Thrills and spills, without the chills and frills

Wine spilling

Hallloooo Mailbaggerrrrs!

Welcome to another indescribably exciting edition of the most action-packed Mailbag column in the grey nomad universe. As usual, this week, we deliver thrills, we deliver spills and – if someone had written about the plunging mercury – we could have delivered chills, as well.

First the thrills. Our story about a number of dingo attacks on Fraser Island certainly delivered those … and so did your responses.

“Whenever you see these dingoes, you can see that they are starving,” writes Del. “Man has taken their food sources away, like the wild goats and horses etc, so now they try to get food wherever they can …. finding campers as easy prey.”

Ggggulppp! Not very comforting, Del, not very comforting at all. And for those of you sitting by the campfire as you read this, listening to the spine-tingling howls of distant dingoes and clutching a glass of red, you can thank Del for delivering both the spills and the thrills,

“We would do well to always remember they are a wild animal, not a domesticated dog,” he writes ominously. “But don’t think they can be blamed for everything … man has a lot to answer for.”

Ain’t that the truth. Del, ain’t that the truth. It’s the crocs, not the dingoes, that are really giving Jimbo sleepless nights, and he wants the authorities to do something about it.

“Most of us know that the crocs are running rampant,” he writes. “Wait until the deaths start to really get the headlines.”

Double ggggulppp! Why doesn’t anyone ever write saying how cuddly koalas are, or how wonderful it is to hear the kookaburra laugh? What’s with all this snake/spider/saltie/dingo doom, gloom and disaster stuff?

Away from the wildlife, there’s still a fair bit of doom, gloom and disaster doing the rounds. Our recent story about the toilet facilities at Victoria’s Twelve Apostles attraction struggling to cope with demand didn’t do much to lift the mood. And neither did the fact that some local politicians are renewing calls for a toll on the Great Ocean Road.

“Boy what a ripoff … we have just come back from four weeks travelling the length of the Great Ocean Road and what a huge disappointment,” writes Beel. “Food and gas fuel prices are outlandish, particularly at Apollo Bay, with absolutely no justification for the price.”

Jeepers, creepers, Beel! It sounds like this is one trip that spectacularly failed to live up to expectations.

“Can say we have done it but never again,” Beel writes. “I personally believe that the Great Australian Bight across the Nullabor is far more spectacular and at least the ocean can be seen a lot more often.”

Yup … and the camping is generally a whole lot cheaper, too! Moving swiftly along to a brand new topic. Chris is facing the dilemma faced by many wannabe grey nomads … in that she is keener to hit the open road than her partner.Wish you were here?

“I have dreamt for years of travelling around in a motorhome, but my partner doesn’t share my spirit of adventure and would rather stay put surrounded by his familiar things and home comforts,” she writes. “We have had the Winnie for about six years, but we have only been away in it together for short breaks.”

It’s certainly a tricky situation and, while Chirs says she and her son have taken a trip to Tassie, it has done little to satisfy her wanderlust.

“I would really love it if my partner would join me in a nomadic lifestyle, but I don’t think it will ever happen,” she writes. “However, I am determined to live my dream and will travel solo.”

You go, girl!

“I retired last year and am almost ready to hit the road after updating the Winnie with all the latest techno stuff,” she says. “I feel guilty about blithely doing my own thing but don’t want to die regretting never having done it.”

Good for you, Chris. Good for you. Keep in touch and let us know how you go. Our story about plans to develop a new caravan park at Bellingen in New South Wales is another one that provoked a strong reaction.

Trevor says local authorities should look closely at recent figures for the purchase of all modes of caravans and motorhomes to get an idea of which way the wind is blowing.

“Some of the biggest manufacturers project some good sales figures over the next few years and an increase in the number of people travelling full time,” he says. “If you want a piece of that pie it would appear wise to supply people what they want and they will come … build a low cost park and supply basic amenities.”

He says that if a grey nomad spends a week in an area some $700+ will be injected into the local economy.

Graham is also eager to let off steam on this issue.

“There is no doubt that to start fresh a new park would be ideal for the consumer but without the tax payer forking out it definitely would not be viable,” he writes. “Unfortunately we all want cheap options but, after managing parks, I realise now that without continual income like cabins, caravan and camping and annual holiday cabins or vans coming in, the weak are not surviving.”

He says that smaller parks are overrun by costs and compliance issues and struggle to stay in touch with consumer expectations.

“Some of these parks deserve to exist but the facility-driven customer will bypass the very parks the nomads want,” he says. “They just want to connect to water and power, have clean amenities and move on, paying as little as possible.”

He says that grey nomads have to make a choice and live with the long-term consequences.

“Look for the small, well-maintained little parks off the beaten track a bit … they deserve your support and you will pay less,” he says. “But realise maybe some of you really can afford to have a site in a nice park with facilities, cleanliness and friendly management.”

I guess it’s horses for courses, Graham. Horses for courses. But there is no doubt that the threat to many van parks’ very existence is real and that without steady custom, neither the basic van parks nor the resort-style parks can hope to survive.

Okay, that’s it mighty Mailbaggers. It’s been another hectic week at Mailbag Central, which is just the way we like it. So, keep those emails coming and we’ll meet again next week.

Adios, amigos.



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