DEVASTATED: A heartbroken Vicki French is giving her home at the Bargara Beach Caravan Park to the Salvation Army because she can’t on-sell it.
DEVASTATED: A heartbroken Vicki French is giving her home at the Bargara Beach Caravan Park to the Salvation Army because she can’t on-sell it. Max Fleet BUNVIC

Rule change forces woman to give her home away

WHEN Vicki French bought her home in the Bargara Beach Caravan Park in 2007, she did so with her life savings and considered it an investment.

She never expected that five years later, in 2012, she and the other 32 permanent site owners would receive a letter telling them they could not on-sell their homes and would need to take everything with them if they ever wanted to leave.

Ms French, 58, paid $58,500 for her home and invested a further $7000 into improvements and necessary repairs.

"It's a 30ft caravan, with an aluminium annex attached to it, all carpeted and draped with sliding doors and windows, security screens and a garage," she said.

"But now, that's all my working life savings down the drain."

She said another couple had been living in the caravan park for 30 years and had invested a significant amount into their home.

On receiving the news in 2012, Ms French said some residents put their homes up for sale for removal and got around $5000, a small token of the $100,000-plus some paid to buy into the caravan park.

Park co-manager Jodie Keen declined comment.

I just couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

With her savings gone, Ms French said she had no choice but to stay and said her piece of paradise turned into a prison.

"I was absolutely horrified, devastated. I thought this can't be happening," she said.

With all her family in New Zealand and a sufferer of bi-polar Ms French said her mental illness spiralled into severe depression.

"I just couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

It's now three years on and Ms French said life at the Bargara Beach Caravan Park has not improved.

She said she and the other 13 remaining permanent sites dwellers fear daily that their homes could be taken from them at any point.

"I have not enjoyed living here and it has mentally affected me," she said.

"All the residents here are living like they're skating on thin ice - they don't know what their future holds for them.

"It's not nice to have that stressful feeling."

Ms French said she could not go on living this way and after talks with her family has now made the decision to leave Bargara and move back to New Zealand to live with her sister.

"Until I can get back on my feet again," she said.

"I had a garage sale on the weekend and sold a little bit, but not a lot."

She said she has been unable to find a buyer for removal of her home and, with her move to New Zealand on Saturday, will be donating it to the Salvation Army for removal.

The Bargara Beach Caravan Park is on Crown land and leased by Frank Davies from Bundaberg Regional Council.

Mr Davies, whose lease on the park does not expire until 2025, could not be reached for comment.


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