Love your ve­ran­dah

Chang­ing shape, size and pur­pose of an Aussie essen­tial


THE most out­stand­ing fea­ture of the Aus­tralian house, the ve­ran­dah, was pri­mar­ily a re­sponse to cli­mate. As time pro­gressed, it came to ful­fil a va­ri­ety of func­tions. Shut­ters or blinds pro­vided pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments. Mas­ter crafts­men pro­vided a dec­o­ra­tive di­men­sion with sim­ple tim­ber or more elab­o­rate cast iron ma­te­ri­als.

An im­por­tant fea­ture of the Queens­land house which en­cour­ages in­for­mal, re­laxed and open life­style is the ve­ran­dah. When early Euro­peans set­tled in Aus­tralia, they trans­planted build­ing forms fa­mil­iar to them in their home coun­try. The ba­sis of house de­signs was Ge­or­gian, a style well es­tab­lished in the UK. Faced with long, hot sum­mers, it did not take long for the early set­tlers to make ap­pro­pri­ate mod­i­fi­ca­tions to al­low for greater com­fort by pro­vid­ing shade around the house. The first step was to ex­tend the eaves which later be­came ve­ran­dahs. Win­dows be­came larger to let in breezes dur­ing the wet sea­son.

The im­por­tance of ve­ran­dahs as an ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ment in a Queens­land Aus­tralian house can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated be­cause it is one area which lent it­self to an in­for­mal semi-out­door life­style ide­ally suited to the cli­mate. In the north­ern re­gions, ve­ran­dahs in­vari­ably en­closed all four sides of a dwelling and of­ten oc­cu­pied more area than the ‘house’ it­self which was lim­ited to pro­vid­ing stor­age room for house­hold pos­ses­sions. Ve­ran­dahs were used day and night and in some ar­eas for the whole year. Peo­ple used them for liv­ing, eat­ing, sleep­ing and en­ter­tain­ing.

So ve­ran­dahs be­came an in­te­gral part of ev­ery house and their use an essen­tial part of the Aus­tralian way of life. They of­fered a wel­come refuge from the heat and glare of the piec­ing sun. The cool dark space framed with white posts and dec­o­ra­tive balustrades be­came a sym­bol of the trop­i­cal house as an essen­tial link be­tween in­doors and the out­doors.

When early shin­gles were re­placed by gal­vanised iron, spe­cial sheets were made for ve­ran­dahs. At first, they dipped in a slow grace­ful arc from below the eaves to the con­nect­ing ve­ran­dah posts. Later, the metal sheets ran straight from below the eaves for three quar­ters then dipped in a quad­rant to the post line.

The form of early ve­ran­dahs was fairly sim­ple and direct, but later ex­am­ples in­cor­po­rated a va­ri­ety of em­bel­lished fea­tures. The straight hor­i­zon­tal roofline of the ve­ran­dah was in­vari­ably in­ter­rupted at the en­trance to em­pha­sise the link to the stairs. It was ei­ther a highly dec­o­rated panel or a half-round sec­tion.

Some­what stark ve­ran­dah fa­cades were also bro­ken by trees and shrubs, also pro­vid­ing a shaded screen dur­ing the hot sum­mers. In most cases this form of shad­ing was in­suf­fi­cient, so the builders added a me­tre high balustrade of open slates or crossed trel­lis. The balustrades lent them­selves to a va­ri­ety of dec­o­ra­tive treat­ments where pan­els of cast iron un­der the handrails of ve­ran­dahs added a wel­come touch of op­u­lence.

Post sec­ond world war saw the ve­ran­dahs en­closed to pro­vide sleep­ing ar­eas for the ex­pand­ing fam­i­lies of re­turned sol­diers.

The street scape is now re­turn­ing to the pic­turesque vista of the open ve­ran­dah.

RESTOR­ING a clas­sic Ip­swich home to her orig­i­nal grandeur has been a labour of love for over a decade, but its one that the Jumelet fam­ily take great pride in.

Ron re­mem­bers the mo­ment clearly when he took his daugh­ters to see their fu­ture home.

He could see the po­ten­tial, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in to what is go­ing to be a ren­o­va­tion project that will knock the socks off those who said it couldn’t be re­stored.

Af­ter con­vert­ing an old church on a large prop­erty in Fern­vale, the travel to and from Ip­swich took its toll on the fam­ily, and the cou­ple de­cided to make the move closer to the girl’s school in 2005.

They had de­cided on home near Lime­stone Park, and then Ron saw Rhos­silli, a large home right next to the five ways in­ter­sec­tion out­side Ip­swich Girls’ Gram­mar School.

Over­look­ing the five­ways in­ter­sec­tion sat a prop­erty, and af­ter some pe­riod as flats, was in 2005 a hos­tel for men­tally ill pa­tients. It was tired, run down, filthy and needed a lot of love.

Ron and Liz had to stand there as all three daugh­ters took one look at the run­down place, then burst into tears.

