Lure of future trips keeps stalled grey nomad busy

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home made fishing lures for grey nomads
Ned and Hannah are keen to get back on the road again.

When the coronavirus pandemic put paid to Ned Cooper’s travel plans, like many grey nomads he was left wondering ‘what on Earth am I going to do with my time now?’

While Ned and wife Hannah won’t be fully retired until the end of this year, they are used to spending every possible spare moment out on the open road exploring the country in their Coromal rear-entry van.

While twiddling his thumbs in isolation, Ned pondered tackling bigger jigsaws or reading a few more books, but he craved something more hands-on. Eventually, he came up with the perfect solution.

grey nomad makes fishing lures

Ned soon re-discovered his whittling skills

“I decided to start making my wooden fishing lures again, which is something I hadn’t done for about 10 years,” he said. “You don’t need much to start back into it which was a plus … a pocket knife, some scrap bits of wood, glue, and something for the bibs … I use bits of Perspex or pieces cut from food tins.”

As he started whittling away again, Ned found himself taking a trip down Memory Lane. He had served as a Communications Technician in the Royal Australian Navy for 20 years and, besides the postings to ships, he was stationed at various locations, including Exmouth in Western Australia.

grey nomad makes fishing lures

The finished results look good … and they catch fish!

“I was there with the Americans at Harold E Holt communications base in the early to mid 1980s and the fishing was amazing,” said Ned. “It was going to be an expensive proposition using store-bought lures, so that’s when I started to make my own.”

In the following years, Ned caught giant trevally, queenfish, Spanish mackerel and quite a few other species.

“I found that the lures I made seemed to work really well and, even though I’m not the best painter of them, it didn’t worry the fish,” he said. “If they had some sort of action and resembled bait, they went for it … and I found out it’s always more satisfying when you catch one on a lure you have crafted yourself.”

While Ned made other types of lures out of metal and plastic and some of them did catch fish, he always enjoyed making ones out of wood the most.

Ned’s next posting was to Darwin and the Daly River became his second home.

“Naturally, I kept making my lures and found the barramundi liked them, too,” said Ned. “I never really lost many but I just enjoyed making ones of different sizes, shapes and colours.”

Ned and Hannah now live in the Gold Coast and, as they cut back on work, love taking the occasional long trip and regular shorter trips in their van towed by a Triton Ute.

“We’ve had our little Coromal for quite some time and wouldn’t swap it for quids,” said Ned. “It suits the two of us perfectly and is set up to suit our needs with solar power, water and the like so we have a good range of choices as to where we go.”

In the Gold Coast area, the Coopers particularly enjoy going to the Scenic Rim, Somerset Dam, and Lockyer Valley. However, when they retire in six months or so – and travel restrictions allowing – they are excited to see the painted silos in Victoria and to get back to Canberra where Ned was twice posted when he was in the navy.

“Since we will have no real timeframe for our future travels, catching up with old friends will be a priority,” said Ned. “And, of course, I’m really looking forward to the chance to try out my lure creations at lots of different waterways around this great country … you never know how they will go, and that’s the exciting part.”

  • Have you re-discovered any old hobbies during your forced time off the road? Comment below.
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