As a surfer it’s pretty safe to say that I like water and I’m pretty comfortable in it – I’ve always been a bit of a water baby and being thrown around in the surf is something that doesn’t really phase me too much!
So when I got the opportunity to go white water rafting in Australia on the Tully River I jumped at the chance to get wet and get the adrenaline going!
Second Time Around
On my first trip to Australia rafting was something that was pretty high on my travel bucket list but also one of the things that I simply couldn’t get around to fitting in – both due to time scales and a tight travel budget, it was bumped in favour of skydiving!
So on my way up the infamous east coast backpacking trail me and Scotty decided to stop off in at Absolute Resort, Mission Beach for a couple days – the perfect base for a day of white water chaos on the river, and naturally we opted to upgrade the package to extreme – go big or go home hey?!
Hitting The Water
En route to the Tully and feeling surprisingly fresher than the other backpackers on the bus (who were ridiculously hungover from a heavy Saturday night on the goon!) we were getting amped for chucking ourselves down some rapids.
As soon as we hit the riverbank we were quickly geared up and told to organize ourselves into groups, but most importantly group ourselves in rafts containing people who wanted the same kind of experience.
In other words if you didn’t mind being flipped off a boat into bubbling white water you needed to be with similarly kamikaze mindset people!
With disclaimers signed and a boat for of suicidal backpackers we hit the water and got straight into the action with some grade 4 rapids…
I’ll admit now that going into the first set I was rather nervous, this however soon gave way to a beautiful mixture of adrenaline, smiles and laughter as we tumbled, paddled and negotiated our way through a series of rocks, drops and white water – it was heaps of fun, even though one guy pretty much fell off on the first go – miraculously rescued by Scotty literally dragging him in by his jacket!
With the nerves out the way the banter began and the peer pressure of backpackers kicked in – with people trying to flip the boat, push each other out and overall have an amusing time on the river!
Our guide obviously took note of our eagerness and in one steep drop deliberately flipped the entire raft – sending 6 rather hungover backpackers underwater and drifting through down the river desperately trying to recover their paddles and dignity…all whilst grinning their heads off!
As we tackled more and more rapids of guide gave call of our instructions – “hold on, get down…” but most amusingly of all “get left” or “get right” which meant for the entire boat to perch on aforementioned side….a command which quickly descended into chaos with each side trying to push the other overboard!
Our guides response was to simply get us to spin the boat mid rapid, which caused the boat to “surf” – basically digging the nose into the oncoming water and flooding the boat completely! Me and Scotty were sat right at the front for this escapade and soon found ourselves chin deep in raging white water….which once we realised wasn’t going to drown us (which took a few seconds!) was hilarious!
After successfully getting through a heap more rapids without getting to much wetter (I’m completely lying here, we were all soaking because they decided to paddle us through a waterfall!) it was time for a tasty BBQ lunch and a much deserved cup of coffee – we had been going since 8am after all.
The first section after lunch was slightly more mellow, which allowed us to soak up the gorgeous scenery of the Queensland tropics as we drifted downstream.
However the tranquility wasn’t to last long as we were order to jump out of the boats – because the next set of rapids we’d be taking on ourselves….swimming down them!
The idea of swimming down white water rapids was certainly alot more daunting than the safety of the boat, but we had booked extreme, so extreme was what we had to be!
In actual fact it was actually just as fun (if not more so) than the raft!
Bobbing above the water, getting dunked, being thrown over the falls and under the water, popping up again and repeating! And even though I look half drowned in this video – I’m still smiling by the end of it!
The most nerve racking parts were still to come though with us going over the falls on a much larger rapid – one that held you under for a good 5 seconds and spat you out a long way from where you entered….
My own personal fears weren’t the rapids or the hold downs though – mine came right at the end of the day when we moored up and had the option of jumping off a fallen tree into the river – some 5m up.
Now I’m pretty game for most things on the road but I’m terrified of heights. Like totally terrified! Yet peer pressure once again got the best of me and I found myself literally crawling (everyone who watched this said I looked hilarious!) up the trunk and to the end.
I knew I’d totally freeze if I though about it so I simply stood and launched myself off the end in one go.
Was I glad I did it? Yes.
Would I do it again? Definitely not!
The Raging Thunder Experience
The guys at Raging Thunder took heaps good care of us all day – from the door to door pickup and drop off service right through to a tasty BBQ, snacks and good tunes on the bus!
Our river guide was heap entertaining, keeping us on our toes but at the same time keeping us safe and passing on his own personal knowledge of the sport and the beautiful part of the world he works in.
If you’re heading to Australia I recommend you stick a bit of white water rafting on your bucket list and take the stopover in Mission Beach to do it – rather than opt for a Cairns departure which adds over 2 hours to your daytrip!
The extreme option is a whole day excursion at is around $220 for the day inc the government waterways tax. It’s not the cheapest day trip you cna do in Oz but it’s certainly one of the most fun!
**please note I received a complimentary trip from Raging Thunder – but rest assured all opinions are honest and my own**