Traveling Close To Home

You don’t need to travel far to be enlightened and humbled

Last weekend we went to camp in Coolum, a 15 minute drive from our home. There, in the Coolum Campsite, I discovered an entire race on the brink of extinction. A group of people who are teetering on the verge of annihilation without anyone giving a toss.

So I chatted to them and took photos.

Then I made this short photo-story about them. It only takes a couple of minutes to read.

Coolum Campsite, Australia – Home To A Dying Generation

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This is Stan.

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Stan's washing may be drying here, but I doubt it. Stan is permanent resident at Coolum Campsite

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This is a temporary camping spot. Please note the Australian flag flying proudly. Temporary residents abound, but permanent residents are a dying breed. Literally.

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Once upon a time you could buy a spot at Coolum Campsite like this one and move in. Heath, a charming man, who moved to Queensland ten years ago, told me a permanent spot like this one was the only housing option he could afford.

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10 years ago, a house in Coolum would have cost about $150,000. Now they're over $400, 000. So a permanent spot at Coolumcampsite used to be a more affordable option

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All 32 permanent residents have injected their personality into their homes and maintain them meticulously. One home looks pleasingly ramshackle but the rest are tidier than mine.

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Never-the-less, permanent residents are being phased out. Most of them are elderly and, when they die, no on else will be allowed to set up a permanent home like this one.

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This is Coolum Beach where they live. If you can, stop by and visit the permanent residents of Coolum Campsite. They are a friendly bunch.

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Thank you for chatting to me Stan, and letting me take your photo. You seem like a such a happy man.

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  1. Hilary August 21, 2009 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel .. great to meet you via JD (Sources of Insight) .. and I loved the story about the elderly of Coolum. Why can’t anyone buy in? Is the park earmarked for development? Or is it too close to the sea in case of global warming and sea level rises?

    What a great mobile home set up .. what’s the town in the back ground .. is that Coolum main?

    I’ll be back – your site looks fun .. just trying to do a few things this month, early next .. but I’ll be back to read more .. good for you to be where you want to be .. I love the toucan (I think?) ..

    go well, have a good weekend ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

    • Annabel Candy August 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Thanks Hilary! Really it sounds sad but I’ve met some brilliant people on the Internet in the four months I’ve been blogging. Certainly not what was intended but a brilliant fringe benefit:) I suppose the decision to get rid of the permanent campers is an economic one. Basically temporary campers probably pay more. We paid $55 to pitch our tent for the night. I bet permanent campers pay much less. The have cabins at the campsite for $140 per night – as much as a hotel room – well more in many cases. Yes, the town and high rises are downtown Coolum. It’s not overdone at the moment but they are developing it fast…

      Glad you like the toucan! I miss them. I can, you can, toucan…

  2. Connie August 22, 2009 at 1:48 am - Reply

    This reminds me of a permanent campground right on the ocean here in Florida that used to intrigue me everytime we went by. It was like a little city of places like the ones you photographed. Then huge luxury condo complexes were built next door and one day the whole campground was GONE, just disappeared. I will always wonder where all those people went.

  3. Jackson Beale August 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Brilliant! I could easily live like this. Pitty my fiancée needs a few more luxuries than I.

    • Annabel Candy August 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I think I could too! Once the kids have moved out… Primo beach front location on pristine surf beach:)

  4. Anni Taylor August 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Very moving photo story of this Coolum campsite. The photo of the washing with the highrises in the background was especially evocative.

    • Annabel Candy August 23, 2009 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Thanks Anni! I love a bit of laundry blowing in the breeze and there was so much of it, I couldn’t resist:)

  5. Hilary August 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel .. thanks for replying .. I had to say I hadn’t realised Toucans were only found in the Caribbean, Mexican and S American regions – I learnt something! No wonder you miss them – when were you there?

    Thanks for the info re Coolum .. sounds lovely .. when you get your beach front let me know & I’ll be over!

    Have a good Sunday, seeing as today is over ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

    • Annabel Candy August 23, 2009 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Yes, and don’t forget Central America for some excellent toucan spotting opportunities. Such handsome birds!

  6. Becs August 23, 2009 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Happy to report permanent residents are alive and well in NZ- went to the Te Rere Point camp ground at Easter and there were whole families living there with well loved caravans with extensions. Kids even attend the local primary. How sad that it’s being phased out on that fab piece of coast.

    • Annabel Candy August 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Good old New Zealand. I still remember a few permanent “campers” we met while traveling round NZ in our camper van. When I described this article to someone, they were scornful, asking if I wanted to inspire people to live in a campsite. I just think it’s inspiring that people can still live well and respectably on little, and that there are a diverse group of people living alternative lifestyles on our back doorstep. Thanks for reading and sharing your story, I love it.

  7. Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching August 24, 2009 at 6:09 am - Reply

    The photo of the campsite with the skyscrapers in the background is such a unique scene. I saw similar sights when I was in Cairo but I wouldn’t expect them in Australia. Thanks for this interesting glimpse into these people’s way of life.

  8. Celia December 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel, we recently discovered the Coolum Caravan Park too after driving past for years. Our daughter and friends had a fantastic camp site right next to the beach and we were called in to pitch the tent. Looked so good I was tempted to stay there myself, another time maybe. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful beaches right on our doorstep. We’ve also stayed at the Munna Beach Caravan Park right here in Noosa but don’t tell everyone! Visitors laughed when they discovered I only lived down the road but you know how it is, there are always chores do to at home so I left them and pitched my tent at the beach for some R&R. It was great.

    • Annabel Candy December 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm - Reply

      Celia – That’s probably why they had to stop the permanent camping at Coolum – too popular. Imagine living in a caravan, there would b every little to clean, no lawns to mow and an endless stream of visitors to keep you entertained. I’ll have to check out the Munna Beach campsite too. We just had a fun weekend at Boreen Point campsite. I recommend it unless you don’t want to share the bathrooms with a carpet python:)

  9. Why Do People Travel? June 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm - Reply

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