Travelling through remote Australia in a caravan or motorhome remains an incredible adventure. The distances are huge and the variety of both the landscape you see and the people you meet is near endless.
But, for grey nomads, who may have ‘been there and done that’ before, the temptation to compare their current Big Lap to previous trips – often negatively – can be irresistible. Among the most common Happy Hour complaints are things like ‘there’s too much bitumen now’, or ‘it’s become so expensive’ or ‘it never used to be this crowded’.
However, perhaps one of the biggest changes over the years affecting the ‘around Australia’ travel experience has been the incredible advances in communication technology. Many travellers say it’s fantastic to be able to keep in touch with family and friends just about no matter where they are. They are largely happy that they are nearly always contactable ‘in an emergency’ and that they can share a stunning picture almost the second it is taken.
But is that really a good thing?
Just as youthful baby boomers used to ‘disappear’ in order to find themselves on backpacking trips to Europe or Asia, some wonder whether the real magic of travel is actually the opportunity to truly escape from normal life?
Wasn’t it more exciting and interesting when they would ‘drop out’ for a week or two and perhaps only be able to make contact with ‘home’ when they stumbled across a payphone in a dusty Outback town? Grey nomad Cliff Bache certainly looks back fondly on earlier travels.
“The equipment we have today certainly lets us travel to remote places in comfort and without breakdown … but the world has become a much smaller place,” he said. “When I was 18 in the ’70s, even driving a few hours ‘down south’ for a surfing weekend with mates, we were basically isolated which was great.”
He says back then the advent of mobile communications technology was still decades away and, for those lucky enough to travel overseas, trunk calls were so expensive that sending a postcard was pretty much the only way to keep in touch.
“These days you’re in a caravan park you’re probably going to be online so you don’t Trapped by technology? Times get that sense of separation from the rest of the world,” he said. “A good idea is to leave the van at the park, take a tent and some basic portable camping gear, and use the 4WD to camp overnight somewhere remote where there’s no mobile signal, only the Milky Way and the sound of the bush … we did it this year in the Bungle Bungle – magic!”