A freelance writer and bargain hunter with wanderlust, recently moved to Perth from Brisbane.
Published February 23rd 2013
Tick abseiling off your bucket list
I was given the opportunity to abseil down Kangaroo Point as a birthday present and I grabbed that chance with both hands. I was not actually worried about abseiling beforehand, probably because I did not really dwell on the looming 20 metre cliffs. However, when you are standing at the top looking down, reality is a little bit different and my knees did involuntarily shake.
Riverlife has an office in a perfect location right next to the Brisbane river – beautiful when the sun is up but scary when the water is rising. It is also conveniently located next to the Kangaroo Point cliffs, in close proximity to the long winding stairs snaking down from River Terrace. Most people park at the top of the cliffs and make the journey down to the office, a route which I came to dread, finding myself in the position of climbing up those steep stairs after every descent.
Instructed sessions cost around $39 for day sessions and we were guided by Hendrick, who has been doing this for about 10 years. He reassured us that hardly anyone ever gets injured with possible bruises and cuts as an exception. I could attest to that with a minor scrape on my finger because I was too nervous on my way down and held on to the rope a little too tight.
Riverlife provided us with helmets, a safety harness and a glove before pointing us to the location of the cliffs (up the windy stairs). There were around six of us in the group and Hendrick gave us a safety briefing, including how to put our safety gear on. I was the first to descend, but was confident and comfortable with Hendrick's ability to ensure our safety, especially since he double checked my safety equipment and helped connect my harness to the ropes. Safety is a big thing for me since I fell from a loose rope at a rock climbing wall a few years ago, so having an experienced instructor is important to me.
We were then told to lean back and descent with our legs lying flat from the rock face which was a bit scary since it would involve a lot of trust in the safety rope. I managed to lift myself off the edge of the cliff with trembling legs and a brave smile for the benefit of the other participants and spectators. The first descent actually took a lot of energy out of me as nervousness caused me to descend slowly and cautiously with a death-like grip on the rope.
We were told to lock the rope behind our waist to stop from falling and to slowly release it in front of us to descend smoothly. I looked down a couple of times and the height was terrifying. I finally made it to the bottom, my legs shaking but intact and then had to walk up those windy stairs to join the others.
Over the 1.5 hours, I managed to descend three times, really enjoying the second and third time as I learnt how to relax and take the experience in stride. It may not be something I do regularly but if you are a Brisbane resident, be sure to try it at least once. People travel from far corners of the world to visit Brisbane and they try this out as an unforgettable experience; there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy this when it's at your doorstep. Riverlife has a rock climbing experience as well but I will leave that for the next time; I figure coming down is a lot easier (and scarier) than going up.