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Halloooo Maillbaggerrsss!

Long time, no see. Apologies to all for going AWOL yet again … and thanks to all of you who wrote in to ‘gently’ remind me that they were impatiently awaiting for the return of their favourite letters page. 

Yes, it’s been a long wait … but boy is it worth it! It’s a fair crackerjack of a Weekly Mailbag and, as usual, there ain’t no topic or no organisation that’s off limits. If you’ve done something that might have upset the mighty grey nomad army, look away now!

First up, I’d just like to say thanks to Jim & Jean from Perth who responded to our story about wildflowers blooming in the West by sending in this pic. Magnificent! Thanks for sharing, guys.

Right then. Who remembers the story we carried some time ago about the German tourist who was attacked by a dingo in Fraser Island? John M grew up on the island and kicks things off by assuring us all that he is “not a mad greenie or dingo fanatic”. He does say, however, that he suspects a large part of the problem is that successive governments are starving the dingoes.

“They want to just get rid of them,” he declares. “Once you could leave fish scraps on the beach, however now one incurs the wrath of the rangers and a fine.”

John has an innovative solution.

“Why not fence a particular area and feed them?” he asks. “Charge tourists to visit the area and it’s a win-win situation for all.”

Jumping jeepers!

Our story about the report written by Townsville Bulleting journalist Julian Tomlinson making fun of grey nomads’ driving habits got you all worked up. Bill probably has the best idea.

“Don’t react to this wannabe because that’s exactly what he wants,” he wrote. “Totally ignore him.”

Okay, Bill, we’re trying. We’re trying hard. Ohhh but we’re so angry about it. Ooooh must ignore him. Must ignore him. Oh darn it, we’re just too upset …. we’ve got to get it off our chest.

“Has anyone ever told him that tourism, which includes the grey nomad visitors, contribute $17.7 billion to the Queensland economy,” says Joan K. “Maybe he should be thanking these visitors, instead of ridiculing them for coming to Queensland and spending their hard-earned Super.”

Wow. That’s better. Shall we have some more ‘you-don’t-know-what-you’re-writing-about therapy?

Rocan doesn’t reckon we should; “I have lived in Townsville for over 40 years and the journalism in the Townsville Bulletin could be written by pre schoolers,” he jokes. “I wouldn’t take any notice of anything written just to fill up space.”

You know what Rocan, you’re right. Let’s move right along.

Denny D is hot under the collar about the decision to allow horse riding in some Queensland national parks …. he reckons it’s nothing short of animal discrimination.

“Oh goody,” he writes sarcastically. “Now that means as responsible dog owners we can take ‘Macca’ into a national park and I will call him a horse … he won’t do as much damage , especially as he is controlled at all times on a leash.”

Hmmmm! Whether or not you are in favour of allowing dogs in national parks, it’s hard to deny Denny makes a good point. Are horses really that much more acceptable in national parks than dogs on a leash?

John R, who is only a few years away from joining the great nomads full-time, let us know he appreciated the decision by the powers-that-be to keep the free camping spot north of the NSW town of Glen Innes open for business.

“Let’s face the facts that the small basic rural town caravan parks are not meeting the needs of the RV fraternity that are now travelling with 20’+ vans that are fully optioned and not needing power, water and toilets for overnight stays,” he said. “We still utilise good value caravan parks and are prepared to pay $35/$40 a night, together with great free camping sites that gives a good mix of both worlds … the local council got it right.”

A big hooray for Glen Innes.

Um … and an ever bigger ‘boo’ for Mudgee in New South Wales.
The decision by the council there to put severe restrictions on camping on showgrounds due to the concerns of local caravan parks did not find favour with any of our illustrious correspondents.

Greg summed up the collective mood the most concisely.

“I’ll go somewhere I’ m welcome to spend my money,” he wrote.

Trevor also had some thoughts about the future of caravan parks. His eye was drawn to our story about the rising popularity of campervan as a mode of transport.

