The best time to visit the northern arid areas is between April and October, but be aware that desert nights can be very cold and the early morning winds can chill you to the bone. You will need a warm jacket and beanie for the evenings and early mornings, then during the day you will be back in shorts and t-shirt. A good quality sleeping bag is also recommended for those cold desert nights.
When visiting these arid areas, you will notice when travelling and camping in established places, most of the wood has already been used, you may have to collect and carry wood from abundant areas along the way. These days it isnt wise to rely on campfire cooking in arid areas, the alternative is to carry and use LPG, this is the best alternative cooking fuel. My preference is to carry a couple of 2kg bottles rather than the larger ones, small ones are easier to pack in the vehicle. Cooking in the rain isn't much fun either, but with gas you can at least boil the Billy and cook up a meal.
There are many things to think about when getting ready for a big trip, maps, camp sites, fuel stops, trip itinerary, most importantly, what items to take. Things mostly go wrong when planning and packing is left until the last minute. Ways to overcome this problem is to put together a checklist of all the camping gear you have, tick the gear off the list when you pack the vehicle. Some items can be sorted out months in advance while others have to be packed the night before departure. With a checklist you wont forget things. Your list will be different from others. Some will have their special items, things they cant do without. So the next time you head bush you wont have to worry if there is something you've forgotten.
It is common sense and pretty obvious that you need to carry enough water when travelling to remote arid areas. How much is enough this is a variable figure, from two litres up to ten litres per person per day. If you plan to do some bushwalking on your trip then a minimum five litres per person per day is required. Water can be carried in many ways from bolt-on stainless tanks to collapsible plastic containers. My preference is the plastic jerry can, they pack very easily into my vehicle taking up minimum space. Wiping your dishes first with a paper towel before washing and sharing the washing up water is another great way of saving water. Baby wipes are a great way to minimise water use when it comes to washing your hands during the day.
I never set out on a trip with rain in mind, but I do plan and pack for rain. Firstly it is most important to take tent that does not leak. I make sure that I take an annex, one that extends out from the tents doorway to my vehicles rear doors. This way we have a sheltered area in which to take off shoes and other wet items of clothing before entering the tent. A good groundsheet adds to the waterproofing of the tents floor, the groundsheet should extend into the annex area.
With this set up you are sure to stay dry and will keep the inside of the tent reasonably clean and dry. A bag sewn onto the rear wheel cover of your vehicle will not only act as a great storage place for wet items but also as a handy rubbish bag holder. As Ive stated earlier cooking in the rain is not much fun so a tarp (annex) hung of my roof rack as a lean-to serves as good cooking, eating and social area. Make sure you hang it off the non-fuel filler side, especially petrol vehicles.
These articles by AC from the April 2002 Club Magazine.