Reflections on being grey nomads; retirees travelling Australia in a caravan

Physical fitness is important for grey nomads caravanning around Australia

Becoming grey nomads is a popular retirement activity, but was it for us we wondered? A guest post by Estelle from What’s on Watsons.

We retired in 2016. For us as a couple, retirement has been a massive period of change. Not only have we retired we have closed a business, sold our family home, given away or sold over half our belongings, left our long term home town, and everyone we know. I think we went into overdrive during the early stages of our retirement transition.

A big part of our retirement plan was to become retirees enjoying travel. Greg has always wanted to travel in Australia, he particularly wanted to travel to the Kimberley, in Western Australia. I was keen to travel overseas; high on my travel bucket list is a return trip to Europe. Whilst we had these vague travel dreams, we had no specific plans.

We chose caravanning around Australia – grey nomads!

Enjoying the infinity pool at Lake Argyle

Somewhere in between retiring and selling our home we decided to travel around Australia in our caravan. We have travelled overseas a number of times. But we had never travelled extensively in Australia. For us, from Southern New South Wales, the Kimberley is an extremely long way away. If we were travelling to the Kimberley, we decided we might as well do the big loop, and travel around Australia.

We set off on our travels on the 9th of November 2016. At that stage we had no idea how long we would be on the road. But, right from the beginning, we decided we would not pre-plan our trip. We agreed to travel with the wind, to follow our hearts’ desires.

We decided it didn’t matter which way we went as long as we arrived in the Kimberley in the dry season. We also decided to not pre book into caravan parks, as we didn’t want to be locked into being at a certain place by a certain time. Our goal was to be flexible, with the ability to change our travel plans on a whim. Fortunately, this plan worked very well. We have never had any  difficulty finding a place to stay

Late January 2017 we arrived in Brisbane to a heat wave. From there we began travelling the top end of Australia. From late January until June we have travelled in heat. For the majority of this time the temperature was over 30 degrees. During this period we only experienced rain twice. We sat Cycle Debbie out at  Maraboon Dam, in Queensland. Then we experienced storms at  Uluru, in the Northern Territory. That was amazing! There has hardly been any wind.

It wasn’t until we left Broome in late June, and began travelling south, that the temperature has gradually started to cool. Yet in mid July we continue to wear shorts with short sleeves. But the nights have cooled and we need warm clothes if sitting outside after sunset. So, if travelling the top end of Australia during “winter” bring summer clothing. And, just about everyone wears shorts, no matter age or size.

As grey nomads we prefer to travel by ourselves

Toasting the sunset at Uluru
Toasting the sunset at Uluru

Prior to beginning our grey nomads lifestyle we agreed we would travel by ourselves.  We believe travelling with others would be restrictive. We didn’t want the stress of negotiating with others about where to go, what to do, how long to stay etc. And, we are so pleased we made this decision. There is such freedom to travel independently; to do as we wish.

Prior to our retirement, we never dreamt we would end up travelling around Australia living a grey nomad lifestyle to the extent we have. To date, we have been living in our caravan for 9 months. We have travelled  more than 27,000 kilometres, so far. Very importantly, we have felt safe the whole trip. We have only met kind and helpful people.

Physical fitness for grey nomads

We are so pleased we decided to do this trip around Australia as soon as we retired. We decided to travel while we were both physically fit and able. We have been to the majority of National Parks along our route. Many of the walks we have attended have been quite physical. Walking in the heat adds to the physical stress. Yet, the sights we have enjoyed have been breathtaking.

We have always been people who have walked. Our confidence in our physical ability has improved, and no doubt, our level of fitness. Our big realisation is we need to keep physically fit and active if we intend to continue to travel and see the sights.

So how have we found the grey nomads life?

You may wonder how we have survived living in a caravan for 9 months. All we can say is we haven’t sickened of it. In fact, we are quite happy. We have taken on a minimalist approach to possessions. Travel experiences are our current priority.

The only downside to being grey nomads is we miss our family. In particular, we miss our children and grandchildren. In fact, when we were in Broome, Greg was suggesting I fly home and see everyone. The problem is everyone is scattered along the eastern seaboard of Australia. It would take a lot of time and money to visit everyone. So, I accepted we are travelling at this point in time in our life.

You may wonder how affordable is travelling around Australia as a grey nomad? All we can say is it can be as expensive or as cheap as you wish to make it. There are so many variations of how people travel and what they do along the way.

Needless to say, we believe we are very fortunate to be Aussie grey nomads. Our retirement lifestyle is simple, never boring, and full of travel adventures. We are well and truly bitten by the travel bug and the nomadic lifestyle. And at this stage we see ourselves continuing to be retires enjoying travel.

Read more about caravanning around Australia

About Estelle Anderson

Estelle and Greg Anderson
Estelle and Greg

Estelle is co – founder of What’s On Watson’s – Retirees Enjoying Travel. Estelle and her husband Greg are a recently retired Aussie couple. 

Time to share your thoughts: Is the grey nomad life for you? Do you have tips you can share with others who are interested in caravanning around Australia?


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