Camping over summer can be a crazy adventure: the crowds, the noise and those premium holiday park fees! It’s difficult to get away from it all when everyone else has the same idea, so here are some great ideas to help you make the most of that summertime escape you’ve been dreaming about all year long.
Book ahead or escape inland
Over summer, finding beachfront solitude can be a tricky task. From Wilsons Prom to the Whitsundays, the East Coast’s favourite camps are booked up months in advance, and you’ll need to get up early to snag a camp on the Eyre Peninsula or Ningaloo’s Coral Coast.
Cross Bass Strait
With it’s blissful blue coves, long deserted beaches and remote myrtle forests, Tasmania comes alive over summer when skies brighten and temperatures rise. Our most scenic state also happens to offer free camping aplenty at some of the country’s best beachfront locations. This more than makes up for the steep ferry prices you’ll probably pay to cross Bass Strait over summer too.
Get expert advice
When it’s not just an overnight stop but a summer holiday destination that you are searching for, you want to know much more about a campground than whether it has toilets or not. Finding the perfect summer camp means accessing an expert’s opinion, so either you hit the online forums, phone a friend, or thumb through the lengthy reviews in On The Road’s Guide to Free Campsites.
Get the App
I’m not a huge fan of camping apps, mainly because since WikiCamps came online, some of my favourite secret campsites are not entirely secret anymore! Lots of travellers use WikiCamps, and while the crowd-sourced information available can be at times conflicting, for $7.99, it’s a pretty good digital resource, available for iOS and android platforms and able to be used offline.
Prepare for the unexpected
Weather catastrophes and bushfires are a regular occurrence in Australia over summer. Across the top, cyclones and wet season storms can strike any time, with the severe floods that follow stranding travellers on uninhabited stretches of highway, washing away roads and stalling the delivery of supplies.
Extra fridges, beach toys and Christmas presents: summer escapes are never lightweight, but you can cut some corners by planning ahead. For starters, don’t take more gear than you need to. If you are sticking to the grid in a centrally-located holiday or national park, plan to buy your food when you get there, and make use of the toilets and/or showers on site instead of hauling yours along.
Prep your vehicle
With so much shopping and packing going on, it’s easy to overlook any maintenance issues you might have with your vehicle and rig. Take the time to check everything over, top up fluids, and if a service is due, book it in well before your mechanic takes annual leave. Make sure you have ample spares on hand, especially if travelling remote, including a handy stash of essentials to get you out of trouble: connectors, bulbs, fuses, electrical and gaffer tape, nuts, bolts, screws, wire, plastic weld, gear and engine oils, and WD-40.
Use the sun
Summer’s all-too-hot weather is great for boosting your solar power, but you’ll need plenty of shade to survive the heat. An awning off your caravan, camper or tent is a great start, but if there’s room at your campsite, establishing a decent outdoor living area that you can eat and relax under is ideal. Use tree shade if available and a free-standing shelter or some heavy-duty tarps and poles to cool down your camp.
Do what makes you happy
When planning your summer escape, focus on the things you need to enjoy a great escape. If an endless power supply and an end-of-the-day hot shower make your holiday work, or if you value Wi-Fi, ice creams, or access to a Laundromat, it doesn’t make sense to escape too far off the beaten track.
Consider too how much time you want to spend on the road getting to your destination and be realistic about travel times that any children on board can tolerate too.