Will VAST TV tempt nomads to tune out of happy hour?

Halllllloooo Mailbagggerrrss!

First of all, many apologies for being late (very) again with the Weekly Mailbag. As you can imagine, the email count has been going ‘zoink’ so I’d better crack on.

Who remembers from the dim and distant past our story about the bat invasion that residents of the small central Queensland town of Duaringa feared would frighten away tourists.

Merv does … and he did his best to reassure those affected, and urged them not to take ‘unnecessary’ action.

“I would not bypass a town with bats,” he writes. “But, like a lot of potential tourists, I would bypass a town persecuting native wildlife.”

Fair point, Merv. And by all accounts Duaringa’s bats have now all decided to move on of their own volition. A happy ending all round.

Laura is another animal lover, but the object of her affection is Liza, the Samoyed dog that keeps her company on her solo travels.

“I have been widowed for a long time but don’t settle easily in one place,” she writes. “Yes, I knit and crochet and have a grandchild but can’t bear being confined for too long.”

Her home at present is an ex-rental two-berth camper van.

“People have told me I’m gutsy but I don’t think so,” she says. “It is just a matter of doing what I need to survive.”

… and having fun along the way, I hope, Laura. Anyway, good for you, Laura … and Liza, too.

Of course, some people reckon dogs are too much hassle to take around Australia and seek electronic company instead. Our story about the extension of the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) system into more areas had many of you excited about the TV watching possibilities … but Kevin wasn’t one of them!

“We will be going with the books, the well-worn playing cards, and the radio,” he says. “The TV programs aren’t all that flash in my opinion and the news is all doom and gloom.”

He reckons that power usage will also be an issue for some TV ‘addicts’ who like to camp in the bush.

“When we go to caravan parks to catch up on the washing etc, then we’ll get updated on how the world is faring,” he writes. “Surely we can find ways to entertain ourselves without relying on the TV to do it for us?”

Jeepers! What book are you reading, Kev? It must be a humdinger to keep you away from Masterchef All Stars! 

Chris is vastly more enthusiastic.

“We will definitely sign up with VAST,” he said. “The next step is to get Foxtel to allow installs legally into touring vans rather than it being done illegally or not being able to have at all.”

Shhhhh, Chris!

Okay, before all you Neighbours-loving Big Brother addicts rush out to sign up for Vast, Pete reckons there are a couple of things you should know. He went the whole Vast system hog back in February, complete with a satellite dish and two signal leads to the van. He also has an Austar box (decoder), and a WINTAL 500Gb HDD personal video recorder which can select between VAST programming and/or Austar programming.

Jumping Jack Flash, that sounds like a corker of a setup, Pete. But why go to all the trouble?

“So my beautiful BRIDE can watch and/or record her beloved AFL, whist I can do the same with Austar’s fishing or motorsport,” he writes. “Heaven will be like this … hehe.”Unmissable?

Jeez! You sound like you’ve got this ‘living the good life’ thing well and truly worked out, Pete. I’m impressed. So, what words of wisdom have you got for others considering going down the same heavenly path?

“The most important thing that you need to know about this VAST thingy, is that you will have access to basically the same programming as the capital city in the state you are in when you register for VAST access,” writes Pete. “Which is all very well except when you put in three or four days of big drives and cross three state borders, the TV you get when you stop and set up your sat dish will be the TV from three capital cities ago ! …. and Melbourne TV’s news and weather doesn’t really cut the mustard when you’ve set up camp in Perth or Darwin.”

Gotcha, Pete. The good life loving nomad actually went to the trouble of writing to the VAST people about the issue and received the following reply.

“Unfortunately at this time we are only able to activate one state of channels at a time. To abide by licencing laws you will need to let us know when you change state so that we can update the service which you receive. This can be done as often as required via email to VAST.Administration@mysattv.com.au or by phone to 1300 993 376.”

So, it would seem that a quick phone call or email will get the Vast people to re-set the programming you receive to suit your location.

“Maybe if us nomadic folks were to bombard them with phone calls or emails they might set up a system just for people like us who’s lifestyle takes them, well everywhere,” says Pete, before abruptly (and suspiciously) ending his email at exactly the same time as Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing started screening.

Thanks for the tip anyway, Pete. Another issue which got you all pretty excited was the possibility of a new caravan park being built at Lancelin in Western Australia.

“We think it is a great idea, we love going up there, but it is always hard to get in in the busy times,” said Judy and Ben. “Why should it be for just the rich crayfishermen and their families.”

Yeah … why indeed? Carl is another who says this new park would be popular, particularly given the loss of caravan parks close to the water in other states. However, he warns that the council and residents may have another hurdle to overcome if they want to promote the park as a nice place to stay.

“Lancelin is only a stone’s throw from Wedge Island where we lost yet another young Australian to a white pointer attack on the 13th July,” he writes. “I think this is the 5th WA casualty in the last 10 months or so.”

It’s a statistic that makes Carl’s blood boil.

“I note the comment that the ‘visitors’ from out of town don’t want the park because it may bring people like grey nomads and other types that would change their pristine destination,” he writes. “These ‘visitors’ are the same inner-city, pin-striped hippies who have a value system that places white pointer sharks, crocodiles, dingoes etc above human life.”

But that of course is another story … and another issue. Motherhen is also less than impressed by the welcome mat – or rather lack of it – that is, or isn’t, rolled out in this part of the world.

“While additional caravan park spaces may well be needed at peak times, the Gingin Shire and the nearby north of Perth coastal towns are known by grey nomads to be ‘hostile’,” she claims. “I advise interstate visitors to go inland where towns are friendly and welcome us, thus avoiding the hostile coastal strip.”

Hmmmm! Motherhen reckons more towns should pay attention to the demand for low-cost, basic serviced camping or free unserviced campgrounds … a potential market she says which is far bigger than the family holiday caravan park market.

Jimbo is on board. “Going to caravan parks is not camping,” he declares. A caravan park at $35 per night … not for this happy camper … now a free camp that would be different!”

Now, on the subject of free camps, the attitude of the mayor of Mudgee in New South Wales who said ‘freeloaders’ were not wanted in the “best town in Australia” got the grey nomad angermometer going ‘quadruple zoink’.

Sadly, we have run out of space to give the ‘why I’ll never go to Mudgee again’ army a fair go this week, so tune in to next week’s humdinger of a Weekly Mailbag to find out more. For those of you who doubt the reliability of the Weekly Mailbag I can confirm that next week’s edition will be coming out next week (for a change).

Oh, and just before we go. Many of you will remember Barry, who made the mistake of appealing for ideas for an appropriate slogan to put on a sticker on the back of his rig.

Mr Swan came up with possibly the most suitable suggestion . ‘DUNROOTIN.’

However, it seems that Barry is less than impressed.

“Please advise Mr W Swan that this is not appropriate and untrue,” he wrote. “I’m not done at all … I’ve just taken a little time out!”

Fun and games, Mighty Mailbaggers, fun and games! See you all next week, and we’ll do it all again … and keep those emails coming.


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