Australian Country Houses of Yesteryear

Australian Country Houses of Yesteryear

Based on early settlers' homes on the Yorke Peninsula,
South Australia, in the 1850-1900 era.

The houses were build mostly of locally available materials.

Limestone rocks picked off the ground, roughly trimmed to shape, and cemented into the walls. Even the mortar was locally burnt limestone, mixed with either  beach sand or clay from hand-dug wells. The average house wall width, (thickness) was from about 18" (450mm), up to about 2ft (600mm), with an average height of between 10ft (3 metres), and 12ft (3.6 metres), although the occasional house wall reached a height of 14ft (approx. 4.5 metres). Nothing was ever 100% square or straight, whether vertical or horizontal. Yet many of these old houses and buildings are still standing today.

Roughly trimmed logs were used as lintels above the door and window frames, while imported Oregon Timber was used for the rafters and roof purlins. Ceilings were either the old Lath and Plaster type, matchboard, or occasionally galvanized flat-iron nailed onto the ceiling rafters. (Homes constructed from about 1890 sometimes had pressed-metal ceilings, instead of plain galvanized flat-iron.)

Roofing was usually the old English galvanized, tinned 22 gauge corrugated-iron, which is very heavy gauge compared to modern-day “paper-thin” corrugated-iron. Corrugated-iron started becoming into general use in Australia from about 1840, after having been invented in 1820 by a Mr. Henry Palmer of the London Dock Company. Originally this type of cladding was made from thin wrought-iron sheets, which is where the name “iron” originates, then about 1880–1890 the product changed over the galvanized-tinned flat steel corrugated sheets, but the name of corrugated-iron stayed. The fixing nails were an early form of roofing screw - galvanized screw type thread, topped with a nail head shape but with a screw slot in the head and a tightly-fitting heavy galvanized flat washer under the head.