Caravan Life Diaries – Month 11 (December 2021)

READ THE OTHER CARAVAN LIFE DIARIES MONTHLY RECAPS HERE.

Oops, I’m falling more and more behind with these monthly updates! Part of me wants to ditch them because there are many other posts I should be writing  (I’ve barely blogged about any locations from this road trip!). But I just LOVE having them as a keepsake so I can look back someday and be like damn, I did all that and I’m a crazy mofo. But let’s be honest, I will probably always be able to say that because I’m never going to have a conventional lifestyle.

Anyway, maybe I’ll stop the monthly updates in 2022, or maybe I’ll shorten or combine then. TBD!

road trip route australia

big crystal creek queensland

I really do have a lot going on these days though, and unfortunately the blog has had to take a back seat to a couple other projects I’m working on. Not to mention, all of the added life admin that goes along with both caravanning and house sitting. I spend a substantial amount of time planning our travels, where to stay, how to get there, all that good stuff.

And of course, doing the actual traveling! It’s been very challenging balancing the travel and adventures with the work and admin tasks, and to be honest I feel like I’ve had to sacrifice some of the fun stuff I’ve wanted to do along the way.

ALL THAT TO SAY: I’m doing the best I can, and I’m still trying to get the balance right (though what even IS “right”?). Mostly I’m just mentioning it so y’all know I’m still here, I have no intentions of giving up blogging, and my less-frequent posting is for good reason rather than due to laziness or disinterest.

Now onto December!

australia road trip route

Where We Went This Month

TRAVEL BY STATE: 31 days in QLD
ACCOMMODATION COSTS: AU$32 on campsites + AU$600 on Airbnb

December 1-12: Townsville

First up: finishing our second house sit in Townsville, out in Bushland Beach. I think Townsville has been our least favorite stop on this entire Australian road trip – we just were not feeling it, AT ALL. Plus it was disgustingly humid at all times.

But that’s fine, ’cause it meant we spent nearly all our time inside catching up on work with the luxury of air conditioning, and hanging out with 2 cute kitties (one of which bit me twice, really hard). Every evening I’d go on a sunset walk around the neighborhood, when it was slightly cooler outside, and that was pretty much the extent of my activities.

house sitting australia
Hangin’ with Peaches.

Well, except for two days that we spent rock pool and waterfall hopping in Paluma National Park, about an hour north. We did Little Crystal Creek one day and Big Crystal Creek the other day.

Little Crystal Creek has a very picturesque tiered waterfall with various pools for swimming, and an old fashioned bridge running over the creek between falls – it is SO pretty here!

Big Crystal Creek was a bit more spread out in terms of swimming spots. Paradise Waterhole is the main one, and the largest, but it was too busy and noisy for our liking. So we drove a few minutes up the road and hiked for about 5-10 minutes to see the rockslides. The first one was our favorite – we even managed to have it all to ourselves for a tiny bit towards the end! Such a gem of a spot. The second rockslide area was a bit less pretty IMO, and we had been in the sun a bit too long at that point so we didn’t stay too long here.

big crystal creek queensland
Rockslide at Big Crystal Creek.

December 12-20: Magnetic Island

I visited Magnetic Island (or Maggie) almost exactly 7 years ago when I first arrived in Australia. This time around, I wasn’t solo, sleeping in a tent (can’t believe I did that in 90-degree weather!), and relying on public transport though – I had Pete and a car and an Airbnb, all of which made it a more enjoyable experience.

We based ourselves in Nelly Bay, near the ferry terminal, and drove (or hiked) to all the different beaches around the island. I swear, nothing makes me happier than beach hopping on a tropical island! It was really hot and humid, as expected… but it’s also stinger season in north Queensland, which means you risk getting stung if you swim without a stinger suit on.

We refrained from swimming our first few days on the island, but we kept seeing all these people swimming without suits on so we thought ah, as long as we make it quick, we’ll probably be ok. And we were… but we did try to limit it to beaches with swimming nets out (the nets are supposed to keep the jellyfish out). I swear, there is no better feeling than jumping into the ocean after a long sweaty hike.

australia road trip

Speaking of hikes, I dragged Pete on some while we were on the island, including the Forts walk (where we saw a koala in the wild!!!!!!), the trail to Radical Bay beach, and the Hawkings Point lookout. He’s a good sport like that, even though I think he would have been perfectly happy just lounging on the beach instead.

In short, our week on Magnetic Island was one of the highlights of this entire trip – and it actually felt like a proper holiday (maybe because we’d left the caravan behind).

road trip australia

December 20-21: Bowen

We spent one night at Wangaratta Caravan Park in Bowen because we had to be in Airlie Beach early the next morning to start our next house sit. Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to explore Bowen because we stayed hitched, and also it was quite cloudy and windy – but it was a nice place to stay for a night. The park was just a few minutes’ walk to the beach which was nice!

airlie beach sunset
Cannonvale sunset.

