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camping in Australia at Easter / April

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  • camping at Easter requires ADVANCED PLANNING as ALL main camp areas WILL BE FULL if you think you can just turn up on Good Friday!
    • booked camp sites usually need 6 months advance bookings at least
    • free first-in camp sites tend to be practically full by the Thursday afternoon
      • grandparents or fathers tend to arrive on the Wed pm to save sites for their extended families
      • you may still get sites on Good Friday if either:
        • you get there before 9am and it is a big site
        • the site is more than 3-4hrs from main cities and there are lots of sites and options
        • the site does not have any attractions for families - no mobile coverage, no toilets, no swimming/boating/play options, not accessible by 2WD
  • IF YOU DO GO - be prepared for it being over-crowded, and dusty if gravel roads adjacent while shops/cafes will also be full - if they are open


  • camping at Easter in most popular campgrounds parts of Australia will generally require many months of advanced booking to ensure a site
  • by definition, it will be a full moon or close to being full
    • Easter falls on the first Sunday following the Paschal Moon - the first full moon that that falls on or after March 21.
  • in southern states which are dominated by mild or cool temperate climates:
    • sun sets around 6pm if daylight savings has ended (usually 1st Sunday in April), making for longer nights which are becoming cool to cold (colder inland or at altitude where frosts are possible and this may produce early fall foliage in these areas)
    • the reward is generally lovely mild hiking, camping and beach weather with maximum temperatures generally in the low 20s degC, less mosquitoes, and less to no march flies at beaches
    • BUT there is always the risk of heavy rains or strong winds especially in La Nina summers
  • in the northern states, the cyclone season is coming to an end and days are more bearable with less rainfall than in summer while the nights are mild

Mean climate in April (eg. for Easter)

locale Max Temp Min Temp RainDays CloudDays rainfall near beach 3pm RH 3pm wind kph
Darwin 33degC 24degC 7 12 102mm yes, crocs 52% 17
Alice Springs 28degC 13degC 2 5 16mm no 26% 14
Broome 34degC 23degC 2 6 25mm yes 45% 15
Port Douglas 28degC 22degC 11 200mm yes, crocs 72%
Cairns 29degC 22degC 15 14 191mm yes, crocs 65% 19
Townsville 30degC 21degC 5 10 64mm yes, crocs 60% 21
Hervey Bay 27degC 18degC 10 66mm yes 62% 20
Sunshine coast 26degC 17degC 11 149mm yes 68% 21
northern NSW beaches 25degC 17degC 13 10 189mm yes 73% 22
Wollongong coast 23degC 14degC 8 10 129mm yes 63% 11
Merimbula 21degC 11degC 5 8 83mm yes 65% 16
Mallacoota Vic 20deg C 12degC 8 90mm yes 67% 16
Lakes Entrance 20deg C 11degC 7 11 63mm yes 68% 16
Sale 20deg C 9degC 6 13 48mm yes 56% 18
Wilsons prom lighthouse 17degC 13degC 11 19 84mm yes 74% 31
Wonthaggi 20degC 10degC 10 17 79mm yes 66% 13
Echuca 22degC 9degC 4 9 32mm no 44% 11
Mildura 24degC 10degC 3 8 20mm no 40% 15
Flinders Ranges SA 26degC 11degC 3 7 20mm no 36% 10
Warrnambool 19degC 10degC 8 16 60mm yes 68% 14
Apollo Bay 18degC 12degC 10 82mm yes

