So strap yourself in for his disgraceful first skydive…
I’ve done some stupid stuff in my time: swimming with sharks, facing off with bears, bungy jumping, dancing to Rick Astley, once I even took home a Swedish bird who resembled a dude just to be a good ‘wingman’ for my mate. So jumping from a plane at 14,000ft with a man called Batty strapped to my hips kinda seemed normal.
Batty’s crazy unkempt hair, the sleeve of tattoos down his left arm and the wild look in his eye were totally Tommy Lee.
I wouldn’t trust him to control a multinational organisation, but I reckon he had done this before – 7,000 times actually.
With a smooth take off, we climbed over the hills, above the beaches – the surfers and the waves shrinking, the view spectacular. Did I really want to jump from an aeroplane?
Why not sit inside it, nice and safe, and enjoy the view? But right then my clips were attached to Batty’s and the decision was made for me. He dragged me up onto his lap for a few more bondage adjustments.
Then the plane door slid open and the air came pouring in, swirling around the cabin and falling back out again. I dangled my feet over the edge, slung my legs under the step and held my arms close to my chest. On the count of three we were out of the plane…
There was a huge head rush. My eyes darted around my goggles like pinballs. My brain was like the scoreboard, rolling over itself, trying to keep up, trying to account for every human sense being exploited by my adrenalin. It was a completely unnatural position for a human to be in and yet, once my brain finally caught up and the fear was replaced by excitement, I felt completely comfortable. There is no plummeting sensation, though I was dropping at 120 miles per hour, no scared feeling as I fell from the heavens, just one of soaring amazement.
I smiled for the video camera at the end of Batty’s arm. Later, on the action replay, I saw my cheeks blowing like flags in the strong wind, my shouts of excitement distorted and lost to the atmosphere and the odd drag of drool escaping the pockets of my mouth. I met the clouds and flew past them. Suddenly the ground was noticeably closer and at that, the chute grabbed us and we hit cruise control.
We sailed over the beaches and the surfers (this is looking at Australia in a whole different way), like a hawk on thermals, turning in circles. It was enough time for me to catch my breath before taking the reins and flying myself for a while. We swerved around, lining the beach up as our runway. I lifted up my legs and we glided in smoother than any plane landing.
Was it better than sex? Well, the view was pretty hot, my heart was racing much faster and, not including foreplay or the come down, the whole thing went for 45 seconds. So it lasts a lot longer too. Brilliant…
The only problem is, skydiving costs money (while sex is supposed to be free), so where are the cheapest and best places to do it? Well, read on, because we’ve done all the homework for you…
Where To Jump
Travelling to another country is all about challenging yourself, socially, physically and let’s not forget financially. For a lot of us, we hope to grow mentally as well, either by opening ourselves up to new cultures or by confronting our fears so we can return home prepared for serious life… Then again, maybe you just wanna scare the bejesus out of yourself. Skydiving will do all of these things.
But what’s that? You don’t fancy the idea of the mid-air buggery that is tandem skydiving? Those game enough can do the Accelerated Freefall (AFF) course which means you’re jumping alone. This requires more training spread over nine stages, all requiring a jump.
Generally jumps get cheaper as you progress through to receiving your AFF certificate. Be aware some jumps include a compulsory levy of $25 to the Australian Parachute Federation plus a $10 fuel levy payable on the day.
Wollongong is about an hour’s drive south of Sydney. You’ll get amazing views of the southern coastline, from Sydney in the north, to Kiama in the south. Then you can watch it all come at you at around 200km/h and land smoothly on the beach.
Skydive the Beach
Midweek jumps start from $275 for one-to-four people with weekend jumps at $320. Jump recordings start at $100. Ph: (02) 4225 8444.
Jump over the beautiful North Coast of NSW with views from Ballina to the Queensland border, above Mount Warning and across to Julian Rocks.
Skydive Byron Bay
Jumps start from $239 at 8000ft and there are a variety of packages on offer. Freephone: 1800 800 840.
Tower over all the politicians in Australia’s capital, Canberra, while getting great views of this well-planned city as well as the Brindabella Ranges and the distant snow-capped Australian Alps.
Jumps are $315, or $295 for two or more jumpers. It costs $80 extra for video/photos. Ph: (02) 6285 1453.
