You know you’re in North Queensland when the hotel information book has cyclone procedures and stinger safety precautions. And you have to worry about crocodiles.
Lucky for us, we were visiting Cairns out of stinger and cyclone season.
We were heading into winter, the perfect time to experience the Northern parts of Australia, with warm temperatures minus the stifling humidity.
After a day of adventure in the region that enhances an adrenalin junkie experience, we were relaxing for the evening at Peppers Beach Club & Spa in Palm Cove, just north of Cairns.
The German head chef came out to explain each of the gourmet dishes to us, all made from fresh local produce from the reef and rainforest. We sat under the towering melaleuca trees, the ancient and mystical air wrapped us in health and well-being.
Far North Queensland was quickly shooting up my list of Aussie favourites. It puts you in the mood for relaxing, good food, and of course adventure.
We spent the morning gorging ourselves on banana chocolate smoothies, fresh dukka crusted ocean fish, and sweet potato fries with lemon aioli at the Paleo Cafe in Cairns, a destination in it’s own right.
What else do you do after rolling yourself out of a feast like that?
Go white water rafting of course!
I swear our guide Marty, from Raging Thunder Adventures knew we had some serious food removal to do as he seemed to make our gentle swim in the “normal” waters of the river a bit further than the other boats.
The normal part being where the rapids stopped and the crocs homes started.
I’m not sure what it is about rapid rivers and the absence of crocs in places you know the crocs would just love. We had a similar experience white water rafting the Nile River.
“You guys can jump in now and swim,” our guide said after we reached a long, still stretch of water.
“What do you mean? Isn’t this the part where the crocs are?” We knew it wasn’t where the rapids were as the ancient beasts are scared of them.
“Trust us, it’s safe here.”
I can’t believe I actually jumped in and swam, just like I was doing this time on the Barron River in the beautiful Barron Gorge National Park.
Apart from the odd joke, Marty assured us there were no crocs in this river, even though a few signs on the river bank of Lake Placid warning people to be careful.
Apparently, it’s a friendly one and not to be worried about. As always when you travel listen to the locals! (Seriously, no need to be freaked out about this, it’s all good!)
It was an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon through the pretty jungle ending at Lake Placid – just the kind of name that signals man-eating crocs.
There were no rapids on the level of the Nile’s notorious Bad Place, which I have labelled, The Most Dangerous Rapid in the World, guaranteed to turn your legs to jelly, and your stomach to mush just looking at it.
But, there were a few thrills on the Barron through rapids called The Meat Cleaver, The Suckhole and the Rooster.
“White water rafting guides are always crazy, “ Craig commented after leaving Marty, a local plumber turned rafting guide. He was full of life, quick with a joke and a wry smile. His loud booming laughter echoed off the steep ravines and towering trees wrapped in vines amid dense undergrowth.
You’d have to be a little crazy to work with raging rivers every day. Well, maybe it’s more the crazy tourists coming through each day that would send you on the edge a bit.
A rafting trip is always made that much more special by the guy steering your boat safely through the danger zones and sometimes amping it up with a quick flick here and there.
I remember one serious guide we had rafting the Upper Gauley, in West Virginia. She wanted no nonsense and we all copped a stern word when we fell about in hysterics when our friend went overboard and we were too weak to pull him back to safety.
Come on, you need a little crazy on the rapids.
Marty let us jump out for the final rapid to body surf it feet first. I twisted and turned, smashed into the jagged rocks, and desperately tried to stop myself from being sucked under by the man-eating rocks.
How on earth did I ever have the nerve to tackle the grade 5 Bad Place when this grade 2 was freaking me out? Man, I was hard core back then. Motherhood has made me soft.
If you’re heading to North Queensland soon, and want to go white water rafting in Cairns, check out Raging Thunder Adventures. Say hi to Marty for us!
Have you rafted on the Barron River before in Cairns?
Where’s your favourite place to go rafting?