Chilling tale! Grey nomads recall trip’s ‘coldest night’

Published: August 16, 2021
Cold night camping for grey nomads

When they’re excitedly packing thongs, shorts, and sunscreen for their big trip, soon-to-be grey nomads commonly forget one surprising truth … it can get mighty cold out there!

As veterans of the road, Sue Stanley and partner Shane know it pays to be prepared for anything … but even they were caught out by the big chill which descended on much of New South Wales and Queensland a week or two ago.

They were travelling in the rig they reserve for their more remote adventures … a 2018 LandCruiser Troop Carrier with a James Baroud rooftop tent … when they arrived at Expedition National Park up on the Great Dividing Range.

Sue described the conditions as being ‘cold and challenging’, and says she was delighted when their campground neighbours invited them to share a campfire.

“We eagerly joined them rugged up with warm layers and puffer jackets along with beanies and gloves,” said Sue. “We had a lovely evening getting to know them and we all beat a hasty retreat to bed as the flames died down to glowing coals.”

Having a hiking background around the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and the ACT where they have sometimes camped in rock shelter overhangs, Sue and Shane were well equipped for the cold with all the right gear.

“In the morning though when I tried to get water from the taps on the jerry cans for the billy, the taps were frozen solid, likewise the tap on the Troopy’s water tank was also stubbornly frozen,” said Sue. “The Robinson Gorge campground in Expedition National Park has a tap midway down the hill from the tank beside the toilet block, but the black poly pipe was also frozen solid!”

The couple later learned that the temperature had been -5 degrees, the coldest ever July morning in that region!

“I think it was the coldest night we have spent in the bush although we came close at the end of May this year in the Deua National Park when we awoke to -4.2 degrees with the dish of washing-up water frozen solid,” said Sue. “I can’t say I enjoy camping in the cold, and always appreciate the warm rays of morning sun to thaw the frost and my numb fingers.”

Happily, Sue and Shane are now in warmer climes and – travel restrictions allowing – have got a genuine adventure planned along the Strzelecki Track, Walker’s Crossing Track, Birdsville Track and through the northern Simpson Desert via the Hay River Track to the Plenty Highway and into western Queensland.

Sue says the secret to surviving – and enjoying – any camping trip is to be as well prepared as possible … and that means for weather as well as for road conditions.

“You can’t always guarantee a cool inviting waterhole for a swim on a scorching hot day,” said Sue. “Or a cosy warm fire to provide warmth on a chilly night or brisk morning.”

  • What’s been the coldest night of your trips so far … and how did you cope? Comment below.
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Brett Prentice
11 months ago

I believe a lot of caravanners are installing diesel heaters in their vans. We are currently looking into options.

11 months ago
Reply to  Brett Prentice

It be the best money you will ever spend, cheap to run and very effective, we have only 1 outlet in our 23 foot motor home, within 5 min we are nice and cosy

John Mcgahey
11 months ago

Stopped at Boorowa about 10 yrs up next morning to go to the toilet,,slipped a over t on the frost…it was minus 6 !!!

Pat from the Top End.
11 months ago

I would never travel south of the 20th parallel without my diesel heater. Its a great addition for a comfortable nights sleep. Because anything below 20° is cold for me.

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