Working class heroes
Scott Cam is on a mission to keep the dream of the backyard shed alive and kicking, writes
It was country music crooner John Williamson who sang “All Australian boys need a shed” and they are still a much-loved part of many Australian backyards.
But more people are living in apartments and on smaller blocks of land. Host of reality show The Block, Scott Cam, says he’s worried about the future of sheds.
“In the old days, everybody from the accountant to the carpenter had a shed,” he says. “I don’t think that’s happening now.
“There’s only a certain percentage of us who have got sheds with all the gear and tools. I’m trying to keep the shed alive.”
Keeping community alive
Last year Scott ran a competition to find Australia’s 20 best sheds and the top entries been collated in his new book, Scotty’s Top Aussie Sheds.
The overall winner was a large shed at Aberdare in NSW owned by a man named Richard, who is better known as Yok.
“He’s got this great shed with a mezzanine level and he’s a muso and he’s got posters up there, he’s got bars, a piano and a pool table.” Scott likens it to a community hall. “Sometimes, like at Christmas, he has 150 people in there and he has live bands and all that jazz,” Scott says.
“He doesn’t really invite anyone, people just turn up because they know something’s going to be on at his shed.”
Other entries in the book are a surf shack in Melbourne and a shed in North Nowra with a chequered floor, competition tracks and a collection of 800 slot cars where a group of mates meet up each week to race.
Some of the best sheds in the book had bars and pool tables and others were used to house collections of everything from beer bottle tops through to cricket memorabilia.
“I think a lot of them double up as the old man’s cave, where you have your mates around and have a few drinks,” Scott says.
“A few were pure workshops, but there’s certainly a lot with bars and pool tables.”
Scott says he’s been to some sheds where it looks like the owner spends every waking moment thinking about ways to improve it.
“Blokes tend to try and outdo each other with their sheds,” he says.
“People come around and you’ve got to try and wow them when they walk in the door.”
Scott says he has two sheds — one at his city home and one on his property in Mudgee. He’s installing a fireplace in that one soon.
“For me, a great shed is having all the gear that you can do some work with and you can hang around and have a beer in there after you’ve knocked off. But that’s not to say I don’t like a shed with a bar and pool table.”
Make your own
If you want a great shed, Scott suggests starting with tools and a workbench.
“Then you can keep adding to it,” he says. “Maybe a couch and a telly, depending on the size and the space.”
Scott says the sheds themselves tend to be built with timber frames.
“They start off as a timber frame and corrugated iron on the outside,” he says.
“Then you can start insulating it and lining it on the inside, but I always like to keep the timber frame there,” he says. He says sheds can be a place to escape. “Generally the people with the big sheds are the working class fellas, which I love,” he says. “The shed is an extension of their house. They mightn’t have a lot financially but they’ve put their efforts into making that shed and creating themselves a fantastic escape.
“They work hard, then they can go to the shed with a few mates, have a few beers and relax.”