It’s our last day in Cairns with our friend Michelle, who came with us from Hayman Island, so to end our time together on a bang we sign up for Xtreme white water rafting down the Tully River with Raging Thunder tour operators. Our day starts at 6:30 am with a two hour drive down to the launching point, if you’re staying at Mission Beach it’s only a 45 minutes bus ride so catch it from there if you can. Once we start getting close to the drop off location, our guides for the day fill us in on what we can look forward to on our Xtreme rafting packing – level 3 and 4 grade rapids, cliff jumping, and raft tipping are just some of the events planned for today. If you are looking for a cruisey ride down a river, this is not the trip for you.
We break off into our small groups and into the rafts we go. With a few brief lessons on paddling and how to handle the rapids we are launched down the river. Our first rapid of the day, the “Alarm Clock” is a grade 4 rapid, and is certainly a wakeup call for those who may still be a bit groggy. After the first wave the boat is soaked, along with everyone who managed to hold on to it. If you didn’t get wet there, it’s immediately out of the boat for some practise at floating down the river over a few rapids, in case it should happen later in the day. Once everyone’s been successfully rescued its back into the boat for a dozen or so more grade 4 rapids.
If that hasn’t gotten your heart racing enough yet, it’s time for cliff jumping. Now for those who know me, nothing scares me more than the thought of jumping off cliffs into the water. Even sky diving somehow seems safer and less frightening, but after climbing up the rocks there is no turning back with everyone shouting “Jump, Jump!” from the water down below. I know I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t do it, so I close my eyes and propel myself off the 4 meter high cliff and into the waters below. Definitely scarier than sky diving.
After a quick break for some lunch it’s back on the water again, no need to wait those 30 minutes to digest – this is Xtreme rafting after all. Lots of practice tipping rafts here, and just in case you haven’t experience what near drowning feels like, the guides throw you back out of the boat and down the “Drowning Simulator”, a series of waves that sucks you under as each one goes over top of you.
After 5 hours on the water, it’s back on the bus again for a much needed rest. It was a long day but an amazing experience. There are definitely going to be lots of sore muscles tomorrow, and maybe even a few bruises, but that’s what the Xtreme tour is with Raging Thunder Rapids is all about.