Page last updated at 06:31 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Homeless lose sleeping spot at Australia's Bondi Beach

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Lifesaver at Bondi Beach, Sydney
The curving beach at Bondi is one of Australia's most popular

A group of homeless men have lost their fight to sleep rough at a historic pavilion at Bondi Beach, Australia's most iconic arc of sand.

A panel of appeal court judges has ruled they have no right to camp out at the famous spot.

Some of the group have been living rough at the Mediterranean-style pavilion at Bondi for eight years.

It is estimated that there are about 120,000 homeless people across the country.

The homeless men - who have been living within a few metres of Australia's most famous beach - have been told they have two weeks to pack up their meagre possessions and leave.

'Battle of Bondi'

Judges at the New South Wales Court of Appeal said that while they sympathised with the men's plight, they were compelled to order their eviction.

The local council has said the 1920s pavilion was in need of major renovation and had become too unsafe for those living rough.

Officials have said alternative accommodation has been offered to them.

But one of the homeless men, Kevin St Alder, says he feels betrayed by Australia's legal system.

"Obviously a unanimous decision by these three judges in favour of the state and in favour of Waverley council to allow homeless people to be marginalised and stigmatised and moved on is an appalling state of affairs to be in," he said.

This long-running legal dispute could see further twists if, as is seems likely, the group of nine men take their case to the high court.

The "Battle of Bondi" has highlighted the growing problem of homelessness in Australia, an issue once described by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as "horrific".

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