Drive to clear grey clouds
There’s hope for motorhome nomads despite fuel prices, writes NEIL McDONALD
HIGH fuel prices are affecting the seasonal migration north of Australia’s grey nomads. The multi-million-dollar retiree tourism industry is suffering as nomads are forced to park their motorhomes and campervans.
‘‘Anecdotal evidence suggests retirees are not travelling as much because of high fuel costs,’’ Winnebago Australia development manager Max Mayo says.
At any given time about 75,000 grey nomads are travelling around Australia, he says. They spend $600 each a week in the small towns and caravan parks they pass through.
‘‘That’s about $45 million they are spending in rural communities,’’ Mayo says.’’
However, high fuel prices have resulted in a 40 to 50 per cent drop in the numbers chasing the sun to northern Australia, he says.
To drive home the point that motorhomes can be frugal, Winnebago organised a fuel-economy run recently from the Gold Coast to Winton Raceway near Benalla. The event attracted Olympian Dawn Fraser, who drove in the convoy.
‘‘We want to remind Australians that travelling this way is still possible,’’ Mayo says.
Four motorhomes, including Fiat Ducato motorhomes, and two cars took part.
Unlike cars, motorhomes are not required by law to fit a fuel-economy sticker to their windscreens.
Fiat importer Ateco Automotive spokesman Edward Rowe says vehicles with modern diesel engines are almost as economical as large Aussie sedans.
‘‘Many grey nomads are really not aware of what type of fuel economy you can get. The latestgeneration diesels are very economical,’’ Rowe says.