READ THE OTHER CARAVAN LIFE DIARIES MONTHLY RECAPS HERE.
Aaaaand another month spent in hot and humid Far North Queensland. In November, the heat and humidity start dialing up for wet season, so that was our cue to start heading south for summer (it still feels weird to me to say that – in the northern hemisphere, usually you head south for winter!).
I can now confirm that Townsville is not quite far south enough for comfort (it’s only a few hours south of Cairns). It was SO unbearably humid and gross there, but we had to stay for awhile because we had a couple of house sits lined up. How hot? Think 33-35C (90-95F) and very humid. Southeast Asia vibes. Probably slightly worse than summer in Florida.
In fact, that’s a big reason why we decided to shift from caravanning to house sitting. House sitting allows us to escape the heat during summer in Queensland and be more comfortable in air conditioning (not to mention, um… 5000x more space, a proper kitchen, our own bathroom, couches… wait, why did we even opt for caravanning in the first place?!).
Also, we’re tired of moving around and roughing it. We’ve been on the road for nearly a year now and are at a point where we’d rather be more comfortable and stationary so that we can be more productive with work projects.
If you’ve been following me since my backpacking days, you might recall that I spent a year or so house sitting around Australia. Anna and I created a profile together on a house sitting website and have accumulated lots of rave reviews (both together and separately) over the years, so all I had to do was reactivate our account and update our profile.
In no time, Pete and I have racked up several house sits over the coming months as we make our way down the Queensland coast. It’s a huge relief for us and we’re VERY eager to save lots of time and money not having to deal with caravan parks for the foreseeable future.
But don’t worry, I’ll still be adventuring from wherever we are based! I was especially excited to explore Queensland on this trip because there’s so much of it I haven’t seen yet, so you better believe the adventure train will carry on!
But anyway, back to November! 3 weeks in Cairns taking lots of day trips to nearby islands, beaches, and waterfalls, followed by a week hibernating in Townsville. Let’s do this!
Where We Went This Month
TRAVEL BY STATE: 30 days in QLD
ACCOMMODATION COSTS: AU$741 on campsites
November 1-20: Cairns
We continued our stay in Cairns at Cool Waters Caravan Park at our creekfront campsite, spending most days in the air conditioned rec room. I was mostly getting ready to launch my online course, so day trips were at a minimum this month.
Here’s what we DID manage to see:
Palm Cove – We couldn’t have chosen a windier day to visit, but I swear there was no sign of wind in Cairns before we left. Not our best day here and a bit of a bummer that this was the last of our many trips to this glorious beach… but I know we’ll be back someday.
Green Island – We spent a day at nearby Green Island and it was nothing short of MAGICAL. It honestly went by so quickly and I was left wanting at least 2 more hours on the beach in the end – but I guess that’s a sign of a great day, right? We got to see a few turtles just off the jetty and some incredible coral reef on our snorkel safari tour.
Babinda Boulders – This was my second visit to Babinda and to be honest, I still don’t quite get the hype around this popular swimming spot. The main swimming hole is basically just a little lake with a couple of boulders in it, and it never looked like it does in photos I’ve seen, so maybe I’m missing something here? This time I did walk out to the Devils Pool and that was pretty cool to see (lots more boulders!), but it’s not safe to swim there which made it a bit of a tease.
Josephine Falls – Ok this waterfall has GOT to be one of the best near Cairns. There are a few tiers of rock pools, though we only went to the top one closest to the waterfall itself (which I think is technically not allowed, oops). Think water surrounded by big boulders.
Crystal Cascades & Fairy Falls – Saved these for our very last day in Cairns, despite them being literally right down the road from the caravan park. Honestly, they aren’t my favorite waterfalls or swimming holes around, maybe because there were a few big groups of students there at the same time which kinda took away from the ambiance. I will say that the waterfall at the end of the walking path at Crystal Cascades is by FAR the best part of it, it’s a very cool spot and super pretty.
Kewarra Beach – Stopped in one evening to their beach bar and ordered pizza to eat on the beach. I’d totally forgotten that there was an eclipse happening that night, so witnessing it from our table was such a nice surprise! After eating, we sat on a picnic rug in the sand for awhile and watched the moon continue to rise (and the children of the bar patrons continue to run amok around us, ugh).
November 20-21: Paronella Park
En route from Cairns to Townsville, we stopped halfway-ish for a night at Paronella Park, supposedly the #1 attraction in Queensland (though I hadn’t heard of it til I arrived in Cairns and started doing my own research).
Paronella Park is basically an old Euro-style castle that’s mostly in ruins now, thanks to cyclones and limestone corrosion – but the grounds are well kept and there’s a big waterfall onsite, so the whole park is really beautiful, romantic, and well worth a visit. There’s nothing like it in all of Australia!
One unexpected delight was spotting all the little turtles surface for food. HOW ARE THEY SO CUTE?!
The staff give you some pellets to feed the turtles and fish if you attend the free daytime walking tour. We did this tour and I’d say it’s well worth it just to put some context behind what you’re seeing at the park. They run an evening tour as well, but we skipped it because we didn’t want to get all sweaty and gross walking around again after showering. That may sound like a lame cop-out, but you try enduring this kind of heat for weeks on end!
