White Water Rafting on the Tully River

Today was white water rafting day.

It was another bright and early day. The bus picked me and a few others up at 6:40 and took us to the rafting center where we got onto another bus that drove us two hours hours to get to the Tully River station.

The bus ride was uneventful. We got to know the guides who’d be taking us on the river. They all seemed as easy-going as you might expect imagine river guides to be. One sign we passed on the drive did catch my eye. In big letters it said: “This way to Murder Point Winery!” I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust any place called Murder Point… no matter how much wine it had.

We arrived at the river station and we had some coffee and muffins for breakfast before we headed to the river. I was one of four people (and the only girl) who were traveling alone, so they stuck us all in a group together along with two other guys who were traveling together. Our guide was also a guy. Me and six men! This was turning out to be my kind of adventure!

Of the guys in my raft, three of them were English, one was Scottish, one was Swiss German, and the guide was an Australian. And get this – the Swiss German guy’s name was Rambo. I could tell this would be an interesting trip!

We went through the normal safety check and learned all the commands that might be shouted at us as we were on the river, and then we got onto the raft and hit the river.

It had been a few years since the last time I went white water rafting. Each time I go I always forget how exhilarating (and slightly terrifying) it is. Everyone on the boat has to work effectively together in order to navigate the difficult rapids. You have to constantly hold on with your legs and feet while paddling furiously, trying not to fall out and trying keep your boat from tipping over. On one of the trickier rapids there was a point where the guy next to me fell into the drink, and the guide almost fell out after him. I happened to be in the way to block the guide from falling in so technically I helped him to not fall out – and the rest of the day he told everyone how I saved him. The guide was just getting his bearings after that near miss and was asking me if I was OK. He didn’t realize we were short one man. I shouted “He fell in!” We turned to the river and saw him clinging to the side of the boat… the side that was just about to hit a jagged rock. Luckily, we managed to pull him in just in time. Whew! Now that is adrenaline.

The entire rafting trip was beautiful. The river went through a rain forest, and while you didn’t have time to enjoy the scenery when you were navigating the rapids, as we were paddling to the next rapid we were awed by the beautiful foliage, trees and brilliantly colored birds. During the down times our guide would talk to us about the different spots as we rafted through them.

We rafted for about five hours in total, but we had plenty of breaks where we could swim in the river, float through grade three rapids, or jump off high rocks into the river. The chemistry between the guides made the trip even more enjoyable. They were always kidding around with each other, and splashing each other they rafted by. It made it an incredibly fun day. It definitely made up for my failure of a day from yesterday.

Our boat did pretty well overall. Only one person fell in, and I still can’t believe it wasn’t me! The other boats weren’t quite as lucky. One boat flipped over three times, spilling everyone into the river. When that happened, we would make sure everyone was OK before laughing at them as we floated by.

On another note – I don’t remember exactly how the subject came up, but someone (it was probably me) asked our guide what was the worst injury he ever saw on the river. He told us about a man who died when he fell out during one of the rapids because he stood up instead of assuming the rapid floating position (which is feet first, floating on your back) and his life-vest was not properly fastened so it fell off. There was another person who died because he dove into the river when he was told not too, and broke his neck. That was sobering information. You really have to respect the rivers you raft on.

When we finished rafting, we went back to the river station where we were treated to video highlights of our day, and were offered the opportunity to buy a CD of our pictures and video of our trip. I was the first one to buy it. I’m such a sucker. But now I have a forever memory of the day. And I can share the pictures with you!


Here is a group picture of me surrounded by my boys:

I had so much fun rafting. They actually have a four day rafting trip available. If I was staying in Cairns longer, I would have taken it. But I had places to be, other adventures to be on!

Tomorrow I am leaving Cairns and heading South again towards the final ending destination: Sydney. I still have close to a month to go though. Plenty of time for more fun!