Top-end Hot Hot Hot night camping - any tips?

Submitted: Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:25
ThreadID: 7297 Views:2487 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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Folks,

Strange question, but while we have camped a lot in the south and centre of the country, we've never camped in the tropics/top-end. We're off to the Kimberley next year and are planning now.

In the south we're used to a tent, floor mats, and nice warm sleeping bags as neccessity most of the year, but methinks in the top end the last thing you'll need is a big sleeping bag, but with all the 'nasties' around I guess this precludes sleeping under the stars, at least to a certain degree.

What do folks think - we could guess our way and go hopelessy wrong and take too much stuff. We reckon there must be an easy way but folks we know can offer no advice as they haven't done it. We're travelling in the Dry - Mum and Dad with a 8 and 10 y/o, and we'll be buying a fair bit of gear (but hopefully not too much) so I was just wondering what other families use in the way of a set up in terms of sleeping gear / tents / bags / rolls etc....

Thanks folks,
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Reply By: flappan - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:29

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:29
Swag or Bedroll and a mozzie net.
AnswerID: 31430

Follow Up By: Brian - Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 09:30

Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 09:30
Very good mossie net!!!!!!!!!!

Brian
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Follow Up By: Brian - Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 09:35

Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 09:35
The dry is a wonderfull time in Darwin can not bet beat!!!!!!!!!
The twn comes alive then
Brian
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Reply By: Voxson (Adelaide) - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:49

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:49
I was actually cold every night in July this year at and around Cape York.....
And most days were 26-28..._____________________________________________

_____________________________________________
AnswerID: 31431

Reply By: Hughesy - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:58

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 16:58
Barney, a gutfull of Bundy and it won't matter whether its hot / cold or mozzie /croc infested, you'll sleep like a baby on valium...........waking up isn't a good feeling though!! LOL
AnswerID: 31432

Reply By: Member - Roger - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 17:11

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 17:11
Barnsy,
Days are great about 25/30c nights can become cool about 10/20c in the dry but the usual uniform of shorts, shirt n boots for the day is ok but longies and a jumper for the nights. But then i'm part desert dweller.
regardsDodg
AnswerID: 31438

Reply By: Gordon - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 17:44

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 17:44
Barney
It can get pretty cold up there over-night. We sleep in swags with built-in mozzy net and keep our clothes in plastics bins next to the swags. One morning (Miners Pool) we had a thin layer of ice on the lids of our bins but that was the only time in 4 weeks (June 2002). I reckon it was -1C. But of course it quickly warms up during the day. We found that between hot midday temperatures, car air conditioning, cold swimming holes and cold night air we were constantly going hot / cold / hot / cold.

I used sheet, blanket and light weight down bag (as a quilt). My wife used sheet and 2 good quality blankets. That was fine. Daytime atire was shorts and a collared shirt (for protection). Night time atire varies from shorts and T-shirt to shorts and jumper to jeans and jumper to jeans, jumper and jacket.

This is no different to what you would expect anywhere in the outback in Winter. As you probably know, Alice Springs can get down to -5C overnight in Winter.
AnswerID: 31444

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 18:22

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 18:22
Hi Barney,

Having previously lived at camped all year round in the Top End and Nth Qld my tips are:
- Bities are a pain so camping under the stars is more trouble than its worth unless you invest in a very good, fine mesh mozzie net. A fabric similar to light weight muslin is really the only option.
- Otherwise, use a dome tent but without the fly. You'll find the whole thing "breathes" better and is cooler without the fly. If it looks like rain, rig up a tarp right over the top.
- Buy a 12V fan from an auto shop and make up a big long extension lead so you can run it off the car battery. This was the best thing we ever did as it was very effective. Power draw is negligible...I think about 1amp/hr. The cooling effect is limited of course but on stifling, humid nights it really moves the air and makes sleeping a whole lot more comfortable. Only tricky thing is devising a way of mounting the fan to give it a bit of elevation. We attached a foot cradle to a 10L bucket lid...when packed the fan and lead all pack away neatly in the bucket, at night the fan sits on top.
All this may be a moot point depending on time of year though. As others have said, during the dry night time temperatures are quite comfortable with only a sheet and/or light blanket. During the wet season or build-up is another matter when the high temps and humidity make it stifling.

