The Melaleuca bark, having the texture of paper, could be peeled off the tree in layers up to 2 cm thick, a metre long and perhaps half a metre wide without serious damage to the tree.
Although not particularly durable as exterior roofing, the material provided excellent insulation and was used for ceilings and lining the walls.
Houses of axe-hewn slabs with Iron-bark roofs continued to be built in rural Australia until WWII.
As better tools became available the Colonial builders became adept at working the extremely hard and durable timber of the native hardwood forests.
Australian residential architectural styles have evolved significantly over time, from the early days of structures made from relatively cheap and imported corrugated iron (which can still be seen in the roofing of historic homes) to more sophisticated styles borrowed from other countries, such as the Victorian style from the United Kingdom, the Georgian style from North America and Europe and the Californian bungalow from the United States.