I’m so scared of heights I once crawled, in front of my new girlfriend, up a flight of stairs because my knees refused to work the way they’d been taught and keep me upright.
So when Destination NSW informed me I’d be doing something ‘fun’ at TreeTops adventure park in the Ourimbah State Forest, I was doubtful.
“What am I going to do?” I whined to Tracey.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be there,” she said.
“What are you going to do to help?” I asked.
“Take pictures,” she grinned.
Arriving at the course, I was directed to a shed for something called Crazy Rider – essentially a zip line through the trees.
“I do have a concern,” I said to the instructor during the initiation talk before we headed off. He stopped talking and looked my way. I paused to work out how to delicately word my question so as not to embarrass myself.
“He wants to know if he’s too fat to do this,” said Tracey, trying not to show how amusing she found my awkwardness at being sensibly suspicious of heights, and failing badly.
“You’ll actually go even faster down the downwards bits because of your….because the smaller and lighter people can’t get as much speed up,” he said. “The trouble for you will be on the flatter bits. You’ll slow right down and nearly stop in some parts. And you don’t want to stop way up there. It’ll take a long time to get help.”
Guess who stopped?
“I’ve stopped!” I called down into the forest.
“I can see you,” Tracey called up. “Can you spin around a little to your right?”
“Do you think that’ll help?” I asked, wiggling and contorting my body.
“I don’t know,” she laughed. “I’m just trying to get a photo.”
Fortunately, I was able to hand over hand myself a few feet to the next decline and zipped away.
And while this all sounds like I was shitting my pants, which I was a little, the fact is I was giggling and yahooing the whole way down. I worked out pretty quickly if the thing broke I’d plummet at great speed into the ground before I knew something had gone wrong, and that calmed me down a lot and allowed me to enjoy it.
Then I was in for an even bigger surprise. I wasn’t just doing the zip line, I was also climbing up into the trees to climb, crawls and balance my way through their obstacle courses – the TreeTops Adventure Park courses.
“Shit,” I mumbled to Tracey. Then I thought of something important. “Do we even have time for this? Don’t we have to be at the brewery for a tour soon?”
“Heaps of time. That’s two hours away,” she assured me.
And that was the last negative thought I had. In fact, because I was successfully facing off against one of my big phobias it was one of the best days I’ve ever had. The key to this was their system of latching you to the course. Everyone has two ‘claws’ attached via a belt, and only one claw can be opened at a time. Meaning there’s no chance you can actually plummet to the ground.
And it’s not just for overweight bloggers full of phobias. There were groups of kids having birthday gatherings, whole families and uni students jibbing and chortling their good-humoured way through the courses.
Because I wasn’t battling my inner demons, I raced through the smaller Green course in no time at all while Tracey took a few unflattering photos from the path below. When I hit the slightly harder Blue course I looked down to smile for the camera and my wife was nowhere to be seen.
“Where’d you go?” I asked her when I completed the activities and flying foxed into the assembly point.
“You weren’t scared,” she said, “so I got bored and decided to go sit down.”
We’re coming up to twenty years together since the whimpering-and-crawling-up-stairs-in-public-on-a-date fiasco, and I suspect I’m just now starting to see what my attraction is for her.
“How was your day?” one of the TreeTops staff asked when I encountered them on the walk back to our car.
“I’m a little disappointed,” I told him honestly.
And I really was. But for a reason which I wouldn’t have expected when I arrived three hours earlier.
“I have to be at a pub shortly,” I said, looking at my watch, “so I couldn’t continue onto the Red and Black circuits.”
Which leads me to the best bit of advice besides ‘just do it’ which I can offer anyone wanting to enjoy an adventurous family day out: make sure you allow yourself a good few hours at the park.
You will not want to leave early. Even for beer.
“Raising a family on little more than laughs”
Sharing is caring. Plus it really does make a difference. Thanks heaps.
Not exactly a sponsored post, but Destination NSW were lovely enough to organise for me to take this adventure.