The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Skydiving and snorkeling on Spring Break

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Because of my weekly travels and studious nature, I have been a bit behind reporting my adventurous activities abroad. I have failed to skip (or finish) my action-packed spring break with the Extreme Adventures One Fish, Two Fish trip. I could write pages of my nine-day adventure traveling the western coast of Oz and had every intention of reporting all of my quirky encounters and detailed experiences, but I just realized that my spring-break journal is nearly seven pages single-spaced and could just about be considered a short story. I shall try to keep it to a minimum and will accept questions after.

Typical Spring Break: Drinking in some tropical, beachy-area with a handful of your university friends and a bunch of new ones by the end of the week. If you're lucky ... or even better, if you manage to sign up in time for that MTV Spring Break and can finagle your way in front of the crowd, just for that split-second you could be caught on camera and could brag that you were on TV. Granted, most vacations are this relaxing, but I have never been so adventurous in such a short period.

Day 1: We started our trip off in Brisbane at 8:30 a.m. and headed to the Steve Irwin Zoo. Unfortunately, one person decided to arrive an hour later, which meant we just missed holding the koalas at the only zoo you are allowed to. How disappointing. At this point in my Australian journeys, I have fed more kangaroos then I think humanly possible, and thought I would be able to have a stab at a different animal. Maybe it is just not the right time.

After the zoo, we quickly popped into a pub and headed to our accommodation at Harvey Bay. That night, the agenda called for dinner and a cruise. Let me say, I really enjoy cruises and being on the water in general, but I tend to get motion sickness, whether on a boat, plane or in a car. We didn't leave the dock because of the wind and rough water until after we had our BBQ, which consisted of the usual sausages on a slice of bread and the driest steaks imaginable. The boat wasn't very big, and since it was so windy and cold everyone was tightly squeezed near the bar. I spent most of the time with my head between my knees because I felt like I was on a never-ending amusement-park-pirate boat.

Day 2: Our day began bright and early, four-wheeling in a bus around Fraser Island. Not kidding, we went through the forest and hit some extreme pot holes, which caused the people in the backseat to hit their heads on the ceiling they flew up so high. After our intense and painful drive, for some, we hung out by the freshwater Lake McKenzie, and toured the island, hoping to spot some dingoes and Great White Sharks (which we didn't see any of the above). Our next location was at Airlie Beach -- a 12hour bus ride. Yes, 12 hours on a bus, not the most enjoyable thing! And who didn't sleep ... ME! I even took sleeping pills, but I was so uncomfortable, the kid behind me was snoring and my back was killing, so I didn't sleep. We arrived at Airlie Beach around 6:30 in the morning, but immediately packed a small bag for the next few nights on South Molle Island in the Whitsunday's. The group then hopped on a boat that took us to White Haven Beach, one of the top three beaches in the world!

Day 3-5: For the next few days, our spring break clan spent the majority of the time kayaking, rafting, hiking the island, bronzing, just the typical beach day activities. When it was time to leave the island and venture to our next location, we jumped on a massive yacht and sailed back to Airlie Beach. We had incredible weather, which led to a pretty relaxing day, although I have never been out in the sun for that long in my life. There was no escaping it, and you just about had to put up a white flag and surrender your body because there was no hiding from the intense sun. At least there were locations to snorkel and to float around the sand bars, which cooled us off a bit.

Cairns was our next destination, and that night we had another extremely long and uncomfortable bus ride. Granted it was only a 6 hour ride, and thought it would be quite manageable after the dreadful one to Airlie Beach, but I think it was worse. Especially after an hour or so into the trip a kid realized he left his book bag, passport et al, hanging on the fence outside of McDonalds. I mean, come on! That, of course, added additional time to the already awful ride, and we didn't arrive at our hostel until 2 a.m. and had to wake up at 7 a.m. for whitewater rafting.

Day 6: Waking up early was every bit worth it for the whitewater rafting on the Tully River. The Tully is located in the wettest part of Oz and is the best or one of the best whitewater rafting locations in the world! Even though they we rafted at level 4-5 rapids, it was quite relaxing. The water was of good temperature, and if you haven't been rafting before, it isn't always intense-go-at-the-rapids every minute. It is a rapid or two, and nice float down the river, and back into the rapids. We did see a cassowary, which are endemic to Australia, very aggressive and also very rare to see in the wild.

Although my biggest concern was that I would cross paths with a freshwater alligator. Oh goodness, I don't even know what I would have done. The image from the movie Jumanji, when they roll the dice and the house floods and the alligator swims on by, kept passing through my head. Whew, glad that didn't happen.

For the rest of the trip we stayed at this hostel called Gilligans, which I would consider more of a resort because of the pool, bars and restaurants it included. Not your typical hostel.

Day 7: Next day was a day of adrenaline, heights and audacity! The morning began with nothing more than a little bit of skydiving. Yes, jumping out of a plane at 14,000 and free falling for 60 seconds was probably the most amazing experience I have ever had! After only one jump, I am completely addicted and would love to be a certified sky diver so that I can jump solo! It was worth every penny I spent, and I highly recommend it.

Because it is law that unless you are a certified sky diver, you have to jump tandem, there were six jumpers and six instructors in the tiny plane. Luckily, my instructor, Coops, was on the Australian sky diving team, so I felt fairly safe. It took about 20 minutes to reach our altitude of 14,000 feet, and one by one, with our arms crossed and head back, the instructors pushed us out of the aircraft. I was the last one to be tossed out of the plane, and pretty sure that I screamed for the majority of the 60 second free fall. After our parachutes were opened, it was about a five or six minute float until we touched ground. It was incredible to have such a vast view of Cairns, and as the last one out I got to watch everyone land. I did get a little motion sickness at the end, when Coops decided to do twists and turns. Ugh.

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Well, we didn't have much time after our dive before we had to prepare for Night disco bungee jumping! I was more afraid to bungee jump then sky dive because it is such an individual and mental feat. We were 150 feet up and our view down was a huge pool of water. Once you climb to the top, the guys tie up your feet, push you to the edge, count to 5 and then it's up to you to jump. Crazzzy! I am glad I did it, but it was nothing compared to sky diving. I thought it would hurt because it looks like you get whipped when you bounce back up, but it doesn't at all. I did have a bit of a head rush since I was hanging upside down for so long, but that was the extent of my injuries.

Day 8: Yay! Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Of course it was overcast, and I was so motion sick on the boat, but again, another great adventure! The best part was that I am a certified diver, and I could go the full 60 feet. So amazing and another check-off on my list of things to do. I think it would have been better if it were sunny because then the colors of the reef would have been more brilliant, but it was still magnificent. It was quite nice just to space out underwater and take in the marine environment.

The remainder of my time Cairns was nothing adventurous or comparable to the days before. It was quite an intense, yet memorable spring break which I don't think I will ever top anytime soon.

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