MARK JENSEN goes all out with a 48 hour adrenalin rush into[Cairns], only to discover he should have packed more underwear.

Call me Ishmael. Nah, bollocks to that, call me Captain Stubing. However, in this tale of the seas there’s no Love Boat and no white whale either. No my friend, the only thing white this first mate was looking for was water.

Two hours south of Cairns is a sleepy little town called Tully. About a year ago Tully was partially flattened by Cyclone Larry, which also took out some other areas in the region. On the bus ride down to Tully with our hosts, Raging Thunder, the destruction it had caused was still genuinely visible (and I thought it had just affected the price of bananas).

In 2005, before Larry hit, I took two mates to the region for my first taste of[whitewater rafting]. Our group consisted of around 110 people preparing to take on the 15km stretch of the Tully River accessible to rafters in a fleet of 15 boats. Now don’t get me wrong, this first taste of rafting was fun, but I wanted danger, flips, near drowning, blood, guts, but also my cordial and burger for lunch at the river rest stop. So this time ’round, with three new pals in tow, we set off before the large group on a mission to attack the rapids with the gay abandon of the seamen inside us all… Arrr?

Double D-Cup Damage

Extreme Rafting is a new option with Raging Thunder that allows for smaller groups to make a tactical assault on the river, which makes the whole deal more exciting; there are more spills and, sorry to say for you safety in numbers lot, a much better rafting experience. Eighteen people, three boats, three guides and the motto: “We take the safe out of safety.”

With rapid names like Hell Pad, Mine Field and Rock Garden, you quickly get the picture. But it’s Double D-Cup that we most affectionately remember. A few years back a young lass wore a bikini on her rafting adventure: big mistake. The vessel capsized, sending her and the rest of her crew into the turbulent water. After a short while this young thing resurfaced looking suitably bemused. The thunder of white water that briefly held her down acted as any wrongly intentioned beast would, unclasping not only her life vest, but also her bikini top – a double D no less. The male members of this voyage were so impressed by the ample scenery revealed that the rapid was renamed.

My moment of truth came when poorly navigating down Big Rapid. The raft flipped and I was sucked under the water in resurge for what felt like an eternity. Needless to say I was still having a whale of a time. However, as the rapids slowed towards the river tail and my body began to ache from six hours of being extreme, a nappy-nap on the bus ride home was just the ticket.[Skydiving] is Super Sweet

It is a sad reflection on my masculinity, but I refuse to bungy jump… I’m useless enough on a children’s swing set. Get me too high on that thing and I’m rubbish. But at the prospect of jumping out of a plane with a deranged Yorkie called Ronnie I was calm as a Hindu cow. From 14,000 ft. No problem. Plane with no door – whatever! A two-minute lesson on what is expected of me – ummmm. The feeling that I’m about as strapped in as a kid on a school bus – WTF? It’s at about this point I question why I didn’t bring a change of underpants…

If you haven’t skydived before, I recommend you do. As Patrick Swayze said in Point Break: “It’s an adrenalin rush that will make you pop.”

Only being in Cairns for 48 hours, my only real option was to take a tandem jump with one of the experienced crew who has had a ridiculous number of jumps between them. If they’re still packing their chutes, jumping, re-packing on the run and jumping again, something must be working in their favour (I tend to think it is luck more than good intention). Divine intervention is another turn of phrase that comes to mind.

At 14,000 ft Cairns looks a little fuzzy; lots of blurred edges and beige. A small amount of time in the life of a first time skydiver…

11.22am – Ronnie: “Jeno, on your knees.”
Me: “Oh you flirt.”
Ronnie: “Don’t touch anything. We need you strapped in tight.”
Me: “Giggidy-Giggidy.”
Ronnie: “Shuffle yourself toward the door.”
Me: “doesn’t Cairns look all blurry and beige.”

11.23am – Ronnie: “Arms across your chest.”
Me: “Chest? Are we ready to jummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmppppppp…..”

11.23-24am – Me: “POP.”

High Ho, Quicksilver Away

By now I’m sure you’ve realised I seem to be avoiding land; whether it be the heat, my allegedly unfashionable shoes (what, Crocs aren’t cool?) or what my therapist refers to as “grounding issues”, I’ve once again gone like a fish… to water. Quicksilver dives operate a range of boats and[dive options] for all your aquatic needs. And it was with them I made for the reef with snorkelling at the top of the agenda. The ride was like rafting and skydiving combined. Exciting maybe – nauseating would better describe it. Our friends at Quicksilver were great hosts and were open and honest about the sea conditions, but when you see one of the crew holding back the churn, it becomes apparent the sea-sick tablets we were all forced to take were justified. Sitting at the bow, facing every bump, spray and drenching from the ride, I was invoking the power of Lieutenant Dan, sans amputations.

With three reef sites to visit, including one renowned for turtles, I was eager to get into the water. I’ve been to the reef before on a perfect Queensland day. Unfortunately, once or twice a year the Sunshine State has bad weather and it looked as though Nemo and friends took an RDO on this particular dreary day. Coupled with very rough seas I soon had to give up on my quest for sunken treasure and some ex-football manager’s locker I hear so much about. Sadly it was back to land for me, but I shall return someday with my floaties and pool noodle to test these beautiful parts again. I love this part of[Australia].

The experience:[Raging Thunder], Ph. (07) 4030 7990;[Paul’s Parachuting], Freecall: 1800 005 006; Cairns Kart Hire, Ph. (07) 40550355;[Quiksilver], Ph: (07) 4087 2100.

The accommodation:[Bohemia Resort], Ph. (07) 4041 7290.