“I’m. Not. Batman,” Master12 growled at me through a clenched jaw sounding, ironically, a lot like Batman.
We were perched on top of a wooden platform situated up a tree in the middle of a forest which is surrounded on all four sides by suburbia and main roads. The Batman reference had come up because I’d just told Master12 how thrilled he’d be if he threw himself off the platform and let gravity do it’s thing.
“The zip line is perfectly okay,” I assured him, mentioning it had already worked well on his two sacrificial sisters he’d sent ahead to make sure it was safe.
On the next tree, Miss13 and Miss10 were shouting their encouragements.
“How often is the equipment replaced?” he asked our guide, Michale. “Every ten people? Every hundred?”
“Umm…” Michale hesitated. “They aren’t replaced like that.”
“Well, how often do you check them?” pressed Master12.
“At least every week,” he assured Master12, and then went on when this didn’t seem to have the bolstering effect he expected, “they’re gone over from up here. But we also do a visual check from the ground before we let you up.”
Master12 turned his gaze back to me.
“I hate you. This is your fault.”
“You said you wanted to do this?” I protested.
“I know,” he said. “But you asked me if I wanted to. Am I allowed to swear at you?”
Anxiety can be crippling. Mentally, I had a comfortable seat right where Master12 is for most of my life, except I didn’t face my fears like he is. In fact, it’s only as a seasoned adult I’ve begun to demand more of myself in terms of phobias. Now I’ve notched up some one-two punches against my inner demons. I’ve been in a tank with sharks, made myself watch the nurse take my blood and even eaten tofu. With luck, at some point in the next twelve months, I intend jumping out of a plane, and holding a live fish.
I’m saving the fish one for last. Baby steps. Just breathe, Bruce.
Thing is, it was at another of the TreeTops parks a year ago where I finally knew I’d beaten my own fear of heights. Historically, much like Harry Potter’s arm in Chamber of Secrets, my legs would turn to jelly. And yet there I was, racing across wobbly planks of wood suspended five meters or more above the ground, and getting stuck in dangling barrels.
I’m not saying I’m keen for a job in high-rise window washing but I’m at the point where I won’t let an irrational fear of heights (or a rational fear of heights, as I’ve always called it) stop me from doing fun things like booking a unit above the ground floor.
“You’ll fly across and want to do this again,” I tried. “Remember what that guy at Questacon said when you were hesitating at The Drop? Because you’re more anxious you’ll feel more exhilarated when you make it to the other side.”
“If,” he corrected me.
“Okay, if you make it to the other side.”
“Try walk down the plank,” Michale encouraged him, probably wondering if we were going to make it back by sun down at this rate. It was just after lunch. “Or sit down in the harness and then raise your feet a bit.”
“Did you bring spare undies?” Master12 asked me as he let the harness take his weight. He did, in fact, lift his feet and then gravity took over.
A few seconds later, he was standing with our second guide, Jay, on the far platform. He wasn’t just grinning: he was screaming and yelling his self-praise, eager to get on to the next zip line.
You might not be Batman, Master12 (jury is out – that voice!), but the way you took to those zip lines and especially threw yourself into the final 360m descent, you are my little hero.
Awesome part of the guided tour are the little environmental lessons they’ve woven in. Like, did you know there’s a big problem with African Olive, which some knobber introduced to this country? Did you know the freeway near the parklands has bends in it because they found an endangered snail living there?
“That bird call you can hear-” Michale started.
“The one which sounds like a frickin’ laser?” I interrupted.
“Umm…I guess. That’s a Bowerbird.”
“There’s one!” I said pointing to a nearby tree where a bird had just landed on a branch.
“Umm…,” Michale lowered his voice and said to me. “Actually, that’s not one.”
“There one isn’t!” I continued to point.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
This post is not sponsored although Tree Tops Western Sydney did invite us to check out their activities