Thursday, September 28, 2006



The truth about The Plague Of The Grey Nomads - mostly elderly pensioners chasing the sun around Australia's coastlines in huge holiday vans - is so shocking it's been kept out of most of Australia's media. We had to turn to the English media to get this story.

Okay, we're exaggerating. A bit.

The 'grey nomads' are doing pretty much what tens of thousands of Australians used to do in VW vans, but parking restrictions and the decimation of caravan parks around some of Australia's more populated beaches have forced the travellers to go to extremes.

It is kind of freaky, though, this idea of all these oldies, cashed up in superior homes-on-wheels, linked up by e-mail and text messaging, moving in packs around the coast, watching out for each other, reporting the locations of good sites to invade and the cheapest lunches in the nearest towns.

The retirees who sell their homes and blow the children's inheritance on huge $200,000 vans are creating their own new mobile society, where outsiders are rarely welcome and new arrivals to their clans have to prove their worth, by the kilometres clocked up on their travels.

Amazing stuff.

From the UK Independent :

As summer approaches, camper vans are invading the popular beachside suburb and squatting on some of Bondi's best streets. Visitors can only park legally for a couple of hours, but no worries, as they say here. Just chop down the parking sign.

The culprits behind this spate of vandalism are not feckless young tourists, they are pensioners - the "grey nomads" who travel around Australia following the sun. "Quite a number are older people," said Kerryn Sloan, a local councillor. "It's a new phenomenon, and quite surprising.

"They want a seaside holiday for free, and bad luck to anyone who disagrees with them. They don't want to move on, and they know the law and how far they can push it. They can be quite confrontational. They are absolutely brazen, and they won't be intimidated."

The elderly anarchists operate in packs, travelling in convoy and texting each other tips on the streets with the best views. On arrival, they saw down signs, leaving parking inspectors impotent. It is usually two weeks before a new sign can be put up. By then the campers are ready to move on.

Towns and cities up and down the coast are afflicted, but Bondi - with its famous beach and numerous amenities - has been particularly badly hit. It is one of Sydney's most densely populated neighbourhoods.

One despairing local man said yesterday that he had had seven camper vans parked in his street. Removing parking signs is only one sin.

Once the unwelcome visitors have commandeered a street, they make themselves quite at home. They set up little tables and chairs on the pavement. They string up makeshift clothes-lines. They cook themselves meals in the street. They urinate and defecate in backyards and on the grass verges.

"We think that they have a network, telling each other where to go. They find the right street and all group together. Some of them quite openly taunt the residents... We've even had illegal campers in our cemetery."

George Newhouse, the local mayor, said that some campers played hide and seek with parking inspectors, dodging them when they approached. He said the council needed stronger powers to crack down on "inappropriate camping". It had also asked the state government to provide land for camp-sites.

"At the moment there's nothing we can do to stop them," he said.

"We can ban camping in our parks, but if they're on a public road in a registered vehicle, we can only regulate the hours they can park."

Go Here For The Full Story

The Life Of The Grey Nomads - 14 Years On The Road

Golden Years For Two Grey Nomads - A Lifetime Of Work For An On The Road Retirement