Bluestone

A range of bluestone bonding patterns on an 1850s  terrace house in Abbotsford, Melbourne

A range of bluestone bonding patterns on an 1850s terrace house in Abbotsford, Melbourne

Bluestone was the name used in Melbourne and to a lesser extent Adelaide for a local building material with a dark blue hue – specifically volcanic basalt.

Bluestone was a favoured building material in Melbourne during the 1850s gold rush and was quarried from Clifton Hill and the volcanic plains near Geelong. The hard but porous stone was difficult to carve and although it appeared in early terraced housing, public buildings, warehouses, as well as infrastructure including cobblestones on roads, lanes and gutters. However it fell out of favour during the opulent land boom that followed the gold rush in Melbourne as more elaborate decoration became a show of wealth.

One of the most notable examples of the use of bluestone in an Australian terrace house is Royal Terrace in Carlton which is not only one of the earliest and largest rows in Melbourne having been built in stages from 1853, but one almost completely constructed of load bearing smoothed basalt.

Nevertheless it remained common practice to build terraces on solid bluestone foundations, so it remains a feature of many Melbourne terraces – both Victorian and Edwardian.

In Adelaide, a type of bluestone was often smoothed and featured in brickwork, quoining and detailing on terraced houses.

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