View Comments
Crammed hostel  to move guests out
Crammed hostel to move guests out

A South West hostel has been ordered to move backpackers out after it crammed 180 people into a space meant for 110.

Donnybrook-Balingup shire chief executive John Attwood said council officers told the Brook Lodge Backpackers in Donnybrook to slash the number of guests or put in more toilets and showers.

An inspection had found the hostel was operating above capacity.

"We received a complaint from a backpacker about the number of people staying there and that was the first thing that brought it to our attention, that they were over their capacity," Mr Attwood said.

Backpackers are charged $100 a week to sleep in tents erected on the lawn.

Photographs taken by a backpacker show the overcrowded kitchen, clothes hanging on fences because there is no room on the washing line and overflowing rubbish bins.

Tom DeAngioli, from Italy, said he was kicked out of the hostel after he raised concerns about overcrowding with the owner.

A Hong Kong backpacker staying at the hostel, who wanted to be known only as Alex, said backpackers should not have been charged to sleep in tents next to rubbish bins.

He said the hostel needed more facilities to cope with the extra numbers.

Owner Bruce Clark admitted there were 151 backpackers staying at the hostel last Monday and that numbers peaked at 180 at the height of the fruit-picking season.

About 30 guests had been moved out and he was hoping to reduce numbers further and install extra showers and toilets.

Mr Clark said local accommodation providers had found it difficult to find beds for people after a record number of backpackers converged on Donnybrook this season. A nearby hotel had also cut spaces by 40 beds.

"These people have to go somewhere," Mr Clark said.

He said he fielded 200 calls a day from backpackers wanting to make bookings.

"What I should have said is, 'I'm full, move on', and then you would be writing a story about how there are not enough fruit pickers in the area," he said.

Mr Clark confirmed that Mr DeAngioli and a few of his friends had been kicked out after they complained.

He said staff had been trained to use extinguishers and evacuate guests if there was a fire.

There were monthly inspections to ensure extinguishers and fire alarms were up to date.

Cleaners worked at the hostel, including on weekends, and staff spent "the vast majority of their day" cleaning up after backpackers.