It occurred to me that ‘humpy’ may not be a common term for people outside my own geographical area (yes, I can be a bit slow).
According to a good old google search a humpy is;
“A humpy or gunyah is a small, temporary shelter made from bark and tree branches, traditionally used by Australian Aborigines, with a standing tree usually used as the main support. The word humpy comes from the Jagera language (a Murri people from Coorparoo in Brisbane); other language groups would have different names for the structure.
Both names were adopted by early white settlers, and now form part of the Australian lexicon. Small impermanent dwellings, made of branches and bark (particularly paperbark) were built prior to the construction of more permanent buildings, and were referred to as humpies.
It is sometimes called a lean-to, since it can rely on the tree for support.
In South Australia, such a shelter is known as a “wurley” (also spelled “wurlie”), possibly from the Kaurna language.”
In my world a humpy is a knocked-together-in-a-weekend dwelling. Many people in our area live in humpies, much to the dismay of the council. We have little choice as building a house is too costly and we don’t want to move away as we enjoy the bush lifestyle.
There is a star rating system for humpies;
one star; has a roof, dirt floor and possibly two walls. Allowing inhabitants to get out of the rain but is cold in winter often leading to the installation of a 200 litre fire drum for heating and cooking purposes. Bathing and washing up are carried out with the help of a bucket and a boiler of water on the fire drum, waste water is drained directly onto the ground outside. Lighting is provided by candles, gas lamps and torches. The toilet is an outside pit toilet.
two star; has three to four walls and carpet laid over the dirt floor or some other floor covering. Providing greater protection from the elements but precluding the addition of a fire drum as the smoke does not dissipate. Such dwellings usually include an old wood fueled stove someone has previously taken to the dump, which allows for heating, cooking and hot water (in boilers on the stove), but still smokes a lot. Bathing facilities are a bathtub in the yard surrounded by the ubiquitous blue tarp and draining directly onto the ground. Bathing water is supplied by bucket and is poured over ones-self with a jug (from Tupperware if you have any taste at all). Washing up is achieved by having a sink set up on trestle legs with a bucket under the drain hole, water is bucketed to and from the sink on a regular basis. Lighting is provided by a gas lamp as it is now too dangerous to have a naked flame in the humpy. The toilet is still an outside pit toilet set up (commonly called a ‘dunny’).
three star; Has a raised floor and doors that lock. Has a second hand wood heater or stove, purchased at a local auction and most likely has a small solar system allowing for the use of two lights in the evening. Bathing consists of an inside bathtub that drains to the outside (perhaps to a banana circle) and has a cold tap to supply water. Bathing is still accomplished by use of a bucket and jug. The kitchen sink is still on trestle legs but has a cold water tap over it, waste water is still bucketed out from it though.
The toilet is still a ‘dunny’ way down the hill.
four star; Has both a wood stove and a heater, purchased second hand from the Tender Centre (a local auction house). Has no gaps around the top of walls which allow local wildlife to come and go as they please and sports a kitchen sink cupboard unit with a cold water tap and a drain to take waste water to the banana circle. The toilet is a really deep pit with a permanent building above it fairly close to the humpy but carefully downhill and down wind.
five star; has a solar system which runs lighting and the TV as well as a computer and allows the use of a modem for hour long stretches. The bath has a 12 volt pump attached and has a permanent shower plumbed in, with (the height of luxury) hot water supplied to both bath and kitchen sink. Water is heated with either a solar system or a hot water jacket in the (bought new) fuel stove. Five star humpys may even be lined with fibre board or ply wood. The toilet is a bought compost unit (council approved) installed within metres of the humpy.
Have a look at the photos of our humpy and see if you can rate it…
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