December 21-31: Airlie Beach

We spent Christmas and New Years house sitting in Cannonvale, a suburb next to Airlie Beach, the hub of the Whitsundays. Basically it’s where everyone goes to catch their boat or plane to the islands.

We looked after a puggle named Hazel and a tabby cat named Bonnie (who stays outside and was never around) and had a king bed to sleep on and it was THE BEST. It was absolutely glorious having the air con on at all times, too. They had a really nice outdoor space, complete with an in-ground pool and a hot tub, with a view of the surrounding hills. We took full advantage of it, hopping in the hot tub most nights and going for swims with the dog a few times.

house sitting australia

At night, we’d hang out on the reclining couch and watch Below Deck, with Hazel cute and cuddled up next to us if we’d tired her out with a walk or swim earlier. We learned the hard way what happens if she gets no exercise or play time – she goes absolutely apesh*t at night! In general, she had a bit of a naughty streak, doing things like stealing my pool towel and running around the yard with it, hopping on the table to steal food off our plate, and pulling ornaments off the Christmas tree. And she was constantly following us around the house. But damn if she wasn’t so freaking cute!

We didn’t do much while in Airlie cause of C*VID restrictions, just went for a walk along the waterfront a couple times. Love how you can glimpse some islands from there!

road trip australia
Little Crystal Creek Falls.

The Best Bits

Paluma National Park

I loved exploring the swimming holes and waterfalls in this park. Little Crystal Creek and the rockslides at Big Crystal Creek were my favorites. So pretty! So peaceful.

road trip queensland

Magnetic Island

Far and away, Maggie was THE highlight of the month. But if I had to pick a few highlights from this highlight, I’d say:

  • Discovering the secret beach at Rocky Bay – we found a little side trail on the way up to Hawkings Point lookout that led down to a beach that’s only visible at low-to-mid tide. It’s supposedly a nude beach, and we mostly had it to ourselves (minus a guy that was there both times we visited). Absolutely loved this spot! Great views, and plenty of boulders on the beach to give us some shade.
  • Laying in my hammock at Alma Bay – This little cove is so pretty! Instead of going for a risky swim (we saw two people get stung), I hung up my hammock and relaxed (and took 5000 photos, duh). And then did it all again the next day.
  • Spotting a koala in the wild – This was my third-ever time spotting a koala and it’s safe to say I freaked the F out over it. Saw this one on the Forts walk.

magnetic island koala

Airlie Beach house sit

We loved everything about this house sit (well, except maybe some of Hazel’s naughtier moments). It really felt like we were in a holiday home.

Birthing a New Business

Pete has been trying to get me to go into business with him all year, and being the non-committal Aquarius I am I’ve been shrugging it off and avoiding the subject. But in launching my Life Design Studio course, I started to give it more consideration. Yes, I DO want to contribute more to the world than just pretty and informative blog posts and photos that inspire people to travel more.

So at our second Townsville house sit, we sat down and birthed our new business venture. We have a name! We have a mission! And we have a whooooooole lot of work to do. More to come next year ;)

magnetic island forts walk

The Worst Bits

The Sneaky Gluten Free Brownies

Remember the scene in Mean Girls where Regina discovers that she’s been eating protein bars that make her gain weight? Well that’s not far off from what happened when I looked at the package of these gluten free brownies we’ve been enjoying near-daily in recent weeks and saw the sugar content.

Let’s just say the amount of sugar contained in the modest portion I’d been eating was several times more than how much sugar I normally consume in a day.

And the worst part is that I’m normally SO GOOD about checking packaged food items! I know what to look for and what to avoid. I don’t know why on earth I didn’t bother reading the label on these brownies til several weeks in… maybe I was distracted by the “gluten free” aspect. Ugh, way to self sabotage, right?

magnetic island drone

Jourama Falls Being Closed

Not the worst thing to happen to us, but it was a bit of a bummer to find this epic waterfall closed for access during our time in Townsville.

Queensland C*VID Restrictions

In mid-December, Queensland took away some privileges from the non-v*ccinated folks. Namely, they’re not allowed to dine in at restaurants or cafes, sit down in bars, or go on any recreational tours or boat trips. Also, everyone is supposed to wear masks in public indoor settings now, e.g. grocery stores, shops, post office, etc.

So uh… I guess this is the part where I confess that I’m not j*bbed. I don’t feel like discussing or debating it, so we’ll just leave it at that. It’s definitely disappointing that we’re not able to do any reef trips or sailing trips while in Queensland, but I realize that it’s a (hopefully temporary) consequence of my choice and there’s not much I can do about it for now unless I choose differently.

magnetic island wallaby

My First Bad Airbnb Review

UGH, my blood still boils over this one. We had a mixed experience with our Airbnb on Magnetic Island: overall it was good, we enjoyed the accommodation itself, and had a great time… so I left the host a positive review and chose to ignore a few things that I definitely could/should have mentioned. I know how much a bad review can hurt a small business owner, so unless I have a truly terrible experience, I’ll never leave a bad review for someone.

