In 1960 Harry and Jean Thompson moved from Warren in western NSW after winning the lottery and buying a caravan. Being from the bush, with no experience of the beach Harry got bogged in the sand at Shelly Beach at Port Macquarie on the NSW mid North Coast.
The Thompsons decided there and then that they had found their spiritual home and thereafter made their caravan their permanent home at beautiful Shelly Beach,
The Thomsons were long time unofficial caretakers of this idyllic Port Macquarie beach and in the process became legendary as they successfully garnered the support of Port Macquarie residents in their effort to resist many vigorous attempts by the local Port Macquarie - Hasting Shire Council to evict them from their self proclaimed beach side home.
Harry Thompson, died on 31st January 2000 at age 83 and the community began fund raising for a memorial, now evident at the northern end of Shelly Beach in the form of a wooden sculpture of Harry and interestingly, his caravan.The area has become known as 'Harry's Corner' and a walking trail with 254 steps, all laboriously built by Harry, leads to a nearby lookout now known as 'Harry's Lookout'
Such was the fondness with which Harry was held he was elected citizen of the year in 1983 and in 1999 was proclaimed 'Mayor of Shelly Beach'
In 2009 an unbelievable mindless act of vandalism saw the sculpture of Harry decapitated. Fortunately local builder and friend of Harry, Ted Sala, came to the rescue and repairs were made and Harry once again stands a silent sentinal watching over his beloved Shelly Beach.
Sculptors - Sue Bell, Stephen Killick, Stephen King (2005)
I am uncertain what qualities made Harry such a revered and loved local squatter or why he came to Shelly Beach, but he obviously won the hearts of all who knew him. I remember his van and having seen him there on several visits in the 1960's but I have little knowledge of the man or what led to his immortalization.
Any information additional to my above description is welcomed.
Some more info on Harry Thompson HERE