Urban Salvage

The Drum


      NOVEMBER 2012

  • Shed Culture On Bruny Island
  • What's New

Shed Culture On Bruny Island

We had an instinct that something interesting was happening on North Bruny Island. Timber had been inspected, specified - and arrangements made to ship it to Tassie. Projects by John Wardle Architects invariably have a strong timber bias - and the Shearers Quarters at Waterview was therefore not completely unexpected. The surprise lay in the size and the simplicity of this rural build. 


I have often only a grudging admiration of the modern architectural beachfront opus found from Cape Schank to Lorne. While recognising great craft in many of these designs, I have a preference for restraint in size and function - more in the coastal shack tradition. This inclination might arise from an observed tendency of affluent Boomers to sell their 35 square family homes once the kids have fled, and to rebuild 55 square twilight-year mausoleums complete with movie theatres. They bluster unconvincingly that the kids will arrive back for visits with their own offspring and occupy the empty spaces. 

None of that overblown quantum of floorplan is in evidence at Waterview, but the new building does anticipate a stay of shearers and other visitors. Everyone needing a bit of room for sleeping and showering. The locus of meaningful focus in Shearers Quarters is a communal living and dining space framed in Stringybark and Macrocarpa Cypress. Wide boards give service as a floor in species from the foothill stands of native forests in south-eastern Australia. Messmate, Brown Barrel, Silvertop Ash and Yellow Stringybark. Common names that suggests a visible spectrum of difference. Yet the reality of these timbers is a strong compatibility in appearance as well as habitat. Light browns, occasionally cinnamon-tinged, straw-blondes brushed with coffee stain or peppered with black speck and pencil streak. Fire-streak - as some poetically call it - believing it had something to do with bushfire scarring. It hasn't - but it's a lovely phrase.


A wood fire burns in a space heater and large windows overlook a rocky beach, a brooding ocean and a tussock grass headland - bringing the essential moment of the outdoors inside without the wind. No attempt is made at sleek surfaces, mirror finishes or clean lines - at least as the concept is understood at Cape Schanck. Timber is everywhere found - blocky, solid, reassuring, warming, functioning, appealing and unapologetically woody. The very fabric of the natural environment, but reformed simply by men's hands.

The building may reference traditional rural buildings - in particular the long farm shed - but as much in memory as in form. The dull blue-grey sheen and aggregated texture of galvanised iron sheet is nostalgically familiar. Particularly to dreamy old Boomers - those philosophically disengaged from mansion building - who have time to recall the world as it seemed in their youth. Unerringly motionless - as I remember it. The corrugated iron too is unexpected. The ubiquitous uniform aircraft silver of zincalume is the texture which is invariably associated with modern architecture - not galvanised iron, convict bricks and milled windbreak cypress.

Shearers Quarters at Waterview images courtesy Trevor Mein, photographer 

What's New


KD Stringybark
180 x 19mm
   Feature Grade   Rate: $83.00/m2   Standard Grade: $99.00/m2

AFS-certified timbers from southern New South Wales.

Great value board used in the Shearers Quarters on North Bruny Island.

See our displays at our Spotswood showroom.


Reclaimed Spotted Gum
85 x 25mm   T & G   Rate: $79.00/m2

Last 300m2 of this excellent gymnasium floor.

Will provide a coastal beach shack or inner-city residence with that aged look underfoot - and give many decades of service yet.


Recycled Tallowwood
160 x 19mm   T & G   Rate: $110.00/m2

This is a rustic grade remilled flooring board with lots of surface checking and old boltholes.

Perfect for a coastal or rural build.

We don't get much of this, so get in early.


KD Spotted Gum

Batten, Set-Lengths Screening or Decking

65 x 19mm   Rate: $4.90/m
32 x 32mm   Rate: $5.90/m

Limited stocks available, but should last 'til Christmas.