Arthur & Doreen

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Grey nomad character slide-on camper
Arthur and Doreen still love to hit the road in their Ute with slide-on camper. PIC: Craig Townsend

Arthur and Doreen have been taking camping trips for 60 years … and they’ve been in the same rig for the past 40! Here, Arthur explains how it all began.

We caught the Nomadic Bug in 1955 when we owned our first car, a 1931 Oldsmobile Sedan. Incurable! We hired a caravan, a little round ply­wood one. They were about all that were generally around at the time. Aluminium was then a scarce, dear product.

We had a baby almost one year old with us. Amongst other things I insisted on tak­ing a big tin bath tub. In fact we didn’t actually use it. It had to be taken out and put back in the van at every stop. Lesson number one – leave the un­needed at home. We camped for a day or so at a place called Saxons Creek in north Tasma­nia. Back then, you stopped where it suited you.

The baby was bathed in the wash-up dish, we bathed in the creek. In the evening I was able to wander out and shoot a rabbit, but if it was cooked too soon it was tough to eat.

Some of the cooking was done on a smelly kerosene cooker, a sort of demented lantern thing without the glass. We had no sink, stove, burners, gas or fridge. Campfires and billies were the norm. But it got us started! Our next trip was with a larger hired plywood van. We bor­rowed dad’s 1939 Chevrolet as we needed its pulling power. One of the van’s tyres scrubbed out halfway on our trip and the spare scrubbed out on our return – the van was very hard to pull. We had two children on this trip, and at Greens Point north-west Tasmania we had a beachside camp spot. We went into the surf and were horrified to find one of our children had crawled in after us and was coughing and choking. We went in one at a time after that.

By 1968 we had our first new car, an Austin 1800 and we hired a larger 16’ van which we needed because we had three children by then. At one stage we stopped to pick mushrooms on our way up the east coast of Tasmania, and on attempting to start on the uphill road the clutch started slipping. Overloaded. The family had to walk the mile to the top of the rise.

We have been travelling in our present set up for the past 40 years ago, a then new 1975 HJ Holden Ute with a slide on camper. This suits the two of us and we could afford it and it had a dual use. It’s done the job for us, but we both dream of a small modern motorhome with an island bed on the floor, a fridge at eye level, a microwave at waist height, a shower/toilet, power/torque to keep up with the traffic anywhere and 21st century comforts – all to suit our 85 and 86 year old bodies.

For the past 25 years we have been travelling from our home in Hobart to the north of Cap­ricorn for four months a year, dividing our time between Bowen and Mackay staying on the same sites at the same caravan parks.

It’s a good life. We’re getting used to it!



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