Shack: In Praise of an Australian Icon by Simon Griffiths

The moment I saw the title of this book, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia for the many wonderful times I’ve spent in shacks – shacks that are sadly no longer part of my life. So how envious I am of the shack owners inthis delightful book, and simultaneously grateful to the author and contributors for reminding me of this wonderful section of society, and sharing their shackdom with us. Shacks are the quintessential expression of how good life can be with the simple, the discarded, the collected, the re-used, the uncomplicated, the small and the quiet (ideally away from roads and electricity) melding into an unique aesthetic that is charming and poetic.

Lucky author and photographer Simon Griffiths has traveled Australia meeting shack owners, beautifully photographing their shacks and documenting a unique way of life. Quite a few owners have opted to make their shacks into permanent homes, creating domestic simplicity and self-sufficiency in the bush. It’s an architectural style far removed from the glamorous retreats of the well-heeled, but this truly vernacular style has influenced some of our best architects, such as Glenn Murcutt and Troppo Architects.

From the abandoned (‘our equivalent of Europe’s classical ruins are our deserted shacks – reminders of times past and British settlement’s short history’), to the very lived- in, from the tropical north to Tasmania, the shacks have been divvied up into six sections: Shelter, Business, Ruins, Shops and Shacks, Retreats and Affinity. Some shacks are truly very basic structures, where climate allows and the beach beckons; some are quirkily inspired, like the old boathouse perched high above the ground in a sea of trees, not a river or lake in sight; and some are very glamorous, wrought by artisans of obvious skill.

Cover image for Shack: In Praise of an Australian Icon

Shack: In Praise of an Australian Icon

Simon Griffiths

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