I Believe We Can Fly - I Believe We Just Touched The Sky
So naturally we had to take the thrills up a notch in Australia, with Taran adamant that a real outdoor skydive was going to happen, despite my flat-out refusal.
It wasn't so much the heights, or flying, that was off-putting to me, just the part when you manoeuvrer yourself to the edge of an open door, thousands of feet off the ground, which seemed beyond extreme....
Well, it took ten months but he finally got it booked and paid for, and there was no going back. I had agreed to do this and only 2 days before the event.
We used the Australian website, book me, to locate the best deal, but we knew we wanted to jump near or over Fraser Island. Working there for 2 months, we naturally developed a connection with the place, and this felt like a cool and almost symbolic way to wrap up that phase of our travels. Plus its a beautiful part of the Queensland coast!
Skydive Hervey Bay were the ones we chose, and we are so glad we did. Great reviews online plus competitive rates were good enough, but Pete and his team were also a solidly friendly and exuberant bunch, who put us at ease immediately. It's hard to be super happy at 7.45am on a Monday, and it's surely hard to be enthusiastic after 6000 jumps, but these guys made us feel good way before the dive.
Soon after arriving, we were into our harnesses, tightened around our legs and shoulders, as we went over the jump procedure. Then came the walk to the tiny plane, just the 5 of us including the pilot and our two jump buddy's. Leaving the ground along the runway, which we have travelled on with Air Fraser, it felt familiar and definitively okay. No nerves just yet. Taking off up into the plush white clouds, we travelled across Hervey Bay and toward Fraser and the ocean. The clouds created giant shadows across the water, the sun glinting off the rest of the blue-green expanse.
There was some mild turbulence as we passed through some thick marshmallow formations, and then it was time for a pre-dive recap...Taran is pulled onto Pete's lap, and attached tightly to him. I am too, and notice how the tight the pull is across my waist; it's all good, it reassured me that the jump wouldn't go like this.
Pete shouted some numbers to the pilot, co-ordinates of where we would jump from I assume, over the din of the loud engines. Then came the great whoosh of reality, as the door was levered open, and we were suddenly not just on a plane ride. This plane was landing without us.
Taran pulled his legs out of the door, dangling out the edge, and suddenly, he was gone!
I couldn't really take in the cartoon-like blue and white outside. I just stared numbly at the empty space on the plane floor, which I soon filled as my instructor shuffled us to the edge. I pulled my resistant feet out of the hole, pulled my hands across my chest, and tilted my chin up. My survival instincts were clearly switched off, and I felt mildly zombie-like, forcing my limbs to hang out a tiny object suspended in the air.
And then we were out! Rolling, spinning, then flattening out into the free-fall, hands moved out to the side, peter pan style. I had expected a strong mighty wind in my face, making breathing a tad hard, but amidst the assault on my senses, I felt quite peaceful. My fear dissipated, and a little voice in my head told me to take it all in, marvel at this true sea-view, and love every second...
All too soon the parachute deployed safely and I was gently gliding slowly down to earth. We spotted a dugong, or maybe a big dolphin, and I steered the parachute briefly. It was then I began to feel nauseous. I get motion sickness all too easily, so it was no surprise, but it did make me want to land faster. Soon enough we were speeding up and purposefully lowering, turning, and coming in to land, legs and bottom pushed up for a seated landing.
I sat there, very aware of the feeling of the sand beneath me, the hardness of being back on the ground, contrasted to the lightness of flying. I took a moment to gather myself, looking to the horizon and breathing deeply to relieve the sickness, when I looked over to Taran.
Slumped forward, limbs limp, Pete was trying to rouse him, speaking loudly to him, repeating his name and telling him to wake up.
I was very confused, and thought, if anyone was gonna take a funny a turn it would be me, and I would be mocked for weeks to come. But nope, Taran blacked out for about 2-3 minutes, which felt like an age. Such relief when he finally woke up, rising to his feet, clearly utterly oblivious to what had just happened. Once we were in the van, headed back to the base, Taran said “Yeah I felt very constricted by the harness, but nope, never fainted in my life” to which I got the trainer to confirm, yep mate, you did just faint.
He laughed in disbelief, as we recounted his little brain reboot session. Turns out Taran was struggling to breathe once the parachute deployed, his arms going numb, but he had managed to hold it together just enough to pull his legs up for landing, stand up, then sit down again, proceeding to switch off.
Relieved, exhilarated, a tiny bit sickly, but with a lazy satisfied smiles on our faces, we sat down as our awesome souvenir video's were edited. Oh yeah, they go-pro the whole thing, if it wasn't enough that they are being safe and making it the best dive experience possible, they also have to be camera-men.
Skydive Hervey Bay were so good to us, and it made something we were apprehensive about, not just a smooth and safe adventure, but they left a really great impression on us. Not everyone in Australia has treated us with much regard or respect, lumping us in the category of middle-class English small-minded loutish backpacker, following the crowd, will work for shit money and tolerate crap. But there's clearly some good guys out here, and luckily there the ones who push you out of planes.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at NomaderHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!