Happy Hour is perhaps the most sacred grey nomad tradition of them all … but is the trend towards ever-more luxurious rigs sounding the death knell of the under-the awning ‘social’?
Born in an era in which watching TV in the bush was an impossibility, campfires were more widely allowed, and caravans were far more basic, Happy Hours were once as much a part of the Big Lap as filling up at the bowser. So, are times a-changin’?
Grey nomad Alan Hunter from New South Wales certainly thinks so. He says that on a trip up the Centre and down the coast of Western Australia he was stunned by how ‘day-centric’ his fellow travellers were.
“As soon as the sun sets they disappear … they seem to have lost the ability or interest in sitting around the fire interacting with their neighbours or enjoying the beauties of the night sky,” he said. “I realise some go to bed early but, judging by the flickering in the windows, a lot are watching TV or videos … it seems to us they are missing a good part of what exploring the country is about.”
At the Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park in northern Queensland, the daily Happy Hours that run from approximately 4pm-6pm are part of the fabric of park life, especially between June and October. On-site manager Brad Davis says the social event is always kicked off by someone ringing a large cow bell and then people start to congregate to enjoy nibbles and a few drinks.
“I wouldn’t say they have become less popular on the whole, but I would say there are maybe a few more people coming through with the huge luxury set ups that are a little less likely to get involved,” he said. “But all are welcomed and encouraged to the gathering to swap stories about being on the road and just enjoy each other’s company.”
And veteran traveller David Metcalfe also believes that news of the death of Happy Hours has been greatly exaggerated.
“Happy Hours are still very popular and are a great way to get to know fellow travellers and to obtain information about the area you are in or going to, and any great ideas about caravan modifications or gadgets,” he said. “From our experience, Happy Hours can go on for several hours and cover a wide range of topics and we find that sitting outside of an afternoon will regularly attract others to come and have a chat … and we will put the kettle on or share a glass of wine.”
While David is a huge fan of Happy Hours, he says he prefers ones with smaller groups and admits they don’t always work out.
“I hate Happy Hours that turn into booze and brag fests,” he said. “And we have asked people to control the language before, but this doesn’t usually cause a problem.”
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