The Grey Nomad Caravan Lifestyle
Sid from Grey Nomad 101 has a really great DVD series about Grey Nomad caravan trips in Australia. He's popped by our blog to share some wisdom from the road. Check out the Grey Nomad facebook or site for a look at the DVDs.
What has been your favourite destination and what was so special about it?
Probably Ningaloo reef in WA. You get the choice of organised sites in the Cape Range National Park near Exmouth with resident camp hosts, or roughing it on one of the stations further south. But the main thing is the snorkelling – it’s as good as the Great Barrier Reef, minus the 100Km boat trip. You just wade straight out from the shore. Sometimes it’s like you’ve got the whole place to yourself – no getting the mask kicked off your face by the dozens of other tourists that you get on the organised GBR tours. We’ve even seen clown fish on coral in waist-deep water right near the shore.
Describe your perfect day on a caravan trip.
Waking up with no alarm clock, preferably by the sound of birds rather than trucks on the highway. Re-kindling the fire (we’re free-camping of course!) Chucking a lure off the bank in case there’s a Barra cruising past. Bacon & eggs on the BBQ outside, then head off somewhere in the dinghy for a couple of hours. Potter around for the rest of the day doing very little, maybe an hour’s walk along a river bank. A 5 o’clock session with anyone else that’s around (and they won’t be parked within 200m in any direction). Re-kindle the fire and sit around it for another couple of hours after dinner, relaxing to the sounds of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed doing the dishes (well you did say perfect day).
Are there any time when you have been fed up with caravanning and would prefer to be in a hotel?
No. You gotta be kidding!
What are your must have items to take on a trip?
Cameras, fishing gear, noise-blocker (an ambient noise generator that does a great job of masking out external sounds like noisy neighbours or those trucks on the highway). Laptop and satellite TV (for SWMBO!)
Do you have any funny stories from your trips?
Wanting to put the rig over a weighbridge, found one in Alice run by the transport cops. I go in and ask the big bloke in the uniform behind the desk “Is this a public weighbridge?” He says “Yep”. “Is it free?” “Yep.” If I put my rig over it and I’m over the limit, will you throw the book at me?” “If I see that you’re over, I’ll book you” he says. “But I’m just trying to do the right thing, officer,” I wail. “If I see that you’re over, I’ll book you” he repeats. I get on my soap box: “Look mate, you’re not being reasonable . . .” “No, Sunshine, you’re not listening. If I see you’re over, then I’ll book you,” he smiles. “That weighbridge out there and the electronic readout in the window operate 24 hours a day. I’m only here during normal business hours!”
Caravanning isn't for everyone. What kind of people do you think are suited to the caravan lifestyle?
People who are able to relax and do nothing sometimes, and who enjoy trying out new hobbies for when there’s nothing to do. Your average triple “A” personality, hyper-active ADD workaholic probably won’t like it.
How did you come up with the idea for your DVD series and what do people most enjoy about them?
It started as a hobby project (see previous answer!). There wasn’t anything else out there like it to help us when we started out, and we made a few mistakes, so I produced Grey Nomad 101 almost as a bit of a joke, trying to lay out all the things you need to know to prepare to hit the road. A couple of friends who saw it reckoned it was good enough to sell, so I tried the market. It just exploded, and the rest is history. In response to feedback and requests from viewers, I’ve got several more out now, with further new ones planned. The most consistent comment I get back is that they like it because Sandie and I are just regular people who don’t come across like some celebrity presenter with a support crew. It’s just us, and that’s all you get – we’re the real deal. And we’re funny!
If you were to host a dinner party in your caravan what would you cook?
Cooking in the confines of a caravan presents its own challenges (check out our new DVD “Caravan Cooking 101”!) For entertaining, you need to do something that doesn’t keep the cook occupied when she(!) could be socialising. Sandie will sometimes do a roast. Otherwise we’ll do a casserole or curry (that’s my speciality) in a slow cooker. These cookers are great for this kind of thing – you do everything earlier, then serve it up later whenever you’re ready – not when the cooker tells you to!