TNT’s thoughtful editor had arranged for me to do my bungy jump at the earliest time possible, which meant a 9am pickup. Now, 9am hadn’t sounded all that bad, although I did wonder why he was chuckling. But that was before I’d got to Cairns, a town where you quickly learn that doing anything in the morning means doing it with a hangover. Fine if you’re cruising around on a tour bus, less fine if you’re persuading your body to take part in some death-defying feats.
And so, painfully predictably, despite promises to myself not to drink the night before, I somehow ended up in the Woolshed. And, judging by some sent message detective work the next morning, I’d been out until almost 5am. Perfect.
While I’ve been reliably informed that I did indeed have a good night, climbing on the bus with the taste of Jager bombs crawling up my throat was not great. It was a long way from great.In fact, probably the only thing less great was then pulling up at the AJ Hackett site to see the 50m platform I had agreed to jump off.
The platform, towering over everything else, is the first thing you see when you arrive. As I was the first person there, I was told I could go up straight away. Oh goody. And so I began the walk of fear. One of the cruellest things about this bungy jump is that you have to walk up 50m of stairs.
Each step you climb you get to see how much further away the ground is getting… and how much further you are going to plummet. That’s not all either. As if purely for extra effect, the tower sways in the wind.
So there I am. No sleep, frazzled brain, climbing into the sky on swaying steps that I will soon have to jump off. Perhaps to my death. Let’s just say I’ve been happier. The climb is hard but once at the top is seems even higher. And the tower won’t stop swaying!
On the Edge
I’m soon strapped in and told to walk to the edge. This is the first time I get the chance to look over without a railing between me and the 50m drop. With my legs tightly bound, I’m told to waddle, like a duck, until I’m standing right on the lip of the platform. I was told to let go of the railing and hold my arms out. Doesn’t sound hard, but nothing is easy when you’re stood up there with only one thing on your mind – the ground, how far away it is and how hard it looks.
Suddenly I find myself leaning forward and realise I’m reaching the point of no return… so jump as far as I can (on second viewing on my video, this was one of the most pathetic jumps I had ever witnessed, but at the time it felt huge).
Then came the drop, face first towards the very small pool. When you see people do this jump it seems like they are in the air for about two seconds. When you do it yourself it feels like about two minutes. And then you slow down before being catapulted back up.
One of the worries for me before doing my jump was how big the jerk back would be. Would it dislocate my knee, break my spine, rip off my feet? So I was very surprised when I hardly felt it at all.
A few minutes later and I was back at the bar, having that post jump beer that I felt I’d earned. The decision now loomed. Back to town or back up the tower? It was a very easy decision.
I walked up the tower, this time keen to jump off backwards. I was convinced that after my first jump, the second would be easy, not in the least scary. I was wrong.
Once again I was told to walk to the edge, only this time I couldn’t look down because I was facing the wrong way. To make matter worse, I could only have my toes on the platform, nothing else. Then I jumped off, keeping my eyes up on the tower as I’d been advised, and they were right, that did make it much more scary as you have no idea where the ground is. You’re waiting for the elastic to tighten, but at the same time wondering how long you can fall for before you splat into the water. But soon enough, I did get pinged back up again, after having the top half of my body submerged in the lake.
Once again I found myself at the bar, and again had to decide on what to do. Before I knew what was happening, I was back at the desk booking my next jump. Somehow I agreed to doing another three…
Five and Out
At the top of the tower again, I was told I would be lowered slowly out, before being unexpectedly dropped. Easy, I thought. How can this be scarier then having to physically jump off?
Well it was scarier. What I wasn’t told was that my evil bungy master Mark would keep pretending to drop me, then pull me back up, before counting down, “three, two, one…” and then let me go. Only he didn’t, he just dropped me a foot or two and caught me.
“Stand up straight, stop wobbling your legs,” I was told, this is much harder then you’d think when you’re dangling 50 metres above the ground and have no idea when you’re going to be let go. “Look at me.” I did. “Now look at the handle that I’m holding.” As I did this, the first time I had not been 100 per cent ready to be dropped, I was let go for real.
The falling this time felt like more of a relief as I had been tormented by Mark for what felt like an hour (again, on future viewing, this was a slight exaggeration) and I was glad just to be let go. To this day, I’m still pretty certain that was the scariest thing I have ever done.
After a classic swan dive for my all-important Facebook pic came my final jump. I opted for something completely different. It was called the reverse elevator, basically jumping off backwards, falling feet first and looking up. I had no idea whatsoever of what was going on until I felt my legs being whipped from under me and then dunked into the water below. This truly was completely different.
So, I’d completed my five bungy jumps. The first, my first ever bungy, had been terrifying. Falling backwards on the second, having no idea when I was going to bounce back up again, scared the life out of me.
The third was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. The fourth was fantastic as I could really just leap out and enjoy the whole thing. But the last jump was probably the most scary of them all, full of waiting and not knowing.
Eventually, a near-gibbering wreck, I managed to escape the jump site without being talked into yet more leaps, but I was more than content I’d had one of the best days of my whole Aussie adventure.
Afterall, how many times do you do something amazing and immediately get the chance to do it again, and again, and again…
The damage & the details:
A bungy jump at AJ Hackett’s Cairns site (Freephone: 1800 622 888, www.ajhackett.com) costs $139, or you can have un