TULLY RIVER RAFTING ADVENTURE
I woke-up early to be ready in time for my 7:40 am pick-up to Tully. I was headed on the Raging Thunder River Rafting tour in Tully – famous for being one of the wettest parts of Australia. The luxury, air-conditioned bus arrived on time and we headed into South Mission to pick up four more passengers before being transferred to somewhere that felt like, the middle of nowhere. We met up with the other rafters from Cairns, filled in more paper work and then we all hopped onto one bus and headed for the jungle.
The scenery on our way was beautiful – something which seemed to be quite common in Australia. We passed through rolling green landscape, sugarcane fields and banana plantations and into lush tropical rainforest. During our forty-or- so minute bus journey to the river, we were subjected to a Raft-safety video which demonstrated how to hold the paddle when on the raft, what to do if you fall out of the raft, how to get back in etc. After the video, we given another, more entertaining, rundown by the bus host on choosing the correct helmet sizes, adjusting life jackets and how to pull-in fallen raft members using our paddles – or ‘go-go gadget sticks’ as he called them. We were then allocated groups and I was put into an all girl group made up of two ladies from Holland (Kim & Inka), two from England (Emily & Louise) and Natalie from the US.
After a short comfortable journey, we arrived at the river and were ‘welcomed into the jungle‘. After kitting-up, we made our way down to the river. We had David as our guide and joked at whether he had drawn the short straw to be guiding the “girls-only” boat, or the long one.
At the river edge, we were given some final instructions on paddling and moving around the raft. Then we were finally off, rafting down the Tully River. We passed over the rapids, bumping up and down, left and right. The water was a little colder than expected – refreshing for a change. It began to rain and after passing over some rapids, we all jumped off the boat and caught the rapids downstream. With our feet facing forwards and our legs raised, we floated to the next calm section of water. The next challenge was to get back in. We ‘downward –facing-sealed’ (as Natalie would call it) our way back in. Not very graceful, but we improved as the day went on.
Photo by Raging Thunder
The first four kilometres of the trip were down numerous grade 3 & 4 rapids. We were instructed to “paddle forward”, “paddle backwards”, all “jump to the left”, all “move to the right” – which became difficult as some people (Louise and Emily) couldn’t tell the difference between their left and right. It must be a northern hemisphere thing. We were also made to all sit at the front of the boat and at the back a two separate occasions. I was surprised by the flexibility of these yellow, rubber rafts and they contorted to fit between the rocks. We were often told to “paddle, paddle, paddle” then and to “paddle harder”. We were also told to “hold on” and sometimes we had to “get down!”, where we would all tuck ourselves into the inside of the boat as quickly as possible.
Just before stopping for lunch, we passed below a cascading waterfall, receiving an icy cold shower – cold for me at least.
For lunch, we stopped at a semi-permanent camp on the edge of the river. We were given hamburgers and sausage rolls with all the toppings you could desire – and we could even have seconds. We also had tea and coffee and watched the schools of fish get fed in the river. There were also three turtles visible amongst the many fish.
We continued after lunch for another 6 kilometres downstream. Down one of the rapids, we all gathered at the front of the boat, holding hands until we all toppled off. We let the current take us downstream for a bit before backward rolling back on. We laughed and compared stories of the not so dangerous animals in everyone else’s home countries. We stopped at a big rock outcrop where we all climbed up to jump off into the water bellow. Inka hesitated for a while unsure whether or not to take the plunge, but eventually did.
We ended the paddle once the sun finally came out, all pretty tired and worn-out. It was an awesome experience and the guides added to the excitement by trying to get people off the boats and splashing as we passed by. We took a photo with Kim’s Carrot teddy bear before carrying the boat back up the hill to the trailer. We got dressed into dry clothes and hopped aboard. The seats were all covered with white, plastic-covers making it looked like a massacre was about to take place – it didn’t of coarse.
We returned to the office/bar to buy photos, drinks and food before sadly, heading our separate ways, to Cairns for some or to Mission Beach. I headed back to Mission for a shower, dinner and to get ready for my late Greyhound Bus to Cairns.