• Solomon Islands!

    Solomon Islands: Looking up at palm trees. Go Now!

    Solomon Islands
    This Melanesian country is best known for its many islands and beaches... and this natural landscape (pictured) is why most people go. Don't miss out on the unique Melanesian culture and foods though! Begin Your Journey!

  • Tonga!

    Tonga: Coastline. Go Now!

    The heart of Polynesian culture is rooted in Tonga, but most visitors just come for the natural beauty. Explore Tonga!

  • Vanuatu!

    Vanuatu: Jetty into the ocean. Go Now!

    Picturesque serenity is a good way to describe Vanuatu, but the culture offers much more, including the inspiration for bungee jumping, which remains a rite of passage for young men. Explore Vanuatu!

  • Palau!

    Palau: "70 Islands!" Go Now!

    Few people have even heard of this small Micronesian country, but those who have often return with stories of beauty unmatched elsewhere, such as view of the "70 Islands" (pictured). Go Now!

  • Explore the: Federated States of Micronesia!

    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

    Federated States of Micronesia
    This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Begin Your Journey!

  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

Architecture of Australia

Australian architecture begins with the aboriginals and their dwellings. However, these people lived semi-nomadic lives so the only structures they build, houses, were never very ornate or even built to last. Their housing was simple and generally made of wood and other easily accessible natural materials.

With the arrival of the British the architecture changed to include more permanent structures using more modern materials and techniques. Among the most notable of these early British-inspired structures, some also have incredible historic significance; the penal colony sites set up by the British during Australia's colonial days demonstrate the culture of the island's first British inhabitants. These structures, which date from 1788 to about 1840, are simple stone buildings as they have little else to impress, other than their history and cultural significance.

At the time of British settlement the Georgian Style (from about 1720-1840) and later the Victorian Style (1840 to about 1900) were popular in Britain and each was transferred to Australia with some adaptations. In fact most of Australia's early colonial architecture is in these styles and nearly all of the country's oldest churches and civil buildings are in these styles.

Many of Australia's earliest still standing structures are Georgian, including St. James's Church in Sydney (1824) and St. Matthews Church in Windsor (New South Wales). Many of the houses that remain in this style also include a verandah, which proved to be a useful addition to the houses due to Australia's often sunny and hot weather.

Sydney and Melbourne were the centers of Victorian architecture in Australia as these two cities were the most prosperous at the time and hence had the most money to build lasting stone structures. Again, many churches and civic buildings from this time period are in the Victorian Style and many houses from this time are also in the style.

A few other styles the British brought to Australia didn't originate in Britain itself, but were popular in the country and throughout Europe in the 1800s. These styles were revival styles, with perhaps the Neo-Gothic or Gothic Revival being the most popular in Australia. This style became incredibly popular for the construction of churches and large public buildings. In early Australian settlements, including Sydney and Melbourne, these buildings are common.

To a lesser degree Italianate styles, such as neo-Classical also made an appearance. The Old Parliament House (1927) in Canberra is considered a simplified neo-Classical building as it lacks columns. Other revivalist styles also made an appearance, including Romanesque Revival, which is best displayed in the Queen Victoria Building (1898) in Sydney.

One structure built at this time was the Royal Exhibition Building (1880) in Melbourne. This was one of Australia's first attempts at creating a style their own, although in reality this building was just a combination of other styles. None-the-less, it created creativity and a new direction in the country's architecture.

In about 1900 Australia began to toy with the idea of creating their own architectural style, just as they were also creating an independent identity and independence movements were gaining momentum. They started this new style, which was called the Federation Style. As this style was rising in prominence so too was the city of Canberra, giving the present capital the most buildings with these designs. Many houses were built in the style as they are noted for their flat roofs and construction from primarily concrete. The Federation Style also spread to Melbourne and Sydney, but to a much lesser degree. In Sydney only the Castlecrag is a notable landmark in the style.

After World War II ended, the architecture in Australia truly changed. Prior to this the country, like much of the world, struggled economically, making large construction projects rare. By 1950 the economy had recovered and most Australian cities lifted their ban on tall structures, leading to the age of the sky scraper in Australia.

Sky scrapers not only built cities up, they also urbanized many places and population densities rose. Despite this, most people still preferred land and a private yard, so the construction of sky scrapers was a slow process that didn't peak until the late 1900s. Sydney led the way and still built a huge number of sky scrapers in these early years, most of which were office buildings.

The construction of sky scrapers also shifted Australia's architectural inspiration from Britain and Europe to the United States. While the United States may have been the leading architectural inspiration in the 1900s, today Australia is again forming their own path forward and is trying more and more to incorporate ideas, structure, and styles that represent Australia, their culture, and their weather into their buildings.

This modernist and post-modernist approach has made more recent Australian architecture fairly unique as they have constructed buildings that represent their culture or their landscape and setting. This has come from both local architects as well as from international architects. The most famous of the country's buildings is the Sydney Opera House (1973), which was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, but is truly representative of Australia and Sydney's waterfront.

This page was last updated: February, 2013