Gone are the days when the majority of grey nomads spent their days reading books and knitting scarves.
These days many a mature-age traveller can be found exploring the countryside in between riding to the rescue of regional Australia. Physically agile and mentally alert, these seasoned seasonal travellers are increasingly turning their attentions to helping make the rural economy more vibrant.
The Warnambool Standard reported in June that grey nomads have become increasingly important to filling a skilled labour shortage in the south west Victorian region, while advertisements that call for mature workers to help with this year’s north Queensland sugarcane harvest have appeared.
AgriLabour Australia, a recruitment agency in the rural sector, says “Our grey nomads have proven popular with agriculture employers because… any project can benefit from their experience, maturity, leadership and flexibility.”
While it is true that many mature-age travellers are only looking for short-term seasonal roles that fit with their travel schedules, they are repeat visitors. Each year the same retired workers return as many follow the harvest trail.
Of course, some grey nomads have no interest in paid work, but are still keen to contribute to the communities into which they travel. These ‘travellers with purpose’ are often found on BlazeAid sites, volunteering as camp hosts in national parks and stations, and as National Trust caretakers.
Image by Mark Stebnicki