Keeping Warm In Winter – Part 1 : Follow the Sun

When I start to wear my “winter sandals” again… it warns me that our glorious Autumn weather has finally decided to change to the chilly side.

And that means it’s time to try to remember what last Winter taught me about keeping warm while travelling our great land in a caravan.

So for the first part in a series on “Keeping Warm this Winter”… let’s

Chase the Sun!

In Winter, you want as much sun as you can get to keep warm! Conversely, in Summer, you really want to avoid it to stay out of the heat! That means you’ve got to understand what happens to the sun – as in:- where (and when) the sun rises and sets; the path it takes across the sky; and how that changes depending on the time of the year and your location.

In the Southern Hemisphere where Australia is located, the Winter Solstice (around 21st June) is the shortest day of the year. The sun rises to the North of East and moves in a low arc across the Northern sky, setting to the North of West. In most locations around Australia, the next month or so after the Winter Solstice is the coldest time of the year.

On the Summer Solstice (around 21 December), the sun rises to the South of East and moves in a much higher arc across the sky, setting to the South of West. It is only in the Autumn (March) and Spring (September) Equinoxes when the sun rises due East and sets due West.

Knowing this…

For Longer, Warmer Days… Go North in Winter

The further North you travel, the MORE hours of daylight you get during the middle of winter!

This partly explains the mass migration of Grey Nomads to the Northern parts of Australia during winter. While the nights might still be a tad chilly (especially inland away from the coast), the days are a lot longer, and much warmer, than the low-mid teen maximums experienced further south!!!

Watch How You Park-Up

Essentially, there are two main things to look out for here:

  1. Try to park on the Northern side of any large shade trees, otherwise, they could block the sun coming into your campsite, and severely limit the effectiveness of any solar panels.

  2. Try to set-up in an East-West configuration (with any awning/annex on the Northern side) to maximise the sunshine and warmth coming in through your windows.

“Play” with the curtains, windows and hatches on the sunny side. Open them to let the warm in. Keep the ones on the other side closed! And then, before the sun goes down, make sure you then CLOSE everything to keep the night chills out!

Remember: Heat Rises… and Cold Falls

Some basic thermodynamics here… and best illustrated by the Akubra hat I wore – at night-time – when I was involved in coaching my son’s soccer team. In the middle of Winter, those night matches were bitterly cold for those on the sideline.

I found that wearing a wide-brimmed hat kept the cold from descending onto my (balding) head and shoulders… and kept me surprisingly warmer than others in just beanies and/or caps/hoodies. Certainly, warm enough to put up with the jokes above preventing “moonburn”!

Using the same logic… perhaps you could throw an ADDITIONAL tarp OVER your campsite at night to help “insulate” everything from the direct cold air falling???

Likewise, put something extra UNDER your feet to prevent the cold from rising! Even a few (say 6) of those square rubber annex flooring mats placed on the ground, directly UNDER your van where you sit at night-time, could make a difference.

Lastly (for now)…

Know Your Local Weather Conditions

In most parts of Australia, weather which arrives from the South is usually cold. Thanks, Antarctic!

And any weather system that comes towards you from the CENTER of Australia is also most likely going to be cold in Winter. For example, on the East Coast, weather that comes from the SW or W (or NW in Southern NSW/Victoria) is potentially chilly.

So keep an eye on the weather patterns, and if possible, put an “obstacle” (tree/building etc… or even a tarp) on the side any bad weather/wind is coming from, to redirect any nasty cold breezes around your campsite.

Certainly, keep windows and hatches on that side closed when bad weather is coming! And ensure you close them before sunset as it won’t take long for any residual warmth to escape to the outside!

I was out just recently and planning to return before sunset… However, when I got back to my van with open windows and hatches around 8.30 that nite… it was like an icebox! And that was just in May LOL

Oh… if you have an annex “skirt” for your camper/caravan/motorhome… it might be worth putting in on just to help redirect the wind travelling under your van… and keeping it away from your outside “living” area 🙂

I hope these suggestions will help you stay a little warmer this winter! There’s more to come in further parts of this series, so stay tuned… or see links below:

Further Resources

For when you want to know the exact sunrise and sunset times in various locations around Australia, and all the directions and inclinations… you can’t go past:

Daily Weather Observations and Predictions

These next two links provide useful diagrams and information to explain the movement of the sun etc further:

If you’d like to create a printable calendar of sunrise/sunset times for where you are… start here:

Series IndexPart #1 Follow the Sun : Part #2 Heating : Part #3 : Insulate