Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Grey Nomads - it's a phenomenon!

You can find them in all the farflung corners of Australia.

Outback Queensland

They gather at rest stops, have a cuppa, have a chat.

Their accommodation varies, from battered buses to luxurious motor-homes, 
(though the majority seem to have a nice caravan of around 22', pulled by a 4WD.)
I think those two on the left  - tents on top of cars - are maybe for when they camp in crocodile country.
Imagine needing to descend a ladder if you want to go to the toilet in the night!
They wander tiny towns, go on tours, spend their money.  They sit in the shade and read books.  No town too small to be visited, no road too remote to be travelled.
Their numbers are increasing every year.  That has been obvious from observation, just now confirmed with something in a newspaper - that in NSW, Australia, there was an increase of 11%  in domestic visitors to commercial caravan parks and camping grounds. That was in just one year, the financial year ending June 2013.
I suspect that Queensland would show an even bigger increase, as so many in the southern states go north for the winter months.
What sort of people are they?  Well, grey-haired to begin with (though a minority might dye their hair)  aged usually from around 60 to 75.  They are retired, after a productive life of work. They are respectable, middle-class people, as these are the ones who have made enough money to indulge themselves somewhat in retirement.  They are not the super-rich, who are probably  more apt to go overseas for their holidays, but the ones who are comfortable. They are price-sensitive, alert and resentful when they are over-charged. They are law-abiding, as crooks either spend most of their life in and out of prison, or do well enough to make themselves really wealthy.
For caravan park owners, they are the best clients,  quiet and trouble-free.  They don't leave a mess, they do not disturb other clients, and they are generally cheerful and sociable.  
For many a small town, they are life-savers. Provide a decent caravan park, maybe a nice pub or club to have a meal, and they will come.  They do talk though, and towns that have been wrecked by crime problems are by-passed. So keep the town's kids under control if you want to share in the hundred dollars or so each pair of nomads (they mostly come in pairs)  will leave in your town each day. (Fuel, caravan park fees, maybe an entry fee, a meal, a book, occasionally a souvenir or even a haircut.)   
They are a cheerful bunch, not dwelling on the inevitability of failing health and fitness (and death, of course)  but saying to each other things like:  'Every day above ground is a good one,' and 'Do what you can while you can.'
On their vans, quite often, they have added slogans -
Hippy Happy Shake,
Adventure Before Dementia, 
On the Road Again,
A Wheely Good Suitcase,
2 Wherever,
Self 'n' Dull Gent,
Dun Workin' 
and the one I liked best:  'Don't tell the kids you saw us.'
These are the Grey Nomads, their numbers being swelled every day as Baby Boomers retire and use their nest eggs to set themselves up and take to the road. I suspect it is not just an Australian phenomenon, but few other countries have the wide open spaces best for this sort of a life-style.

Early morning in a bush caravan park

And crafts.  The men don't seem to indulge in crafts, (unless you count fishing)  but most of the women have something, from embroidery to quilt-making. 
For myself, I write books.  
These are my newest releases:




I'm always very pleased when people enjoy my books.  The Shuki series has garnered some excellent reviews, but the Penwinnard Stories are lighter and more popular with those who prefer a less intense read.


  1. Now that school has gone back in the UK, the largest age group we are seeing at tourist attractions ia the 60+ group. Don't know if they are called grey nomads here but they are certainly out and about. Great to see. Compare it with our parents who just retired and died.
    Here's to grey nomads - world wide...

  2. I forgot to say that the 5 o'clock 'Happy Hour' is also a feature. You are right. Here's to the Grey Nomads. :)

  3. Interesting. I witnessed this group of nomads in Morocco some years ago. Travellers know where to find each other in places designated for caravans. Their highlights are happy re-unions and catching up on stories. Many of them got fed up with being reached, removed themselves from porches overflowing with bills and PR stuff from sales sharks. Having their fair share of troubles, their lives are quite colourful, grey only for those who can't reach them.

  4. Morocco! I hadn't thought of this type of nomad in Morocco. I wonder where else they roam.