The Queenslander

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The Queenslander
Chapter 6
The House on Stumps

Queenslander on stumps

early house on stumps
The phenomenon of the house on stumps developed fairly late in northern Australia. (Some historians have suggested that it occurred late in the 19th century.) A number of explanations and interpretations have been advanced as to the origins of the high stump house and the relative advantages of living in one.

This house, bare of decorative elements, is an early example of the house on stumps. It provides shelter for drying clothes during the wet season.

houses on stumps Some owners maintain that such houses are safely and conveniently positioned well above mosquitoes, snakes and cane toads; and that, further, they catch welcome cool breezes. The latter explanation, however, makes little sense on a flat site in an urban area where a concentration of houses on high stumps may effectively impede the flow of air throughout the neighbourhood. 

It has also been suggested that the height of stumps was increased in low-lying coastal and river flat lands in some country towns which were subject to periodic flooding.

disguised stumps

Early stump houses were brutally frank and their owners made no attempt to disguise their so-called forest of black columns. 

Later examples suggest that people found this 'nakedness' somewhat embarrassing and therefore tried to hide the stumps by surrounding them with panels of timber strips or some other decorative material. The effect, in many cases, was a little forced and the whole exercise invariably looked like an afterthought. All the same, it is possible to find houses where such decorative treatment has been able to successfully achieve visual harmony with the rest of the structure, thus giving the impression of a double storeyed, well-knit and unified dwelling.

Text from: Balwant Saini and Ray Joyce, The Australian House: Homes of the Tropical North. Landsdown Publishing, Ltd, (Sydney), 1982.

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