“With the time fast approaching for a huge rise in the number of baby boomers retiring and becoming grey nomads, caravan park owners and those in the leisure industry need to start planning for us now,” he said. “Look at vans and motorhomes and see what they require and create the caravan parks that the future travellers want and need.”

Makes sense to me, Trev.

Gary was also intrigued by the rise in the number of campervans hitting the high road … but he was more concerned about the state many of them were going in.

“I think if we had a more uniform licensing scheme and a transport testing authority which requires all vehicles to undergo a road worthiness test every year after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, there would be less old bombs on the road,” he said. “This should be a national initiative and all states should be the same.”

Yup, Gary. But just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it’s going to happen any time soon. Incidentally, have you thought about going into politics because, if you did, you’ve got my vote.

Eeek! Did somebody mention politics! Let’s change the subject quick. Come on, come on … anything. Toilets! That’ll do.

Sammy reckons the long drop is a great tradition of camping in Australia.

“The constant nagging thoughts as you approach the dunny – what creature lies behind the door? Could I fall in? What has the backpacker left behind? All combined with the lack of splash, and the obligatory look down to see your handiwork all adds to the to the fun,” she writes.

Jeepers, Sammy! I bet you’re a hoot to travel with. Who needs happy hours or bushwalks when you’ve got all those lovely long drops for laughs!

From creatures of the dunny to creatures of the waters of the north. Jimbo, for one, is not surprised to hear that authorities in towns such as Cairns and Townsville are scrambling for answers to a rise in crocodile sightings.

“This is old news to me,” he writes. “My wife and I were at Adelaide River a couple of years back after all that rain and that the local ranger told me … those crocs have to be culled or big problems for local residents and I even witnessed one on the side of the road.”
Jimbo says it only stands to reason that they will end up anywhere.
Crocodiles are just one of the things that people considering life on the road may be wary about … one of the biggest things for many is the prospect of selling their house.

“At this stage I don’t think that would be an option for me … sounds a bit scary,” says Peter M nervously. “Maybe when I get away and feel confident about life, then it could be the considered.”

Fair enough, Peter, Horses for courses. Or as Denny would say ‘dogs on leashes for courses’ … except it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!

Okay, okay, Mailbaggers. It’s about time we wrapped this marathon mailbageroonie up. But, before we go, it’s time to visit the most sacred of all Aussie camping objects, the Billy.

Myra is quick to acknowledge that camp billies can be anything from a shop-bought model with a lid and spout, to one homemade one created from a large fruit tin with fencing wire handle.

“Our billy is exactly that, homemade and ours; as yours is yours,” she writes. “For years, ours has been, and still is, part of our family, and it always travels with us.”

Sounds intriguing, Myra. I’d love to see a pic.

“Even when empty, it still holds many, precious memories of wonderful camping trips when our children were young, and even now when it’s just the two of us again,” she writes. “When they’re old enough, I can’t wait to introduce our grandchildren to camping with Billy!”

Stop it Myra, I’m not an emotional person but I can feel tears welling up. No more, I tell you.

“It can also represent the grey nomad lifestyle, and even though we have a shiny aluminium model for the gas stove inside our caravan for when campfires are not permitted, we still carry our faithful old blackened billy, and we still get to use it at least several times during each trip,” says Myra. “Tea just doesn’t taste the same when Billy hasn’t made it! Vive la billy!”

Sob! Sob! Sob! I watched ‘Love Story’ without as much as a whimper and now I’ve been reduced to a blubbering wreck by a Billy! What have you done, Myra? I’m a wreck. Gotta go.

Blub … farewell …. Blub …. Mailbaggers ,.. sob, blub, sob. I’m just off to make myself a Billy out of a rusty tin can and a giant fishing hook. My shiny shop-bought easy-pour ‘boring’ Billy is off on a one-way trip to the recycler!

Keep those emails coming.

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