As we sat surrounded by smoke last Friday, the little town of Dunalley battled the odds.
It’s a sweet town, situated round the Dunalley Canal which enables pleasure and fishing boats to shortcut into the Derwent Estuary from the Tasman Sea rather than chancing the exposed southern tip of Tassie and the Southern Ocean.
It had a wonderful bakery (gone), a great pub and dining experience, a loved little school (gone), a VAST history both maritime and forest. It was surviving the ravages of the GFC with a thriving oyster culture (amazingly still surviving), strengthening artistic precincts (all gone), the hotel’s food and most importantly, Kelly’s Sawmill.
We first met Pete Kelly when we were renovating House (the littlest House ever, by the sea, some 30 mins north of Dunalley) last year. We wanted really remarkable Tasmanian timber benchtops for the family room, the main bathroom and the kitchen and we were told to try Kelly’s at Dunalley.
The place was astonishing. Surrounded by heaps of raw logs which were processed and in our case, veneered, to form the most perfect surface, a surface that we asked be idiosyncratic in colour.
This year, we are building two new bedrooms and an extra bathroom and of course we wanted Kelly’s to provide the benchtop for the vanity unit. It was all organised and was due to be picked up on Jan 14th when they would re-open after holidays. But in one of those strange quirks of Fate, Pete rang my husband on 21st December to say the bench was done and if he wanted to come and collect it, they’d be closing for Christmas and the New Year at 12.30 to go and have a whizzbang Christmas lunch at the pub!
So my husband jumped in his ute, went down the Wielangta Road as far as Copping, then onto the Arthur Highway, (all now closed), stopped at the Bakery (burned) to grab some yummo lunch and arrived at Kelly’s in time to pick up our bench top, pay Pete and wish him Happy New Year.
Poignantly, we now realise that the precious benchtop wrapped in white plastic in the shed is probably the last piece of work turned off from Kelly’s as they burned to the ground on Friday 4th January.
Oh Prue! How tragic, yet how wonderful at the same time. I am sorry for the destruction and devastation, yet thankful for the opportunity you had to pick up the beautiful piece of wood. I’m certain the photos hardly do justice to the beauty of the wood, and it is indeed beautiful! Prayers for all those suffering loss!
Hi Judy. You’re right. Tragic and yet so thrilled to have such a memento of their first class work. It’s Tas Oak and they have spliced together strips, leaving the odd mark or two from the bush in the grain, also rather than a flat butt at the joins, there are what I call saw-teeth and to me it just tells a story of the Tasmanian bush and craftsman loggers and millers.
It’s a tough time for those who have lost all… Thank you for your thoughts.
This post made me teary! But how amazing about that piece of wood. It was certainly meant for you. The fires at Dunally are tragic, but I’m sure the people will pull together and make their town even more special. It’s times like these that help communities stick together and realise how much they love their home. Sending good thoughts!!
It made me weepy writing it, Nikalee. We’ve sent an email to Pete to say how sad we are and how we shall treasure our wood even more and that if they do open up again, that we will do business with them. But all the phone lines are down, no communication in or out unless a Sat. phone, I think, so heaven knows if he will ever get it. The community support is amazing, as is the national and international support… essentially I think human hearts are in the right place, we all sometime get lost in the day-to-day grind. This puts it all back in perspective again.
Heartbreaking story. All those lost traders and homes. Can’t believe all that’s happening on the other side of the world while we have so much rain that a lot of our towns and villages are flooded. Very unequal world we live in.
This really marks the Northern Hemisphere/Southern Hemisphere divide, doesn’t it, Pam? I am such a sun bunny and love summer, but right now I wish it was autumn and we were having evening dew every night. I have told my husband to give me a reminder when I start complaining about winter, that this is what I crave at this minute.
My heart goes out as much to the flood victims in the UK as the fire victims here. It’s all the same – loss. Doesn’t matter how it happens, loss is loss and must be dealt with in whatever way we can.
This post brought me to tears Prue. It’s so heartbreaking to see people who have worked so hard, destroyed by this weather. As we sweltered in 43 degrees yesterday, our only concern was fire, which thankfully has not come to our part of Sydney as yet.
Hi bollyknickers. I always remember the Victorian and Canberra fires and it sends shivers down our spines. I know NSW is burning right now and SA and can’t think what we will all be like come Easter. What a hideous hot summer! You take care too, won’t you?
I have a friend from the Blue Mountains who is staying at her shack on the southern beaches at Rosedale. I hope she’s okay! So many people to keep track of…
I had to look Rosedale up – there is a fire at Nowra but other than that i think they are mainly inland. So hopefully she will be safe.
Thanks so much for that. I appreciate it!