Donations make happy campers

WHEN backpacker Marie Dufour contacted her family in France to tell them her campsite had been deliberately burnt to the ground her concerned mother told her to leave the Colour City Caravan Park because she was so worried about her daughter’s safety she could not sleep.

But despite their bad start to 2013, Ms Dufour and her three friends Jonathan Mur, Mickael Blainville and Antoine Fournier have decided to stay on in Orange and will continue to live at the park until they decide to move on.

Immediately after the Central Western Daily broke the story about the tent fire, numerous residents came forward with offers of clothes and camping supplies for the group.

Ashley Barnes donated two bags of clothes.

“If I was in that situation I’d be devastated,” she said.

“I was cleaning out my wardrobe and I thought I’d give it someone who needed it.”

Jordana Connell said she donated clothes because she felt for the group being helpless in a foreign country.

“Usually you’d reach out to your friends and family,” she said.

“I have a million pairs of jeans and I hate the idea that they’d [the backpackers] go away [from Orange] with a bad taste.”

Ms Dufour said the donations had made the group feel a lot better since their ordeal.

“We might stay here for a lot of months, if we have a good job we will stay,” she said.

Mr Mur was thankful for the donations and said the group had also received clothes from other people staying at the park.

“I’m alone here and my family is in France,” he said.

Councillor Chris Gryllis was so concerned about the backpackers’ welfare he arranged for $500 worth of toiletries, t-shirts and clothes from the Visitor Information Centre to be given to the group.

They have also been given two nights free accommodation at the park.

“People in Orange care very much if someone is suffering,” Cr Gryllis said.

“[The fire] was totally unacceptable.”

Mayor John Davis told the backpackers the council wanted the group to think positively about the city when they eventually moved on.

“We don’t want you to go away from Orange and say ‘that was that terrible place’,” he said.

“We wanted to drop by and see if you were OK.”

He said the fire appeared to be a one-off incident and did not highlight the need for more safety precautions at the park.

“No-one has blamed anyone and the main thing is nobody was hurt,” he said.

“It surprises me that [the backpackers] are so relaxed and happy.”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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