What if you lived in a small town and decided, following a creative spasm, to place a curious sign out the front of your house. Then, all but the entire town joined in and eventually the state government’s nomenclature board acknowledged your trendsetting endeavour by changing the town’s name. Well, that’s exactly what happened in Doo Town, a small seaside town located in Tasmania’s south-east.
The birth of Doo Town
Situated by the striking coastline of Eaglehawk Neck, Doo Town’s origins date back to the 1830s when it functioned as a timber station. Fast forward to the 1930s and the town’s location led to the establishment of a number of weekend holiday ‘shacks’.
Then in 1935 (for reasons unknown), Hobart architect Eric Round placed a sign outside his holiday shack which said ‘Doo I’. Perhaps this was following a party (doo being a British noun for party) that turned into an existential bender. In any case, neighbour Charles Gibson followed with the lewd ‘Doo Mee’ and Bill Eldridge took things one step further with ‘Doo Us’.
Eventually, after a cascade of Dr. Seuss-like signs appeared across town, the town’s name was officially changed to ‘Doo Town’.
Upon exploring town I spotted signs such as ‘Wee Doo’, ‘Us2Doo’, ‘Do Us’, ‘Doo-n-little’, ‘Doo-Nix’, ‘Mal’s Dooghouse’, ‘Doo-n-time’, ‘AsYooDoo’, ‘Af-2-Do’, ‘Much-a-Doo’, ‘Doo-Mee’ and ‘Xanadu’. I was particularly chuffed I’d found the last one, as this was allegedly the town’s original sign that Eric Round changed from ‘Doo I’. I stared at it thinking it was perhaps, just perhaps, the scene of a thunderously good party in the ‘30s.
As I marched about like a tourist, pressed for time and taking photos of other people’s houses, I spied two women walking up the hill. One of them looked at me and said rather forcefully, “what are you doing”! I was a little taken aback by this and felt a bit sheepish, until she paused and said “in Doo Town? And gave me a big smile. I thought this was splendidly cheeky and it put me in a good mood.
Even though there’s not particularly much to doo in Doo Town, apart from take in the signage, its location makes it worth the visit. The town is wedged between the ruggedly handsome coastline of Pirates Bay, a privately owned cattle farm and the Tasman National Park. It’s also in close proximity to a number of the state’s attractions, such as the Tessellated Pavement, Dog Line, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen, the Blowhole and historic Port Arthur.
In all I enjoyed my fleeting visit to Doo Town and thought it a tad unfair the Sydney Morning Herald reported the townsfolk had “tried to be witty” in naming their houses. I enjoyed that a simple act brought townsfolk together, at least in some small regard, which is more than I can say for many Australian towns where neighbours are barely acknowledged. Additionally, it’s just a bit of fun – something that’s needed more often in this world.
A Few Additional Facts
Between the months of September and April a food van named ‘Doo-Lishus’ is parked at the nearby Blowhole car park. Astonishingly, this tiny outlet was awarded for having the best fish and chips in Tasmania at the fifth biannual Tasmanian Seafood Awards in 2015.
In 2004, a company called Off Planet Films made a cartoon series set in and named after Doo Town. Their website describes the show: “rednecks, injustice, aliens, strip-clubs, gratuitous nudity and insurance fraud all meet in this previously unexposed backwater of the world!”
What’s your take on Doo Town? Have you been there?