'I'm going to cry': The 40-year battle where Cleo Smith vanished

·2-min read

The campsite thrust into the spotlight after Cleo Smith vanished from her family's tent last year might be forced to demolish its famous shore-front shacks after a 40-year battle.

The Blowholes campsite in Carnarvon, Western Australia, became known throughout the world after four-year-old Cleo Smith was allegedly snatched from her tent last year and an 18-day search ensued.

Plans from the local council and the state government to demolish the shacks on the campsite emerged late last year, and will make way for chalets as well as caravan and tent sites.

Those who live in or own the holiday shacks have now spoken out over their devastation.

Carnarvon Shire President, Eddie Smith, told the ABC the discussion around the shacks has been going on for at least "40 years".

The Blowholes campsite became a household name after Cleo Smith was allegedly taken from her tent while visiting with her family. Source: ABC/AAP
The Blowholes campsite became a household name after Cleo Smith was allegedly taken from her tent while visiting with her family. Source: ABC/AAP

For some, the campsite isn't a holiday spot, it's their home.

Gail Harper has owned her shack at the campsite since the 1990s.

"The Blowholes shacks are really, really precious, to me and my family and in fact, I'm going to cry," she told the ABC.

A fundraiser which hoped to save the shacks said they have provided low cost and impact housing for over 35 years.

"The shacks have been used and shared by many 1000's of locals, their families and visitors over the years when camping at the Blowholes Reserve," the campaign said.

"Many shacks have seen three generations gather within their walls — with a steady turnover of laughing children, cooked jaffles, marshmallows and mates catching up around the camp fire."

For some, the shacks are their home and locals are trying to save the shacks at the beach. Source: ABC
For some, the shacks are their home and locals are trying to save the shacks at the beach. Source: ABC

One person wrote on the fundraiser that the shack owners paid a crucial role at the campsite and many were like the "unofficial caretakers of the marine and coastal environment".

However, Carnarvon Shire Council said between 2016 and 2021, the shacks have been inspected three times by a Building Surveyor, who identified that the shacks are deteriorating due to environmental conditions and white ant attacks.

"The Building Surveyor states that they are at high risk of collapse in high wind," the council says on its website.

A few months back, WA Today reported that visitors had complained of loose materials, including pieces of corrugated tin, after visiting the shacks at the Blowholes campsite.

The Shire then deemed the shacks "dangerous and unfit for human occupation", following an investigation.

The owners of the shacks are contemplating taking further action to save their homes and the Blowholes Protection Association is passionately advocating for the shacks to be saved.

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