Maurie and Janet

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Grey Nomad Character of the Road
Maurie loves life on the road

After spending a large part of the last 20 years criss-crossing the country, Maurie and Janet reckon they know a thing or two about the grey nomad lifestyle.

The Maitland-based retirees have seen plenty of changes in that time and reckon the most noticeable of them all has been the increasing friendliness of their fellow travellers.

“The camaraderie of the road is certainly alive and well,” says Maurie. “And it’s not just the grey nomads … the young ones with families are definitely a lot more friendly than they ever used to be. They’ll come and sit around the campfire and have a beer, it’s great. Maybe they used to be frightened off by the grey hair!”

Maurie and Janet now spend about five months of the year travelling in their 21-foot Spaceland … and the lifestyle suits them just fine. But would they ever sell their home to stay on the road for good?

“I don’t think so,” says Maurie. “We just like having a place to go back to. We used to live on a six-acre block but it was just too much to ask friends or family to look after when we were travelling, so we got a normal block and it’s been great. We now have the freedom to roam and the ability to come ‘home’ when we want to.”

The couple has been around Australia four times and Maurie picks out Eighty Mile Beach as his favourite spot. And there’s no prizes for guessing what the major attraction is for this avid angler.

“The fish,” he laughs. “No doubt about it. I love my fishing and we have the time of our lives landing salmon off the beach up there. I once caught an 18-pounder but some people were catching 40lb salmon … just magic!”

Apart from the fun of it, Maurie and Janet are not the first grey nomads to realise that fishing can be seriously good for your financial position.

“We have fish at least twice a week and it certainly helps to keep the budget under control,” says Maurie, who has a freezer in his car, as well as the van. “When we get stocked up at somewhere like Eighty Mile Beach, it will just keep us going for months.”

Maurie and Janet commonly camp at roadside rest areas and have never had any security issues. “If you pull up in the afternoon, the chances are a few other vans will pull up before dark,” he says. “We have camped on our own quite a few times but it’s no big deal.”

The couple often travels with some good friends but know when to keep their distance from each other.

“We do our own things a lot of the time and also do a lot of things together so it works out just fine,” Maurie says. “You need that space. Certainly, I wouldn’t recommend travelling with a big convoy of friends … it would end up like a three-ring circus.”

Maurie is more than happy to take on a few dirt tracks when the need arises, and the couple will often drop the van somewhere so they can set off into the wilds with a tent.

“Helen and I will leave the caravan and travel in a 200-kilometre radius checking things out,” he says. “We both love the adventure of it … but a after a few days under canvas it’s always nice to get back to the comfort of the caravan.”

And so say all of us!

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