White-water rafting on the Tully River… Our day started early – a 6.45am pick-up from our hotel in Cairns. The drive to Tully would take a couple of hours if you include picking up all the 117 others that were going on this trip today. We got a bit of a briefing on the journey – we’d be doing three hours of rafting before lunch, and two hours after; don’t wear any jewellery unless you don’t mind losing it; put suncream on your nose and knees and tops of thighs only; get into groups of 7; don’t wear a cotton tee-shirt as it will get soaked and leave you cold all day; keep shoes on at all times incase you fall in, as there are sharp rocks on the bottom; the water level isn’t too high, so the water will not be as fast-flowing as at other times of the year, however, it was a technical Grade 3 rapid, etc. etc. The time finally came when we were all geared up and ready to go for it. There was the four of us (Mike, Mike’s friend Trevor, my brother Jagan, and myself) and we teamed up with three other Yorkshire lads. Our instructor was a Tasmanian girl, Chloe. Mike and Trev, being the biggest and strongest looking, sat in the front of the raft. Jagan sat behind Trev on the left and I sat in the third row back on the right. First we had to master a few basics… “On the job” – this meant we had to get into position to start paddling “Over Right” – weight had to be transferred to the right of the raft to stop it tipping over, so the four sitting on the left had to move quickly to the right hand side. Similarly for “Over Left” There were a few other commands for various situations like if we had to take cover or get down low etc. There were 23 rapids that we covered before lunch and 22 after lunch, so 45 in total. During the first few, I thought that Chloe the instructor, was giving us insane directions – telling us to paddle hard towards rocks, fast-flowing water, or steep dips, while all I wanted to do was take cover and protect myself…but I soon realised that these rapids didn’t follow the logical rules of fluid dynamics and gravity. Once I started trusting her, I noticed that I was really enjoying the ride – going backwards down slopes, squeezing through narrow bits with the raft on its side, over all the bumps shifting the weight from left to right… The best part was a really steep and narrow section. All the rafts were going down one at a time. We saw the raft infront of us, all the people huddled together in the back. As it went down the slope and gained momentum, we could see that it wasn’t very steady and as it got to the bottom, the whole thing tipped over and everyone fell in. Seeing this scared the life out of me – I didn’t want to fall into the freezing cold water, or worse, get stuck under the raft when it tipped. Chloe had a plan. We were going to go right to the front of the raft and cling onto each other, facing backwards. For the first bit, we paddled into the rapid backwards, then just before the incline we let the water spin us round. As we went downwards, we jammed our feet into the bottom of the raft and hung on for dear life. It didn’t work…although the raft didn’t tip over, we just couldn’t hang on, and we fell in, knowing for about two seconds beforehand, that we would be falling in. It actually wasn’t too bad. The water was cold, but not freezing, and it was deep, so we didn’t hit anything. There was a bit of a pool at the bottom with a slight current, so we just got dragged along until we got pulled back into the raft. Great fun!!! There were several other exciting sections and beautiful scenery (rainforests either side, waterfalls, a nice picnic spot for lunch). By the end of the day, Trev had very red knees, and our arms ached a bit, but we were pretty warm throughout, and the nice sunny day helped. Can’t wait till we do it again in New Zealand.