Early Building Styles

A lot of the early building styles in the new Australian colony reflected a combination of styles found in England and in England’s American colonies, but not all. A few of the early types of construction are demonstrated in the row of officers’ quarters from Old Sydney Town shown below. The one that I want to point out is the white log building at the back on the right. This is a style called drop-log construction. I actually just like the sound of the words, drop log. But I was also intrigued by the method.

It was a widely used style of early construction in Australia, and I’d actually seen drop log cabins up in the mountains, on the horse riding trip in Victoria. (Stayed in one, even.) But I didn’t have a camera with me there, so I was delighted to get a picture of a drop-log hut here. The idea for drop-log construction is that you establish upright posts with grooves in them. Then you cut short logs from young trees, shape the ends so they fit the grooves in the posts, and then drop the logs down. You just keep dropping logs into those grooves until you have a wall. The logs would then be covered with mud and whitewashed. Easy, fast method of construction, and it doesn’t involve felling the massive trees one associates with the word “log cabin.” (Though some of those were also built in early Australia.)

I’ve done a few searches on drop-log construction, and as far as I can tell, this is pretty much an Aussie concept.

Housing at Old Sydney Town



Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, History, Travel

3 responses to “Early Building Styles

  1. Lovely photo. You know, I’ve seen building built like this but I’d never enquired or seen a description of the style of building. Thanks for enlightening me!

  2. That’s fascinating, and such an efficient method of building. How would they have been against the extreme heat and cold?

    • I think it would depend on how you finished it. When I stayed in the drop-log style cattleman’s hut in the Victorian alps, it was mighty chilly and pretty rough (gutter down the middle of the mud floor, to let water run through, rather than rush up against the side of the cabin). But there was a large fireplace so we got it kind of warm. However, I’ve seen some that had well-fitted doors, wood floors, and well-finished walls (plastered and painted), and those would certainly be cozier—maybe not as snug as brick, but still pretty comfortable—especially if you’re in Sydney, and not up in the mountains..

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