Working Grey Nomads: Earning an Income on the Road

Poppy And Greg Searle infront of CDCs Alice Springs Depot

Working holidays aren’t just for young backpackers anymore. They’re increasingly being sought out by older people who want to earn money while they travel.

Poppy Searle’s life as a working grey nomad happened by accident.

Like many others, the pandemic sent shockwaves through her life. She and her husband Greg, 60, found themselves in Western Australia after Poppy’s stint working at the art centre in Katherine, smack bang in the state’s tough lockdown. 

“Covid was a game changer for us – but in a good way. We couldn’t get to our home in the Illawarra, so we ended up in a caravan for three months,” Poppy, 57, said. 

It was then the couple decided to make the most of the situation – they were not ready for retirement yet, so why not work while they travelled? 

Poppy Searles selfie infront of CDC bus

When the lockdown lifted, they headed into Alice Springs and joined the Northern Territory arm of ComfortDelGro Australia (CDC), one of the country’s leading passenger transport operators. The plan was to stay just a few months, like they had in WA, but three soon turned into six as not long after the couple joined the team, the depot picked up new school bus contracts. 

“Greg had already worked for Buslink [CDC Northern Territory’s previous trading name] so we thought we’d both give it a go. Greg’s a driver and he also worked in the yard. I was doing admin, but I’ve got a background in training, so I helped with that too and had my own school run.”

Driving buses wasn’t daunting for Poppy as she’d already had experience with big vehicles after working as a driving testing officer in the army. 

“I was incredibly lucky. I had the best school run through the Standley Chasm in the West MacDonnell Ranges. I still can’t believe someone paid me to drive through that beautiful country. I loved that run. The kids were fantastic,” she said.