Lynda Mallaby sorts through the charred remains of her Channon home.
Lynda Mallaby sorts through the charred remains of her Channon home. David Neilsen

Lynda Mallaby's life in ashes

SIFTING through the charred remains of her dream home, Lynda Mallaby plays with the blackened pieces of her past like an innocent child, rearranging and reassembling them in the ashes.

“It’s the little things that had meaning, that I’ll really miss – the photos, the kids’ drawings, their little love letters to me…” she said, her words trailing off.

Still in shock, it is only her second visit to the razed remains of her uninsured home at The Channon, which was destroyed by fire following a ferocious lightning strike two weeks ago while she was holidaying in Thailand.

A singed page from a certain book; a piece of her favourite bowl; a ‘World’s Greatest Mum’ mug – these fragments leave her lost in thought. Broken bits and pieces that seem to mirror her half-finished sentences.

“This is only stuff,” she finally declares bravely through her tears.

“We can start again.”

Ms Mallaby’s family and partner, Igor von Sabler, chose not to tell her about the fire until she returned from her holiday on Sunday. It was her ‘first proper holiday’ and they wanted her to enjoy it.

“They wondered if they’d done the right thing, but I think they did. I had 11 days left of a wonderful experience and there was nothing I could’ve done about this anyway,” Ms Mallaby said.

“I’m still trying to come to terms with it, but I’m getting there. Yesterday was the first time I had to face the debris. I just came up and sat for a while. It has been easier because of all the support. The community has been fantastic.”

Ms Mallaby’s Asian-style dream home was built from selected second-hand timbers, exposed beams and rendered walls of sand, sawdust and cement. It took her a decade to plan, source and build – but it only took 20 minutes to burn to the ground.

Mr von Sabler said telling Ms Mallaby was the one of the hardest things he had to do. “I couldn’t do it on the phone. It’s like a death, really. We’ve been together for 17 years and this was our space, the space we shared.

“That’s what I’m grieving, not the things,” he said. “Lynda will rebuild, but not here. We’ll leave this space as it is.”

Anyone who wants to donate to Ms Mallaby’s appeal can do so at any Westpac bank through the Lynda Mallaby Appeal.



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