Six more pods on the way to Batlow

More Minderoo pods are slated to arrive in Batlow to help fire-impacted residents.

David Jones says he’s living in the lap of luxury at the Batlow Caravan Park after he was moved out of a temporary rental into one of the new caravan park units reserved for bushfire victims. He’s also the only one there.
“It’s nice down here, it’s really nice,” he said on Tuesday afternoon, making plans to cook a pork belly with baked potatoes and apple crumble as Batlow temperatures stayed firmly in the single digits.
“It would have been nice to be here earlier, save stuffing around with the housing commission house, but everything is great. No one else is down here.”
Mr Jones is still waiting for a Minderoo Recovery Pod to arrive, which will enable him to live back on his Mines Road property. At the moment, he travels to his property to tend to the chooks and then comes home again to get warm.
“It’s nice to be down here, but I’d like to be home,” he said. “That’s why it’s called Mines Road. Because it’s mine.
“The pod is just going to be a godsend.”
Recovery NSW, the agency overseeing the delivering of the pods, told The Times that six pods have been approved for allocation in the Snowy Valleys, including one of the larger family-sized pods. Site inspections have been conducted and the pods are currently being manufactured with additional insulation, specifically for the cooler weather in the Snowy Valleys.
The pods are expected to be delivered to the area in the next four weeks, “subject to weather conditions and receipt of the orders required for pod completion.”
Given how popular the program has been, with 59 pods delivered as of June 23 and another 41 ready to go, the NSW Government and Salvation Army have also signed a new agreement to expand the program, with both entities each committing $1.5 million, bringing the total funding for the program to $8 million.
The new funding agreement will “supercharge the program to roll out another 60 to 70 temporary accommodation pods,” according to Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro.
“I have met with many families who have already received a pod and I have seen firsthand how much this means to them.”
The Salvation Army’s Secretary for Mission, Lyn Edge (Lieut. Colonel), says the Salvos assisted more than 8,000 NSW households during the bushfire response.
“We are providing ongoing support for thousands including the residents of 2,475 houses destroyed. We know those who lost their homes will face a particularly hard road to recovery and that having the stability of a Recovery Pod will make the journey more manageable,” Ms Edge said.
Minderoo Foundation Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said he was excited to be part of creating a new solution for fire victims.
“When our Fire Fund team visited impacted communities across northern and southern NSW shortly after the fires, many people on the ground told us their number one priority was to be able to stay on their land while they rebuilt. This message drove the innovative thinking that led us to the design of the Minderoo recovery pods,” Dr Forrest said.
Mr Jones said it was likely that more families in Batlow would like to have their own pod or even be transferred into the Batlow Caravan Park.
“There’s a lot of people around the place, I’m sure. I’m just happy to be here myself. But there’s other people around that are in houses they don’t want to be in,” he said.
The caravan park is charging Mr Jones $165 a week, which he said he’s happy to pay.
“I was paying $30 every four days for gas just to keep one room warm at the other place,” he said. “It was freezing cold and horrible.”
Mr Jones said being at the caravan park also feels nostalgic, reminding him of when he first arrived in the town in the 1980’s.
“It’s great because this is where I started 40 years ago,” he said.
“I’m just going to go from strength to strength.”
While Mr Jones is pleased to have the park to himself, he also expressed concern.
“The caravan park, it’s an enterprise. They should have it full of people,” he said. “There’s been people driving in and out with camper trailers looking for accomodation. I’ve had people stop and ask me if it’s open and I just tell them to ring up the council. I haven’t got any other idea what’s going on.
“This place would be full of people if they actually opened the gate.”