Canvas refuge camp home for needy
NOOSA'S Johns Landing Camping Ground has become a life raft for desperate families and social refugees searching for a roof over their heads - even if it is canvas.
In these hard financial times, one of Noosa's favourite holiday campsites, with its idyllic Noosa River position near Lake Cooroibah, is being sought out as a safe and affordable refuge for people locked out of rental and housing markets in Noosa.
While some will find more permanent accommodation, quite a few will be camping alongside the likely bumper festive crowd these Christmas holidays.
Some of them have jobs, but are struggling to get "back on their feet" in the area, while others have been dealt a blow by domestic violence or family break-ups and are looking to pick up the pieces of their lives.
Chances are if they were not able to pull up at Johns Landing and pitch a tent, they would be forced to live out of their cars, such is the chronic shortage of emergency or affordable accommodation in the area.
To answer the call for help among these disadvantaged families and individuals, the Noosa Salvation Army began putting on free fortnightly barbecue on Friday nights.
Salvos local emergency relief officer Carol Hilditch said Noosa-based Captain Neville Hall conducted children's Sunday school as well as the barbies.
"Years ago we could send people to backpackers, but of course that doesn't happen now," Ms Hilditch said.
"For single people all there's left is the camping ground."
Camping ground operator Ben Johns, a 73-year-old member of the family the picturesque camp site is named after, is only too aware of the shelter his property offers for those who have fallen through society's social safety net.
He charges $30 a person for a week to stay there, but families can stake out a campsite for $10 a day or $70 a week.
"With the larger families it gets too expensive for them to charge by the person," Mr Johns said.
For that they get to put up a tent with facilities like water, showers and toilets provided.
"We do have families staying here, mostly because they can't find anything (to rent) in town and we tend to have a lot of single men, possibly because the family has broken up and they've been abandoned.
"Some of them can stay out here for up to six months while they try to get their lives sorted out and then they move on."
Mr Johns said sometimes there were rumblings from authorities about how long people were entitled to stay.
He said "for the most part" these campers in need were good guests.
"Quite a few of them have a look of depression, which is understandable considering their circumstances - that they're on their own."
Cpt Hall said the problems of homelessness and providing affordable housing were "difficult and diverse."
"It's not just about building accommodation, it's the ongoing funding - it's a huge thing."
A Sunshine Coast council spokeswoman said council park campers could stay for 90 days in a 12-month period.
She said Johns Landing camping ground was a privately owned facility.