I live in North Queensland so I’m used to seeing the seasonal fluctuations of RV travellers chasing the winter sun. The “invasion” begins about mid-May, reaches a crescendo around June/July and, by September, they’re all gone, scuttling south, away from the rising heat and humidity.
And who can blame them? Hell, I live here and I know which time of the year I enjoy most. But over the last few years, I’ve noticed an increasing number of vans and motorhomes still on the roads in the run up to Christmas — and even throughout the dreaded wet season (which, in fact, usually isn’t that bad).
You might think these travellers are hardy, adventurous folk, stoically surviving the heat, rain and blood-sucking insects of the wild north but, these days, life on the open road in a tropical summer doesn’t have to be that tough.
The benefits of touring the north in the “off season” have been discussed in earlier blogs (including near-deserted caravan parks and free camping areas), so this time let’s kick around the practicalities of comfortable touring in tropical Australia during the warmer months.
By the way, looking at the national weather report each night, I reckon these tips could also be applied in plenty of southern regions. Tropical Australia isn’t the only place you will raise a sweat in summer.
Tip 1: Air-condition your RV. It’s not cheap, but an air-conditioned RV provides a haven from the worst of the heat. Most importantly, you’ll get a decent night’s sleep and you can escape the worst of the midday heat. Running an A/C may require a stay on a powered caravan park site rather than a free bush camp, but it can be money well spent when the weather is a real scorcher. You also have the luxury of a cool, crocodile-free pool if you get sick of the air-conditioning.
Tip 2: Fit a rollout awning. The ease and simplicity of rolling out instant shade means you won’t be tempted to swelter on a one-night stay because erecting the annex roof is too much hassle. As well as providing a cool shaded area, an awning also shades one side of the RV (thus keeping it cooler) and provides shelter from tropical downpours.
Tip 3: If you don’t have a cement slab, a small ground cover and a good mat outside and an old towel inside the door will keep your RV dry and free of muddy footprints.
Tip 4: Keep a couple of large, good quality umbrellas in the awning for those times when you simply have to brave the elements. An umbrella is quicker, easier, cooler and more effective than struggling into, and out of, a rain jacket every time you need to go to the amenities.
Tip 5: Don’t forget the mosquito coils. If you’re going to enjoy life in the great outdoors you will need them, preferably burning in those enclosed safety containers. And those lanterns with a candle and mossie zapper tablet are also very effective and add a nice ambiance to an evening barbecue.
Tip 6: A good fridge is a must. With a higher ambient temperature and an increased need for cold drinks and food, the load on the fridge will be much higher in summer. If your fridge is struggling, have it serviced before leaving home. Extra refrigeration in the form of a portable fridge/freezer could be a wise investment.
Tip 7: If you can afford one, choose an RV with an ensuite. If rain sets in, an onboard ensuite means you don’t have to leave your cool, dry cocoon, no matter what. Ensuite sites in caravan parks are the next best thing.
YOUR SAY: Do you have any tips to share on beating the heat, rain, or dreaded insect pests? Maybe you’ve headed north when everyone else was heading south? Or maybe you’re a tropical local who tours the north at any time of the year and wonders what all the fuss is about?
Share your tips for summer touring and help others enjoy the spectacle of northern Australia during the “green” season.