The inaugural grey nomad awards celebrate excellence

Councillor Graeme and Heather Baldock

Councillor Graeme and Heather Baldock, Chair Kimba Community Development Group Inc.

The inaugural Grey Nomad awards were recently held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Established to recognise regional excellence for travellers over the age of 55 years—through communities, tourism operators and events—the awards created quite a buzz.

There award categories, and winners were as follows:

  • Best of the Best: Parkes Elvis Festival, Parkes, NSW
  • Best Grey Nomad: Council Free-stay Campsite Kimba Recreation Reserve
  • Best Grey Nomad Commercial Campsite: Yorke Peninsula Council Bush-camping
  • Best Grey Nomad Community Campsite: Berri Riverside Holiday Park
  • Best Grey Nomad Festival or Event: Parkes Elvis Festival
  • Best Grey Nomad Small Caravan Park: Yorketown Caravan Park, South Australia
  • Best Grey Nomad Large Caravan Park: Queens Beach Tourist Village, Bowen, Qld
  • Best Grey Nomad Volunteer Program or Project: Kimba Community Development Group, Grey Nomads Volunteer Program, South Australia
  • Best Grey Nomad Attraction or Tour: Busselton Jetty, Western Australia

The Grey Nomad program promotes and develops Australian towns and regions ‘while supporting aging through soft adventure and social inclusion’.

The Kimba story

Kimba, in South Australia, won two awards and is well known among travellers for its innovative volunteer program.

Located 490 kilometres from Adelaide and 210 kilometres from Port Lincoln, Kimba has a population of around 1,000. It’s about half-way between Sydney and Perth.

Heather Baldock, Chairman of the Kimba Community Development Group Inc says: ‘The Kimba Community Development Group’s Grey Nomads Volunteer Program was developed in 2006 and is reliant on our own local volunteers as well as visiting volunteers for its success. The Council extended the free camping area in 2017 in anticipation of more visitors staying in Kimba after the completion of the Silo Art (see the creation of the silo art here). Now, the two sections of the free camping grounds are often full.  Both are fabulous initiatives for Kimba’.

Grey Nomad volunteers meet program volunteers over a cup of coffee and a chat to see how their skills and experience could be put to use around the town.

They work beside local volunteers. The museum has been updated, street furniture has been painted, old engines have been restored and Grey Nomads have assisted with data entry.  Activities vary. Kimba’s show jumping and dressage championships use Grey Nomads volunteers.

‘It depends upon what is happening around the town’, says Heather.

Some Grey Nomads have stayed for a few months, but often the stay is for  a few days or, maybe, a couple of weeks.

The Maddocks’ love of Kimba

Chris and Rod Maddocks love visiting Kimba. Chris volunteered in the history room at the museum. She found typing up the early settler diaries so interesting that she ‘didn’t want to leave’.  Rod helped out at the museum as well as helping the hospital with gardening.  ‘Life has been good to us, so this is a payback scheme for us’, says Chris.

A bonus for the volunteers is that they receive a week’s free camping, free electricity and coins for the showers at the council’s caravan park. The only requirement is that they must volunteer for two full days of work (this can be done in half days).

‘Kimba is a very friendly town, there’s little crime, little unemployment and there’s a lot of social support for older people’, says Heather.

She adds that there is a great sense of community in Kimba and ‘many people contribute in many ways as volunteers whether through sporting clubs, community organisations or helping out our neighbours in times of need’.

The Kimba Grey Nomad program is a wonderful example of community engagement, and of travelling with a purpose.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways To Retire and co-author of Where To Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio. For more, go to:

Category: Ageing, Attitude, Connecting

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