Caravan Life Diaries – Month 8 (September 2021)

READ THE OTHER CARAVAN LIFE DIARIES MONTHLY RECAPS HERE.

Finally, a monthly update that might just be short and sweet! These posts have been taking me DAYS to write and prep for publishing and so far have always exceeded the 3000 word count.

But in month #8, we didn’t go ANYWHERE apart from quick little excursions from our base in Port Douglas. And it was VERY needed because by this point, we were feeling pretty burnt out from a few months of hectic Outback travel and longgggg driving stints. All we wanted was to stay still for awhile and catch up on life – and Port seemed like a lovely place to do that.

port douglas

Port Douglas is an hour north of Cairns, in Far North Queensland. It’s warm and humid all year round – definitely a tropical climate where layers and sleeves are rarely needed.

For most of September, we saw cloudy humid days; but by the end of the month, blue skies became the norm and carried on into October. This was actually sort of a good thing because I was a lot less tempted to go to the beach on cloudy days and focused instead on work.

Here’s what Month #8 of our big Aussie road trip looked like:

Where We Went This Month

TRAVEL BY STATE: 30 days in QLD
ACCOMMODATION COSTS: AU$1430 on campsites

Sept 1-30: Port Douglas

We continued our lengthy stay at Glengarry Holiday Park, just outside of Port Douglas. The entire month, we never drove more than 30mins away from town – and it was so nice! There’s lots to see and do around Port, and it’s just a nice place to be, ya know?

So mostly, I just soaked up the tropical vibes, admired the plentiful palm trees and lush greenery everywhere, and went for daily walks on Four Mile Beach or just down the road from the caravan park. Everywhere you look, you see a green mountainous backdrop – it’s just so pretty here!

thala beach palm trees

It also felt SO NICE to get back into a routine of sorts. Most days I spent either crawling from cafe to cafe in town with my laptop, or working in the camp kitchen… which was great in that it was the one place I could actually escape the heat, but not so great because we couldn’t get any phone/wifi signal in there (I had to place the dongle just outside the kitchen to get a bar or two of reception, and then inevitably someone would come and think that it had been left there and I’d have to explain it was mine – oh the joys of caravan life!).

AND, I got back into working out! I’d say this is the first time I was consistent with my fitness since before COVID, and I have to say it felt really good. I went on a lot of walks and did daily short workouts at our campsite (more on this in the Best Bits section below!).

The only time we left town was to visit nearby Mossman Gorge one afternoon, and for beach days down at Palm Cove (my new fave spot!).

The Best Bits

Palm Cove

Honestly, I think the highlight of this whole month was Palm Cove: a sleepy tropical enclave about halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas (30mins from either).

We did a few day trips down to Palm Cove this month (basically whenever it was a perfect sunny day) and each outing looked the same: grabbing coffee and brunch from Espresso & Co. or 27 Degrees (best peanut butter acai bowl EVER), then laying on the beach all afternoon.

palm cove

Palm Cove is insanely picturesque, with elegant palm trees lining the sand and the mountainous coastline receding in the distance. As the sun drops closer to the horizon, the shadows from the palm trees cover more and more of the sand, so it ends up becoming a bit of a game of moving your towel around to maximize your sunbathing time. But on really hot days it’s so nice to have all that shade while laying on the beach. And ugh, the water was SO clear and warm – so happy to have been here before stinger season hits and it’s still safe to swim in North Queensland!

I don’t know, I just LOVED it here for some reason and kept feeling the pull to revisit. It’s such a gem!

30 Day Workout Program

Is it weird that a 30 day workout program was one of the best things to happen to me this month?

So I committed to a 30 day workout plan that I found on my Alo Moves app (which I’ve used lots over the past 1.5 years, mostly for yoga/stretching at home). I figured it was a good time to focus on fitness since I’d be in one place for awhile, have a shower to clean myself up right away afterwards, and not have to deal with quite the level of heat we’d endured in the Top End the past couple months.

Each week included 1 rest day and 6 workout days: 1 workout was low impact mobility, while the other 5 days had a high intensity workout, often involving dumbbells (yes, we are traveling with a set of adjustable hand weights!).

queensland road trip
One of our campsite visitors.

I loved how there was always something new to keep me interested and my body guessing. And gosh, I haven’t sweat so much working out in SUCH a long time (though to be fair, I’m sure the amount of sweat is more correlated with the humid weather than it is with my effort exerted).

It actually worked pretty well doing these workouts right in our campsite. Sometimes I used the concrete slab under our caravan awning if it was raining or if the ground was wet, but mostly I was able to do it on the grass next to it. We had a fair amount of privacy where we were, with some trees and bushes separating our site from the neighboring one and our car parked right in front of our site. Not all campsites are this conducive to workouts, so we were pretty lucky with this one!

Mossman Gorge

No trip to Far North Queensland would be complete without a visit to Mossman Gorge, so we went and had the BEST afternoon walking through the rainforest and getting side tracked (literally) off the walking path to check out cool little spots. We ended up walking a little ways along the river and finding an idyllic picnic spot by a small waterfall – and we had it alllllll to ourselves.

Then a little further along the trail, we stopped off at Wurrmbu Creek (which is actually signposted) and found this little oasis for a quick dip and float. I can’t even tell you how good it felt to be immersed in this water after hiking on such a humid (but thankfully cloudy) day.

mossman gorge
Mossman Gorge.

