Are nomads of the West grouchier than the rest?

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Does Bill really need to take one of these?
Does Bill really need to take one of these?

Hallllooo Mailbaggerrs!

Welcome to another lightning tour of the grey nomad universe …. as seen by our army of eager correspondents. Plenty to enjoy this week … we’ve got bikes and the Bruce, we’ve got crime and camels, and we’ve got unfriendly camps and freeloading nomads! Wow! But best of all, we’ve got each other. Wherever we stand on whatever issue, we ultimately stand together as part of a wider movement … the mighty, mighty Mailbaggers. Horray for us!

Ahem, anyway on with the show.

First, Bill is a bit concerned about the possibility of being affected by crime while out there on the Big Lap.

“I have a Winnebago with a trailer with my Swift vehicle,” he writes. “I’d like to know what sort of security I can have … eg gun, hockey sticks, taser gun or what … I currently only have a little silky dog.”

Gggggulp! Note to self. Do not venture within 100 metres of Bill’s rig unless specifically invited to do so! Actually, it is probably worth pointing out that Australia is one of the safest countries in the world to travel in … but that’s not to say that commonsense security measures should not be followed. Does anyone have any security tips for our intrepid traveller … or can you shed any light on what security measures you put in place?

Jimbo was intrigued by our story about the great camel cull currently taking place in the Outback … but it wasn’t the hump-backed ships of the desert which he really wanted to take aim at.
“Should be culling crocs, the dills!” he writes in typically forthright fashion. “One was spotted at Freshwater Point near Sarina in Queensland.”

Hmmmmm! I wonder how popular a croc cull would be … and what it would take to put it back on the agenda?

Okay from crocs to cycles. Joan is not a fan of moves to have mountain biking allowed in some Queensland national parks.

“Who is going to pay for the injuries and or death of the walkers when they are hit by a mountain biker flying down the side of a hill or mountain,” she writes. “I like to take my time walking in the national parks and haven’t time to ‘look out! here they come, there they go’ … bad move.”

And that’s pretty much the view of all of you who wrote in on the issue.

Blaze has been travelling between the Apple Isle and the mainland for years, and has never had a problem with finding a space on the Spirit of Tasmania … as we reported many others have had.

“We have towed vans, trailers and just the vehicle,” he writes. “The secret is to book early, the same as if you want to guarantee a place at a concert, motel or anything else.”

Good advice, Blaze. And really only commonsense … a commodity that most of you think is on short supply when it comes to looking after the Bruce Highway.

Trevor reckons the lack of funding to the Bruce is no surprise.

“Too far from Canberra, and the pollies have no idea of the real world,” he writes. “There is so much wrong with the whole road system from poor design, little room to merge on on-ramps, poor road surfaces totally inadequate verge widths for safety if you break down … the list is endless and frightening.”

Trevor is no fan of the design and speed of progress on building at the new piece of the Bruce Highway at Cooroy.

“I am sure the building of a decent divided highway now would cost less than having a talkfest for years,” he writes. “And, in the meantime, building costs will keep rising and lost production and crashes will continue to cost the taxpayer and business more and more.”

David G (aka Crocodile) is equally unenthusiastic.

“The Bruce Highway it is just a disgrace for a national highway,” he says. “How many governments, regardless of what side of the political fence they are on, say at every budget time, X amount of dollars will be spent on upgrading the Bruce from Brisbane to Cairns?”

Crocodile admits that there are some roadworks and upgrades going on at present, but questions why it has taken so long for anything to happen at all.

A retired trucker, Crocodile has been towing a van around Queensland for the past decade.

“I don’t profess that I am the ace nomad on any highway but I use Ch40 most of the time and try to work in with fellow transport drivers and, at the same time, give courteous actions to fellow car drivers,” he writes. “There is fault on both sides, meaning the cowboys in the transport industry and the idiot drivers in cars/smaller vehicles … to me it all comes down to commonsense in travelling not only the Bruce but any road in this great country.”

Okay, it seems most of you are pretty united in your lack of pride in the mighty Bruce … but our next correspondent might just divide opinion a mite.

“I note in your story that the grey nomads like to stay places free – it would be nice if they considered paying their way in small towns – particularly small town caravan parks – many of whom have struggled in recent years with floods and fires,” writes La Vergne. “Paying $20-$30 a night is not that much to ask and it helps that town provide the infrastructure grey nomads want when they travel.”

Cough, splutter! What do you think, mighty Mailbaggers? Do you think you pay your way in small towns?

And now I think I’ll just step gently aside.

Okay, okay. Out of the frying pan in the fire. Jennie might just stir the pot a little more with the suggestion that there is a great east/west divide when it comes to friendliness.

“As a first timer I have found a great difference between east and west,” she writes. “I set out through the eastern states and found everyone warm and welcoming but quite different in the west, where it became obvious when people camped in hidden corners they didn’t want to interact.”

Jeepers! Can it be true? Does the west bring out the worst in grey nomad nature? Does crossing the Nullarbor turn us all into grizzly grumps?

“One lady who had just begun hanging her washing as I approached disappeared into her van even though she’d only hung two things on her line,” writes Jennie. “They all seemed in such a hurry, pulling in late and leaving at daylight was very offputting.”

Gad Zeus! What’s the rush you western wanderers? And how on earth did the shy mystery lady get the rest of her washing dry?
Get out of there, Jen. Don’t let them drag you down! Head for the Nullarbor! Hang on, she’s already escaped!

“Back in South Australia I have just found a more friendly camp,” she writes. Hooray! Hang on I sense an unhappy sting in the tale coming. Yup, here it is!

“But as usual, all moving on tomorrow,” says jaded Jen. “Nobody has time to stop and smell the flowers, so why the hell are they out here?”

Jeepers, Jen. Good question. Slow down everybody … especially you grumpy westerners!

And that’s it. Adios, amigos. See you all next week … and keep those emails coming.

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