Sex and drugs were not on the agenda, nor was a great deal of rock ‘n’ roll (though I did listen to some pretty sweet Kate Bush on the bus trip). We were men on a mission. Men destined for great things. Men with bad facial hair and stunning hangovers.
We were four men embarking on an intrepid adventure that would take us eight kilometres through the dense and foreboding wilderness of one of the world’s most deadly locations –
Far North Queensland.
We were full of vigour; determined to fulfil our calling through the dangerous rapids and impenetrable jungle of the Tully River.
On arrival at base camp we replenished our supplies (biscuits from mum) and recruited new members (their mums didn’t pack them any biscuits) for our impending journey down the most perilous section of the majestic Tully.
Entering the river at its northern peak and grappling with the full release from the dam system, which at capacity holds the equivalent of Sydney Harbour, we gingerly entered our vessel into the treacherous depths.
One of Tully’s claims to fame is that it is Australia’s wettest place, with an average yearly rainfall of 4400mm. To put it into context, Wales receives around 3000mm per year and the wettest part of Old Blighty receives approximately 900mm. In the simplest terms: it’s fucking sodden.
In the eye of the storm we departed with the torrid undercurrent still obscured by the gentle flow of the surface water. In total, we were to traverse 25 rapids with the will of the water commanding our fate. And of course by will of the water I mean our professional and experienced rafting guide, Paul.
Through the Corkscrew, Pipeline and Mine Field rapids we navigated with only the brawn of our crew and experience of Paul safely guiding our passage.
There was some concern another boat in our fleet, carrying four Japanese girls and a holidaying Austrian dentist, would never make the journey. The grade three and four rapids were taking their toll on both our mental and physical reserves.
At Disappearing Falls eyes flashed around the boat looking for reassurance; and from Captain Paul it came, “We’re stopping for lunch” and with that he capsized the boat and made us swim to shore.
After a hearty meal of ‘Ox hearts’ (burgers) and ‘rum’ (red cordial) we re-entered the water for the final leg of our white water adventure.
The seas had picked up, and it seemed so might us lads with the rapids Double D-cup, Foreplay and Wet and Moisty to come…
During a quieter moment, Captain Ahab (er, Paul) regaled us with his tails of adventures on the high seas; describing his daily adventures on the Tully and the dangers that lurk in the water, trees and bushes surrounding us.
With that I looked to the land and was shocked to see two rather full figured men lying nude in the sun, tanning their manhood. Needless to say I stopped looking at the land.
The beauty of Tully is that at any moment you can either be drenched in rain or bathed in soft sunshine.
But make no mistake, the river is a dangerous place – it recently took the lives of two adventurers. And it’s exactly the fear factor that encourages travellers from all walks of life to come and test their mettle. Combined with a quick shot of adrenaline, the Tully truly is a Far North Queensland must.
Further down the river and almost at the end of our swashbuckling voyage we came to Little Rapid. To the jaded individual this might seem a bore, but for men with their senses on high alert something suspicious was afoot.
Why Little Rapid? Is it supposed to be ironic like Little John and Robin Hood? No my friends, Little Rapid is named Little Rapid because it precedes Big Rapid. Big Rapid is not ironic. Big Rapid is big… BIG!
The resurge of water – where water surges back on itself to create an extremely volatile effect – is so great that it is a definite no-go zone. Even small resurges have the power to hold you under water for a long period before it eventually spits you out. Your dear narrator has experienced this in the past and doesn’t like to talk about it… Or the recurring dreams.
Paul shouts, “We can’t go this way.
You’ll all die.”
Six crew members suddenly find God.
Crew – “What Paul? What? Guide us, oh masterful Captain.”
Paul – “Well, we could go solo…”
And with that the boat was put on its side and we were sent over the fall on our backs.
Now, people often talk about near-death experiences, but to come face-to-face with the other side, however is a totally unexpected bonus to your rafting day. Once you slide down the rapid you realise many things; most of all you realise that holding your breath isn’t as easy as DavidBlaine makes out.
Big Rapid shoots you about eight metres down into the water. As explained, we were to hold our breath and relax…
Now depending on your weight you’re likely to spend about seven seconds under water before you resurface 15 metres away from where you entered. Let me tell you, kind reader, that seven seconds under water feels more akin to sitting through Titanic, only slightly
Amazingly, everyone bobbed back up, sooner or later, and we dragged our aching bodies back into the raft to finish our day with some smaller rapids and a well earned fruit drink.
The damage: Trips exiting Cairns cost from $155 ($145 from Mission Beach).
The details: To contact Raging Thunder Ph: (07) 4030 7990.