Readers shaken and stirred

Earthquake map

Halllooooo Mailbagggerrs!

Welcome to another seriously riveting edition of the grey nomad world’s favourate mailbag column. As regular readers will know, it’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions here the past week or two. We’ve swung wildly between heavy gloom and giddy excitement and then – sadly – back again.

Trying to put it all into perspective, Errol says happiness levels depend largely on one’s financial situation and state of health.

“For my part I have tried to live by the Biblical injunction to be ‘satisfied with such as ye have’,” he writes. “The current turmoil on financial markets has, I would suggest, tested the resolve of many retirees to be content, certainly as regards their financial security.”

But Errol is not one to dwell on such gloomy matters for long. He is quick to turn his attention to other more pressing matters, such as our recent story about the growing flying fox population.

“The Aboriginal people would have hunted flying foxes along with many other native animals before European settlement,” he said. “This would have kept the numbers of any particular species from getting out of control as is happening now.”

Maybe so, Errol. One thing no-one can really have any control over though are earthquakes. The recent tremors in Victoria left quite a few of you shaken.

“We are in a caravan park in Wodonga, and I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I actually felt the earth move,” said Ron and Joyce. “We thought we had some smart buggers outside shaking the van … we never knew until the next morning what it was.”

Denny is a bit miffed that the earthquake is consistently described as Melbourne’s quake.

“Hello! The epicentre was Coalville just out of Moe, Gipplsand,” he writes. “My mum and one daughter live there in separate houses by themselves, and they were petrified … they thought the roof was falling in.”

Most of us can, thankfully, only imagine just how terrifying it would be.

“The stove and the fridges moved five inches and paintings / ornaments fell off shelves / walls and shattered,” writes Denny. “There was an enormous crack under their homes … there was no damage like this in Melbourne.”

Fair play, Denny. Let’s move on to our very favourite topic … the cost of camping.

Len and Barbara reckon caravan parks in Mudgee should offer incentives to free campers at the showgrounds.Golden egg

“If power and hot showers are not available at the showgrounds, then maybe the parks could offer a free night package if they stay two nights in their park,” they suggest. “This is a great way to top up batteries and do a bit of spring cleaning.”

The couple reckons the Australian Government needs to wake up and do everything in its power to provide lower priced and free camping facilities for all who are prepared to explore this fabulous country.

“The flow of local and overseas tourists should be encouraged as much as possible as they are the lifeblood of the Outback,” say Len and Barbara.

For her part, Annie reckons there is a bit of an imbalance between the services provided by caravan parks in smaller country towns and that of the local pub or motel … often for a very similar fee.

“Let’s think about this,” she says. “The pub/motel owner supplies clean linen/towels etc, and TV, en suite bathroom … someone to clean the unit/room and change the linen … whilst the caravan park owner charges for you to pull in and park your vehicle and maybe use some power.”

She says a lot of travellers use their own bathroom and toilet facilities and often pull in later in the day and are gone again by 10am the next day … having paid big bucks for a stay of 12-15 hours max.

“I have no problem with paying $15 for a basic campsite, with power and toilet/shower facilities, perhaps up to $10 tops for a campsite without toilet/shower/power,” Annie says. “ I am also happy to pay a little more if I am in town and planning on staying for a week or longer but, really, when one gets up to paying $30 plus for a night, one may as well rent a unit or house in town … it would work out cheaper!”

And Annie reckons the budget van parks and camping areas have got one other thing going for them.

“The other thing is, how many grey nomads have noticed that quite often it is the very low low-cost places that are the really friendly happy places to stay?” she writes. “I certainly have noticed this.”

Ahhhh, happiness really is a cheap camping spot. Here’s Ron and Joyce again.

“Do you really wonder why we free camp when possible … we just cannot afford to pay these exorbitant prices,” they say. “You are going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, as it is only Christmas and Easter that families mostly travel … what about the rest of the year this is when you will need the likes of us?”

What indeed? Okay, let’s talk about the weather now. Our story about the British weathermen coming under attack for overly gloomy forecasts caused a bit of a storm.

Trevor points out that weather forecasting is a science of sorts … but one that is fraught with dangers. He recalls that in 1979 there was a severe storm which came out of nowhere to decimate Britain’s ‘Fastnet’ Sailing race and 15 people died. The race organisers and weather experts were apparently sued because they did not forecast the weather correctly.

“Since the litigation the weather reporting carries warnings that they could be 40% out in wind speed because it’s not an exact science,” says Trevor. “No wonder they put out blanket warnings and this is the result … erring on the side of caution.”

Weather is certainly not 100% predictable and sunshine cannot be guaranteed … which is why choosing the right solar set-up for your rig is so important.

“With vast distances in the West, we are looking at some folding panels for our caravan, two which would give 120 watts and including regulator and wiring etc.” write Bruce and Mary. “Any opinions and suggestions would be appreciated.”

Over to you Mighty Mailbaggers.

Okay, it’s nearly time to wrap things up after another dose of Mailbag Mayhem. But, before we close, you may remember last week’s appeal from Barry S for a sticker slogan for his van which best reflected his status in life.

“Now that I’m 60 + GST and having worked and paid taxes for 50 years I deserve a slogan that oozes respect and dignity,” he wrote.

Hmmmm! Wayne S was quick to come up with a suggestion.Sticker suggestion

“I think Barry should use the attached sign (pictured right) on the back of his van,” he wrote.

No comment!

See you next week, Mighty Maillllbagggers! And keep those emails coming.

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