Mike's Australia by Mike Dixon - HTML preview

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8 Colonial Australia


In the 230 odd years since the arrival of the first European settlers, Australia has developed a distinctive architecture of its own.

My father-in-law was a keen photographer and took hundreds of photographs of old buildings when he visited us from England.  As he said, Australia is a very young country compared with Britain but that doesn't mean it has no historic buildings.

The old colonial buildings were designed to suit the needs of a pioneering society.  They are very different from the buildings of Europe and they are very different from those going up in Australia today.

If you are travelling round Australia and have an interest in beer and architecture, check out the old hotels.  The picture (above) is of Buchanan's Hotel in Townsville.  It was taken by my father-in-law before it was destroyed in a mysterious fire.  Buchanan's was used by General Douglas Macarthur during the War in the Pacific.  Many stories are told about those memorable days and their aftermath.  They were the inspiration for my mystery thriller The Suitcase.

Colonial architecture is not confined to drinking houses.  Domestic architecture soon took on a distinctive Australian look.  When the British arrived on Australian shores they were not strangers to tropical living.  The Indian experience influenced architectural thought and continued to do so during the early years of settlement.  It can be seen in military barracks and buildings for ordinary people.


One of my favourite examples is the type of house (above) often referred to as a Queenslander.  They are found across northern Australia and are well suited to hot climates.

The typical Queenslander is of wooden construction and perched on stumps.  It has a corrugated iron roof and extensive verandas.  Rooves are often curved and ornamented with ventilators and decorative ironwork.  Louvered blinds hang above veranda rails to provide shade and decorative panels fill the space below.  High ceilings and ornate mouldings help to create pleasing interiors.