Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Save the Caveman

A squatter who has been living in a ramshackle camp overlooking Bondi Beach for the past seven years was celebrating yesterday after authorities backed down on a plan to evict him.

Jhyimy Mhiyles had been given a deadline to move out of his home on a cliff edge, jokingly described as one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in Sydney because of its panoramic views.

The reprieve for the man known as the Bondi Caveman came after more than 400 local residents signed a petition demanding that the local council allow him to stay. "Let the poor old bugger enjoy the rest of his life without having to contend with officious councildom!" wrote one.

Waverley council said Mr Mhiyles could continue his rent-free existence as long as he agreed to abide by some basic rules.

"We became increasingly concerned about Mr Mhiyles's safety because of the expansion of his camp, his proximity to the cliff face and the problems with fires and gas cylinders," said the local mayor, George Newhouse. "If he continues to live on public land, Mr Mhiyles must abide by some house rules."

Mr Mhiyles, also known as Jhyimy Two Hats, is a familiar figure to locals. He has said he came to Sydney during the Olympics in 2000 to try to get work and set up camp overlooking Bondi because he could not afford accommodation.

Although some locals complain that his site, crowded with books, paintings, pots and pans and a comfortable chair, is an eyesore, others have embraced his eccentricity. He recites poetry to passersby, feeds seagulls and says he acts as a one-man neighbourhood watch, protecting the possessions of people going for a swim.

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