Inspired by Nordic sauna culture, Rob Dempster-Smith set up a woodfire sauna a short walk from Quarantine Beach in Manly. He says 500 people booked into the 45-minute sessions for a steam, swim, repeat experience in April, and now he’s extending the opportunity until spring.

“It has been so successful that Q Station has decided to offer the sauna by the sea throughout winter to complement winter swimming,” he tells Broadsheet.

Pop-up hot boxes by the ocean are a growing trend in the UK, especially for wild swimming in the cooler months. Dempster-Smith says he came up with the concept for Australia’s east coast when he was travelling through Europe in 2020.

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“I was so inspired by the culture in Scandinavia, especially Norway, that I wanted to bring this culture back home,” he says. “Our ethos is all about keeping sauna wild … We got so sick of the sauna options in Sydney. All of them are membership-only and are found in the back of a gym’s changing room and overcrowded… Our goal is to create a winter swimming culture, so sauna bathers can get their deliberate cold exposure and contrast therapy by the ocean.”

The timber sauna was made in New Zealand from redwood with a rain screen made from Japanese cedar battens. Its name, Cedar & Salt, comes from the materials needed for a sauna.

It fits up to 10 people and the 45-minute sessions are communal, priced at $35 per person. You can also book the sauna privately for $300. There are sunrise and sunset sessions, as well as a sound-healing experience.

Dempster-Smith’s tip is to start each session with a cold ocean dip, followed by 15 minutes in the heat of the sauna. “Take a rest then have another swim in the sea,” he says, repeating as you like. “Finish off with a final cold dip. Then allow your body to warm up on its own.”