Monday the 23rd of April and the date of my Tree Top adventure had finally arrived. A little back story:
My lovely sister was kind enough to book me a Tree Top Adventure for my birthday way back in February. The details arrived at Tom and Jills however at that time I had no fixed address and could not go until I had sorted out various aspects of my living arrangements. I left the voucher at Tom and Jills ready to use when I was more settled.
Claire was also kind enough to do all the research needed for the experience, which actually takes place just around the corner from Puffing Billy (which is a popular tourist attraction) in Belgrave, the Dandenong Ranges. When I was finally able to book the attraction I set the date for the 23rd April starting at 12pm.
It is roughly an hour and a half to Belgrave from South Yarra when using trains. I planned the journey and set off at 10:30 in order to catch the scheduled train from South Yarra. However it was a tad late, meaning it was late into Richmond and it would be a tight connection to the Belgrave train which would be arriving at the same time. I sprinted across the station and dove onto the train as it was leaving the platform, determined not to miss a moment of my Tree Top Adventure.
An hour later and the train pulled into Belgrave station and I set off for the site of the experience. In order to get to it, you actually cross Puffing Billy's railway, and I managed to snap a few pictures of the steam engines as they passed. I headed up the hill and entered the reception.
The group got underway straight away, and the instructor informed us that it was a very quiet day at the adventure and he was happy for us to take as long as we wanted (rather than the maximum 2 hours originally booked). Score!
He fitted us into our harness and showed us all the attachments to use to help navigate the various courses on offer, of which there are 6. There were 3 difficulty levels, and a long and short version of each difficulty. Determined to get through to the longest and hardest course, I decided to take the short and easy course to warm up.
The course provided a nice primer on getting used to attaching / handling the harness, and using the pullys for the flying fox sections of the course. It was fun getting used to the different simple obsticles, but I was pleased I took the short option, as by the end I was definitely ready for much more of a challenge.
I reached the end of the easy route and so the next step was the medium difficulty course. This time I chose the long route rather than the short, as I knew I had plenty time to complete both medium and hard difficulty, and wanted to experience as much as possible. The course involved much more upper body strength, with climbing and jumping introduced as more challenges to keep it fresh. Again though by the end of the course, I still was left feeling a little underchallenged.
That being the case I finished and headed for the hard part of the course. What a difference it was - for a number of reasons! I climbed up the first section and proceded through the first part of the course. This introduced swinging obsticles, as well as jumps that were much more in the leap of faith style.
I navigated the section ok, before proceding up a large climb. At the top I emerged above the trees, able to see the ranges all around me. It was a fantastic view, shattered only by the crash of thunder that came out of nowhere. By this point, there was nowhere to go but to follow the course, and so I plowed on.
After a massive zip-wire flying fox across the valley, the next obsticle was a set of swinging ropes. I navigated this fine, but near the end, the rain started to come down, turning into an absolute downpour. Unfazed, I carried on, though the swingging obsticles had definitely drained the strength in my arms.
Up next was a section of ropes hanging down, with enough of a bottom piece to get one foot on them. The intention is to swing between each of them, land your foot and carry on. As the rain came pouring down, I missed a step on the fourth swing. Having already shifted my body weight, my arms gave up and I fell, left hanging by my safety wire.
After around 5 minutes, I finally worked up the strength to get back up. I managed to get to the end of the section, before needed another 5 minutes rest due to being completely shattered. A passing instructor shouted up to tell me that the obsticle I had just completed was the hardest on the section, and I would be fine from then on.
Indeed he was correct, the rest of the obsticles requiring less swinging and more balance. I reached the end of the course completely drenched and knacked, but thorougly pleased with myself for having got through it. Especially in the rain!
When I woke up that morning I was expecting an enjoyable day. As it turned out, it will be a memory I take to my grave for being one of the absolute killer experiences of my life. I cannot understate how much I enjoyed the day, and recommend doing it to anyone.
Moreover, I was proud of myself for a number of different reasons. Although I have never been afraid of heights, I had never been in a situation in my life where heights were really something to be afraid of. They proved a complete non issue for me - which I was really pleased about.
Further than that, I was proud of my strength to carry on when the rain poured, as by that point I was truely shattered but I had the will to just keep going.
The experience taught me a lot about myself, and I cant thank my sister enough for booking it for me!