As someone who hates the cold, I was worried about setting off in the middle of winter to live in my van…. I mean, I wear a beanie and ugg boots IN QUEENSLAND, so what folly and madness to be heading to South Australia for the winter!
I had visions of a blue-faced me shivering under glistening icicles hanging from the roof of my van.
But 6 weeks into my epic road trip I’ve come to the conclusion that winter is the BEST time to be road tripping in Oz… let me tell you why….
For starters, there’s hardly anyone around (I figure that people who actually like the cold are probably at ski resorts). The only place I’ve had to jostle with tourists is the 12 Apostles, which is the most popular tourist destination in Australia after Uluru (I think I read that somewhere, don’t quote me).
Less people travelling means less traffic on the road. Finding a parking space is easy. And I don’t have to wait my turn to get ‘the shot’ at all the popular scenic spots. Also, most campsites will let you have a campfires in winter, while in summer there’s a total fire ban.
One of the best reasons to travel during winter in Australia is to avoid mosquitos and flies, both can seriously hamper your enjoyment of a place. I’ve not been bothered by either on this trip.
An unexpected bonus has been the ‘winter deals’ for accommodation. On the Great Ocean Road I stayed at a campground offering ‘stay one night, get one free’. In Margaret River I stayed at a lovely resort where the second night was half price.
I obviously kitted out my van with winter in mind. Flannelette sheets and pillowcases have been an absolute winner and the winter-weight doonah has done a fine job of keeping me warm at night. It’s amazing what a difference it makes having curtains too, once they’re drawn it gets instantly cosy.
As soon as the sun disappears at the end of the day, the temperature plummets. The best option at this point is to build a fire to stay warm (a pub with a fireplace is also good). But if that’s not possible I just crawl into bed with my clothes on. If I can bear it, I keep a window down an inch, for some fresh air in the van, but sometimes it’s just too chilly.
My emergency hot water bottle stash has only been used once (what a treat) and a couple of times I’ve started the car to blast the heaters for a few minutes. If I’m feeling really cold, I also spread my sleeping bag out to add another layer on top of me. Snug as a bug in a rug.
Condensation builds up overnight, so the windows always need demisting in the morning. One morning my windscreen was completely iced over.
Socks and a beanie have been essential kit during my trip, along with my gumboots and knee-length duck down jacket. The mornings are hardest, lying there wishing my bladder was ten times bigger so I don’t have to go out in the cold. Once I’m up though, I get busy boiling the kettle and enjoying the sunrise, always a magical time of day.
Overall the weather has been great, with winter sun and blue skies. I think the lowest temperature has been around 5 degrees overnight and a bit of rain hasn’t stopped me from doing anything. A big weather front has just passed through Perth, luckily I was staying at my uncles place and not in the van (it did get me wondering though, what happens if my van gets hit by lightning?).
I hope this post makes you consider road tripping in winter…. let me know if you have any other tips for staying warm in your van!
I’m Shannon, and this is my blog Eat Well Travel Often. If you enjoyed this post and want to follow my travel and foodie adventures sign up for my newsletter. I post heaps of photos on Instagram, and you’re welcome to pop into my Facebook lounge for a chat about all things travel and food.