The changing face of Aussie camping

Grey Nomads may be the most talked about group of travellers on our roads, but the reality is Australia’s recreational travel market is a lot younger and more diverse than people generally think.

The latest industry data shows people aged between 30 to 54 are now Australia’s most avid caravanners and campers. Their spending accounts for 50 per cent of the domestic market, while grey nomads are the second largest group making up a 25 per cent market share.

While they might spend less, the seniors definitely make their dollars go further and actually spend more nights away than any other age group.

Catching up fast in the travel stakes are young families and single people under the age of 30.

To better understand what’s driving more Australians towards recreational travel, we caught up with three of the key groups.

The Solo Traveller

Robyn Mikka, a not-so-grey-nomad travelling solo around Australia says she was first “bitten by the caravanning bug” back in 2003.

“I first bought a tandem Jayco caravan when my daughter finished school, and we travelled anti-clockwise around Australia,” she says.

“I was so in love with the experience that I decided not to sell the rig after the trip.”

Freedom, Robyn says, is the driving force behind her quest to travel solo.

“I love the fact I can go wherever and whenever I want. Each year when the winter chill fills the air, I just load up my rig and head north with the other migratory birds.”


The Young Couple

Asked why they’ve chosen to hit the road, Brisbane couple Brad Costigan and Gavin Fisher say it’s the connection to the bush that really appeals.

“We live in the middle of suburbia, so getting away from the city and just spending time in nature is a big reason why we love camping,” Brad says.

“Both of us work full time, so we mostly tend to go on day and weekend trips around South East Queensland, usually with just the swags or our camper trailer.”

Though there are no statistics collected on the trend, Brad and Gavin are also part of a growing band of gay and lesbian travellers purchasing RVs and taking to the roads.

“We may be the youngest in our camping group, but when you’re sitting around the campfire having a laugh with everyone, it doesn’t matter who or how old you are.”


The Grey Nomads

Cliff and Ingrid Pallister purchased their first caravan in 1969, around the time their first son was born, and have owned around half a dozen vans over the years.

Now their pride and joy is a 16 foot 1964 Sunliner, one of only a handful still on the road.

For Cliff and Ingrid, it’s the casual lifestyle of caravanning that appeals to them most.

“It’s a very social,” Ingrid says.

“We’ve got a couple of friends near us with vintage vans, and if one of us says they’re going to go on a trip, the other friends will usually say ‘well, we’re coming’”.

“You don’t have to have the most modern caravan and that’s what we love about it.”


Link: Read the full story in issue 16 of Time to Roam Australia.