Life in an Old Queenslander

Queenslanders, as well as being the notoriously laid back inhabitants of Queensland, are buildings built using a type of architecture developed in the 1840s and they are unique to Queensland. They are magnificent and elegant old buildings and I am lucky enough to live in one at the moment. Let me show you around.

Queenslanders are mostly residential buildings of timber construction. The two main factors influencing their development were the often overwhelmingly hot and humid sub-tropical Queensland climate and the ready availability of certain building materials. A classic characteristic of Queenslanders is that the building is raised off the ground, partly for ventilation and partly to protect the timber structure from termite attack. These underfloor areas were often used for storage and still are, but are also often nowadays carports.

Queenslanders were built with large verandahs which often went around the entire property. These provided an external, but protected space. Due to the very warm climate and the high heat conductivity of the tin iron roofing, the interior layout of queenslanders was designed to maximise ventilation through the building, so walls, windows and doors are often aligned to make the most of even the slightest breeze.

This outdoor area has been enclosed to provide an extra bedroom

Being built for ventilation often means that windows do not include panes of glass, but slats, which means you are never alone when you live in a queenslander. I have daily visits from moths and several friendly geckos who enjoy stalking and scoffing the moths. Birdsong and insect noises are often audible too. It is easy sometimes, to hear David Attenborough’s voice in my head and imagine I am living in one of the BBC’s documentaries. It is a bit like camping without the discomfort (assuming the wildlife doesn’t freak you out).

My roommate, this gecko enjoying his dinner, Queenslander, Cairns

The truly magical thing about queenslanders though, is that they can be relocated. Being built raised on stumps, they can be transported and set up in a new place. I have seen them driven about on lorries. It is amazing. I was excited to hear that the queenslander I currently live in was relocated 17 years ago. It only moved from the other side of the street, but still, that’s unusual isn’t it?

Queenslander carport, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Although there are several old queenslanders dotted about Queensland they are not built routinely anymore. There are specialist companies that build new houses in the style of old queenslanders, using improved materials, but it is also possible to see several of the features of queenslanders integrated into modern building designs. Outdoor space along the length of one side of the building is common for example and modern buildings are often built raised off the ground too.

Have you noticed unique architecture while traveling? Where was the most interesting?


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