Whiptail is a recently completed straw-bale home which forms part of the Wild Mountains Environmental Education Centre as Residents Accommodation. It sits on the spectacular west-facing slope of the Border Ranges with living spaces oriented to the north to capture winter sun through large recycled timber doors and other spaces opening to the expansive views of the Scenic Rim. The building was constructed over 5 years with volunteer and paid labour and features load-bearing straw-bale walls, earth floors, recycled hardwood framing and linings and secondhand doors. Ceilings are lined with Paulonia plywood chosen for its rapid renewal and its lightweight properties. The building maintains a comfortable temperature range through summer and winter aided by the thermal mass of the floor and the super insulating properties of the straw walls and heavily insulated ceiling.

Power is supplied by a nearby solar array with battery bank provides more than enough for the house and has provided power during the construction of the neighbouring residence. Energy-efficient light fittings include Brightgreen downlights and custom-made pendants from salvaged materials.

Rainwater consumption is reduced by use of a composting toilet and greywater from the solar heated shower, kitchen and washing machine is treated on a terrace below the house.
Permaculture gardens are planned for improved food self-sufficiency.

  • Recycled hardwood framing, lining, windows and doors
  • Recycled polyester insulation
  • Strawbale and local earth render – low embodied energy
  • High insulation levels for stable, cooler internal temperatures
  • Earth floor – much lower embodied energy than concrete
  • Plantation plywood and locally sourced pine for cabinetry


Designed by Emma Scragg Architect