Friday, March 02, 2007

Out Of Action - For Now

Exploring A Secret Australia With The 'Grey Nomads'

We're travelling through outback WA right now, which makes regular blogging a bit of a difficulty. But we'll back in action on a daily(ish) basis come March 9.

Unfortunately we're nowhere near as technically self-sufficient on the road as some of the 'grey nomads' we've come across in isolated camp grounds on the South West Coast of Western Australia.

Decked out with slabs of solar panels and satellite dishes, some have fitted out their caravans with enough gear and alternate energy power sources they no longer have any need for electrical mains energy. With solar water filtration, they don't need fresh water either. They can make their own out of seawater or literally muddy water from a puddle.

But 50 miles down a dirt track from the nearest village or even wheat farm homestead, these high-tech nomads can dial up the best of world sports, surf the internet (via satellite phone) and live away from civilisation for as long as their food (and booze) supplies hold out.

It's an interesting glimpse into the future of Australia's retirees. There are some 200,000 'grey nomads' rolling down the endless tarmac of Australia's highways on any given day, with more joining their teeming numbers every day. It's literally a new society under creation on the highways and beach camps and byways and caravan parks.

But who represents these nomads? Who governs their society? No-one, for now. But they are mostly cashed-up, teched-up Australians on the road, some of them constantly on the road. We've met many who've haven't been 'home' in one to three years. And they have no intention of ever returning to the cities dotted around our coastline. News of road and fishing conditions, cyclone and storm warnings, or the carving of a new 4WD trail through another isolated stretch of a national park to fresh coastline are the main, and most important, news items to be discussed each morning in the communal kitchens and down by the boatramps.

The politics of Canberra, the concerns of city life in Sydney or Melbourne are almost meaningless to many of these nomads.

And meanwhile, the endless road ahead awaits. Another unexplored marvel of the Australian outback to visit, another campground overlooking a forgotten beach only discussed in whispers to be visited, the ones that aren't in the books or on the net, that you only learn about from other nomads.

Definitely a subject we'll have to write more about in the future...