NO FIXED ADDRESS: Merv Downton lives in his caravan and frequents the free camping grounds throughout the South Burnett.
NO FIXED ADDRESS: Merv Downton lives in his caravan and frequents the free camping grounds throughout the South Burnett.

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Single pensioner’s vagrant life

AFTER Merv Downton's wife passed away, the 76-year-old pensioner had to adjust to a new way of life.

With no fixed address, Merv frequents the free camp sites throughout the South Burnett in his trusty caravan.

"I am always on the road," he said.

"My wife had a massive heart attack and she was unconscious for a month.

"Whatever money I had went into looking after her."

Throughout the South Burnett, the length of time travellers can stay at the free campgrounds range from 24 hours to 48 hours.

Whether or not these time frames should be extended to 72 hours in the South Burnett has had towns divided. 

Merv said it would be helpful if they extended those time frames.

"It would be nice in Murgon to have a bit longer," he said.

"As soon as you do your washing at the camp down there it's time to go."

Merv said living on the pension was tough and camping in the free campgrounds was his only option.

"This isn't a lifestyle choice, this is all I've got," he said.

"The only money I have coming in now is my pension.

"Social Security go through you like a tonne of bricks."

He has looked into a permanent camping site in the past, but sadly it wasn't in his budget.

"When you fork out $20 to $30 a night it adds up," he said.

To get around the 48 hour time limits, Merv has worked out a loop of the free grounds that keeps him out of trouble.

"I do a bit of a circuit," he said.

"I go from here (Wooroolin), then to Wondai, to Murgon and Ban Ban Springs."

He warned any campers, if they were thinking they might try to extend there stay over the 48 hours, he advised against it.

"You'll get a knock on the door," Merv said.

"The cleaner reckons he is the manager there, he comes along and tells you to move on."

But, as far as Merv was concerned, life on the road wasn't all bad.

"Movies is my hobby," he said.

"I swap movies with other campers.

"I watched The Sound of Music last night."

His vagabond life has meant Merv has been able to see a good deal of the country.

"I've been right up to Cairns and Normanton and down to Melbourne," he said.

He makes sure to stay in the free camping grounds where possible.

South Burnett


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