The 'about us' page tells visitors a little about our home, car and caravan and attempts to explain what 'Grey Nomads' are...
We are part time 'Grey Nomads' - (also commonly known as 'Snowbirds' in North America)
The term 'grey nomads' is an endearing one, it usually refers older people who in retirement spend a lot of their lives traveling the roads of Australia, similar situations exist in many other countries, for more on this check out the 'Overseas' page...they may have a motor home, tow a caravan (travel trailer) or camper or even just simply take a tent...regardless of how they travel they often have one thing in common, they have few plans, they donít really care where they go or how long they take to get there.
Oh, we are 'part time' nomads in that true nomads donít actually have a bricks and mortar home, just the one on wheels.
Our current caravan is our seventh! We have had an interest in caravans for some 35 years, in the 1970's I spent 5 1/2 years working for one of the countries largest caravan manufacturers at the time. We feel that caravans are a little like cars in that they need to be upgraded from time to time, our policy has been to trade up whilst the 'van still has value, it is this point that separates cars from caravans, a 'van in good appearance will fetch a good price, there is no odometer to worry about.
Our current caravan is a Jayco Starcraft Outback. It was built in November 2012. It is a tad under 17' in length, it is equipped with a shower and toilet, a solar panel and twin water tanks, it is designed for 'free camping' (Camping away from caravan parks).
Since new we have now towed the van over 7000 km and are pleased to say that we are pretty much happy with everything about it.
Our decision to purchase a caravan with an ability to 'free camp' is due to a sudden increase in the cost of caravan sites in Australia, particularly along the coastline.
In much the same way our decision to purchase an 'Outback' van is because of the added ability that this type of caravan has in negotiating 'not so good' roads when accessing some free and low cost campsites. Our van is best described as a 'dirt road' van rather than a 'off road van', it has increased ground clearance and a stronger chassis than that of a standard 'black top' van but is not built to true off roading level. Vans built to that standard are very expensive. Advances in chassis design allows our caravan to operate with a single axle despite its weight (2000+kg), A roof mounted air-conditioner keeps us cool and warm. A roof mounted 120 w solar panel feeds into a single 100 a/hr deep cycle battery. With this set-up we find that, providing we have access to water, we can spent about 4 days before we need to seek somewhere to catch up with the washing. The 'van is equipped with LED lighting throughout, the freezer is a low power requirement compressor type and of course the fridge (150 litre) runs on gas.
In October 2014 we purchased a 120 watt portable solar panel. The panels consist of two sections which can be folded together to allow packing, they come with a 5 metre cable and this allows them to me moved to locations to take advantage of the suns position. We advise of their success at a later date.
Update, June 2016...after a trip and several days of cloud the downside of reliance on the sun became painfully obvious...read of our 'fix' here.
We live in Logan City, 18 km south of Brisbane. Brisbane City is the state capital of Queensland, its Australia's third largest city with a population of some 2.3 million which makes it about half the size of Australia's largest city, Sydney, some 1000 km (600 m) to the south.
A lot of Logan City comprises of a low socio-economic area but in the past few years many better quality homes in the suburbs are lifting the status.
Woodridge is a neighboring suburb that has been fighting off a stigma for a number of years, it has one of the countries highest unemployment rates and has a very high multi-cultural population. Underwood is the northernmost suburb of Logan City, we have lived here for almost 30 years, when we first moved here most of the houses in our street were occupied by families, many of the kids in those families attended the same schools as our own, we would commonly have many neighbourhood children playing in our backyard after school.
Unfortunately, that situation has changed;
About 15 years ago the state government commenced plans to widen the nearby M1 motorway, (the M1 aka Pacific Highway this highway circumnavigates Australia 14500km (9000m) in length.)
The residents of one nearby street were told that the motorway would eventually come very close to their backyards and resumption offers were made, most of the residents in that street accepted. Governments change and so do plans, the motorway widening was forgotten by the incoming government.
The homes that were resumed were placed back on the rental market at quite low rents, this low cost spread to other streets in the neighbourhood and this sadly has resulted in a number of 'less than desirable' people moving in....many of the old timers sold up and home ownership pride has now all but gone, long grass, old unregistered cars and other rubbish is common today.
Click on the map to get a better idea of where we live.
I have also added a page of old photos of the area...take a look here.
And also some old/new comparison photos of the house here
Our Jayco 'Outback' Pop Top Caravan
Our Car..('utility vehicle' or ute is the name given to this type of vehicle in Australia.)
We have a 2012 Nissan Navara 4x4 Crewcab utility. It has a 2.5 litre Common Rail Turbo Charged Inter cooled diesel engine and with its 400 nm of torque is is quite capable of towing our 2 tonne caravan. Fuel consumption is somewhat disappointing however: without the caravan this vehicle achieves around 10 - 12 litres/100km, quite good but once the van is hooked on this figure jumps dramatically to around 17 litres/100km!.
Why this happens is quite easy to explain: firstly, adding two tonnes of square brick (caravan) hanging on the back is of course going to add to the amount of fuel required but what also increases this usage is its automatic transmission, it is a 5 speed tranny and 5th gear is over-drive, all is well when traveling along a flat highway, at 90 - 95 km/hr (our usual speed) the tacho is sitting on around 1700 RPM in OD, problem is that as soon as the slightest hill is encountered the transmission will drop back to 4th and the revs jump to 2500 or more!, and there goes economy.
In hindsight perhaps a manual transmission would have been a better choice. I also had issues with the suspension...you can see more of that in the slideshow.
Update note....the vehicle has now traveled over 20'000km and the fuel consumption seems to have improved, it was suggested to me that this would happen...a recent check returned 11.12L/100km in a mixture of city and country driving, with the caravan 15.2L/100km was gained on our western trip so while this improvement is welcome it does show that a diesel engine equipped with modern refinements such as turbo charged induction and a common rail will not necessarily be frugal on fuel.
Update...our ANZAC trip of 2015 recorded an average consumption of 14.76L/100km, this compares to 16.03L/100km averaged on our maiden trip over roughly the same route, the latest check on city driving resulted in 9.97L/100km, the vehicle has now traveled 30'000km.
Update..now at 42'000km everything is going good...lol
Update......at 50'000km...all is well.
Update....October 2018.....73'000km up now and not a cent spent on any repairs!....new tyres fitted at 67'000. brakes all checked at 72'0000 and no work required!....
Only issue I have is the 'Vehicle anti-skid' MIL (Malfunction Information Light) is illuminated on the dash yet no faults show up when an OBD (On Board Diagnostic) device is connected !..has been on for over 8000km and everything works ok. Nissan want $110 just to look at it....during a regular service in late 2018 I was advised that the Steering Angle should be replaced but there was guarantee that this would correct the problem!.
Further research found information on this issue from Nissan USA..to see what I found..click here
We often make new friends along the way, on a number of occasions we swap details and keep track of where our new friends might be...to meet up again months, or even years and many kilometers later is not uncommon. Often grey nomads have their own 'business' cards for swapping details...this is ours..
The Website of Paul and Pam Greig - Queensland Australia