I’m not one for jumping out of perfectly good aeroplanes, off structurally sound bridges or even leaping from purpose built platforms made especially for leaping from. However I recently surprised myself when I discovered that I am willing to launch myself out of completely stable trees. This is what I did on the Otway Zipline Tour.
The Otway’s Zip tour has been open since October 2010. It consists of 8 ‘cloud stations’, a quaint way of saying that you are stuck up a tree which are joined by zip lines, essentially a highly engineered flying fox. The tour goes for about 2 and a half hours and starts in the training room where, horror of all horrors I was given my safety harness to strap on myself! The guide demonstrates how to do this and instructs everyone not to over tighten their thigh straps. Without fail every person in the room over tightens their straps resulting in many jokes about participant’s ability to have children at the conclusion of the tour. The harnesses, thankfully, are checked over by qualified staff members before we are sent out.
I declare myself to be sh*ting myself’ and as such single myself out for a trial on the baby cloud station and zip line. Zipping for only about 10 meters about a meter from the ground does settle my nerves. I know that the harness works and I also know how to appropriately land on the fast approaching cloud station at the end of each zip line.
I climbed the winding staircase at the first cloud station without looking down and lined up for my turn. Once strapped in at the top of the first platform there is no unlatching for the rest of the tour. Our guide Nathan tells me that if I’m worried it’s best to get it over and done with quickly rather than watching everyone else wiz out to the next tree with the anxiety slowly growing. Taking his advice I head off second in our group sitting in my harness while still over the platform. I hold on tight to the straps attaching my harness to the line above even thought this is completely unnecessary and really quite pointless. Nathan holds the hook on the back of my harness, legs out, ready, go, AGGGGGGGHHHHHH, feet out coming into the next platform, plant feet on white lines, step up, grab hand of the next guide to stop myself from slipping back along the zip and I’m there. One zip down, 5 zips and 2 suspension bridges to go.
I get through the next zips without any issues and I’m not anxious again until I look out across the longest and highest of the zips. It is 120 meters long which means 17 seconds of zipping time and some of the more game people ahead, including young ,showing off children take the chance to let go and swing upside down. Nathan asks how I’m going. I look down and for the first time realised that there are no stairs down on any of the cloud stations other than the first. ‘Well I don’t have much choice here but to go across do I?” I answer. But there is a way down Nathan tells me. It involves hooking me up to an abseiling rig and lowering me down to the forest floor where I would then need to walk through the leech infested forest to the path. “Most people change their minds when I tell them that”. Yes taking the zip is a much simpler option. I make it to the other side, with fingernail marks studding my palms but safe and sound.
By the last zip I’m taking my hands off the straps. Only for a second but I still do it. And the guides tell me something that surprises me. They just don’t get that same adrenaline rush anymore that I’ve just experienced for the last two and a half hours.