My Kayaking Experience
On the third day in Melbourne, after a full day pounding pavement, I switched the terrain up a bit, and headed for the Yarra River to enjoy my second most favorite activity/sport of all time: Kayaking.
I chose a tour with Kayak Melbourne which brings you up and down the Yarra river for $82 AUD. It takes about 1.5-2 hours in total. The guide in charge of my group was actually originally from Canada, my favorite country in the world, which made for great conversation. He pointed out the different sites and their back stories as we went along. I loved learning about which part of the banks the first settlers in Australia landed on, how the river has been changed and developed overtime and about the different kinds of fish in the river. I could never have guessed that there are eel and snapper right in the heart of the city! Also, the freedom of being on the water kayaking again after such a long time was such a relief.
My Skydiving Experience
Finally, the last, and best, highlight of my trip was SKYDIVING!
Skydiving’s always been on my bucket list. I’ve spent years envisioning, dreaming (day and night!) about what it would be like to soar through the air in person– unbound to a plane, or a roller coaster seat.
I initially went to Australia with the intention to surf. However, I did not manage to fit traveling to a suitable surf spot or shopping for surfing equipment into my schedule. So when the idea to skydive popped into my head while pre-trip planning, I knew I had found the reason I was going to Australia.
Skydiving Planning: Pricing and Timing
The experience was… everything I had ever dreamed of, and scarier than I had expected, at least for the first few seconds. I skydived with Skydive Australia, stationed at the Marine Parade along the St. Kilda beach. The tandem skydive costs $369 AUD. You can buy the video package for an extra $159 and insurance for $30. It is no doubt very costly, but it is an experience I am willing to pay for.
The Plane Ride Up
I ended up going on my last day in Australia, where I had a flight at 6:30Pm, so I booked the 7:30Am slot, which turned out to be a good decision, as it took almost three hours in total (they warn on the website that you should give up to 6 hours leeway) and it might have been a bit of a rush had we booked a later slot. After signing in and suiting up, we took a bus to the nearby airport where we boarded a medium-sized green plane with one of those cool, loud movie propellers which took us up 8000ft into the air.
Although the plane ride up wasn’t the main attraction, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was quite the squeeze, with five of us and each of our instructors tucked into the small space. It had windows all around where we could enjoy the view, and a huge sliding transparent door, which I sat beside. We could clearly see how high we were going, and the city and coastline beneath us receding rapidly. Way to prepare us for what’s ahead. I started getting jittery then, and to be honest, I found the plane ride made me anxious heaps more than the actual dive. And when the door slid open, turning up the volume of the howling wind and the incessant propellors right by me, that was when I really started getting the jitters. The best kinda worst jitters. The ones I get when attempting a moving Ollie (which I suck at, by the way. Also good question, why do oldies scare me so much?). Isn’t physical fear, and the danger of pure adrenaline, the absolute best kind of rush?
The plane stopped somewhere pretty dang far out over the water, which was not what I had expected. I was the second to jump, and boy, the feeling of hanging half out of the plane with my legs over the edge, was probably the most adrenaline I have ever experienced in my life, beating skateboarding, skiing, driving a four-wheeler over ice, getting lost in the snowy woods at night all out the window! Or should I say, out the door?
After jumping, you have about five seconds of ‘free time’ to do stunts. My instructor did a backflip which I specifically requested, after which we simply dropped like a stone for about 15-20 seconds. They tell you to look at the horizon during free fall, obviously to make it less scary. I forgot everything and looked straight down, in total shock as I watched the ground rushing up toward me as we fell like a stone. It’s like, imagine the dropping feeling you get in the split second you step off a curb you weren’t aware was there, or the endless space between accidentally rolling off a bed and before hitting the floor. Imagine that feeling for 20 second straight, 8000ft up in the sky. That’s what it was like. It’s just, falling. Like, really hard and really fast, and you’re still not reaching the ground any time soon. I wonder who the hell was insane enough to have invented skydiving for leisure and I’m so glad they did!
After the first two seconds of complete fear jumping out of the plane and the backflip, I started to really enjoy it, heart in my throat, mind a complete windswept jumble and all. Then, all too soon, my instructor deployed the parachute. Usually on the way down, they would spin clockwise and anti clockwise washing machine style. However, I quickly realised that the sideways momentum negated the feeling of free falling, and I told my instructor I did not want to have that.
The parachute was one of the funnest (yes. That is a word.) things I have ever experienced in my life. My instructor taught me how to steer it (you have to ask to steer if you want to. Usually, people let the instructor take full control of the dive). Tug really hard on the left side to turn left and the right to turn right. We did not glide either direction through the air as I had expected (and always dreamt about) but it was more like turning about an axis. Nevertheless, controlling ‘flight’ and steering myself freely through the air is something I’ve been literally dreaming about for years. It was heavier and more difficult that I had expected. Spin left to face south and we could see the bay of Tasmania across the ocean, boats and ships dotting the impossible blue in between the two shores. Steer right to the north and there lay the sprawling city of Melbourne with its high rises and multitude of shops and cafes.
Finally, we landed in a field just slightly down the road from where we started, ending the experience all too soon.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, I’d do it again right now, and if I lived in a place where I could skydive, I’d probably get a certificate to solo dive. But until then, I cannot wait to do it again.
Conclusion on Skydiving and Kayaking
If kayaking isn’t really your thing, maybe give it a miss because it is through the city after all, which may not be all that exciting and worth the $82. However, if you love kayaking as much as I do, it is a unique way to explore the city from a different point of view, and a fun outlet to get your outdoor activity fix while in a city.
For skydiving, it depends on how much you like your adrenaline! If you do love thrills, definitely do not give it a miss! It is a fantastic bird’s eye view of the Melbourne coastline and city skyline (unless you’re too afraid to actually enjoy it!). It is also very pricey for such a short time spent actually falling from the sky so I suppose you’ll have to calculate how much it means to you to have such an experience under your belt. If not, there are cheaper alternatives to get your adrenaline fix when you’re in Melbourne, like the Melbourne sky deck or rap jumping!
All in all, despite the hang ups and awkwardness of the trip due to my unfamiliarity with the public transport system and timings, I’d say the trip was overall a pretty big success, considering I managed to cover earth, sky and water all in one trip!