Fawcett Bridge houses the homeless
SIX MONTHS after the opening of the homeless facility at the old Winsome Hotel, more people than ever are sleeping under Fawcett Bridge in North Lismore.
The centre has been full since it opened and, as winter descends, so too is Lismore's unofficial homeless shelter.
Bridge dwellers report that up to 20 people are sleeping there each night – though many by choice.
“We just need a little space somewhere we can call our own,” said Aidan. “Somewhere to do our own thing and be our own people.
“We're going to keep being ourselves. We don't carry on silly – we respect people.”
Fellow camper, Whiskey, agreed.
“We're happy the way we are. All we want is somewhere to have a shower and do some washing and get a feed,” he said.
“The Winsome should help us more with that.”
While many have been on the waiting list at the Winsome, most could not get in primarily because of the drug and alcohol rules.
Whiskey's cousin Bonny explained: “To get into the Winsome we have to detox, but all we really want is a bed.
“We grew up out in the open, we love the open and we like it here.
“The council comes down to mow the grass and get the rubbish on Monday's, so we try to clean up down here and gather up the rubbish for them.”
While the ad hoc community tries to keep the peace and avoid trouble, there have been issues.
“There's people from out of town who go out partying and come back here and wake us up, and sometimes we get cheeky white fellas throwing stuff at us, but we try to keep it good here,” Whiskey said.
“We're good with the coppers. They come down to check up on us to see how we're going.”
Bonny said many of the bridge dwellers used to live at the tent city at the old soup kitchen site, but that had now been closed. She added they would often cook up a feed from the river at night.
“We've got a saucepan here and we'll throw in a line and get jullum (fish) or binging (tortoise). Last night we made a curry with a corma worm – a long worm like a beach worm that lives in floating logs.”