HEARTACHE: At 74, the Allora Showgrounds caretaker Bill Riley was told he had to the leave the grounds but he’s convinced he’ll stay.
HEARTACHE: At 74, the Allora Showgrounds caretaker Bill Riley was told he had to the leave the grounds but he’s convinced he’ll stay.

‘Nothing but heartache and hell’: Grounds closed to campers

TOLD to leave the premises by Friday afternoon, the caravaners living on the Allora Showgrounds are now faced with losing their home and jobs to the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes after the State Government announced all camping grounds and national parks would be closed to lessen the risk of the spread.

The land is leased from the Department of Natural Resources and president of the Show Society, Mark Pillar said while it was unfortunate circumstances, removing the caravaners was necessary.

"Unfortunately, we're not a caravan park, we're a camping ground and are only meant to have short-term visitors," he said.

"We're not insured for a pandemic and we have to think of our duty of care, we can't have people coming in and out when we don't know where they've been."

As a devastating result of the move, the grounds caretaker Bill Riley has lost his job as well.

Mr Riley, 74 years old, said he was not prepared to leave the grounds he has called home for the last 12 months.

"What can we do, this van is all I have and I have nowhere to put it," he said.

"Me and the other people who call the grounds home are old and some of them have cancer and emphysema, they can't afford to move."

Mr Riley is adamant he won't be leaving despite his deadline.

"This is home, I have a job lined up in Tenterfield but I can't cross the border so it's pretty despairing," he said.

"I've lived in a caravan for 8 years and a lot of people will be displaced from this."

Mr Pillar said there are plenty of places that will take the ground's displaced residents.

"It's unfortunate we had to let him go but he has family nearby and the caravan parks are permanent residences and are still taking people," he said.

"If we're going into a lockdown then it's better they find that permanent residency sooner rather than later anyway."

Michelle Cox from Rose City Caravan Park said the site is still open for bookings.

"At this point we obviously don't want to encourage people coming on holiday, but we're prioritising people who live here and if someone's stuck we will try to help them," she said.

"Bookings are down but we've had people who made it across the border just in time."

After a year of hardship Mr Pillar said the closure of the grounds and it's final opportunity for income has been a devastating final blow.

"I thought it would be 12 years of good times but it's been nothing but heartache and hell."



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