A proposal for a Beechworth caravan park that would have had The Castle house as its centrepiece has been rejected by the local council, which cited an adverse impact on the area’s “vibe” in its decision.
George Fendyk, owner of the weatherboard that was Darryl Kerrigan’s ‘castle’ in the 1997 film, said it had been deteriorating while Indigo Shire Council considered his proposal to open the caravan park.
He said it had been sitting “as a wreck”, in four pieces with no roof, since it was transported from Strathmore to its new site — Beechworth’s 105ha former Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum — in December 2017.
Indigo Shire councillors voted 5-2 against the caravan park this week, with council minutes citing a number of reasons including that the proposal would “adversely affect the amenity and vibe of the surrounding area”.
The minutes also noted the council had received objections to the park as being incompatible with surrounding agriculture activities, and determined it would “have an adverse impact on the native vegetation and landscape character” of the historic area.
A frustrated Mr Fendyk said he planned to fight the council’s decision in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
And despite the ruling, the businessman still intended to restore The Castle house, which would have been the caravan park’s office.
But he wouldn’t open it to tourists as he’d planned.
“It won’t open to the public until we get a caravan park. The park will make it viable,” he said.
“Regardless of whether the council gives me a permit, I’m not going to sit back and watch it deteriorate further. It’s sitting there as a wreck — another year of this and you’d just burn it.
“It’s already cost us $80,000, and it’s gonna cost another $80,000 at least to make it liveable.”
Mr Fendyk said he’d hoped to “well and truly” have the caravan park open by now.
Mr Fendyk and his business partner Geoffrey Lucas paid $40,000 for the house, without its block next to Essendon Airport, at auction in mid-2017.
The ultimate piece of movie memorabilia was then carved up, wrapped in plastic and tarp, and heaved on to a convoy of trucks to be driven about 300km to Victoria’s northeast.
The house’s previous owner Vicky Cosentino had it for 24 years as a rental property, including when The Castle was filmed there.
The two-week shoot occurred without her permission and caused the weatherboard substantial damage.