Caravan Life Diaries – Month 9 (October 2021)

READ THE OTHER CARAVAN LIFE DIARIES MONTHLY RECAPS HERE.

This monthly recap is a bit on the late side, but I swear my tardiness has nothing to do with the quality of the month. October was one of the most enjoyable months yet of our big Aussie caravan trip!

We spent the whole of it in Far North Queensland, finishing up our lengthy stint in Port Douglas and then heading up to Cape Tribulation for a week of beachfront camping, before officially starting our journey *down* the east coast of Australia and basing ourselves in Cairns for several weeks.

behana gorge clamshell falls
Clamshell Falls, Behana Gorge.

October in northern Queensland is the last month before the wet season starts to set in, which brings several months of rain and humidity aka get me the f out of here because this girl likes to be warm and DRY.

So basically, we took full advantage of the weather while it was still nice up here. Every day was hot (30C/90F-ish) but mostly tolerable. Lots of beach time, lots of swimming holes, lots of sun.

Yep, October was a good’un. Here’s what we got up to.

australia road trip route

Where We Went This Month

TRAVEL BY STATE: 31 days in QLD
ACCOMMODATION COSTS: AU$1386 on campsites

port douglas 4 mile beach

Oct 1-4: Port Douglas

We finished up our 6(!) week stay at Glengarry Holiday Park feeling like we may have just overstayed our welcome (for no reason other than we were starting to get itchy feet). By this point, I felt like I’d seen and done nearly everything I wanted to in Port Douglas except for one thing: a sunset cruise!

We went out on Shaolin, an old junk boat, for sunset one evening and it was THE CLOUDIEST EVER. A 100% gray sky, if you will. Literally no sunset to be seen. And yet, I still loved it! Is there anything better than sprawling out on a boat deck, gazing out at the open sea?

port douglas lookout

The other Port Douglas thing we did this month was hike up to the 4 Mile Beach Lookout, which looks a whole lot like a plank extending out over the open sea. Glorious views from up here, definitely worth the effort.

Oct 4-11: Cape Tribulation

Next, we spent a week at Cape Tribulation Camping and IT WAS THE BESTTTTT. I spent a night here on my first visit to Cape Trib a few years ago and have been eager to return ever since. 

Our campsite was a 10 second walk to the beach and honestly, this was the best part of the entire week. Every single morning I was at the beach, either walking down and back if it wasn’t too hot, or in my hammock reading. We even had a campfire on the beach on two of the nights, ugh so glorious!

picnic rugs boho

Even though it was stupid-hot and we couldn’t even swim in the ocean (crocs live here!), I managed to keep cool by laying in my hammock below all the palm trees on the beach, and working out on the campground reception deck with fans blasting on me.

We did occasionally pry ourselves away from the campground and beach to explore. Obviously we had to stop at Cow Bay and take our turn on the insta-famous beach swing, Cape Trib Ice Cream to sample some ice cream made from locally sourced exotic fruit (grown right on their farm!), and Mason’s Swimming Hole to safely cool off in the water.

cape tribulation ice cream cape tribulation cow bay

We also booked onto a snorkeling trip to the reef with Ocean Safari, which was a mixed bag due to me getting a bit seasick thanks to very choppy water and our captain doing doughnuts on the water just before dropping us back on the beach (WHY GOD WHY). Despite that, I did get to see some of the best coral I’ve snorkeled at thusfar in the Great Barrier Reef, and I got to sunbathe on a magnificent little cay in the middle of the ocean with the most vibrant turquoise water surrounding it.

cape tribulation ocean safari
Mackay Cay.

Oct 11-31: Cairns

After Cape Trib, we began our journey down the east coast of Australia with a lengthy stop in Cairns.

Our home base was Cool Waters Holiday Park, which has to be one of the best caravan parks we’ve stayed at thusfar. Our campsite was perched just above the creek that runs along the park perimeter, and I loved starting each day sitting outside with my celery juice, watching the electric blue butterflies flutter around the water. Google tells me they’re Ulysses butterflies; basically, they look just like the butterfly emoji and they’re SO PRETTY.

Other campsite creatures we encountered include another of those stick bugs (it had managed to attach itself to the side of our caravan, perched just above the tire), a couple of snakes (not right on our site, but nearby), and a bazillion toads (that only come out at night).

davies creek cairns
Davies Creek.

