Surprise meetings prove it’s a ‘Small Lap’ after all

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Grey nomads find it's a small lap after all
Verna Pickford and Dot Wright have been camping together for 52 years. PIC: Warrnambool Standard

Australia may be a huge country and the numbers of travellers on the road may be skyrocketing … but the so-called Big Lap can sometimes end up being surprisingly small.

Grey nomad Kay Anderson was absolutely amazed by the number of coincidental ‘reunions’ with fellow travellers she enjoyed during her recent two-year trip around the block.

“I understand that people commonly travel in the same direction and sometimes at a similar pace but we bumped into people we had met six months or a year earlier at the other end of the country,” she said. “There was one couple we bumped into on four different occasions across an 18-month time period … once in the McDonnell Ranges, once in Kununurra, once near Margaret River, and once in Carnarvon Gorge … we couldn’t believe it.”

And besides these surprise get-togethers, there are of course plenty of grey nomads who return to the same caravan park year after year where they renew previous friendships and catch up on months’ worth of news, and perhaps carry on with a years-old game of cards or similar.

Many caravan parks in places like Broome, Cooktown and Darwin have a very familiar feeling every southern winter. In terms of longstanding camping traditions and friendships though, you would have to go a long way to beat Verna Pickford and Dot Wright. Between them, the pair have apparently racked up a combined 104 years of camping at the Shipwreck Bay Holiday Park in Warrnambool, Victoria. They began the tradition in 1968 and haven’t missed a year since.

The women now have four generations of family each who holiday with them every year. The women did not know one another when they first booked at the seaside caravan park in sites directly opposite each other, but it didn’t take them long to become close friends.

After both their husbands passed away the women found comfort in each other’s company … and the camping tradition continued.

“I think I’ll be coming here until they carry me out feet first,” said Ms Pickford, who is now 91 years old.

  • Have you been camping near the same people for many years? Have you ever been surprised to ‘accidentally’ come across a camper you had met a long time ago and a long way away? Comment below.
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