Albany siblings at Cottesloe Beach Chalets opens doors to families left homeless

Steve Butler & Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Harry Davies and his sister, Ellie Davies, who manage family business Cottesloe Beach Chalets, with bushfire evacuees.
Camera IconHarry Davies and his sister, Ellie Davies, who manage family business Cottesloe Beach Chalets, with bushfire evacuees. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian, Nic Ellis

Hit hard by last week’s COVID-19 lockdown in Perth, Albany-raised siblings Harry and Ellie Davies decided to reach out to those devastated by last week’s bushfires.

The Davies’ Cottesloe Beach Chalets, bought by their father, Glenn, in 1994, were left empty after the lockdown required all residents to return to their homes.

So the family opened their doors for free to those left homeless by the fires, contacting the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and posting on Facebook to offer emergency accommodation.

By 10pm last Tuesday, they had taken 120 desperate people — including a recently born premature baby and several asthmatic children — into their 25 rooms. “It was very, very busy and hectic. We had over 120 people every night,” Ms Davies said yesterday.

“We got rid of the normal check-in and check-out times; we let them do whatever they needed to do.

“There were a lot of tears and wanted to give everyone hugs but couldn’t because of COVID-19.”

Mr Davies, whose intentions were triggered when a close friend’s home was threatened by the fires, said the community was quick to rally around their guests.

“We’ve actually had a lot of people from the community reaching out, whether it be dropping off food or clothes,” Ms Davies said.

“Even the Cottesloe vet contacted us and said if anyone had a pet they couldn’t bring along or needed looking after while they went and sorted things out, they were happy to take them in as well.

“We’ve had a lot of people contact us eager to help out.

“It’s kind of blown me away.”

The people forced to evacuate during the fires have now left the chalets, with some staying at the Cottesloe premises until Sunday.

Those whose homes were destroyed will need ongoing support in the coming weeks.

But the Davies siblings were able to give dozens of families a place to stay in the thick of the crisis.

“We didn’t have time to scratch ourselves — it was just call after call after call,” Mr Davies said.

“We did it because we could, I guess. I believe if you’re ever in a situation to be able to do something, the right thing is to do it and it just kind of made sense.”

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails