Old caravans gone forever

Sold! Kevin Cocciola auctions off caravans at the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park.
Sold! Kevin Cocciola auctions off caravans at the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park.

Several hundred people braved the wet weather to try and snap up a bargain at the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park last Saturday morning as everything had to go, literally, by Monday lunchtime. The old lessee Ashley Cooper was moving out to make way for new lessee Peter Mann and everything including the kitchen sinks had to be sold.

Auctioneer Kevin Cocciola said the main attraction was the 34 caravans and seven cabins up for grabs, but there were also washing machines, gardening tools, a ride-on mower, a brand new barbecue and even the safe and calculator from the office.

The caravans sold for $250-$2000 and the cabins for $12,000-$17,500 and caravan park manager Mark Gooley said everyone was happy with the results of the sale.

"Everything is gone and we've done the official handover," he said.

The caravan park is owned by Lismore City Council, which agonised over what to do with it as it had become a de facto home for homeless. But because the park is in a flood zone and state laws forbid permanent residents, the Council was forced into a situation where they had to move people on.

Housing NSW Far North Coast manager Annie McCabe co-ordinated a number of housing and social service providers including Centrelink, St Vincent de Paul, North Coast Community Housing, On-Track Community Housing and the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service to assist in helping residents find alternative accommodation. In the end they were able to find homes for all 35 people who were still living in the park.

"I think the residents who rented caravans are extremely happy to have a proper house to live in," Mr Gooley said. "Most got new or nearly new units. Some got older commission houses, but all of them got accommodation of some form or another."

Eleven residents who own their own vans have been permitted to stay for the time being.

Mr Gooley, who has been working at the park for two-and-a-half years and has been involved in getting caravans out at flood times for 10 years, said he had enjoyed working there.

He said when a flood was approaching he and his crew could get nine cabins and 47 caravans to higher ground in under two hours.

"The only time there was a problem was in 2009 when Council didn't tell us the flood pumps weren't working," he said. "It's had its moments. I'll be sorry to go."

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