Most days, we were holed up in the campground rec room which THANK THE SWEET MERCIFUL LORD was equipped with air conditioning. It made getting work done SO much less of an ordeal. There’s also a coffee kiosk right outside reception, so I didn’t have to go far to get my daily coffee. Honestly, this place was SO convenient, which is just what we needed at this stage of our trip.

I’m also proud of us for carving time out each day to go for a walk when it would have been SO much easier to stay comfy and cool indoors. After we finished work for the afternoon and the weather was slightly more tolerable, we’d head off on one of the many walking trails near the creek, or just go for a wander down the streets nearby. Inevitably we’d be covered in sweat by the end of it.

kuranda scenic rail
Kuranda Scenic Rail.

We also packed in a bunch of day trips on our designated days off from work, including:

  • Davies Creek Falls & Emerald Creek Falls – One of the BEST and underrated swimming spots near Cairns! Natural infinity pool what?
  • Palm Cove – We just can’t stay away from this delightful little beach town!
  • Behana Gorge – Worth the 45min hike in to swim in front of Clamshell Falls. Was not expecting to swim with eel or crayfish though!
  • Fitzroy Island – I WANT TO LIVE HERE. But seriously, kicking myself that we didn’t stay overnight on Fitzroy Island ’cause this island is absolute PARADISE.
  • Atherton Tablelands – We did a mystery picnic with AmazingCo and had such a blast driving around the area, solving clues and picking up picnic ingredients along the way.
  • Kuranda – We took the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway up, spent a couple hours at the old market (aka hippie central), and took the Kuranda Scenic Rail down. I enjoyed this experience WAY more than I thought I would!

cape trib camping
Cape Trib Camping.

The Best Bits

Cape Tribulation Camping

I’ve already gushed about this, but truly: Cape Trib Camping has been a standout highlight of this entire trip for me! If I can camp right next to a beach and start every morning in the sand, I am the literal HAPPIEST.

I logged a ridiculous number of hours in my hammock beneath the palms, watching the horseback riding tours trot back and forth every day and devouring my beloved murder mystery books. And being able to have campfires on the beach? SO GOOD.

emerald creek falls cairns
Emerald Creek Falls.

Davies Creek Falls & Emerald Creek Falls

Allow me to present two of the most underrated waterfalls near Cairns!

It’s about an hour drive up into the Tablelands to reach them, but once you’re up there the humidity drops and you’re away from the crowds that flock to the other falls closer to the coast. I was shocked at how few people were here on a weekend!

At Davies Creek Falls, you can do an easy 850m loop walk which takes you to a pretty little creek (perfect for a private picnic!), a natural infinity pool, and a lookout over the waterfall. I’m telling you, this infinity pool was MAGIC. What a view!

davies creek infinity pool cairns
Davies Creek Falls.

And Emerald Creek Falls was such a beaut! Sadly our experience was a bit tainted by a small group of rowdy 20-something guys running (or swimming) amok, but this is a great spot for sunbathing because of the expansive flat rock around the falls. It’s an easy (but hot) 1.6km return walk to the waterfall, plus a little extra if you hike up to the lookout over the falls.

Palm Cove

You’d think that nearly every day of caravan life would be magical, but if I’m honest… there have only been a handful of days thusfar where I thought to myself, today is PERFECTION (insert heart eyed emoji here).

palm cove queensland
Palm Cove.

One of ’em was the day we spent at Palm Cove, a place we’ve been to at least 5 times now. We didn’t see or do anything particularly amazing, but it was the weather and conditions that really made it idyllic. We frolicked in the low tide shallows on the calmest of days and made it our tropical bathtub – like you seriously could not pry us out of that water.

I haven’t seen water that clear and warm in a VERY long time. Absolute HEAVEN!

fitzroy island nudey beach

Fitzroy Island

Ok, the day we spent at Fitzroy Island was also pretty damn magical (albeit a bit windy). After a quick 45min boat ride from Cairns, we arrived at this little island paradise and pretty much wanted to stay forever.

We spent the entire day at Nudey Beach, which was voted one of the best beaches in Australia. Can confirm it’s up there. THIS WATER THOUGH!

fitzroy island nudey beach

The beach itself is pebbly and not super comfy for sunbathing or even walking around, but who cares when the water is this inviting?

I already can’t wait to go back and stay for several days. Next time! (i.e. not during the wet season)

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Kuranda Scenic Railway

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do these touristy things, or if they were even worth it, but let me tell you: I am so glad I did because we had SO MUCH FUN!

skyrail rainforest cableway

The views from both the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Kuranda Scenic Railway were incredible: you could see the coastline, the mountains, the valley, and some waterfalls, and you’re also able to get off and explore a bit on both. The view from the Cableway soaring over Barron Gorge + the train passing right by Stony Creek Falls were two especially epic moments of the journey.

