When Europeans first reached Australian shores, a long-held belief developed that Australian Aboriginal people did not have houses or towns, that it was a country devoid of Indigenous architecture - 'architecture nullius'. Instead it was believed that Aboriginal people occupied temporary camps, sheltering in makeshift huts or lean-tos of grass and bark.
Turning this popular idea on its head, Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley explores the range and complexity of Aboriginal-designed structures, spaces and territorial behaviour, from minimalist shelters to permanent villages before the arrival of the colonists.
Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley covers in depth the architecture of early contact Aboriginal Australia. It also gives a brief overview of post-1970 collaborative architecture between white Australian architects and Aboriginal clients.
Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley provides an introduction and a framework for ongoing debate and research on the subject, and more broadly aims to introduce the lay reader to the subject and provide avenues of insight into the lifestyles and cultural heritage of Aboriginal peoples.
Paul Memmott draws on evidence from explorers' accounts, early drawings, anthropological research from the 1930s and archaeological surveys, coupled with his own investigations over 35 years.
There are the bi-domes of the north-east Queensland rainforest, which were inhabited for months on end during the rainy season; the grass-clad domes of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria; the warm and weatherproof half-domes clad with grass thatches in pockets of relatively high rainfall in western Tasmania; the beehive stone-walled Gunditjmara village houses of western Victoria; and the spinifex houses of the Western Desert. — Sydney Morning Herald review