‘The grey nomad lifestyle will never be the same!’

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Grey nomad lifestyle will be different in the future
John (inset) predicts his trips in his caravan will be different in the future.

Like many grey nomads, John and Lynette Watts were left feeling confused, forgotten and frightened as the coronavirus pandemic caused their dream on-the-road lifestyle to fall apart almost overnight.

Many weeks later, the couple from Tamworth in New South Wales are still ‘trapped’ in the Perth region and aren’t feeling much better about things. They have been on the road in their self-contained six-metre Avan Nathan towed by a Prado since last November and were travelling with only the loosest of plans.

Life was good for the pair, who are both in their early 70s, as they meandered across to the west and were enjoying looking around Perth before venturing further up the coast.

“The next thing we knew there was a pandemic virus devastating the world, state borders were closed on very little notice and, as Lynette was not well at the time, we were unable to pack up and go home,” said John.

The couple said they never dreamed that Western Australia would introduce intrastate borders complete with roadblocks, and that they would become ‘imprisoned’ in a small part of the state. John and Lynette were lucky inasmuch as one of John’s old school friends and fellow National Serviceman allowed them to park their caravan in his Perth backyard.

While there has now been a relaxing of movement restrictions in WA, the couple are still not free to travel far north from Perth and admit to ‘fretting’ about what comes next.

“Lynette has a lung condition which does not like cold weather and we had planned to be in the warmer part of the state by winter,” said John. “So, we are now holding our breath hoping the travel restrictions will be lifted soon.”

John says that what shocked him the most was the lack of notice of the closures and the fact that ‘one of the least populated states in Australia mistrusted its own citizens so much that it locked them up in divided areas of the state’.

“Obviously, tourists like us were so far down the priority list that our welfare didn’t even register on the scale,” he said. “The State Premier started telling tourists ‘don’t come here, we don’t want you here’ which made us feel really great!”

John says a lot of towns which depend on grey nomads for much of their income started putting signs out saying ‘stay out of our town’. He believes though this will quickly change now, and these communities will be appealing for travellers to come back … but he sees a very changed future.

“In this strange new world, we would be very hesitant before leaving our home state again,” he said. “The frightening speed and ease with which our country has been divided by uncrossable borders without any consideration to long-term travellers like us, has made us uneasy about what restrictions may be applied in future.”

Both John and Lynette say they fully recognise and understand the need for social distancing and sanitising requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We have complied with everything,” said John. “But the grey nomad lifestyle, I don’t think will ever be the same again.”

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16 Responses to ‘The grey nomad lifestyle will never be the same!’

  1. I am afraid I don’t agree. It may take time but we will still be able to travel when this is over. There may be changes to how we travel but we will still be able to enjoy our wonderful country.
    I think that the WA Premier has handled the situation well and I feel safer stuck in regional WA than possible in the eastern states we call home.

    • Totally agree.

      • Totally agree we are far safer in wa then in the east,people should travel in their states and enjoy,there will be a time when all this is over we all be able to caravan again patience people.

    • Agreed

      • Agreed. Circumstances were unfortunate but it will pass. Depends on what is learnt from this situation and how our minds process it for the future.

    • Don’t agree really. This whole episode just further convinces me that the Federation is not working!
      Just as many other countries having our 3 levels of government is problematic, expensive, duplicated services, competitive attitudes, short sighted thinking planning and consistency across our country. Have been alarmed at the childish behavior of our State and Federal leaders now that our numbers have been well managed by all generally.
      I’m Geelong and looking forward to being out of here.

  2. Well just remember the towns and regions that made people welcome or not.
    In the future they.ll be made to remember if they did help or not.
    There are many a places that looked after trapped travellers and good on them. Fantastic stories of towns / people that took on travellers and the appreciation went both ways

  3. You can go home on compassionate grounds, so maybe that is an option. These new borders wont be opened for a few weeks yet.
    We are full time nomads from Townsville also in WA and I agree we didn’t get much notice about the regional borders closing. We usually free camp they were closing them around us then a ranger told us to consider our next ml ove as we might have to stay there for 6 months. It was quite concerning to us and were fortunate to find a caravan park at Horrocks Beach open that was taking essential travelers at quite a good discounted price. We stayed for 7 weeks and are now only travelling in our region but there is still a lot of regional country towns whose caravan parks are still closed and will be until the 30th June. I dont blame them, they cant a Ford to get an influx of visits that might be potentially caring Covid. I think there will be many towns concerned about the virus being carried by Nomads from the cities and these towns have every right to be picky about who they let in

  4. If you were only intending to go for 6 -7 weeks, which would not impact your house insurance – what happens if you were restricted to come back home? The insurance industry has not highlighted what happens when you are forced to delay return?

  5. If your wife is unwell there are steps you could have taken to get home. As for grey nomading never being the same well you are right but wrong at the same time I think it will increase older people are going to start thinking “whoa!! I think we better do our travelling sooner rather than later.”

  6. I’m sure you would get approval to go home on Compasionate grounds. But if it’s travel you want then we are all in the same boat. The premier of WA is only trying to look after his people and stop the virus getting out of control. Given your wife has a lung condition you were better off in a state that was keeping the covid numbers down. You will be allowed to travel up north soon anyway. Wish you well on your journey and I look forward to be able to do the same

  7. Hi Mari, Re insurance on your home when away. Whenever we go away we always advise our insurer the date s expected to be away. If the situation changes e.g such as you mentioned above, it should simply be a case of a call to them and explain the situation. They will, in my experience, either 1) accept the reason and ensure all is ok and covered or 2) simply apply a small (usually) levy to make sure your home is covered for the period. Most important issue is, keep them informed and record all calls dates and times. We are with RACWA and that has always worked for us. Take care.

  8. We were in WA from Qld from August to March. My husband fell ill and ended up being booked for an operation in Perth on the 13th March though he never woke up from that and passed away on the 24th. Family flew over for that time. After that we hooked up and travelled back to Qld even though borders were closed and were allowed to pass through WA, SA, and NSW to get us home. They gave us a pass and we had to go straight to Qld and isolate for 2 weeks which we did. It took us 4 days driving 2 vehicles and 2 caravans as I my sister was traveling with us. Over 1000km per day but we made it back. I don’t understand why people got stuck instead of heading back to their own state. Now in Qld I am happy the borders are closed for holiday travels as we need to all stay safe.

    • So sorry to hear about your husband! How tragic to be dealing with all that in the midst of a pandemic and then the pressure of getting home in a hurry! My heart goes out to you!
      Sincere condolences.

  9. Ha, your comment John (main write-up)hits the nail on the head about tourist and small towns spots saying `stay away` .Now there saying we neeeeed you . Well thats ok, but they need to trim there prices to suit the local NZ wages ,and forget the gouging prices that mainly foreign visitors had to pay whilst we locals were financially locked out of our own backyard .Theres gonna be some hard lessons to learn in the tourist industry that`s for sure .

  10. G’day, I am a solo grey nomad, currently still in lockdown soon to be lifted, this brings many concerns –
    As I have found out, reduced/no medical availability to “out of towners”
    Increased risk with shared public facilities, park toilets, showers, etc
    Most of my camping was rural / regional , which lack ICU equipped hospitals if needed, not a concern until now.
    So with the lock down about to be lifted it will result in a considerably high risk of catching covid and minimimal medical support available…. So leaving a secure isolated location like where I am now is a worry (exacerbated with my extensive medical history)… The van being my home and no alternative available the thought of returning to the road and public exposure with no vaccine or cure yet is a daunting prospect.

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