Drive to clear grey clouds

There’s hope for mo­torhome no­mads de­spite fuel prices, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

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.

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