Upside Down, Down Under: Adventure in the Midst of Peace and Tranquility – Cairns, Australia

I’m flying through the rainforest upside down and having the time of my life!

Jungle Surfing (in the U.S. it’s zip-lining) near the Daintree Rainforest in far northeast Australia is a great adventure for young and old. My nearly medicare-age body did fine, but the drain on my adrenaline reserves took a good size hit. My brain was screaming "I can’t believe I’m actually doing this" while my body was saying "Hey, this is OK!"

Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours provides a thrilling activity with the utmost of care and safety. Our group of eight intrepid adventurers, ranging in age from 20 to 70, was helmeted and harnessed, strapped and cinched into more safety gear than I thought existed – the safety lines had safety lines. Once we were geared up, we looked pretty much the same, so to help identify us, the staff used names they’ve placed on our helmets like Mad Max (me), James Bond, Tinkerbell. If you’re the super macho hunky sort, you’ll get Tinkerbell! Their website contains suggestions on what to bring, what to wear. If you arrive in flip-flops, they'll be duct taped to your feet!

We zipped along the cables from one platform to the next, over distances from over 80 feet to nearly 260 feet. The five platforms vary in height from about eight feet at the beginning to almost 65 feet. The forest canopy soars overhead to more than 115 feet, with vegetation so thick you seldom get a glimpse of the ground. The view from the tallest platform out through the tree tops to the Coral Sea is breathtaking – that is, if you have anything left after the exhilarating zip to get there. Sound is absorbed by the masses of vegetation, you barely notice the zing of the lines.

Ready to zip the last span, we were encouraged to try it upside down. After a big gulp and some effort to unhinge my fingers from the strapping, I let go and fell backwards toward the black silent forest floor. Wow – the only way to fly!

Jungle Surfing up side down

Jungle Surfing upside down

Located in the Cape Tribulation area at the edge of the Daintree Rainforest two and a half hours north of Cairns, the Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours is minutes from Coconut Beach Rainforest Lodge making it a perfect base from which to test the waters of the beach or salt water pools. You might consider sea kayaking, horse riding, mountain biking or nocturnal walks where you may encounter George, the resident Cassowary.

This unique area is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Only 18 World Heritage Listed Areas meet all four of the natural criteria and the Wet Tropics of Queensland – Daintree is one of them. The ecosystems and habitats of the rainforest are believed to have existed, just as you will find them, for 120-135 million years.

The Daintree, part of the 3,000-square-mile Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is older than the Amazon and a unique ecological gem. This botanical Jurassic Park is abundant with plant species so primitive, they differ only slightly from their prehistoric ancestors. Many species found here appear nowhere else on Earth and it possibly has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.