Domestic Travel

Courtney Allan

How “Grey Nomads” are travelling around Australia

How “Grey Nomads” are travelling around Australia

Many of us have heard the term “grey nomads” being thrown around, but what does it actually mean?

The term is used to describe Australian retirees who travel around Australia for an extended period of time in a caravan or motorhome.

A recent study found that grey nomads represent the highest proportion of those staying in caravan parks, at a massive 40 per cent.

Jill Weeks, author of Where to Retire in Australia spoke to The New Daily about grey nomads who travel the country. 

“There’s not exactly a typical [grey nomad],” she said.

“You’ve got the initially retired ones who like to do a lap of Australia. They’re thinking, ‘Right, we’ll buy the caravan, and we’ll take trips around Australia’,”

“You’ve got these other ones that might do shorter trips, just to test things out. Or maybe they’re going to visit family or friends. Or they might have a specific destination they’re travelling to for a reason,” she explained.

“Then you’ve got these other ones that I find particularly interesting. Because they either work or volunteer around Australia.”

There are grey nomad volunteer and work programs across Australia, which have some volunteers helping out at local history centres or on community projects.

“They say to the grey nomads that come in, ‘What did you do, or what do you do now?’ – for example, they had people painting picket fences, they had people helping out at the school,” Weeks said.

“They had one chap that came along and they said, ‘What’s your expertise?’,” and he said, ‘I don’t have any skills, I can’t do anything’.

“And they found he was a judge, and they said, ‘Right, well we’ve got a task for you. You’re going to lecture at the local high school in legal studies’.”

Some grey nomads have gotten their days down to a perfected routine. That’s the case for Jock McLean and his partner Robyn.

“When I stopped flying after 40-odd years, I decided I’d buy myself a little camper van, and travel around Australia to see the things I’d visited but [this time] have a good look around each town. So, that’s how I started,” Jock said.

They definitely have their favourite spots around the nation.

“The seafood [in Port Lincoln, South Australia] is magnificent, and we used to go to Fisherman's Wharf, and buy a dozen oysters and half a kilo of prawns and then drive somewhere and park the van where we had a magnificent view of the sea. We’d eat the oysters and have a glass of white wine,” Jock said.

“I describe [the grey nomad lifestyle] to people as sitting in your lounge room, and looking out through a big picture window at a whole panorama going by. You see the countryside, you see fellow travellers, you see animals. You’ve got this whole kaleidoscope moving past you. It’s constantly changing.”