Wooden Louvres

Another distinctive aspect of North Queensland architecture that is now confined to the realms of museums and kitschy heritage reproductions is the use of wooden louvres in place of windows with glass. This seems to have been especially favoured when verandahs were closed in to make additional rooms for growing families. Here are some of theose louvres at a restored house at the Townsville Palmetum.

My great-grandfather built his own house (or at least, he constantly expanded an old fishing shack he'd won in a game of poker) in Lucinda, North Queensland, and raised a family of four there. The front rooms were indeed enclosed verandahs, and I remember being fascinated by the beautiful hand-made wooden louvres that he had installed there. They were made with thick-ish pieces of timber painted a distinctly 1950s blue, and were opened and closed with a wooden rail set into the louvres themselves. They were remarkably effective at capturing any available breeze, each window being able to be positioned just-so. Not so effective, however, at keeping away mosquitoes. There were always gaps, and in the evening you could almost be carried away by mosquitoes, Lucinda being little more than a reclaimed mangrove swamp.
The house is still standing, though was sold many years ago. Last time I checked the louvres were still doing their job. Here's a pic from when my Aunty Audrey was still alive and living in it. This charming little ancestral shack would be worth a fortune now, being only a short walk from the beach.


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