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See Australia and Die: Shifting Discourses About Gray Nomads

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Caravan (or RV) exploration of Australia has been a feature of the domestic travel industry for many decades and, for the most part, this practice has been driven by generations of retired Australians. Previously referred to as SADs (See Australia and Die), these retirees are now (commonly) known as gray nomads. Largely ignored over the years as a group worthy of serious academic research, gray nomads have recently become a topic of social comment and celebration within Australia. This article discusses changing discourses about gray nomads and how these reflect a change in the discursive context in which aging—in general—is discussed. Gray nomads are now considered paragons of a "positive aging" lifestyle, traveling Australia's outback and coastlines in, what is now considered, an age-defying zest for adventure and challenge. This "positive aging" construction is often used in the promotion of caravan and mobile home sales, and senior drive-tourism. This article argues that the championing and heroization of gray nomads may, on the one hand, help reinforce messages and meanings that resist negative notions of aging. On the other hand—given that these images are one of only a handful of widely promulgated "positive aging" narratives—they may also construct a generally monocultural and well-to-do image of what is required to age in an exciting way. Given that these new messages present a narrow set of images, arguably they do not represent the diversity, capacities, or interests of all seniors—or alternative models of aging successfully.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Tourism, Culture & Communication is international in its scope and will place no restrictions upon the range of cultural identities covered, other than the need to relate to tourism and hospitality. The Journal seeks to provide interdisciplinary perspectives in areas of interest that may branch away from traditionally recognized national and indigenous cultures, for example, cultural attitudes toward the management of tourists with disabilities, gender aspects of tourism, sport tourism, or age-specific tourism.

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