Tony Robbins UPW

Remember when all the signs told me to buy tickets to Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within event a couple years ago? Well good lord has it paid off – thanks to COVID, last year’s event turned virtual, so they pushed our in-person even til the next year and gave us free tickets to the virtual event. Then the same thing happened this year. So I get two virtual UPWs and one in-person UPW for the price of one, basically. How good, right?

Anyway, so the Sydney UPW is always in September. Last year, I was in Sydney for it and would spend the first half of each day tuning in from a cafe in the city while Pete stayed home to work in our shared studio apartment, which meant I couldn’t really participate and play as “full out” as they like us to do, for fear of disturbing others and causing a scene in a public space. I didn’t have my video on and I didn’t do any of the movement exercises they have us do, which I felt kind of hindered my experience.

This year, though? I logged in from the caravan park where I was surrounded by old folks who didn’t care (or probably even notice) that I was jumping and dancing around like a lunatic every hour of the 4 day event. I was ALL IN, full of energy, getting into “peak state’ by moving my body all over the damn place. Which kind of seems silly until you actually do it, and you see and feel everyone else in the (virtual) room doing it, and you think “my god, this is amazing!”.

And it really was! I enjoyed this year’s UPW far more than I did last year’s, even though they were nearly identical in content and nature. The only thing different was me and my participation level.

If you’re curious about Tony Robbins’ UPW event and aren’t sure if it’s worth it, let me assure you: IT IS. I don’t know how anyone could ever talk sh*t about Tony because what he’s done is absolutely, objectively incredible. And no, I didn’t join the cult (it’s not a cult!). This event should be mandatory for ALL humans. If you’re at all curious about it or have been thinking of doing it, then THIS IS YOUR SIGN TO DO UPW!

origin espresso

Origin Espresso

One of the highlights of this month was definitely Origin Espresso, a cafe in Port Douglas serving up some of the best coffee I’ve had on this entire road trip! I loved it so much I went dozens of times during my stint here. I’d usually spend an hour or two working at one of their outdoor tables before moving on to another location that stayed open later.

The staff here are the best, too! They’re all so friendly and welcoming and didn’t mind my hogging a table to work on my laptop (that’s always worth bonus points from me).

The Worst Bits

School Holidays, AGAIN

I don’t know how I managed to forget that school holidays were coming up again (seriously, Aussies are always on holiday!), but our last two weeks at the caravan park unfortunately coincided with Queensland school holidays.

And with that, the park went from a sleepy retirement village to an amusement park overnight.

Every time we encounter these wild animals masquerading as children, Pete and I are like, SURELY we weren’t like that when we were kids? I’m telling you, the kids at this caravan park had absolutely NO regard for anyone around them: we endured them walking straight through the middle of our campsite, yelling back and forth across sites, and running around playing games at night.

And don’t EVEN get me started on parents who think it’s a good idea to go camping with a baby that wakes up every night screaming and crying. Like are you serious?! How incredibly inconsiderate when you KNOW it’s going to disturb everyone around your campsite. I acknowledge that my perspective is limited, given that I’m not a parent myself, but I still find it hard to justify this disrespectful behavior.

We really need to come up with a gameplan to escape the hoards of families who will be out for the next round of school holidays over Christmas and New Years because I am NOT enduring this sh*tshow again! Perhaps it’s time to dip back into the world of house sitting?

tropical north queensland road trip

What I Read

17. The Devil’s Star – Jo Nesbo
Of COURSE I devoured this book in two days and it kept me guessing right up until the end, as per usual with all Jo Nesbo books. What I love about them is how, alongside an intricate murder mystery, there runs a secondary story surrounding the main detective – which in this book, had a lot to do with his ongoing drinking problem.

18. Concrete Rose – Angie Thomas
I read the book that came before this one, The Hate U Give, a couple years ago and loved it. This book came out after, but is meant to be the precursor to the other book. Concrete Rose is a look at the father’s life, i.e. everything he went through during his teenage years, before he became the father figure in The Hate U Give.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading BOTH of these books, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. I remember reading the first book years ago, before BLM really kicked off, and being like “holy sh*t I know NOTHING about what it’s like being a person of color in America”. It’s pretty eye opening, especially if you grew up living a sheltered life in New England and went to a school where 99% of students were white.

queensland palm trees

Things I’m Loving

The Voice
I fell in love with this show last year and was SO excited for it to return this year. They switched networks, format, and judges, so it looked a lot different than last season… but I still enjoyed it.

One thing I didn’t care for was how literally half of the season was the blind auditions. I mean 9 episodes of auditions is more than a little overkill, don’t ya think? They also cut out battles week, which I LOVED last season… so that was a bit of a bummer.

But all that happened in August; once September rolled around, The Voice got gooooooood. I just wish we got more time to hear the contestants that actually made it through, rather than all those freaking auditions. There were SO many incredible voices this season, far more impressive than those from last season IMO. And I especially loved having Rita Ora as a judge: I knew pretty much zero about her beforehand, but man she has so much personality!

What’s Next?

In October, we’re finally leaving Port Douglas and heading north to Cape Tribulation for some quality beach time! From there, we’ll officially start our long journey south down the east coast and base ourselves out of Cairns for a few weeks or so.

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