The ongoing adventures of 91-year-old grey nomads, David and Moira Huggins, should certainly offer inspiration to any ‘youngsters’ in 70s or 80s who are beginning to wonder how much longer they can keep travelling.
The couple, who have been married for 61 years, still regularly get away in their six-metre Trakka motorhome … and still have the time of their lives.
They have quite recently returned from their fifth trip to Tasmania where they once again enjoyed the island’s stunning scenery and also took in the National Gem show at Glenorchy, north of Hobart.
“My hobby is lapidary, or gem stone cutting, so we spent a day admiring other lapidarists’ work,” said David.
They then spent some time touring Tassie taking in places such as St Helens, the Bay of Fires … and David recalls a memorable drive from Bridport to Pipers Brook winery.
“It’s not a road for the faint hearted,” he said. “More bends than we could count.”
While David and Moira try not to let the advancing years restrict their adventures, they do have some limits.
“For example, I’m glad I took the steep climb at Wine Glass Bay before while I was young enough to do it,” said David.
The couple actually begun their caravanning adventures all the way back in 1966, when they bought a 15’ Fairholme caravan and toured Europe.
“The iron curtain countries like Yugoslavia and Hungary were scary as we were held under armed guard and deprived of passports for up to two hours at a time,” said David. “The caravan was searched with long poles to detect people smuggling.”
Happily, that – and other adventures like having crowds throwing bottles at the caravan – didn’t put David and Moira off the lifestyle. In the ’70s and ’80s they towed caravans around Australia with their Chrysler Valiant.
David remembers buying a ‘Commodore’ caravan and quickly learning that no thought had been given to weight distribution.
“This led to swaying down the road at 60km/h and some hair-raising rides,” he said. “A mechanic provided us with sprung sway bars and these levelled the unit … we had learnt a lesson.”
By the ’90s, the pair had bought a Hallmark van, which ‘towed perfectly’, and in the 2000s they bought an Evernew van with ‘all mod cons’.
Now, of course, they travel in a Trakka but it’s not just their vehicles that changed over the years.
David says there has been a lot of improvement in road surfaces; fuel is much more freely available in remote places; and then of course there are things like mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and the introduction of TVs into caravans. And van parks themselves have evolved from being pretty basic into something far more well appointed.
David and Moira have pretty much done the lot over the years, and they got to places that were once genuinely remote but are now considered easily accessible.
Looking back over several decades of what David describes as ‘very happy times’ travelling, he has some very simple advice for other grey nomads.
“Just keep moving and enjoy the freedom of the road,” he said.