CHAPTER VI - HABITATIONS  pp. 10-11


By James Dawson

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Habitations—wuurns—are of various kinds, and are constructed to suit the seasons. The principal one is the permanent family dwelling, which is made of strong limbs of trees stuck up in dome-shape, high enough to allow a tall man to stand upright underneath them. Small limbs fill up the intermediate spaces, and these are covered with sheets of bark, thatch, sods, and earth till the roof and sides are proof against wind and rain. The doorway is low, and generally faces the morning sun or a sheltering rock. The family wuurn is sufficiently large to accommodate a dozen or more persons; and when the family is grown up the wuurn is partitioned off into apartments, each facing the fire in the centre, One of these is appropriated to the parents and children, one to the young unmarried women and widows, and one to the bachelors and widowers. While travelling or occupying temporary habitations, each of these parties must erect separate wuurns. When several families live together, each builds its wuurn facing one central fire. This fire is not much used for cooking, which is generally done outside. Thus in what appears to be one dwelling, fifty or more persons can be accommodated, when, to use the words of the aborigines, they are ‘like bees in a hive.’

These comfortable and healthy habitations are occupied by the owners of the land in the neighbourhood, and are situated on dry spots on the bank of a lake, stream, or healthy swamp, but never near a malarious morass, nor under large trees, which might fall or be struck down by lightning.