A lonely life living on a park bench in Rocky for 11 years

HOME AT LAST: Rockhampton man Ian Gooda and Cr Rose Swadling sit together in perfect harmony, taking up a quick opportunity to smile for the camera. The pair are at the Rockhampton Homeless Connect event.Austin King / The Morning Bulletin
HOME AT LAST: Rockhampton man Ian Gooda and Cr Rose Swadling sit together in perfect harmony, taking up a quick opportunity to smile for the camera. The pair are at the Rockhampton Homeless Connect event.Austin King / The Morning Bulletin Austin King

IAN Gooda describes the 11 years he spent living on a Kershaw Gardens park bench as lonely.

One blanket is all that kept the Rockhampton man warm at night. He used one towel to cover his, at times icy, park bench bed, which hardly comforted him.

The morning newspaper kept him company.

That was his life every day for 11 years.

Ian said he chose to escape and live in the open because he didn't want to be confined to four walls.

It's a decision he regrets.

"I didn't want to live life like this, homeless, carrying around a backpack with a blanket and a towel ... that's all I had," he said.

Ian lived the first nine years of his vagrant life as an orphan, before his foster family, the Orams from Baralaba, took him under its wings.

He said the family was good to him, providing him basic essentials, a stable home to live. He attended St Brendan's College at Yeppoon.

After that, when he decided to live at Kershaw Gardens, things turned pear shaped and he became caught up in a vicious cycle of poverty.

"One time I didn't eat for a whole week," he said.

"I've survived floods and hot, scorching conditions and it's something I don't want other people to consider if they have fallen on hard times.

"I was robbed three times while I was sleeping at Kershaw Gardens. Some young guys took all the money I had."

Yesterday his life took a U-turn.

Rockhampton Regional Councillor Rose Swadling helped him find a permanent home in North Rockhampton.

Ian met up with Cr Swadling at yesterday's Homeless Connect event at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

He sported a new, warm jacket, a few other necessities and he managed to tuck some hearty winter food into his belly before he left the Robert Schwarten Pavilion.

Topics:  homeless man, kershaw gardens, starvation, st brendan's college



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