In Kuranda, we loved getting lost in the Original Rainforest Market and stopping off at all the hippie stalls (think crystals, aura readings, reflexology, and herbology). My truffle pizza at The Petit Cafe was also *chef’s kiss*.

barron gorge queensland

The Worst Bits

So, we had a couple of misadventures at Cape Tribulation…

Getting seasick

I knew there would be a chance of me feeling nauseous while on a boat navigating choppy water on a windy day. It’s always when the boat stops that the seasickness starts to hit – it’s that bobbing-up-and-down motion, which is exaggerated in conditions like we had. So by the time we reached the first snorkel spot and hopped in the water, I was forcing back some dry heaves.

I managed to complete the first snorkeling session, then planted myself on the nearby sand island while everyone else snorkeled right off of it at the second snorkel spot. Music always seems to bring me back to life when I get seasick, so I gave myself some music medicine and sure enough, I was able to walk around and take photos shortly after.

cape tribulation day trip

The ride back to shore was alright-ish until the captain randomly decided to do doughnuts just before we arrived, while blasting “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. It was THE MOST ABSURD THING EVER and everyone was dying laughing and singing (myself included!). A minute later, I was vomiting into my own water bottle.

I’m torn because on one hand, that sh*t was HILARIOUS. But on the other hand, I had spoken to the staff before our trip and was assured that they had informed the captain about my propensity for seasickness and that it would be as smooth of a trip as possible (“no funny stunts” was the exact phrase I used). And if this aint a funny stunt, I don’t know what is.

But seriously, screw you motion sickness. I thought I’d cured myself of it in recent years, but lately it’s been haunting me again.

cape tribulation camping
Cape Trib Camping.

Our car nearly overheating

We didn’t realize that between the ferry and the first bay on Cape Tribulation there’s a short but steep uphill segment of road. About 3/4 of the way up, we had to stop and pull over to wait for the car to cool down (not ideal, as we were basically half on the road, on a curvy bend). An hour later, we were good to go and were fine the rest of the drive to the campground.

On the way back, we stopped at a designated pull-off on the uphill and let the car have an hour to cool off again. Not ideal, but better than risking the car breaking down as it did on our first-ever caravan trip when we first bought our vehicles last year.

I really wish we’d known to get a more powerful car for towing purposes. This one can’t handle uphill driving while towing in the heat!

palm cove queensland
Palm Cove.

What I Read

19. The Mother-in-Law – Sally Hepworth
Filed under Things I Love: Starting a book you didn’t realize was a murder mystery (aka your absolute fave genre) and devouring the whole thing in two days.

And in case you’re wondering how the heck I could *not* know it was a murder mystery, I often download books on my kindle that are recommended by people I follow and then get around to reading them many months later. Such was the case here.

I also didn’t know the story was set around Melbourne! And I quite enjoyed how chapters alternated between telling the story from the dead MIL’s perspective, and telling it from a family member’s perspective – which gives the reader a more balanced glimpse at the relationship dynamics from each side.

20. Someone We Know – Shari LaPena
Love me a Sheri LaPena murder mystery, and this one was no exception. It had me guessing right up until the end.

A woman goes missing and everyone in the neighborhood is left wondering what happened, and whether the teen boy who’s been breaking into some of their homes has anything to do with it. I swear it’s more interesting than I’ve made it sound, definitely worth a read!

cape tribulation rainforest
Cape Tribulation rainforest.

Things I’m Loving

The Bachelorette AU – I gave birth to a Bachelor addiction during COVID and it looks like I’m stuck with it until further notice. But it’s ok because this season of the Australian Bachelorette had a pansexual indigenous woman cast in the lead role. HOW AMAZING!! It’s about damn time we had some diversity.

So for the first time ever, they cast both men and women as contestants vying for the Bachelorette’s love. And even better: none of them were the typical pretty blonde girls or pretty party boys you tend to see on these shows. So there wasn’t much drama this season, but there WERE some quality people casted… which probably didn’t do much for the ratings. But I personally loved it and it was such a refreshing change from the norm.

What’s Next?

A couple more weeks in Cairns, and then we’re off to do two house sits down in Townsville! We cannot WAIT to have a whole house to ourselves and an actual kitchen to cook in (not to mention some furry friends to look after!).

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