One thing that was concerning was that she didn’t provide us with toilet paper and when I asked about it, she said that when she stayed in an Airbnb earlier in the year, the host hadn’t provided it for them… so she figured that was the norm. Um, in what world is a guest expected to travel with their own toilet paper? Isn’t that a basic requirement at Airbnbs? When I stated my case, she apologized and gave us a few rolls (which was *just* enough to last us the 8 days we were there).

The other concerning thing was that they had family visiting the entire time we were there, which didn’t disrupt us at all… but it did feel like we were being ignored at times. I messaged her asking for a new garbage bag, as we’d filled ours up… and she didn’t respond til after we had checked out. Cool, let’s just leave all our garbage out on the counter while we go and source a new bag to use ourselves.

airbnb review

Then, after I wrote a nice review for her, her review of us popped up and it was SAVAGE – full of exaggerations and petty complaints. We washed, dried, and put away all dishes, took out the trash, and did not leave anything in disarray, which I feel like is all you can reasonably expect from a paying guest. I think she expected the place to be left in exactly the condition it was in before we arrived. Sorry, deep cleaning and thoroughly inspecting the floor and countertops for drips is not the job of a guest, and it’s why you typically charge a cleaning fee.

I think she usually has guests stay for just a couple days at a time, as Maggie is a popular weekend getaway spot, and also she’s only been running her Airbnb for a couple months – so she probably hasn’t accounted for the fact that when guests stay for longer, the space is probably going to be a little more “lived in” (i.e. we’re not going to eat every meal out like a weekend guest might do, and so we’re going to make more use of the kitchen).

Considering the other 31 reviews of me are positive and hers is so clearly ridiculous, I’m hoping future hosts gloss over her review and let me stay with them.

I took the high road and responded to her review point-by-point in the nicest way possible, but oh boy did I want to give her a piece of my mind. IT’S CALLED GROWTH.

magnetic island alma bay

What I Read

Soooooo technically I didn’t read a whole book this month. I did, however, read parts of two books, which I guess counts as one book read?

Including what I read before this road trip began, this brings my total for the year to 25 books read, about 2 books a month! Quite happy with this :)

22A. Astrology For The Soul – Jan Spiller
Did you know there’s more to astrology than just your sun sign? This book is all about the north node, which has to do with your life path or destiny – where you’re meant to go in life.

My north node is Taurus and it’s in the 10th house, which is all about building wealth, doing my life’s work, and finding material success. Uh YEP, I definitely feel like this is my quest in life, and has been a struggle for me for a very long time. I mean look no further than the fact that my blog has the word “frugal” in it.

22B. The Road Back To You – Ian Morgan Cron
I’m a fan of his Typology podcast, so I thought I’d give his Enneagram book a read. I think it’s ideal for anyone new to the Enneagram, very much a beginners/basic book. I’ve been studying the Enneagram for years though, so didn’t really learn anything new.

queensland road trip

Things I’m Loving

Below Deck – HELLO NEW FAVORITE SHOW! We turned on season 3 randomly on Netflix while at the house sit and were instantly hooked. We then proceeded to watch all 9 seasons in 2 months. It’s reality tv, but without too much petty drama and fakeness – and my god is it fascinating seeing what it’s like to work on a yacht. At the beginning I was like, screw caravan life and building a business, let’s go work on some yachts (it looked like so much fun, and you make so much money in tips)! Then I remembered how terrible I feel when I get seasick, and how much I hated working in a kitchen when I worked at El Questro during my backpacking days, and said just kidding that actually sounds like hell. I’ll stick to watching it on a screen instead.

iPhone 13 Pro Max – Guess who finally upgraded her iPhone 7? You know your phone’s old when they don’t even accept it for trade-in anymore. Yep, it was a pretty epic glow-up for me going from the 7 to the new 13 Pro Max. My new phone is a million times better in every way: in particular, the camera is insane and the user experience is a huge improvement. I never thought I’d be one of those people that loves my phone, but this new toy genuinely brings me so much joy in a way past (far inferior) phones have not. IT’S LOVE.

caravanning australia

What’s Next?

In January we’ll continue heading down the coast of Queensland, fleeing the tropics as summer peaks. We are very ready to NOT be sweating 24/7! As to where we go, well, we’re gonna wait and see what house sits come up. With any luck, we’ll make it to southern Queensland!

road trip australia
Paradise Waterhole, Big Crystal Creek.

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