areas. Natives in Africa and the Australian Aborigines are known to travel with wet animal skins to help preserve their food for a few extra days using the same idea of a cooling airflow.

This model is located in the excellent Cobar Museum which captures so much of early living in outback Australia. Cobar is a mining town around 150 kilometres south of Bourke in western NSW.


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