Grey nomads ready to answer call of the wildlife

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Emus and other wildlife are on grey nomads' must-see lists
Spotting wildlife is a popular pastime for grey nomads

While big fibreglass ‘things’ and giant painted silos may pique some grey nomads’ interest , it is really the mountains, gorges, and rivers that are the natural stars of the Big Lap adventure … along with Australia’s huge variety of animals, birds and fish.

The rise of wildlife tourism is becoming a major trend, and it’s changing the way people travel and where they choose to travel to. Australia is blessed with a staggering array of creatures that can’t help but make a long-term caravanning or motorhoming trip a real adventure.

Few travellers will forget hearing that first dingo howl, or spotting their first saltie, or seeing a wild emu, or a wedge-tailed eagle … or catching their first barramundi.

As the appreciation grows of how important these experiences are to travellers, it is bringing with it significant investment and a fresh mindset. Since 2012, more than 650,000 barramundi have been released into Western Australia’s Lake Kununurra as part of the State Government’s commitment to creating great fishing experiences.

“Barramundi are Australia’s most recognisable estuarine sports fish, with many recreational fishers travelling to northern WA to try and catch one,” said Fisheries Minister, Dave Kelly. “The restocking program is establishing Lake Kununurra as a bucket list destination for those wanting to catch the fish of a lifetime in safe, sheltered waters close to town.”

The number of fishing rods tucked away in grey nomad rigs is compelling evidence of fishing tourism’s economic bite, and birdwatching may not be too far behind.

When a rare Alaskan shorebird, the Aleutian tern, was spotted for the first time in Australia in late 2017, hundreds of people flocked to the small New South Wales mid-north coastal town of Old Bar to catch a glimpse of the elusive species.

In the aftermath of the ‘excitement’, the University of New South (UNSW) conducted a study to quantify the economic impact of the vagrant bird. It estimated that the birders who came to see the Aleutian terns brought in more than $200,000 to the New South Wales economy over about four months.

“After word got out to the birding community, the who’s who of Australian birders travelled to see the Aleutian terns — we estimated between 375 to 581 birdwatchers came,” said PhD student, Corey Callaghan, who led the study. “On average they travelled 580 kilometres to see the birds, and we estimate the birders’ activity brought between $199,000 and $363,000 to the Australian economy.”

Birdlife Australia’s Mick Roderick said bird tourism in Australia was a big market that could be tapped by creating specific ‘bird trails’ like the one currently under construction around Cessnock, in the lower Hunter region of New South Wales.

  • Do you change your itinerary to follow or find wildlife? What creature have you been most excited to see? Comment below
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2 Responses to Grey nomads ready to answer call of the wildlife

  1. I dont have to change the itinery as we mostly want to see the wildlife and natures beauty. Good to see Wa putting Barra into the lake. We bypassed lake argyle last year as it only had catfish not Barra. Also saw the other side of travellers in vans who stopped at the turnoff to the Bungle Bungles and said its only rocks and drove down the Hway. They are still out there.

  2. Cassowary, north of cairns
    Crocs, Cape York
    Palm Cockatoo, Bamaga
    Micro Bats, Capricorn Caves
    Just a few we’ve seen over the last month…
    🙂

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