Central Aust in August -- Kids and the cold nights

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:00
ThreadID: 69695 Views:3818 Replies:10 FollowUps:1
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We have 2 boys aged 5 and 3 staying in our camper trailer under canvas planning a 'big' trip over 4 weeks in August. Sydney - Broken hill - Rawnsley Park - Farina - William Creek - Coober Pedy - Oodnadatta - Border rest area - Yulara - Boggyhole - Alice Springs - Chambers Pillar - Sydney ? not sure which way back.
I am loooking for advice about how cold it will be. We live on the coast ans want to know -- Does the cold in the centre make the camping unbearable for young kids? Also is the trip to Chambers pillar okay for single vehicle or only go with a buddy? I believe the rest of the trip is rated EASY in relation to 4wding.



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Reply By: Member - Troopy's Crew - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:41

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:41
Hi aeiou,

Yes it can get cold in the centre. We have experienced hard frosts down to -4 or -5 degrees near Alice Springs. But its dry cold, and as soon as the sun is up the temperature goes up. The kids should be fine, perhaps give them a tracksuit to sleep in and a good doona or sleeping bag, even a hot water bottle. they will probably notice the cold less than you do!
J and V
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:54

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:54
Chambers Pillar is also "easy", but can be very corrugated due to high traffic loads. Reduce tyre pressures (including the camper) and slow down.
Consider continuing south via Finke, Dalhousie Springs, Oodnadatta.

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:58

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 20:58
Hi Dave
Be expecting 0 or below if the conditions are right. As long as you are prepared for the cold, it is not an issue. When our boys were young, camping was a way of life for them and they enjoyed the camp fires the most.Warm coats, beanies and gloves as well as a good quality cold rated sleeping bag. Have a great trip.


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Follow Up By: Member - Littleborgy (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 21:17

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 21:17
Yep, i agree with Stephen... We also got some thermal pants & tops for our kids from Ray's Outdoors, which kept them toasty warm

Cheers, Brad
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 21:30

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 21:30
Hi Dave

We have seen minus 7 out there so it can get cold, but nothing beats a hot water bottle , we keep a good thermos flask full so that one can be topped up qickly as required.

Even seen them tied around the waist early in the morning to get people started.

Things like the little sun cartridge gas heater we have also provide a warm focal point and distraction for kids.
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Reply By: slammin - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:05

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:05
My now 4 and 7 year old grew up in the western deserts and we did lots of camping around there sometimes in winter. One trip in particular when they were about 2 and 4 it was -6 just b4 daybreak........... and they're both v.early wakers - not a great scenario so far huh - but it gets worse the 2 year old was not a happy camper at all and pretty much cried/screamed until we could get the fire restarted. His main complaint apart from being bl**dy cold was his hands we battled thru the crisis with all sorts of fixes and did a quick dash to town later in the morning, it was Kmart only then, (Target as well now FWIW). Anyway not a pair of gloves anywhere on a Sunday morning. We ended up using socks as gloves. Keep in mind what would you take to the snow if you were camping? Similar conditions from 2am-7am some nights just no water.

Now my boys were born in the tropics and love the desert summers, on a 38' day they'll have an afternoon snooze with their doonas on. LOL So they may not be the norm but regardless I would suggest you take ski type gear, gloves, beanies, super thick socks and scarves. By 8:00 am they'll start ditching it and then start looking for t-shirts and shorts at 11:00am but come sun down they'll probably be looking for the beanie again.

Anyway we learnt our lesson and on the really cold nights now (particularly cloudless nights in July and August), the kids go to bed with their gear on and we take one each in our swags that way we can check on them through the night and make sure they haven't lost a glove and end up sleeping with one arm out of the covers getting frozen to wake up screaming.

Also keep in mind August can be very windy so don't forget the chapstick and sorbolene cream to stop wind burn. Whenever in the center always carry fly nets. You'll have a great time just be prepared and it'll be fantastic.


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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:11

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:11
Thick woollen bed socks, and tracksuits over their 'jamas. What sort of mattress? Insulation under mattress can be as important as covers over them. They'll let you know if they are cold; you might want to their company to keep yourselves warm too. I would not use hot water bottles - while they help warm the bed, they will have gone cold by the time the air gets really cold (around dawn). I hope no bed wetters in the cold weather. Not all nights will be that cold.

Chambers Pillar track had its moments and part of it was probably the worst bit of track we travelled on last year, but we got in with our caravan no problems. We travel solo. We shared the campsite with two Kimberley Karavans, two camper trailers and two lots with tents, which was a full campsite.


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Reply By: cityslicker - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:55

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:55
We leave on a trip through the centre in a couple of days with a 6 and 2 1/2 year old. Also staying in a camper trailer so if I remember I'll let you know how we get on.

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Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:57

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 22:57
It can be really cold, we regularly found we were sleeping in swags covered in ice at that time. But with reasonable gear it is quite doable in comfort. Avoid air matresses. They will get very cold. Foam much better. Polar fleece stuff and ugg boots are great. A real problem with kids in these conditions is if they tend to roll off matresses as they will then get cold very fast and you might not realize they have rolled off in the night. If the kids are like mine at that age, I'd wedge them in between bags or something so they have no where to roll. Lots of heat loss through head, so wear a beanir to bed.
Head torches are excellent for kids around camp (and you can see where they are.)
Great country for campfires, but all the usual care with kids near them and hot coals etc. I never like kids with scarves near campfires.
AnswerID: 369439

Reply By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 11:37

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 11:37
G'day Dave

We have been through central OZ with our son when he was 2 for his first time and we experienced -6 in the desert and the lowest temps In recorded history in SA.
The hardest part was changing his nappy early in the morning, other than that he had no probs with the temps, as said above It's a dry cold.
June 08 in the centre with our two kids we didnt have one minus night on the whole trip, so each time we go the temps always differ.
I do agree with mfewster in regards to stay away from air mattresses we now travel with self inflating Therma rests, they definitely keep the cold ground off your back.

In short rug em up dont forget mittens/gloves and beanies are a must, they will have a ball!!!

Good luck with your trip


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Reply By: Member - Tim C (WA) - Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 13:10

Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 13:10
HI Dave,
we had a similar trip last year similar time, boys 6 and 8... yes it got cold, but not that the boys couldnt enjoy. The mornings were the hardest, just get some nice warm gloves and a good beanie. that made them very happy!! Over our camper we have a solar blanket which is pulled up and tied down at the sides. The product is made from a material similaer to pool covers but has a silver foil outside. SERIOUSLY good!!! keeps the heat out and thw warmth in at night, we measured up to 10c difference. worked on the oodnadatta track (highway) as well as up at Threadbow.
We went as a single vehicle, with an EPIRB, all along the Ood, william Creek , Birdsville tracks, there is excellent uhf repeater coverage.
Give the Oodnadatta pub a call/mail and get them to send you a copy of their local map, it was really good.
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