Park residents forced to leave

Pensioner Betty Steinhardt is worried about her future after Bundaberg Regional Council gave her four months’ notice to leave Golden Sands Caravan Park, at Moore Park Beach.
Pensioner Betty Steinhardt is worried about her future after Bundaberg Regional Council gave her four months’ notice to leave Golden Sands Caravan Park, at Moore Park Beach. Max Fleet

TWO elderly friends fear for their future after being told by Bundaberg Regional Council they will have to leave their long-time homes at a Moore Park Beach caravan park.

Betty Steinhardt, 76, and friend Fred Wellhuner, 71, have been given four months to clear out of their cabins at the Golden Sands Caravan Park, which will be taken over by the council next year.

The council said it would be removing permanent residents in favour of tourists, but would try to help the pair relocate smoothly.

Ms Steinhardt and Mr Wellhuner have lived in the cabins for almost 10 years, but the council said they should never have been able to live there in the first place.

Ms Steinhardt said it was hard to come to terms with the fact she could be homeless in a few months.

“I’ve never been homeless in all my life, let alone at 76 years old,” she said.

She said the heartbreaking news had added further stress to her health concerns.

Ms Steinhardt will have hip-replacement surgery on Monday and said after the operation she would not be able to move freely.

“It will be six weeks for the wound to heal, but it’s three months before you can drive a car, so health wise I won’t be able to move out,” she said.

Mr Wellhuner suffers from cancer, diabetes and heart problems.

The pair rely on each other, even sharing a car, but said they needed their own homes for independence.

They pay $135 per week rent each for the cabins.

“Where else are you going to go for that price?” Ms Steinhardt said.

“We can’t pay $250 each a week. We are on a pension.

“I have no idea what I am going to do apart from a tent, but I don’t want to live in a tent.”

Ms Steinhardt also does not want to leave the security of her neighbourhood.

“This is our home. It’s why we live here – it’s our family, we do things for each other,” she said.

Fellow caravan park resident Christine Roberts was in tears yesterday after finding out about the council’s decision.

“It upsets me so much to see what is happening,” she said.

“Everyone is vulnerable.”

Bundaberg Regional Council CEO Peter Byrne said the council would take over the park when the tenants’ lease expired in February, revamp it and rename it Moore Park Beach Holiday Park.

Mr Byrne said it was vital to have a place for visitors to stay in the area.

“Caravan parks we operate don’t have permanent residents living there,” he said.

“(The permanent residents) had an arrangement with the existing lessee – we’re not taking over that.”

But Mr Byrne said council would talk to government agencies to help the friends move from the park.

“We’re very mindful of the age of the people and council will work with them to ensure there is a smooth transition,” he said.

“We have given them plenty of notice; it’s only October.”

The issue follows a similar incident earlier this year when the council told pensioner Keith List he could no longer stay at Finemore Caravan Park because there were no available permanent sites. They later helped him find a new home.

Mr Wellhuner said it would be difficult to let his home go.

“I won’t just let it go with out a fight,” he said.

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