As the drought continues to bite hard in Outback areas, many remote towns and stations are looking to attract grey nomads and other travellers as a way of surviving the tough times.
The resourcefulness of those who seek to adapt to challenging economic circumstances is certainly being appreciated by grey nomads who are able to get a real insight into country life and appreciate the unique beauty of the Outback.
It can be a classic win-win situation.
A case in point is Lara Station, just outside of Barcaldine in central-western Queensland.
Since owner Jodie Jarden opened her gates to campers and caravanners last year, she has hosted around 700 RVs. The 6,000 hectare property’s wetlands are fed from a single century-old bore on the Great Artesian Basin turning it into the classic desert oasis..
She told the ABC the response from visitors had been amazing.
“They are stunned, everyone is in a drought out here and to come out and see a bit of greenery and water and the bird life … it is like an oasis in the desert in their minds,” she said. “”They come for one night, but they end up staying three or four … I’ve had people stay here a month, or a couple of months.”
Ms Jarden told the ABC she had developed a thermal bathing pool, and that warm water from the artesian basin was a particular hit with grey nomads.
As well as coping with the devastating impact of the drought, Ms Jarden has also been coping with grief after losing her partner Michael in a helicopter crash a year ago.
The accident happened on a station near Barcaldine, on the same day the first tourist booked in at Lara’s camping ground.
She told the ABC that she spent the first few months in shock but had to carry on with.
“Life is for living, and you have got to keep moving on and I know this was our dream,” she said. “You just get full of determination, and when you have such a magical place I am into sharing it with people.”
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said tourists were helping small towns and small businesses to survive the drought and economic downturn.
“Visit them and see the country probably at its worst, but the country people at their most resilient,” he told the ABC. “The tourism industry really is the lifeblood of the outback at this time.”