Northward bound – but are nomad numbers rising?

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Grey nomads head north
Follow me ... grey nomads are heading north in numbers

As the roads north once again fill with huge numbers of caravans and motorhomes, it’s easy to assume that the grey nomad phenomenon has surged to reach a new level … but has it?

Getting hard data on the number of older long-term travellers on the road at any one time is notoriously difficult. Certainly, sales of recreational vehicles are soaring, but so too is the number of young families sampling the camping lifestyle in weekly or fortnightly stints.

In the end, perhaps the most reliable way of gauging grey nomad numbers is to get feedback from veteran travellers or tourism operators in a particular spot about how their current experience compares to previous years.

The Northern Territory town of Katherine is a popular stopping point for grey nomads in June and July and, despite the high volume of RVs on the Stuart and Victoria highways, the statistics indicate appearances may be deceiving.

According to the Katherine Times, official numbers recorded at the town’s Visitor Information Centre until the end of May show a 4,152 fall in visitors against last year. The first five months of the year recorded 28,537 visitors at the centre.

  • Where are you now, and do you think there are more or less grey nomads on the road than you have seen in previous years?

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15 Responses to Northward bound – but are nomad numbers rising?

  1. When visiting a town like Katherine you don’t have a need to keep going to the visitor centre. Huge numbers of grey nomads have been to Katherine before, some many times. And how do they count them in there? We have only ever picked up brochures and left and they wouldn’t have known we’d been there. Got to be a better way to count.

    • Totally agree. Having been to Katherine a few times there is no need to go to the information centre. Didnt even do it the first time, got all our info from the caravan park office.

  2. It is all about cost . The rates for caravan parks are so high . I now look for free or low cost areas to stay and I know of many who are of the same mindset . Many vans are self contained and use solar power, and the need for caravan parks are less ..

  3. We are in Kununurra and have been for awhile. There is a lot of turn over here. It’s easier for all nomads to stay outside of main areas now with the internet so you won’t get true numbers as in the past. But yes there are plenty of all types of travellers. Especially when caravan parks are too pricey, towns will loose out.

  4. The cost of caravan parks is prohibitive especially in Darwi and Katherine
    Katherine in an unattractive place
    Stopping at the centre is difficult and having to avoid drunken indigenous makes it more difficult

  5. We keep out of the main stream c/parks and national parks due to cost. The NT is sooooo expensive. We are self contained and free camp.

  6. Sitting in shady Grove caravan park in Katherine now at 10.15 am. Watching a line of 10 caravans waiting to book in. All caravan parks in town we full by lunch time yesterday. I think Katherine is doing alright.

    • At this time of year all the Northern parks do all right. we are in Broome at the moment and all the parks are nearly full but come back in October and see how full or should I say how empty they are. We stayed at the same park in October last year and you could see through the park. only one third was being used. Doesn’t start picking up until May. They have to make it in the high season May to September to keep them going the rest of the year. We had accommodation in Busselton so I know how tough the off season is.

  7. We are heading up to Coober Pedy and have just scraped in to van parks by 1 or 2 spots , vans every where here inland too I recon 50% of the road traffic is towing a van or camper trailer and a few motor homes

  8. Paul Stevenson , Is it just grey nomads or people eventually finding out how good it is up north.,that there is more to our great country than Sydney and Melbourne as the pollies want you to believe.Its a different pace no traffic problems, a lot less crime.Sitting under my awning yesterday at Bargara near Bundaberg and its 24 degrees in the middle of winter.Plenty to see and do and a real relaxed way of life.Real Estate prices here are a third of the cities.Just some really beautiful places along the QLD coast. Cheers Stevo.

  9. Caravan Parks only need to report their occupancy rates to the local Information Centre for an assessment to be made whether numbers of Grey Nomads have increased or decreased, irrespective of those free camping. A percentage movement either way would then be established.

    • Dick0 when we owned a motel we had to submit occupancy and income to the Australian Bureau of statistics. Caravan parks would be the same

  10. We were on the road from Easter, and usually we are not travelling this early, but on arriving in NT on the first week of May it was evident that Grey Nomads had not arrived as early this year. Darwin was no different.
    Of course during the V8’s accommodation was at a premium, but prior to this most caravan parks had availability. I realise Parks only have a small window of opportunity to stash the cash, but during our three week stay at a caravan park in Darwin the majority of Grey Nomads only stayed 3 nts, possibly due to the cost. I noticed families with young children which would be more expensive were arriving early in the morning, setting up, gone all day, back for tea, and the following day on the road to tourist attractions by 8am and returning just on dark. Many had departed within 2-3 days.

  11. Caravan parks are just a total rip off up north greed is the go .parks will be price set soon back to a fair price with your own van an hourly rate will be charged in new parks to keep the towns alive.and the average family can Holiday again

  12. Spoke to one Tassie chap in FNQ had been on the road 5 months and averaged $5.10/night camp costs. There seems to be heaps more up here this year . Fuel is cheaper than WA or NT diesel being as low as $1.15 . LNT and SCV with solar power are the order of the day expensive noisy smelly generators are a thing of the past especially the one that threw a rod yesterday. What a bang it was fantastic. It dead.

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