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.


The fire jumps the canal.

The fire jumps the canal.

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!

The Dunalley Pub ... and still standing!

The Dunalley Pub … and still standing!

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.