In recent years there has been an increasing interest in colonial demesticbuildings which exhibit a distinct regional character. Many researcher at-tribute the unique forms of these buildings to the influence of climate. Acloser study however reveals that this is not always so. The impact of thelocal political, economic, social and cultural factors are often more impor-tant, as is evident in the domestic structures of tropical Australia. Thesetimber and tin lightweight buildings which are scattered throughout thisregion are very popular and are greatly sought after even today. They areusually single storeyed and are the product of prefabricated building tech-niques employed during the, great rush of mining, pastoral and agriculturaldevelopment which took place between the 1850's and early 1900's. In aregion of scarce local materials and buildings skills, and in an attempt tobuild economic shelters in a hurry, they proved to be a reasonable answer towhat then was a transient economy in a frontier region. Most of these houseshave now been occupied by over four generations of Australians who have wecorned ther airy quality and generoisty of space-enclosed as well as semi-enclosed-such as their deep verandahs which surround the main core of theliving and sleeping accommodation.Australia has both hot dry and hot wet climatic zones. As indicated by a num-ber of research studies, these houses largely fail to provide adequate physi-cal comfort in both of these climates. The lightweight materials possesslittle or no barrier to heat transmission and they have too poor a heat stor-age capacity to be effective in the hot, dusty and dry climate of the interiorwhere temperatures often stay consistently high and where vegetation issparse and stunted. The houses fare a little better in the warm and humidcoastal areas but the compact plans of these houses fail to encourage cross-ventilation so necessary for comfort. So, the popularity of these houses could only be attributed to factors otherthant climatic ones and probably lie in peoples' attitudes to lifestyle, theirperceptions and the degree to which they are prepared to accommodate andadapt themselves to their surronding environment. The tropical houses ofAustralia therefore present a good example of a shelter form which plays animportant role in the life of the people, offering flexibility in an environ-ment which allows them to adapt more readily to an alien setting.This discussion highlights the regional characteristics of this unique archi-tectural development, especially the way it reflects the values of the peopleand their attitude to nature. These are examined against the background ofdifferences in attitudes between Europeans and the Australian Aboriginalpeople and how these diferences are now slowly converging to help the evo-lution of a new vocabulary of tropical houses as reflected in the work of ar-chitects such as Glen Mercutt and John Andrews.