This place is totally doable as a day trip from Cairns, but I wanted to stay overnight because a night of camping in their little caravan park is included with admission, and plus we wouldn’t be doing any extra driving since it was on the way to Townsville. We had power and water at our site, and the toilets and showers were super clean and spacious, so I’d say the free campsite is ridiculously good value for money ;)
November 21-30: Townsville
And then we made it to Townsville and activated hibernation mode.
First we had a house sit just outside of the city in Mundingburra, looking after a young dog named Freddy (5 months old?!) with tons of energy. He wasn’t yet trained to go on walks and would always jump all over us whenever we were within reach, so mostly we just left him alone on the back deck and played with him in the yard once it cooled off a bit later in the day.
Then we drove 20 minutes north of town to Bushland Beach for our next house sit, looking after two cats and a bunch of house plants. Don’t be misled by the suburb name like I was – the beach here is nothing to write home about.
It was so nice having cats around again: Peaches was an adorable cuddly fat cat, and Koda was a cute but less friendly kitty prone to biting you really hard if you pat her at the wrong time. What WASN’T nice was that the house seemed to have an ant infestation that the family was aware of but did nothing about. So we had these teeny tiny ants crawling over all surfaces (including walls) basically at all times. So gross!
The Best Bits
An island will never not make my highlight reel, so here it is! I arranged a collaboration with Big Cat, who run boats out to Green Island from Cairns and offer a range of snorkel experiences as well as complimentary gear hire. It was so nice not to have to worry about sourcing our own snorkel gear and stinger suits beforehand. Their snorkel safari tour was fabulous, and gave us access to much nicer reef and a bazillion more fish than we’d have seen just snorkeling off the island on our own.
Though I didn’t get as much beach time as I’d have liked, I was very happy with how my drone shots turned out and equally thrilled with the scenery I got to enjoy while I was sunbathing.
Paronella Park is the perfect place for a photoshoot – however, at this time of year, you really have to have a plan so that you’re able to grab some decent photos before you start to sweat through your outfit too much. You know I did!
I just loved roaming around the grounds and aimlessly following the walking paths to see where they led. Mostly, I can’t believe this place exists in Australia! Or that it existed in its heyday here.
It actually started raining just before we arrived at Josephine Falls, so we ended up sitting in the car for awhile until it died down. It had stopped by the time we got to the falls, leaving behind the perfect overcast conditions for waterfall photography – yay! However, perhaps not the best time to go for a swim – I don’t know about you, but I need it to be hot and sunny if I’m going to jump into cold water.
But man, this place is a stunner. I wish we’d had time to explore the lower tiers of rock pools here!
The Worst Bits
Launching my Life Design Studio course
Ok, the launch was both awesome and not awesome, so I don’t mean to say it was the worst thing to happen this month.
So in case you didn’t know, I launched an online course called the Life Design Studio. I am SO proud of myself for finally putting this thing out into the world, 16 months after conception. I had to do and overcome a lot to get to that point, and crossing the finish line felt incredible.
But really it was SO much work and a lot of stress, and the payoff was nowhere near worth what I invested into creating and launching it. I still have a lot to do before I relaunch it next year on the marketing side of things.
The worst thing about the launch? Facebook ads. Holy crap I should have just burned my money in a bonfire, because I essentially just hemorrhaged money on these ads. I’ve run FB ads in the past with success, but apparently they launched a new ads manager earlier this year and everything’s different… so I had to quickly teach myself how to use it.
But even with knowledge of how to use it, you still need to give it time to learn how to optimize results (ahem, sounds like another way of saying they want you to pay upfront before they give you anything to show for it). AND, they won’t let you pay per click until you’ve spent a certain amount on ads first, so I was paying per impression – which resulted in me spending hundreds of dollars on NOTHING.
Devils Pool, Babinda Boulders.
What I Read
21. My Dark Vanessa – This book should come with a trigger warning, so if reading about sexual abuse triggers you… maybe skip it.
I have always been fascinated by… dark matters, let’s say. Love me a murder mystery or drug documentary. For me, it’s all about the psychology behind the darkness – the why behind the f-ed up things people do in life. So this book, centered around a relationship between a teacher and his teenage student, had me captivated for a day and a half straight. I couldn’t put it down!
Things I’m Loving
Black Friday – Some love it, some hate it. Personally, I look forward to Black Friday every year because I know to expect sales from my favorite brands online, and I intentionally hold off on buying much from them until this time. Honestly it’s such an easy way to save money and score some incredible deals – the trick is to not overdo it or buy what you don’t need or won’t love.
Boho Picnic Rugs – I had way too much fun testing out several different picnic rugs this month so that I could write this blog post. If you’re in the market for a picnic blanket, bedroom throw, or van life all-in-one rug, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
Picnic in the Cairns botanic garden.
You (season 3) – Remember how I said I’m fascinated by dark things? The Netflix show ‘You’ is very much a dark thing, and I am very much here for it. Season 3 is actually the worst of the show’s three seasons so far, but I LOVED the first two so there was no way I wasn’t going to watch the third. If you haven’t watched yet, just know that it doesn’t get really good til the end.
In December we’re finishing off our second Townsville house sit, then spending a week at nearby Magnetic Island and I am SO EXCITED for island life!
After that, we’ll head down to Airlie Beach (the Whitsundays!) to house sit over Christmas and New Years.