There is lit­tle his­toric in­for­ma­tion on the house, but it is known that the house was built in 1888, thanks to the fact that a Mr E Green­away, a lo­cal stone­ma­son, had scratched his name and this date in the base of one of the fire­places. The home has seen sev­eral prom­i­nent own­ers, in­clud­ing Post­mas­ter Richard Gill, So­lic­i­tor Wil­liam Sum­merville who sent on to be Ip­swich Chief Mag­is­trate, an Al­der­man and Mayor in 1903.

Today the ve­ran­das are no longer en­closed bed­rooms, and the house has been lov­ingly re­stored with for­mal din­ing rooms, en­suites, dou­ble garage, for­mal liv­ing room, a large kitchen, and a charm­ing mod­ern fam­ily room which opens up to an un­der­cover bar­be­cue area. In­cred­i­bly you can see the Bris­bane CBD from the ve­randa.

Ron has been re­tired for over seven years, and ad­mits he won­ders now how he had the time to go to work.

“I can’t be­lieve how much we got done, and still go to work 60 to 70 hours a week,” Mr Jumelet said. “We lived for 28 years in Fern­vale be­fore mov­ing here in a re­stored church on which I did most of the work my­self. We’d de­cided to move closer to school and work, and we’d put a con­tract on a house up the road, and I was show­ing some­one on­line the house I’d bought. As I was go­ing through I saw Rhos­silli was up for sale. I had no­ticed it be­fore and I re­mem­ber I won­dered what was un­der­neath all the fi­bro.

“At that time, it was still op­er­at­ing as a hos­tel, with

about 20 res­i­dents, most of who were in­tel­lec­tu­ally im­paired. It was ap­palling, and an in­dict­ment of the sys­tem at that time which al­lowed this to go on.

“Any­way, I had a look at the place. I was at the bot­tom of the stairs look­ing up and I thought ‘What am I think­ing?’ I had a look un­der­neath and called my wife to come and check out this house. I had an­other few looks and found the house is solid, there’s not a brick out of place, the foun­da­tions are un­be­liev­able.”

Ron struck a deal with his fam­ily. He’d get stuck in as project man­ager of what was to be­come a year long process of de­mo­li­tion, ren­o­va­tion and build­ing work, in­volv­ing at one point 17 tradies on site at the same time.

“The peo­ple had to move out, and for many years they would still turn up, I’d find them sleep­ing un­der­neath the house and I felt for them,” Mr Jumelet said. “One chap lived here for 14 years!

“I knew it was go­ing to take time and money. I didn’t look at it as an in­vest­ment (with the aim of sell­ing). We knew it would make a great fam­ily home, and that was the num­ber one ob­jec­tive. I’d be sur­prised if I got the money back today, but that doesn’t mat­ter. It was never the plan.

“We took out be­tween 250 and 300 tonnes of rub­bish, around 20 tonnes of lino alone, and about 50 tonnes of con­crete,” Ron added. “I had three clean­ers come in for two days each to clean the place, be­fore we even be­gan de­mo­li­tion. That’s how grotty the place was.”

Af­ter a year of over­see­ing the work, fi­nally the fam­ily moved in and the fam­ily hasn’t looked back, rev­el­ling in the homes his­tory as it un­rav­els.

“We know it was built in 1888, as we had a her­itage ar­chi­tect help­ing us. She couldn’t find any records on it, but when we were clean­ing out the fire­places, one had all the orig­i­nal tiles and be­hind that is in­scribed ‘E. Green­away 1888”. We know that he was a well-known stone­ma­son, and nephew of Fran­cis Green­way, a fa­mous colo­nial ar­chi­tect,” Ron said.

“My favourite part of the house is the kitchen area. It doesn’t mat­ter who you are, or how big your house is, you spend about 90% of your time in the bed­room, the bath­room and the kitchen area.

“I also love what we call Whiskey Cor­ner where we can have a drink in the af­ter­noons on the ve­randa.”

The girls have all grown up and left home, but Ron and Liz feel sat­is­fied that the house has been re­stored to her for­mer grandeur, and in May this year fea­tured as part of the Great Houses of Ip­swich open day to cel­e­brate the home’s 130th birthday.

There is still work to be done, but Ron plans to take his time and en­joy it.

“You can’t beat hav­ing a de­cent size gar­den,” he said over­look­ing the slop­ing gar­den. “You look at new homes now and I won­der where the kids play? When we have vis­i­tors over the kids bolt to the back­yard, they love it. It’s some­thing gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple took for granted.

“What’s good about liv­ing here is what’s good about liv­ing in Ip­swich. We love liv­ing here. Twenty years ago, I’d never have said that, but I’m a con­vert. I love the place.”


Ip­swich is per­fect for mak­ing the most of your ve­ran­dah


The view from the end of the gar­den. Above: The for­mal din­ing room Left: An his­toric photo of the house, date un­known


Rhos­silli’s beau­ti­ful ve­ran­dah. A clas­sic en­trance. The newly-built me­dia room which opens onto a vast deck with a bar­be­cue. Link­ing the old home with the new garage. deck and rum­pus.

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