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Habitat Habits

Grey Nomads are now a demographic group of people to be studied, just like teenagers and grandparents etc. The Australian Population Association, through the J.C. Caldwell Student Research Grants Scheme, is sponsoring Shane Cridland of James Cook University, to carry out a comprehensive study of ‘Winter Movement of Grey Nomads’. For those not familiar with the term, grey nomads refers to aged 50 plus retirees wandering around the outback in 4WD’s, buses, caravans etc. The Cridland study will be of interest to municipalities and commercial interests who have to provide ‘watering holes’ for them and the growing revenue to regional areas from their visit (estimated currently at $2 billion annually). FinDem estimates the number of people who will be retired and between age 50 and 70 will increase from 2.1 million now, to 3.0 million in 10 years time.

The increasing flow of grey nomads is a concern to people interested in preserving the habitat of many unique species of fauna and flora. There are some insights in a report by Australian Museum naturalist Martyn Robinson, on his recent trip along the Oodnadatta track. ( see http://www.users.bigpond.com/johnstackhouse/martyn.html). The report describes some of the unique life forms and the risks from interaction with foreign bodies (e.g. unwashed grey nomads swimming in mound spring pools). Back in the city gym we all know you must shower first before the pool, but the Dalhousie hydrobiid snails have trouble putting up signs saying ‘shower first’. Sounds like special ecology licences might soon be required for city slickers driving the outback.

Posted Saturday, 13 August 2005

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