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Advice on first treehouse build.

edited January 2015 in Design

I am located in South Australia. I have a small river front property that I would like to construct a tree house on. I would love some advice and feedback on the following points!

Being in Australia, I am limited to trees as our main eucalyptus trees have a dangerous tendency to drop limbs in the summer if they are stressed.

I have one poplar tree that is huge! The trunk is very thick and the tree is probably 30+ metres in height. At approximately 15 metres high there is a nice even three way split in the branches that creates a natural landing and what looks to me like a great spot to build a very basic treehouse. It would likely be mainly just a floor I would build perhaps with a very basic shelter to come later in the project.

I am thinking the size of the floor would be about 4x3m using all three branches as the supports. I could add some quick drawings of what I have in mind that gives an idea of the tree I'm dealing with but can't see an option here to do so. I could also build below these three branches using the 'outpost' design I have seen on this site.

I am unsure about the suitability of the tree, while it looks incredibly stable and is giant, it is situated at the top of a bank of the river and has the slightest of leans towards the slope. I imagine that the small nature of my construction wouldn't be a huge change to the balance of the tree though but would appreciate advice.

I am also interested in the best way to create access to the treehouse from the ground, given the height of the spot I want to build I imagine I will have to be efficient and clever to not blow out my small budget.

I am wondering whether given I have a three pronged tree whether braces underneath will be necessary. This design is similar to the 'outpost' concept except that it has the three prongs on the tree. I see in many of these designs that the braces are used but I wonder if having the extra support of those three braces would be enough. Also, I cant seem to find much information on how the lower end of the braces are actually connected to the base of the tree.  I have seen designs with metal rings around the tree that the braces connect to but wonder if this would ringbark the tree.

I am very interested in anyones advice!




  • edited March 2015
    Hi Cameron,

    How fantastic to find a fellow aussie who wants to build a treehouse! I'm based in Melbourne & have almost completed a small, pretty snazzy inner city treehouse using the TAB bolt system (bolts imported from the US). If you haven't already built it, I'd love to see any designs/ideas you have & give any advice that I can - it would be great to have a bit of a support network happening here in oz. Also maybe a picture of the host tree & the dimension of the trunk? How exciting!

  • edited June 2015
    It's good to hear from Australian treehouse builders. There doesn't seem to be as much interest in treehouses in Australia, so if anyone else has experiences please add to the discussion.

    As for the Cameron's project, cables are probably the way to go, as they can take up the movement that you'll get between multiple trunks. Poplar is not an especially strong tree, so good attachments are especially important. The TAB system that Claudius refers to is definitely the most complete and well researched method out there for attaching to trees. Michael Garnier at Out 'n' About in Oregon could help advise on all the parts you would need, based on your size and weight requirements.

    Braces can be bolted directly to the trunk of the tree. This is easier if you bolt through the side into the tree, but with larger braces you can bolt from the front of the brace directly into the tree. TABs are available with brackets to make this easier, but you can also weld up custom brackets to provide a socket for the base of the brace that can be easily bolted into the tree.

    Access can be tricky if you are building high up. Staircases can get very bulky and expensive to build, so it's good to be able to get as high as possible with a simpler method. A simple ladder style set of steps can get you quite high, followed by a more enclosed staircase for the last section. If the slope nearby is significant, you can run a horizontal rope bridge from further up the slope to get you higher into the tree. Other trees can be used as a starting point, so that you climb (or use a ladder) to get up one, then cross a bridge to the main tree.

    Rope ladders are too hard to climb for regular use. An elevator system can be very effective but must be carefully planned to make sure it will be safe to use over the long term. Ideally a backup harness should be warned in case of failure.
  • Im in SW Western Australia and have half a dozen projects in the pipeline. So just sayin hi to our fellow Aussies. Can anyone recommend the best books which include mostly building tips?
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