tips for comfort on cool to cold nights in mild and cool temperate climates

  • sleeping comfort levels drop quickly as temperatures fall below 12degC when camping so be prepared - this can be particularly dangerous for asthmatics or those with poor heart function
  • wood fires may result in unbearable thick smoke/fog inundating the camp ground on nights with inadequate wind to blow it away - plan ahead and avoid having smokey fires in valleys on such nights
  • CHECK weather conditions before traveling - a forecast very cold Antarctic blast may even bring snow to 600m altitudes and will make nights much colder elsewhere, particularly when you factor in the wind chill
  • in the southern states, nights will be long and cold with the sun setting around 6pm - so get your fire wood ready early and your fire lit before it is dark and consider bringing a firestarter with a long burn time since damp wood doesn’t light easily - don't forget to have some dry wood for the early morning fire for your coffee!
  • the four things worse than waking up cold while camping - not waking up at all, waking up with your tent on fire, waking up to find your tent is now in a river, and waking up cold and wet
    • don't have fires near your tent and make sure they are put out before you go to sleep
    • don't pitch a tent on river beds - distant storms can cause water levels to rise suddenly without warning
    • avoid carbon monoxide poisoning - don't have gas or wood burners inside the tent (unless they are properly vented and you have a CO alarm)
  • camping site selection
    • choose a sunnier site
      • nights can be frosty so having the morning sun warm you up in the morning can be very welcome while some extra late afternoon sun helps to warm the tent a little or at least make you more psychologically warmer
    • avoid bottoms of valleys
      • cold mountain air can fall down into valleys plus you end up with much longer nights due to sun falling behind the mountains in late afternoon and taking a long time to come up in the morning, and you are likely to be closer to a river and inundated in fog
    • avoid being close to water bodies as this will increase dew, fog and frost
      • also ensure you are well above any flood line for a water body in case a distant storm unexpectedly sends flood waters down the river or creek.
    • check out the local terrain - some areas have warmer nights
      • a great example is Wilsons Prom - although being the most southern part of Australia, nights tend not to get as cold compared to even 50-100km away at Wonthaggi or other parts of Gippsland, but the days are also cooler, windier and wetter
    • if you are going to have a wood fire
      • avoid smoke coming into your tent by choosing to have your tent pitched with the wind coming from the side so it blows the smoke away from the tent ie ensure the wind will be a cross-wind this can also help with creating a cross-ventilation for your tent to reduce condensation and dew does not form on the tent facing the wind so you can have a drier vestibule door on that side
      • don't have the wind coming from behind the tent as it will create turbulence and blow smoke back into your tent
      • obviously don't have the wind blowing across the fire and smoke directly into your tent
      • don't have it in a valley on nights without a wind - the camp ground will be stuck in unbearable thick smoke and fog all night!
    • in windy environments, choose a site sheltered from the wind with tent optimised for wind protection
    • on nights with almost no wind, fog and dew are likely so choose a site to optimise a little cross-ventilation breeze
  • optimise your sleeping arrangements
    • a full nylon dual wall tent will keep you warmer than a full mesh inner tent
      • the smaller the tent, the easier it is to keep the air inside warm but you do need to manage condensation
        • swags and 2P dual wall tents are popular partly for this reason
      • managing cold foggy nights is more difficult as condensation is a much higher risk - here a dual wall tent with a ceiling vent will help
    • carefully manage your tent's ventilation to minimise condensation whilst also minimising wind chill
      • having ventilation primarily entering and exiting the inner tent at a high point will help achieve this
    • ensure you have adequate thermal insulation from the ground
      • use thermal insulated sleeping pads
      • NOTE that a large blow up mattress may not be thermally efficient
      • consider placing rubber mats under the tent if you are car camping
    • ensure your sleeping bag is rated for well below the expected overnight minimums and you wear your thermal layers and use a sleeping bag liner
      • avoid cotton clothing as this absorbs moisture and loses insuation when you perspire
        • choose wool or synthetics instead
      • avoid using a heavy blanket on top of a down sleeping bag as it will flatten the down and make it ineffective
    • ensure you have thermal protection for your head/neck (eg. beanie or similar) as well as hands and feet
      • try to have a clean pair of socks to sleep in, salt and grime bind moisture and this is even more problematic on those cold foggy nights
  • consider extra heating such as:
    • chemical “pocket warmers”
    • hot water bottles (even your well sealed non-insulated drinking bottle wrapped in a shirt may suffice)
    • USB heating mats powered by a power bank or by your auxiliary car battery
    • for car campers with plenty of auxiliary battery, even an electric blanket can be used
    • those in a caravan have other alternatives such as diesel powered van heaters
    • DO NOT use other types of heaters inside your tent unless you have addressed:
      • fire risk - tents burn extremely fast!
      • carbon monoxide poisoning risk - the silent killer!
        • 2 men were found dead in a tent in a caravan park in Victoria in June 2021 presumed from CO poisoning
    • a wood fire (or a gas heater if wood fires are banned) outside your tent helps you keep warm and dry before going to bed (avoid perspiring though!)
  • make sure you and your sleeping gear do not get wet!
    • avoid storing any wet clothing in your sleeping area
    • consider having a towel to mop up any condensation or rain spray
  • avoid going to bed cold or wet
    • this will make you very uncomfortable all night
    • DON'T GET TOO HOT and PERSPIRE as this will wet your clothes and make you cold and uncomfortable!
      • consider this when sitting in front of a fire or exercising, or having too much warmth in bed
    • warm up with hot drink (perhaps a hot milk drink as this will add some overnight calories to burn and has been shown to improve sleep), sitting in front of a fire, etc
    • always change into dry clothing before bed
  • minimise having to get up during the night
    • go to toilet just before going to bed and don't drink too much late at night
    • if you do wake up wit a full bladder just go and have a pee - don't try holding it til morning it will just make you uncomfortable - but don't get wet and cold in the process - this is where easy slip on shoes help!
    • check your tent before going to bed - ensure fly is pegged well, guy ropes taught, etc
  • share your heat with your sleeping partner
    • consider using your sleeping bags as a quilt which is then strapped around your sleeping mats
    • but perhaps avoid getting too energetic and sweaty with your partner - reserve this for the morning perhaps unless you are cold and need to warm up a bit!
  • the ideal camp site in the southern states in April-Sept would be an elevated site away from a creek or river which is exposed to the late afternoon and early morning sun (ie. NE and NW) with protection from the prevailing cold winds (these are usually westerlies to southerlies) and with a fire placed so that the axis of tent to fire is perpendicular to the wind direction
australia/camping_easter.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/02 13:13 by gary1

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