Aboriginal dwellings varied quite widely, from lean-tos to large strongly built huts. The latter might be made of slender wattle boughs wedged firmly into the ground in two long rows bent over and interwoven to form an arch. This in turn was thatched with sheets of bark and large leaves. All was securely tied with vine. A large piece of bark was strapped onto the top, hanging over the open doorway like the sloping roof of a veranda.
The entire structure might measure twelve or fifteen feet in length and six or eight feet wide, big enough to accommodate ten people. Its height along the middle was about five feet. Although open at each end, the sides were impervious to the heaviest of storms. A small fire burned inside.
A cluster of five or six of these buildings served as a base for a family group, normally comprising related family units. Several clusters of huts would be dotted over a fairly large area, the family groups occupying them making up a tribe. In coastal areas, a tribe might also own two or three groups of humpies constructed along the foreshore at intervals of a few miles. These smaller residences were used at particular times of the year by various families when certain foods became less plentiful near the main huts.
Their canoes were made either from swamp mahogany or stringy-bark, the bark of the former being preferable as it did not split. The bark was removed from a suitable tree in large pieces, cleaned, and burned to make it more pliable. Each end was then bent up and tied with vine and strengthened with a wooden skewer, while the sides were made firm by wattle or more vine. A firestick was always carried on the floor of a canoe on a pile of earth or clay to cook fish as soon as they were caught. A large shell acted as a bailer. A ball of clay was used to plug any leaks sustained while on the water.
A small canoe might measure ten feet by four feet and carry five people, while a large one was fifteen feet or more in length and six feet wide, capable of holding up to ten persons. They were stronger and more seaworthy than their often fragile appearance indicated. The useful life of these robust contraptions was limited however, as they usually became waterlogged after a few months’ use.