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THE SENIOR TRAVELLER October, 2010 13
GREY nomads travelling
through central west
Queensland in motorhomes and
caravans have become a wel-
come and powerful volunteer
workforce in small rural commu-
Barcaldine Regional Council's
Grey Nomad Volunteer Program
has tapped into the pool of trav-
elling retirees who have a range
of skills not generally available
within local communities.
Its townships of Alpha,
Aramac, Barcaldine, Jericho and
Muttaburra have a population of
only 3500 people. In contrast,
400,000 tourists visit outback
Queensland during winter each
Most visit the Barcaldine
region, drawn by its attractions
and warmer climate.
Now they have an added rea-
son to stay and become part of
the community -- they're needed.
Under the program, funded
through the Queensland
Government's Blueprint for the
Bush initiative, volunteers nomi-
nate the skills they would like to
share with communities. Their
skills are then matched with the
skills required to complete a
community group project regis-
tered with the program.
This year grey nomads have
participated in 23 volunteer proj-
ects, from painting jump rails
for the local pony club and help-
ing out in school canteens, to
repairing furniture and facilities
for hospitals, schools and
Program co-ordinator Doug
Stewart said the travellers had
much to contribute, including
manual labour, clerical work and
helping at community events.
A retired judge passing
through asked if he could help
and was invited to give a talk on
law and order at the school.
Others went along to a school
sports day and relieved parents
of their assigned tasks so they
could simply enjoy watching
their children take part.
"The grey nomads are
touched by the appreciation they
receive from the community for
their efforts," Mr Stewart said.
"The kids will come up and
say, 'Thanks very much for help-
ing so Mum and Dad can come
and watch me run'."
Mr Stewart said nearly every
person who volunteered last
year returned this year to volun-
"They're now well-known in
the community," he said.
The grey nomads either stay
in caravan parks or take advan-
tage of free camping sites with
Local businesses support the
program by providing a discount
voucher to each person every
day they volunteer. The vouchers
can be used to get a discount at
the butcher, baker or petrol sta-
Mr Stewart has produced a
handbook to provide practical
advice for other communities
interested in establishing their
own grey nomad volunteer
Details from Doug Stewart,
willing to lend a helping
hand for Queensland tourism
can log onto a new website.
According to Queensland
Tourism Minister Peter
Lawlor, the Sunshine State's
tourism industry relies heavily
on volunteers to support its
events, festivals, visitor centres
and tourism organisations.
"This web portal provides a
central point for new and expe-
rienced volunteers to find out
about upcoming opportunities
and also highlights opportuni-
ties for people who want to
combine their holiday experi-
ence with volunteering," he
"Currently volunteers are
needed for such events as the
Bridge to Brisbane, and
Organisations seeking vol-
unteers can register and pro-
mote their opportunities and
events on the site, which is
hosted by Volunteering
rails at the pony
BLOOMIN' GREAT --
Festivals like the Toowoomba
Carnival of Flowers rely on
helpers to run smoothly.
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