We’ve been on the road for nine weeks now and travelled from Port Macquarie NSW all the way up the east coast to Cairns, across the Savanah Way to Darwin, and then down the Stuart to Alice Springs. In all that time and over those thousands of kilometres, I would say that about 90% of the other travellers we see on the road and in the caravan parks/campgrounds are grey nomads*.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now because I just have to say how much I love grey nomads. Like, I’m smitten. But before you go thinking I’ve lost my marbles, let me explain WHY I love grey nomads.
It’s pretty self-centred reason actually; it all boils down to the fact that I believe it is the grey nomads that have caused the improvement in caravan parks and campgrounds across the country. And this, in turn, has increased the quality of our own trip, my personal comforts and therefore, my life.
Grey Nomads Want Clean Ammenities
When I was living in Sydney (2001-2010) I often went away for long weekends with one of my best friends. We would find a cheap flight to somewhere we hadn’t been before, hire a car when we got there and make sure we took a little tent with us. Or we’d jump in whatever dodgy car I owned at the time and head down the south coast. They were always great little holidays BUT… I don’t remember ever being very impressed with the bathroom facilities.
Toilets weren’t always very clean and you never expected too much from the showers, a little water pressure was nice and being able to get somewhere between freezing and scalding was always appreciated, but not expected.
So I was preparing for more of the same with this trip.
But no! The facilities are a lot better now than 10-15 years ago. And I’m pretty sure I owe that to the grey nomads, probably the women in particular.
With so much of the tourist market now being grey nomads it seems like the caravan parks, campgrounds and even public loos, have come up in their standards. With apps like WikiCamps giing travellers an easy way to comment on the important things (like the loos!) it seems that the caravan parks have really upped their game.
And in some of the cheaper camps that are volunteer run, it seems they’ll often have a grey nomad couple cleaning the toilets (in return for free accommodation) and these ladies seem to be a lot like my nana… they scrub that bathroom to within an inch of it’s life!
You never squirm at the thought of having to use the loo at your nanas house, right?
You know it may have a fluffy toilet seat cover, a biblical quote hanging on the back of the door and smell so strongly of chemical flowers that it smarts your eyes… but that thing is sparkling clean.
Well, take away the fluffies and quotes (but the flowers smell definitely remains) and you’ve got yourself a campground toilet fit for even the fussiest grey nomad.
This makes me very happy.
Grey Nomads Are Self Contained
Even though these toilets are so clean, they don’t seem to get overused; I think this is down to the fact that grey nomads have these very nice, modern caravans with a full ensuite in them. No need to use the communal showers when you’ve got power and water at your own site and can shower in the comfort of your own full size, separate shower cubicle. This means that it’s just me and the other tenters that are using the loos and showers.
Grey Nomads Are Quiet And Go To Bed Early
Oh gosh, I sound like such a nana!
We’re in our 40’s so I like to think that we’re half way between the young, curious, bold, noisy (and poor) backpackers in their 20’s, and the more sedate, quiet, stuck in their ways (stubborn?) and affluent grey noamds in their 60’s. But truth be told, we’re much more like grey nomads than backpackers… except the affluent bit, our budget is probably closer to a backpackers.
The grey nomads will enjoy some laughs and conversation over happy hour(s) but they then retreat to their caravans at a respectable hour, spending the evening watching TV and not making a peep after 9pm.
We’re not too dissimilar, although we have our dinner before the sun has gone down and then retreat to the tent as soon as the mozzies come out. Then we spend most evenings on our laptops.
That means that if it’s been a particularly tiring day, I can go to bed at 9pm (ok, ok, sometimes 8pm!) and all is quiet in the campground.
Yep, call me nana.
Grey Nomads Are Friendly
I had this impression in my head that grey nomads were grumpy, keep-to-themselves, keep quiet and don’t disturb me kinda people. Ummm, they’re not! Just look at how many of them get together for a drink every afternoon, and they are always the first to come over and introduce themselves, strike up a conversation or offer a hand if they think one is needed.
But thankfully, in our experience, they’ve not been the type of friendly where you’re still listening to boring stories long after you’ve stopped being interested.
Grey Nomads Have New Stuff
While I have seen a couple of circa 70’s & 80’s caravans, it seems that most grey nomads have the new vans and new 4WDs with which to tow them. So they’re not the ones chugging out smoke when they start up, they purr rather than choke, and the only reason they’re going slow on the highway is for fuel efficiency rather than the motor being stretched to it’s capacity.
So That’s Why
It’s all of these things added together (but really, it’s the clean loos that make the most difference) that make me love grey nomads.
Not only has their nomadic habits improved the facilities that I also use; it’s also that they appreciate the same things as me: clean loos, power and water, a decent size site, some shade, and a quiet evening.
*Just to be clear, I use the expression ‘grey nomads’ with respect. They are the travellers who are generally older (retiree age) and most travel as a couple. I’ve read somewhere that some retirees don’t like being referred to as ‘grey nomads’, preferring instead the moniker of ‘silver nomad’ or something like that. I don’t care what they call themselves, I love them just the way they are!