The first grey nomad?


Tucked in a corner of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra is a kooky 1930’s caravan which is the best inspiration to any of us travelling Australia in a caravan. This circus like contraption was created by Harold Wright during the depression years as the base for his tool sharpening business. He set off with his wife and child in search of work all along the east coast of Australia adding to his the design as he travelled so he could attract attention and make more money as he travelled. The van was sometimes pulled by horses in times when diesel was too expensive or inaccessible and eventually was converted to be towed by the tractor seen in the photographs.

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A video in the museum quotes Wright as believing the ‘modern’ era of the 1930’s was not best suited to his choice of a nomadic life.Little did he know he was just a few decades before his time and one of the first examples of the grey nomad travellers who now swarm Australia’s caravan parks in pristine white vans.

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After his death his wife gave the caravan to a scrap dealer. It was saved from destruction by a gentleman who recognised the vehicle from his childhood when it visited his town once a year. It was then restored by the museum.

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My photos of this machine are mediocre. Visit the museum’s website to read the whole story on this fantastic piece of Australian memorabilia or better still get yourself to Canberra and visit all the other quirky Australian history in the National Museum of Australia.

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