Gray Nomad remains stranded on WA trip until mid-2023 as cost of living soars – ABC News | CarTailz

Like thousands of older Australians, Graeme Kuchel has spent the last few years of his life traveling the country as part of his retirement.

But with the cost of living rising, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the 74-year-old to move from one place to another.

“With the cost of fuel, everything else has gone up, like your supermarket stuff and all your vehicle repairs,” Mr. Kuchel said.

“It’s tight, sometimes very tight.”

Mr. Kuchel is originally from Langhorne Creek, 60 kilometers southeast of Adelaide and has lived in Queensland for the past four years.

He traveled to Western Australia via the Northern Territory.

He said when the cost of filling his converted bus rose above $500 a tank, he was forced to stay in the state longer than expected.

“I came here in February and now I’m probably going to spend almost 12 months here in Western Australia because it’s just become too expensive to travel all the way back,” he said.

An old bus in a red dirt parking lot
Mr. Kuchel lives in a converted bus in which he has been traveling for 20 years. (ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Andrew Chounding)

fuel or medicine

Mr Kuchel worked as a farmer and truck driver for most of his life and now lives on a pension which he says has not kept pace with rising inflation.

The South Australian, who has osteoarthritis and a heart condition, said access to medical care and medicines has also become an issue – particularly in rural areas.

“I rely on the public system and while living in the bush these services are not freely available,” he said.

“Once you start looking at cardiologists and the different specialists, you might have to travel thousands of miles unless you’re coming into a regional area.”

the fuel price on a led sign in green
The price of diesel has caused Mr. Kuchel’s fuel bill to exceed $500 per tank of fuel.(ABC Goldfields-Esperance: Andrew Chounding)

Mr Kuchel has been able to stay on top of his treatment by holding a conference call with his doctor in Cairns and having scripts sent west, but the government support he is receiving for his treatment is about to end.

“I’ve only got about three months left of that particular government aide and then I have to pay the extra and that worries me because once you start paying extra, snowballs usually start falling,” he said.

Restricted Services

Rural Doctors Association of Australia chief executive Peta Rutherford said for those on a regular income, healthcare is often one of the first victims of rising costs, which often leads to poorer health outcomes.

“The reality is that if there are expenses, and even for a prescription, we certainly get many, many reports that they are procrastinating when things get tight,” she said.

“If something doesn’t go right, we could see her in the ER as opposed to a regular appointment with her GP.”

A woman wears glasses and a V-neck top.
The executive director of the Rural Doctor’s Association, Peta Rutherford, said health services in the rural towns were limited. (ABC News: Nicholas Haggerty)

Ms Rutherford said it was not uncommon for elderly people traveling through the country to fall ill, but people with known health conditions should take precautions.

She said rural doctors and pharmacists have done their best to accommodate travelers, but many rural communities have limited or no medical resources.

“Most of our small rural communities certainly don’t have access to consulting specialists, they don’t have access to things like MRI or CT machines,” she said.

“The local doctor and community nurse will try to adapt, but sometimes it’s just not possible.”

health considerations

Caravan Industry Association of WA chief executive Julian Barry said for people traveling long distances on a budget, preparation is key.

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