Caravanning during the colder months
The comforts of modern RVs allow you to make the most of the cooler climes, year-round.
As we near the end of winter, I thought it timely to reflect on seasonal variances and their impact on RVers. Winter is a funny time of year in the caravan and motorhome world. Many travellers who normally live in the southern areas of Australia have, by now, packed up their pride and joy and headed north to warmer climes, with places like Broome, Port Hedland, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville marked on many touring maps.
Apart from the obvious reason of escaping the southern chill, it’s also an ideal time to explore the north for those who don’t cope with the steamy tropical months later in the year. While my work commitments mean I have never made the extended winter exodus north, I’m told it gets a bit crowded (relatively speaking) up there at this time of year!
For the rest of us, it’s a case of keeping the home fires burning or hitting the road to cooler destinations and there is certainly no shortage of those on offer. A major benefit for RV travellers is that modern RVs are equipped with insulated walls, double-glazed windows and air-conditioning, which not only makes them ideal for hot summer travel but winter travel as well.
The insulation and double glazing work just as well in cold or hot temperatures and the added bonus is that diesel and LP gas-fired space heaters have been on the market for some years now and are very effective. Many systems are ducted, heating the bathroom and bedroom as well as the living area. It all adds up to a lifestyle that can be quite self-contained, if desired.
Occasionally, I am asked about the relative merits of LP gas and diesel heaters. Having tried them both, I reckon the diesel-fired units have a slight edge, but an important consideration is the fuel supply. With a caravan, a small diesel tank has to be fitted so LP gas is a better option, but with diesel-powered motorhomes, it is simply a matter of tapping into the main tank, which makes the diesel heater a more practical proposition.
Digressing slightly, I think it’s a little more clear-cut with LP gas or diesel-fired cooktops. Although the latter is quite practical in a diesel motorhome, as it means carrying only one fuel source, the pre-cooking start-up time is much slower than for a gas cooktop.
Having a heater onboard means you can comfortably make the most of the myriad destinations that are quite pleasant during the day but very cold at night during the late autumn, winter and early spring period.
Some of my favourite destinations in winter are the snow-covered mountains in both New South Wales and Victoria, and not only for snow skiing. There are some magnificent snowy vistas, dotted with stately snow gums, well away from the main ski resorts and the hordes of skiers.
Of course, getting into some of these areas does require a little preparation, not only with the aforementioned space heaters. You also need to carry snow chains (there are plenty of hire places around) and ensure, for extended stays, that alpine diesel is used to fill the tanks. Batteries are more vulnerable in cold conditions, too, so it’s good to make sure that they and the charging circuits are all in top condition. When you’re planning your trip, also keep in mind that many caravan parks in sub-alpine towns are very busy during the winter ski season, so booking ahead is a good idea.
Either side of winter, nature produces some brilliant colours – deep reds and golds in autumn and stunning pinks and whites as we come into spring. It’s just a little ironic, I’m sure you’ll agree, that Canberra, which has more than its fair share of political hot air, can be a cold hole during mid-winter yet put on such magnificent spring and autumn displays!
There are certainly plenty of places, other than the northern end of the country, that are beautiful to visit at this time of year, particularly as we come into the days of early spring. And best of all, these days our caravans and motorhomes really are well-equipped for travel in any season!
The full test appears in Caravan World #554 August 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!