Les misérables: Backpackers' holiday burnt out

FOUR French backpackers have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs after arsonists destroyed their two tents and thousands of dollars of possessions on New Year’s Eve at the Colour City Caravan Park.

The travellers, in Orange to pick cherries, were part of a group of backpackers who travelled to Sydney to welcome in 2013 but returned to Orange yesterday to find their campsite burnt to the ground.

Marie Dufour estimates she lost about $3000 worth of possessions and is unsure if she will be covered by her traveller’s insurance.

She does not understand why the group was targeted.

“We left everything here. I’ve lost all my jeans,” she said.

“We need the stuff to go to work and we have nothing. We don’t have a lot of money.”

Her tent-mate Antoine Mickael has no insurance and estimates he’s lost $2000 in the fire.

Like his friends he will be forced to borrow clothes before he can return to work at a local orchard.

Jonathan Mur was able to salvage four t-shirts from his campsite, but said he had lost $2500 worth of possessions in the fire.

“I’ve lost all my clothes and my bag ... I don’t know what to do,” he said.

“I took one shirt and one pair of jeans [to Sydney] for New Year’s.

“I’m just here for a job.”

His tent-mate Antoine Fournier said he had lost $3000 of possessions in the fire including a year’s worth of contact lenses.

Despite their misfortune the group say the incident has not tarnished their feelings about Orange and will not scare them away.

The group’s friend Romain Rendud’s tent was just metres from the two torched tents but miraculously was untouched by the fire.

He said other backpackers staying in the park had rallied around to collect clothes and money for the victims.

“Maybe the objective [of the fire] was to make people move on,” he said.

“I’m here to work and meet a lot of people not to be scared.

“French backpackers are not the bad guys. We’re nice to all people.”

Canobolas Local Area Command’s Inspector Bruce Grassick said the matter was still under investigation and the police had no plans to base officers at the site 24/7.

“We task and deploy according to crime trends,” he said.

“We remain aware of the situation and in relation to issues that are developing in the area will be tasked accordingly.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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