Grey Nomads not put off by patchy tourist services

Tourists driven in circles by poor services

Electronic information kiosks to be scrapped

BARRY and June McCormack have covered plenty of ground in their Winnebago Leisure Seeker over the past couple of winters.

They’re more inclined to pull up somewhere and free camp than socialise with other grey nomads in the tourist parks, although Dash the floppy-eared beagle has a fair bit to do with that.

They’re on their way back home to Mildura.

‘‘Freezing bloody cold down there this time of year which is why we go up to Mackay to see the grandkids,’’ Barry says as he tucks a perfectly coiled power lead back into its rightful place.

‘‘It’s about the fourth time we’ve stopped in here in Newcastle. We bring the dog with us but a lot of the parks don’t like dogs, so we just pull up where we want and do whatever we feel like doing. And we can let Dash run around on the beach just here [Horseshoe beach].

‘‘The queen in there [that’s June] loves Newcastle. To be honest, we didn’t even know the place had a tourist information centre. We find a lot of places are like that – the signs are really bad and things aren’t where they’re supposed to be, but we sort of know where we’re going before we get there so it doesn’t worry us too much.

‘‘Actually, nothing really worries us too much.’’

Across the harbour at Stockton, Maree and Steve Trigg’s caravan is making a perfect windbreak and they’re kicking back in the sun with a book and newspaper. They’re from Lakehaven on the Central Coast.

‘‘I know it’s just down the road but we like to get away for a week or so when we can and not have to go too far,’’ Maree said. ‘‘If you’re going to take our photo I better get out of my slippers and comb my hair!’’

Like most of the travellers who venture into Newcastle, they prefer to catch the ferry across to Newcastle and wander around.

‘‘It’s a great walk out along the breakwall,’’ Maree said. ‘‘But we don’t usually go right into the city or the touristy places because we prefer just to relax and do the quiet things.’’

But then there are these on the online ‘‘caravaners forum’’.

A visitor called Stevebook posted: ‘‘Beware of violent hoons around the Newcastle foreshore. The worst information centre in Australia is Newcastle, no parking, no telephone number. Newcastle do you really want cashed up baby boomers spending money in your town, or do we move on to more friendly, safe towns?’’