Backpacking and campervanning in Australia’s winter is a very different experience to backpacking there in the summer months, and many people embark on a winter trip woefully unprepared for the wide range of weather conditions – not to mention changes in temperature – that they encounter along the way. Many customers believe that Australia is a country where there is no rain or temperatures under 20°C. This is a common misbelief and they will notice soon how cold it really gets during the winter months!
We’ve compiled a list of what to pack for winter in Australia if you’re planning a backpacking trip during the winter months! We’ve also come up with more information on the climate here in Oz for all those who want to know more about the season they will be travelling in.
Because Australia is such a large country, the weather varies significantly in different parts of the continent. Living in Australia can involve everything from sunbathing on the beach in scorching summers to knocking snow off your boots after a day of skiing.
However, it is possible when visiting Australia in the winter to escape the feeling of winter altogether. Places in the north area of the country, like in tropical North Queensland or in Northern Territory near Darwin are warm year round. This is actually a pleasant time to visit these places given the humidity level is much lower than in the summer.
Now, we have come up with 5 very obvious but winter backpacking essentials you should bring with you when travelling in Australia during winter.
We know, it sounds obvious. After all, you’re going backpacking, so it’s unlikely you’ll forget to take an actual backpack, but there are backpacks and then there are backpacks. Winter backpacking means taking more equipment and thicker, chunkier clothes than you would in summer, which means you’ll need a considerably bigger pack. You should be looking for a weather-resistant pack with a minimum capacity of 70-80 litres.
Again, this may seem like a given, but if you’re campervanning during your trip it’s vital you choose the right sleeping bag. Planning ahead, you should have some idea of what the night time temperatures are likely to be, so you should consider taking a sleeping bag that’s rated roughly 15-20°C (or around 10°F) lower than the expected temperature. You can also get silk sleeping bag liners which help retain the heat in your sleeping bag even more. It’s much better to be a little too warm in these situations than too cold, and besides, you can always open the sleeping bag to cool down!
Venturing into the great outdoors during the winter months doesn’t just mean keeping warm. Shorter days and longer nights mean you’ll need to find your way around without tripping over or stepping into anything unpleasant! A good lamp or flashlight is an invaluable piece of kit wherever you are (as we’ve discovered during more than one hostel blackout!), and never more so than when you’re backpacking. If you’re outdoors in winter, it’s worth remembering that lithium batteries lose their life much slower than other types, but remember to check that your lamp or torch is compatible before buying them. To prevent batteries losing life in lower temperatures store them in a warm place, such as your sleeping bag.
The type of jacket you buy will depend on the weather conditions where you’re going, but a versatile water and windproof jacket is essential for winter backpacking. For this you don’t want something too lightweight (the kind of jacket you might wear to ward off the rain in summer), but neither do you want the kind of cumbersome jacket sported by a mountaineer! Take a general, all-purpose jacket that’s both waterproof and breathable.
Unless you intend to hike across the Snowy Mountains you won’t need to go overboard with your choice in footwear. Average winter temperatures in even the cooler regions rarely dip below 5°C, but you should still select a pair of hard wearing, waterproof boots. Any decent pair of walking boots should be comfortable and insulated enough to keep your feet warm and protected against the elements.
Winter in Australia can be a great backpacking adventure and we hope this list makes sure you stay warm, dry and comfortable! For all rental and sales enquiries head over to www.travellers-autobarn.com.au
Whether you’re a first-time campervan traveller or a seasoned van lifer, check out our other handy Campervan Travel Tips before you start your Aussie adventure.
David Llewellyn is an outdoor activities enthusiast, and writes for www.appoutdoors.com.