‘I’ve had serious health issues, but it won’t stop me living the dream’

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Caravan trip for unwell grey nomads
On the road again ... Jim and Noeleen are ready to roll

A back fusion, a hip replacement, diabetes 2, high blood pressure, and two heart attacks within a year, may have slowed veteran caravanner Jim C, down a bit … but it will take a lot more than that to keep him from living the dream.

He and wife, Noeleen – who live in a lifestyle village in Perth – have been all over this great land in recent years, but they reckon they’re only just getting started.

“My plan is to keep going until I’m 75 and we’ll see from there,” said 67-year-old Jim. “The alternative is to sit at home and vegetate – not for us!” The couple is currently two months into a planned six-month trip in their LandCruiser 100 series towing a 23’ Island Star.

They are fully equipped with solar power, so are free to bush camp for much of the time … something they love to do. Perhaps more than most, Jim is keenly aware of just how lucky he is to be enjoying all the Big Lap has to offer.

He suffered his first heart attack in July last year and ended up having two stents successfully put in two heart arteries which were 90% blocked. On doctor’s advice he restricted himself  to local trips within range of a hospital. Then, as time passed, both he and Noeleen began to dream of taking another major trip … until Jim suffered a second heart attack in March this year.

It was another setback but, finally, in June, Jim was cleared for long-term travel … and he didn’t hang about.

“We set off across the Nullarbor and are now up in north Queensland in the warm weat- her,” he said. “I get little angina twinges now and then but use a spray under my tongue which fixes it in five minutes.”

Jim – who was once nicknamed billygoat – may no longer be able to climb mountains, but there is still plenty he can do. “It has not stopped me from hooking up the van and driving,” he said. “In fact, I think the routine jobs of arriving and departing give me good exercise, and the scenery, the people we meet, and places we see, keeps my mind focussed on brighter things.”

Like many grey nomads, Jim and Noeleen love to socialise.

“We still enjoy a couple of wines at happy hours and, if anything, it’s the normal effects of ageing that limit us the most,” said Jim.  “I simply take my tablets and watch my diet.”

The couple also makes sure to travel no more than 250 kilometres per day so they stay well rested … and have time to enjoy the journey.

“We will now slowly work our way down through central Queensland, New South Wales, into South Australia and follow the coast around its three peninsulas, which we love for its wine, coastal scenery, crabbing, whiting and squidding,” said Jim. “We’ll then head back across the Nullarbor to be home for Christmas.”

And then rest for a while?

“Well, I am also due for a knee replacement early next year,” said Jim. “But it should be healed enough for us to take off up north again next winter.”

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