‘We’re off … and no pet gets left behind’

Grey nomads who travel with their dogs aren’t allowed in national parks, can’t stay in some caravan parks, and must be constantly mindful of the needs of their animals… yet, compared to some pet loving travellers, they have it easy.

Just ask Dave and Di H. who have been on the road for a year, along with their very talkative South American Quaker parrot, Chika, and who face endless inter-state travel challenges.

“Some states require import licences and export permits while others don’t and Western Australia bans Quakers full stop,” said Dave. “It means we won’t be going there for a while, if ever, which is disappointing.”

Leaving Chika behind is not an option, though. Quakers bond strongly with their carers, and vice-

Quaker parrot and grey nomad caravans

Chika, the Quaker parrot


“She reminds us constantly of how well she can mimic not just us but other animals and birds, as well as some mechanical sounds, and she has a repertoire of 80 to 100 sounds,” said Dave. “She has an uncanny ability to say something that fits the circumstances and, while it is only coincidence, it is uncanny.”

Chika lives in a large cage and the couple also allows her to fly free inside their custommade Humpback caravan with the doors locked. On the occasions they leave her alone in the van, they are extremely conscious of the temperature.

“Chika doesn’t have a lot of body mass to help her regulate her internal temperature and will fly to the sink to let us know that she’d like a bath to cool down,” said Dave. “She can be noisy sometimes and, when she thinks it’s time for bed, she gets louder and louder until she gets covered and placed in the en-suite.”

Rod and Ghislaine P. are similarly attached to their Ragdoll cat, Danni, who calls their Jayco Stirling pop-top home.

“We’d never leave her behind as it would stress her to be left with someone,” said Ghislaine. “If we go out, we leave her inside and, if it’s hot, we leave the air con on for her.”

Apart from a few run-ins with dogs belonging to caravan park owners, and being barred from some ‘dog-friendly’ parks that don’t take cats, Danni loves life on the road.

“We had a skirt made for the van so no dogs could sneak underneath and it stops Danni going under the van, too,” said Ghislaine. “She’s always on a harness which we attach to a line across and underneath the awning so she can move back and forth from van to outside as she wishes.”


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