Diving above the Gold Coast will get you high over the skyscrapers, but you’ll still spot the fake breasts on the beach.
Gold Coast Skydiving
Jump from 10,000ft for $280; 12,000ft for $295; 14,000 for $325. Video additions start from$115. Ph: 5599 1920.
Prices start from $265 at the Kooralbyn Resort Site on the Gold Coast Hinterland. You can also do a helicopter skydive over the Gold Coast for $399. Visit the Skydive Queensland website for more details and special offers including prices for videos and photos. Ph: 1300 767 790.
The Sunshine Coast is a great place to skydive because it’s always sunny as the name suggests, and you won’t have any clouds in your way – but if you do, just bounce right off them and maybe take out a Care Bear on your way through.
Sunshine Coast Skydivers
Jump from 6,000ft with a 10-second freefall for $199; from 12,000ft with a 45-second freefall for $300; from 14,000ft with a 65-second freefall for $330 (including lunch). If you love the night sky you can try the Shooting Star jump – a 12000ft jump at night for $380. DVD packages start from $99. Ph: (07) 5437 0211 or 0418 776 775.
See the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests from a very different angle. It’s better than any wet t-shirt competition at The Woolshed!
Jump the Beach
Jump the Beach offers awesome views of Mission Beach and the Great Barrier Reef. Jumps are $219 from 10,000ft or $270 from 14,000ft, and you land in the soft sand. Ph: 1800 444 568.
Jumps are $219 for 10,000ft, $270 for 14,000ft (one massive minute). Additional extras include DVDs and photographs. You will need to set aside half a day for your jump, as jumping is weather-dependent and the planes leave from an international airport. Ph: (07) 4052 1822.
To jump from 10,000ft is $219 (special offer) while 12,000ft is $270 and 14000ft is also $270 (special offer). Additional video/photo options start from $99. Ph: (07) 4051 8855.
Fall from the sky at the Top End and take in all the beauty of Darwin, Litchfield National Park,Kakadu and the Arafura Sea. See if you can spot a crocodile from 12000ft.
Top End Tandems
Jumps are $310 from 8000ft, $350 from 10000ft, $390 from 12,000ft and extra $100 for an edited DVD. Mob: 0417 190 140.
Some say the west coast is the best coast. Find out what they’re talking about by taking to the skies.
WA Skydiving Academy
Tandem jumps start from $230 at their Pinjarra site, from 6,000ft up to $390 from 14,000 and $320 from 8,000ft to $400 at 12,000ft at Perth City’s site. Souvenir packages including videos and DVDs start from $99. Ph: 1300 13 7855.
Your first tandem jump from 8,000ft is $269; 10,000 is $309; 14,000 is $389. There are plenty of additions with video and DVD that start from $99. Ph: (08) 9444 4199.
Jump on the north-west coast of WA – Broome, Carnarvon, Coral Bay, Exmouth. It’s a great way to check out the rugged coastline.
Take a 10,000ft tandem jump from $390 or 12,000ft for
$430. Mob: 0417 1800 64.
Okay, so weed is decriminalised in South Australia, but here is a way to get much higher. Jump with views of the Southern Ocean, the Great Australian Bight and the many wine regions. Note: we don’t recommend jumping while you’re drunk or stoned. Or if you just had a curry.
Take a tandem jump from 8,000ft for $379; 10,000ft $399; or 12,000ft for $420. DVD, photo and video options start from $90. Ph: (08) 8272 7888.
Take your tandem leap of faith from 8,000ft currently $299; 10,000ft for $335; 12,000ft for $365. The handy-cam is $70, with delux video and photos costing $109. Discounts to $280 for more than three jumpers.
There’s more to Melbourne than the cafe culture, bar-hopping and the footy season. You can jump into Royal Park (near the zoo), with amazing views of the city skyline (day or night). And you can jump over Torquay or Barwon Heads for spectacular views of the Great Ocean Road.
Jump from 10,000ft-12,000ft for $360. They also have a variety of packages for larger groups. Ph: (03) 5254 1467.
Get totally Point Break, bro, and jump over Bells Beach, Torquay. Jump from up to 12,000ft for $360. Additional videotaping extras start from $120. Ph: 1800 557 101.