We were both born in 1946, so were the start of the baby boomers, both father’s having returned from WW2, one in New Guinea, and the other the Middle East, our parents had come through a depression and themselves born before and during WW! Our family homes were fibro, table manners were drilled into us. Married at 21, parents the following year, life was as we expected, and similar to our parents. The main difference – I later joined the workforce, and funded private education for our children. Both went on to University, and married.
At 56, after losing several very close friends, and having health issues, we retired. Much planning on post working life had been done. We had been careful always with money, and never spent any on luxuries or holidays. Camping had always been our holiday mode.
We planned to travel Australia, explore our country from East to West and North to South. We set ourselves up with a caravan and tow vehicle, heaved the faithful “tinny” on the roof and within 8 weeks of finishing work, we were on our way. We packed the entire house and had it put into storage, arranged an Estate agent to manage leasing.
We drove North from Sydney with a nebulous idea of direction, for a minimum of 2.5 years. Becoming grey nomads was liberating, we were lucky to discover we really liked one another!
We did fly home a few times and knew if we had to, returning to Sydney was only a plane trip. Knowing we still had a home was comforting, we met others who had chosen to sell up, but I needed the security of home ownership.
The socializing aspect is no minor gift of life on the road. We made friends whom we still meet. Email is the lifeline of travelers, for maintaining family contact to accessing “dr google”. It enables maintaining contact with other grey nomads and allows friendships to develop.
Many places we visited or spent time were suggestions from folk we met, or gleaned at Happy Hour gatherings, the sacrosanct ritual where two or more vans are camped, in caravan parks or free camping. Great Fun and camaraderie.
In gold prospecting locations there is to be found also, a tree of knowledge, the meeting place of tall tales and misinformation, as no prospector will share his secrets!
Travelling with no fixed plan or timetable found us in some magic places and gave us memorable experiences, flying to the Horizontal Waterfall and staying on Board a ship there overnight, was one such time, we happened on the opportunity from another traveler, as it was never advertised.
When we finally returned home it was with some reluctance, and apart from some health hiccups, around Easter we pack up and head out until October each year, enjoying life as a grey nomad.
We have done a few European holidays, but the pull of Australia away from cites and towns is part of our being, the quiet the bush and desert, the stars at night, and the smell of the gums, this is my land, and my good fortune to travel and experience its majesty at my leisure as a retiree.
Retirement is a time of choosing how and where we spend our days, and provides us with opportunities to spend time sharing our wealth of time with others, in many ways, giving each day a purpose, and us much happiness.