CHURCH DEBATE: The Ryan Street Church in Wallaville which the residents do not want turned into a backpackers. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
CHURCH DEBATE: The Ryan Street Church in Wallaville which the residents do not want turned into a backpackers. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Wallaville backpacker hostel proposal backlash

A GROUP of residents opposing a backpacker hostel to be established in a church in the small village of Wallaville is threatening legal action to stop it going ahead.

Developer Jason Macdonald was granted permission by Bundaberg Regional Council last year to turn the old church into a hostel to house 16 backpackers.

Mr Macdonald has said there are plenty of farms in the district to provide seasonal work for backpackers.

But the Wallaville Action Group says 97 residents are opposed to the plan.

Since receiving approval from the council Mr Macdonald has sought to sell the building.

The property went to auction last week.

But it failed to reach the reserve.

Negotiations are continuing with possible buyers.

One of the opponents to the backpackers' hostel plan is Wallaville Hotel co-owner Nola Offord.

Mrs Offord said she was not opposed to having a backpacker hostel in the town.

"I'm opposing the fact that he won't be putting a permanent caretaker in," she said.

The hotel also offers backpacker accommodation, and Mrs Offord said the hostel would need someone there.

"From having to deal with backpackers myself I know they need a lot of supervision," she said.

Mrs Offord said she had no objection to any idea that would improve trade in Wallaville.

"This is a small community and we need it," she said.

"Bringing more people in means more trade."

Mrs Offord said although there were some backpackers living in the building, it was not yet operating as a full-on hostel.

"There's still a fair bit of work that needs to be done," she said.

A council representative said Mr Macdonald had an approval until March 8, 2017 and had until that time to complete the works under his

approval notice.

The approval was attached to the property and there was no encumbrance to him selling the property.

Mr Macdonald could not be contacted for comment.



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