Sauna Mishap

Yesterday the sauna hut burnt to the ground.  I am pleased to say that nobody was hurt.  Some guests had lit the fire then gone for a walk.  A guest from the other cottage had gone past, not to partake of a sauna, but as is his bent and and pastime, in search of birds.  and managed to take his eyes from his binoculars long enough the wreck, the fire and the smoke.  He immediately came to inform me, heroically giving up valuable birding time, but when I got there there was nothing worth doing to quench the flames, but water from the burnt out plumbing was shooting everywhere except onto the fire.  That had to be dealt with or the homestead and Blackbean Cottage would soon be out of water.  I couldn’t cut off the water in the wreckage of the sauna as it was still burning.  I couldn’t just turn it off at the tanks as the homestead and Blackbean would have no water.  I had to find the tee connection where 15 years ago I had patched the supply pipe into the homestead supply pipe and block it off there.  All I had to do is remember where that was and dig it up.  First of all dig across the suspected direction of the pipe to find it, then dig along the pipe to find the connection.  I had started 10 m away with my best guess.  

I looked through my collection of plumbing bits to determine that I didn’t have anything to fit and would have to bodge something to plug a 42 mm hole.  I found a 45 mm cap and put it on the lathe to turn a 41-43 mm taper, put a bit of thread tape on it and flogged it into the hole with a hammer.  Then a clamp to hold it in the hole against the pressure..  Emergency over and water restored.  About that time along came the guest who had inadvertently incinerated the sauna.  I informed him that his sauna wouldn’t be happening.  We went to inspect the remains. 

Remodeled sauna hut

He was distraught, probably from a mixture of guilt, the possibility that I might get angry, and the possibility I might demand restitution.  I told him that I didn’t think he meant to burn it down deliberately and it came under the category of ” shit happens”.  Later on when I had fixed the emergency situation, I informed the guests in Blackbean that they could shit and wash again and went up to see the guilty party and relieve their anxiety.  We had a long wide-ranging chat lubricated with red wine.  I will rebuild the sauna again at my leisure.  This time around it will require money as I no longer have left-over building materials.  But Xmas is not a good time to start a project and many retailers are closed for up to 3 weeks and the weather is often unhelpful.  

So dear guests, no saunas for a while, but I am told that many from the coast have had plenty of saunas in recent months and may not be demanding more anytime soon.  My daughter Josie and family are coming over from Darwin soon in the last event of the Xmas family calendar and festivities, and I am hoping they have had enough saunas already.  

I wish you all a happy Xmas and in the new year may the bluebird of happiness shit upon your shoulder.



  1. David Piotrowski says:

    Hi Paul, Dave here. Ok, sauna gone. How about this for an idea.
    Wood heated hot tub. Similar to a spa bath but more about a “hot Pool” idea.
    I came across one of these on a trip to New Zealand many years ago. It was on a bit bigger scale by the owner and they had a wood heated hot pool in Auckland. It was bloody fantastic! Just an idea anyway Paul.
    I wish you all the best in what ever you decide to build there.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Dave, It’s a nice idea and would be luxurious to wallow in, but not suited to very intermittent use. It takes a lot of energy (wood) to heat up water and a long time to heat up a body of water big enough to contain several bodies. The scale of my operation is way too small for it to be permanently hot. The sauna works efficiently for guest operation.

  2. Adam Blyth says:

    Oh no! I LOVED that sauna during my stay in November! Sorry to read of it’s demise, Paul, but I a looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the new one. As they say, everyone needs a project!

  3. Amanda says:

    Indeed the NQ coastal fringe is one giant sauna in summer! Something I complain bitterly about every year, despite living here my entire life… Sorry to hear about the sauna, perhaps you could set up a “sauna donations box” for guests at Possum Valley to aid in the reconstruction?

  4. Robert says:

    Hello Paul,

    Sorry to hear about the sauna. You just recently upgraded the firebox too.
    Your right you know, we do live in a sauna. Can’t imagine going for more!

    Do have a joyous and relaxing Christmas holiday with your family.



  5. Martin L Belson says:

    I am so sorry to see this. But your view of life and “shit happens” makes it all fine, I wish I had the ability to take things in my stride like you do Paul. Another building project will be in the works for 2019 .. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Surely the metalwork you did remains after the fire ?

    • Yes I think the sauna stove is intact though upside down in the hot ashes. When all the embers are cool I will roll it down the hill and cover against corrosion until it has new housing. I can recover the stainless steel chimney sections I think, but not much else including the stumps which are badly charred.

  6. Kate Jones says:

    Oh no!! Glad things didn’t escalate too much.
    True blue Aussie.. we will rebuild 🙂 Merry Christmas Paul xx

  7. Sackerson says:

    Sauna Claus came early!

    Merry Christmas!

    • Hey, I hadn’t thought of that! Santa trying to get down a 4 inch chimney could have caused the fire. Could be a lean Xmas for the kids.

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