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billy cart

a billie cart is a small homemade hill trolley: a billie cart race downhill. Compare go-cart, hill trolley, soapbox. Also, billie cart.

Editor's comments: These are called "billy carts" because they were originally harnessed to and drawn by billy-goats.

Contributor's comments: Growing up in suburban Melbourne, we all used the expression "billy cart". It was widely used.

Contributor's comments: My dad called it a Billie-Cart, my Mum did, and Ginger Megs did - I always thought it was a universal Australianism.

Contributor's comments: Billie cart or billy cart has definitely been widely used in Victoria throughout my life - say the last 50 years.

Contributor's comments: The term Billie Cart was also used in Western Australia prior to the 1970s.

Contributor's comments: I would query the assertion that this term was used in W.A. before 1970. Growing up in the forties and fifties we had HILL TROLLEYS, and never used the term billy cart.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Ballarat in the 1960's and this was the common name used.

Contributor's comments: This expression was used in the mid-north of South Australia in the 1950s.

Contributor's comments: billy cart used in adelaide in 1950s.

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Melbourne in 1950s and almost every kid had a "billy cart".

Contributor's comments: [Melbourne informant] I still remember building the fastest billy cart in the street. The wheels were the most important part.

Contributor's comments: We used Billy cart in Port Augusta in the 1950s. Pram wheels, a drink crate, plank, steering bolt, rope a few nails and the hill was yours. Schumacher eat your heart out!!

Contributor's comments: I grew up in Mitcham, Melbourne in the 1950's. The best billy carts had ball bearing wheels. If these were not obtainable we used pram wheels.

Contributor's comments: My comment supports the claim that billy cart was not used in Western Australia. The term used was definitely 'hill trolley' - in the days when kids built such things!!

Contributor's comments: I lived in Doncaster/Templestowe in outer eastern Melbourne in the Seventies, we built billy carts, the best ones with pram wheels at the front and ball bearings (or ball bearing races) on the back for sliding on tarmac.

Contributor's comments: I believe that this is a pretty universal Australianism. Every boy in my neighborhood (Bankstown 1950's/60's) had one. We often made them out of old crates/fruit boxes. Billy carts pre-dates 'Go Carts' (which have a motor - Billy carts are strictly human-powered). Billy carts seem to have gone out of fashion - I can't recall having seen or heard of one for 20+ years.

Contributor's comments: I remember us making billy carts in Newcastle in the 50s but they were two wheeled with handles attached to the large box and used for carrying things .. for instance the newspaper boy would push his papers around in his billy cart .. the racing variety was called a trolley and was similar in design to what has been described by the Melbournians.

A home made vehicle used for travelling downhill under gravitational power alone. Outside Queensland apparently called a "billycart" with "go-cart" referring specifically to the motorised vehicles used on racetracks etc.: I was sittin' on the go-cart zooming down the hill. Compare billy cart, hill trolley, soapbox.

Contributor's comments: The term 'go cart' was used for a 'hill trolley' when I lived in the Suburb of Unley in Adelaide SA 1963-67. When we moved to Alfred Cove Perth WA we used the term hill trolley. The term 'billy cart' didn't come into usage at anytime.

Contributor's comments: In Brisbane in the early 50's we had trolleys and sometimes called them billy carts. In about 1960 go-karts (note the spelling) came along and were motorised versions but far evolved. I built many a trolley (7) and in later life (1960's) many a Go-Kart (13).
hill trolley

noun a billycart. Compare billy cart, go-cart, soapbox.

Contributor's comments: [Perth informant] I used this term when I was making and racing hill trolleys in my early teens - used to win all my races too.

Contributor's comments: [Perth informant] Yes. It was always a hill trolley for me; never a billy cart. I regarded that collocation as very American.

Contributor's comments: Old people sometimes called them soapboxes, presumably because soap used to be packaged in large wooden boxes that formed the part of the billycart that you sat in.

Contributor's comments: Only ever heard the term "hill trolley" Perth & WA. In Qld they were "Billy Carts" or "Billy Goat Carts". I think "Soap Box" is an unfortunate Americanism.
soap box

South Australian term for billy cart. When I was in primary school in SA in the 1950s, we always called it a soap box.. I didn't hear the term "billy cart" until I read "Ginger Meggs" comic strips: The kids have soap box races on Kelly's Hill after school. Compare billy cart, go-cart, hill trolley.