145km from Sydney, on an isolated 100-acre property, stands a Cedarspan cabin.
Robust, resilient, and unscathed.
It endured one of the worst bushfire seasons in Australia’s history, known as Black Summer.
Simon, the barn’s previous owner, tells of its incredible survival.
“Waiting with bated breath,” he asked, ‘have I got a cabin still?’
It was standing there on its own.”
When the devastating Morton bushfire swept through the Southern Highlands, Simon was up North with family helping clear land for harvest.
“Watching the RFS fire website, watching where the fires were moving, I couldn’t leave, so it was a bit hopeless just watching this on the app on the phone.”
Realising how destructive the fires were, Simon called on his friends who drove from Wollongong to remove essentials and valuables from his cabin.
“Anything that was explosive or flammable, petrol, diesel, gas containers, lubricants, grease, we actually loaded up the bunker.”
On January 4, 2020, at 7:25 pm, the security camera on his property captured the moment the destruction erupted.
“The embers were starting to come through on the camera, and the motion of it was actually triggering the camera, and that went for about over an hour.”
Simon recounts the eerie feeling of watching the surveillance footage for the first time.
“It would have been 6 minutes when it did hit. It just burnt so hot and hard that it just went straight through in that time. It burnt everything in that instant.”
Pictures from a surveillance camera on Simon’s property
When Simon did return, he was amazed.
“Chest out shoulders back, telling the world have you got something better than that?”
In the aftermath, the area was patrolled by workers from Forestry, RFS, and National Parks.
“Some have come in on my bunker and scribbled onto the soot.
They scribbled ‘lucky’ onto the door of my bunker.”
But some weren’t so fortunate.
“There was a neighbour 600 metres to my east, and it was brick, older style brick, sandstone, and he lost that. It burnt to the ground.”
When asked what could have possibly saved a timber barn from a raging fire?
“By putting *CEDARSHIELD™ on, it seals it,” Simon explained.
“I had only just put two coats on the southern side, so the fire side two weeks before I went north.
You can rub your hand up and down the timber, no splinters whatsoever. It’s just more of that glazed feel on it, so you know you are also reducing the flammable property of the timber.”
“I suppose if I hadn’t put in a bunker, hadn’t cleared it, hadn’t put *CEDARSHIELD™ on, and hadn’t prepared, I perhaps would have been lucky, but I’ve done all those things.”
One year on from the bushfires, the area is beginning to thrive.
“The southern highlands is probably greener and brighter than it’s been before.
A lot of the big trees are still in shock, and they’re shooting out a limb.”
For five years, the barn was Simon’s getaway and a place for family and friends to enjoy camping, mountain biking, kayaking, and bushwalking.
To this day, Simon’s favourite memory from the cabin is the day it was installed.
“When the boys were putting the cabin up, I went up there I missed them on the first day.
When the walls were put up, I just realised the size of it.
It was perhaps beyond my expectations, and it’s a solid piece of kit.”
Simon’s property borders both a national park and a forest, the only access for the Cedarspan crew was 50 minutes of 4-wheel driving through fire trails, with no mobile reception.
“I know how hard it is to get in and get out. They didn’t even comment on that. They just did it. Put the cabin up.”
The Cedarspan arrives, ready to be transported through tough terrain
Once installed to lock-up stage, Simon made it his own.
“I like the contrast the standout. The red door for me it was a standout. When you see it, it’s a beacon looking back through the bush.”
Now, Simon is in the process of looking at another Cedarspan barn for his new property.
“I’ve already been in touch and sounded out some ideas and enquired about product turnaround times which are way ahead of many other companies.”
CEDARSHIELD™ has not been scientifically tested as a fire retardant and, as such, should not be relied upon in the event of a bushfire.
We encourage all residents in bushfire-prone areas to heed warnings and follow the safety advice of authorities.
Dreaming of your own rural getaway?
We’d love to show you just how fast & easy it is to add a Cedarspan building to your property.
We’re a third-generation family business and have been building cabins, barns & cottages across Australia for over 40 years.