Humpy, House and Tin Shed: Aboriginal Settlement History on the Darling River

Humpy, House and Tin Shed: Aboriginal Settlement History on the Darling River Report

  • Author(s): Memmott, P.
  • Published: 1991
  • Publisher: Ian Buchan Fell Research Centre, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney

Abstract: This multidisciplinary longitudinal case study of Aboriginal housing and settlement in western New South Wales was carried out during 1986-1989. Anthropological and historical research has been used to study the domiciliary experiences and behaviour of the Aboriginal groups of the central Darling River and surrounding plains. Beginning with their traditional use of shelters and camps, the study traces the pattern of cultural change that accompanied a process of forced sedentary living in institutionalized Mission settlements during the period 1920-1950. This history provides the background to a sizeable community of people of mixed tribal origins who were living in self-constructed humpies on the banks of the Darling at Wilcannia in the early 1970s. Their domestic lifestyle is analysed in detail using non-recurring data collected in 1970 by two undergraduate students from the Department of Architecture, University of Sydney. The data are reanalysed by the researcher to generate culturally distinct design criteria for Aboriginal housing at Wilcannia, and then used to evaluate a series of government housing projects that occurred there in the 1970s and 1980s. The case study encompasses the diverse dimensions of Aboriginal housing such as cross-cultural consultation, self-help housing, housing and health, sociospatial settlement planning, behavioural design, post-occupancy problems and housing stock management.

Notes: History of Aboriginal settlement on the Darling River; housing; humpies; fringe settlements; Bakandji; Bagandji; traditional architecture and settlement; cultural change and settlement 1938-1951; Menindee Aboriginal Mission; analysis of self-constructed settlements at Wilcannia; crowding; genealogies of householders in Wilcannia; tin sheds; social organisation; housing organisations.

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Memmott, P., 1991, Humpy, House and Tin Shed: Aboriginal Settlement History on the Darling River, Report, viewed 18 August 2022,

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