Hope my tips help. Enjoy your trip.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 31450

Reply By: Member - George (WA) - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 18:27

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 18:27
I agree completely with the previous replies.
Be prepared for cold nights and heavy dew in the open areas.
You may also need some sun shade during the day by way of a light poly tarp between some poles or trees.
The Kimberleys is a great place to visit as long as you are prepared to go "off road"King Edward River, Mitchell Plateau
VKS-737, ch 2, sel. 2131
AnswerID: 31451

Reply By: Member - Cocka - Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 21:50

Thursday, Sep 18, 2003 at 21:50
We just got back 2 weeks ago after 8 weeks up there - getting towards the end of the dry and a lot of the falls and rivers were just starting to dry up but it varies from year to year.
Gordon & Melissa were pretty spot on except we found no humidity inland at all, a little near the coast, no need for fan sleep on top of the sheets. We were in an Oztent and the nights vary around 20+, daytime 35 - 45. It gets really cold at night from the Alice & south.
We did the Gibb Riv Rd east - west. If you want good off road do the Kurrunjie Rd just out of Wyndham and follow the Pentcost River to the GRR. El Questro is a rip off, there's plenty better for free. The rest of the roads are OK just the corregations vary according to when they were last graded.
We also did a good drive through Mt Elizabeth Station out to Munja at Walcott Inlet back through Beverly Springs , great trip but it is strictly 4wd.
A big must is go up to Cape Leveque to Kooljamin (must book ahead camping) also stop at Middle Lagoon half way up - just sensational.
Biggest buzz - From Derby, book a flight (well ahead of arrival) to the horizontal waterfall - worth every cent. Try to be there around full / new moon time to get max rush. Big big buzz.
AnswerID: 31465

Follow Up By: Browny - Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 19:43

Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 19:43
G'Day Cocka,
I'm probably going to get an Oztent at the next melb 4x4 show, how did you find yours during your traveling, and do you have any of the attatchments that go with it, also do you carry yours on roof racks, and if so is that an issue lifting it on and off ?

Thanks.....Browny
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Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 14:23

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 14:23
I'm of the '39 vintage, 5'10 tall & reasonably fit for an old fella. I drive a GU Patrol with 2"lift and normally only use r/racks. Last trip I put a basket on top, that added 6" to lifting.
I put it on top by myself by just lifting it overhead & flicking it in the basket, to get it down I stand on the rear wheel, roll it half out, then grab it from the ground. When the baskets not there it's really easy. I secure it with webbing straps with metal claw catches & usually have to stand on the r/wheel and front door tread to do this, it's is not hard.
We bought was the fly which is great when it rains as it provides an additional outside shelter around the edges to store things under as well as keeping the tent body dry. We usually use this also in country where you get heavy dew as it is easy to shake the water off and you can pack up a dry tent if moving on early. Zip the fly on before you put the awning out or push the zip across with the end on a tent pole if you put the fly on after. You'll see what I mean. If you have the awning out and it starts to rain don't forget to lower the awning poles to allow runoff.
We always throw a big sheet of sarlon down to protect the bottom of the tent from sharps and it extends out at least as far as the awning poles, really helps to keep inside clean and feels good under bare feet (middle of the night jobs if you know what I mean).
We only use the pegs and tie downs as necessary, when windy etc & out in the dry warm nights usually don't use the awning unless staying for a few days.
We have a side curtain that we use when we need privacy or for from a cool breeze. We have only ever had 1 time in 5 years when flies drove us mad (in Vic) and we retreated inside to eat din so are still open about getting the fly screen.
At the moment we have a prob with the doorway insect screen & when I phoned them they were so responsive to fixing it I complimented them. Great after sales serv. after 5 years.
I should be on a commission for this mob.
Good luck.
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Follow Up By: Browny - Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 17:51

Tuesday, Sep 23, 2003 at 17:51
Thanks Cocka,
A great summary........................Much appreciated.

Browny
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Reply By: Jeff (Beddo) - Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 19:44

Friday, Sep 19, 2003 at 19:44
Just got back aswell - left the beginning of August and got back 2 weeks ago. Copped a couple of nights of heavy dew and 2 nights of rain all at Broome. Did not have much of a problem with the mozzies, the night temps were mild with usually shorts and jeans and sloppy joe rerquired and as for sleeping bags we did get the one or two cool nights that required the jeans to be left on while sleeping in the bag (approx 6 degrees). We usually did not even have a fire - too warm.
Earlier in the year would be heaps cooler at night. Day time temps we found were hot in the mid 30's and you had to do your walks early morning or late arvo.

We saw heaps of people with lots of gear packed to the roof in there wagons and these were the ones usually fixing tyres or broken down - over loaded.
Cheers, Beddo
Surf KZN185
<- Yengo NP, Central Coast NSW
AnswerID: 31534

Follow Up By: Member - Cocka - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 14:41

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 14:41
Hey Beddo
We missed all the rain out there, just got a light shower along the Buchannan H'way at Top Springs. What a great drive that was through Victoria River Downs.
Can't quite agree with the overloading bit, sure a lot carried a lot of gear but I reacon tyre choice was one factor but the main one is tyre pressure. If you drop 10psi out all round after leaving the bitumen it makes a hell of a difference, softens the knocks on the suspension and gives safer handling on the dirt with a better footprint. Mind you, you have to try and miss the rocks also, I think some kamakazees aim at every rock on the road, also stay away from the track edges.
How's it going up on the mountain ?Carpe Diem
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