Still in the heart of the Northern Rivers country, also known as the Rainbow Region, is the thriving town of Lismore, population 45,000. The surrounding countryside is just so beautiful I want to stay a while longer.
But all this beauty comes at a price. Lismore is surrounded by hills and mountains and when it rains hard, it roars down the hillsides and into the creeks and rivers and makes its way into the town, then it slows down and spreads out across the floodplain before moving out to sea. Lismore was declared a natural disaster in May this year and 500 residents were evacuated.
But the people of Lismore are upbeat about floods, they say they've lived with them for years and wouldn't dream of moving somewhere else.
There is a great community spirit in Lismore. The Soup Kitchen is a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers and also provides accommodation assistance for needy people. They serve breakfast from Monday to Thursday at the United Church from 7am to 8.45 am each morning and hot lunches are available every day at the Soup Kitchen in Norco Lane, South Lismore from 9am to 1pm with sandwiches for people to take away.
The Lismore Council has just given the Soup Kitchen $100,000 towards the purchase of the Winsome Hotel for crisis accommodation. Funding to buy the hotel is made up from the sale of the Soup Kitchen's existing homeless house in Lismore, $220,000 from the Federal Government, a private loan, a foundation grant, a financial institution and some vendor finance.
The Soup Kichen's patron Tim Costello said it will give homess people an important sense of belonging. Tomothy Ewen Costello is a Baptist minister and current CEO of World Vision Australia. He is an 'Australian Living Treasure' and brother to former Federal Minister for Higgins, Peter Costello.