Tomorrow is Australia Day. On 26 January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain and the first governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove. The raising of the Union Jack there symbolised British occupation of the eastern half of the continent claimed by Captain James Cook on 22 August in 1770.
Each year on this day we celebrate all things Australian – meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars – to name a few. Being a Public Holiday, there are numerous events across the country. The back yard barbies get fired up and the beaches are packed.
So I thought I would take a look at what constitutes Australian Style. The Australian Financial Review compiled a quick snapshot of Australia this weekend and the following statistics were interesting.
There are 22.1 million of us, growing at a rate of one new person every 1 minute and 11 seconds. That’s 443,000 per year of which 285,000 are immigrants and 158,000 are natural increases. Our overseas born population are made up of 4.3% from the UK, 2% from NZ, 1% from China, 1% from Italy and 0.8% Vietnam.
I picked up my copy of Australian Style which was first published in 1991 and subsequently reprinted a few times. The dust jacket sums up our style. “Australia is a kaleidoscope of parodoxes, a western democracy at the edge of Asia, an English penal colony that became a multicultural land of opportunity, a place where birds laugh and mammals lay eggs and everything familiar is somehow altered, suddenly unique.”
That about sums it up really, we do not have an Australian Style as such, but rather many different styles. We take influences from all corners of the globe as we travel the world. Tuscan inspired homes sit beside Californian Bungalows and modern apartments. Our geographic location has displaced us from our western heritage and we have been forced to adapt and develop our own style.
We are surrounded by colour. Lorikeets, beach, desert and rainforest all reflect the intense vibrant colours of our country. Our strong light, not seen anywhere else, is clear and hard. Our colour choices for homes and fashion are, therefore, bold.
There are however, some iconic Australian Styles in homes.
In Queensland, the timber homes were built on stumps or stilts with wide lattice enclosed verandahs. The stilts were to deter snakes and protect the home from floods. The lattice verandahs became semi-open bedrooms on hot summer nights.
Further south, Federation style homes and Californian Bungalows were being built during the first half of the 20th Century. These solid, double brick homes are still in demand today and are being extended to accommodate our current lifestyle.
After all, Australian Style is all about our lifestyle – relaxed and outdoors. The lines between inside and out have been blurred. Wide verandahs and courtyards have been translated to Jamie Durie’s Outdoor Room philosophy giving us more space to enjoy the great Australian climate. This Melbourne courtyard is a prime example.
Happy Australia Day for tomorrow!