As I stood on the edge of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, I tried to remember the last time I did abseiling (or rappelling, as it is called where I’m from). It brought me to my high school years, when I was a little bit more physically fit and nimble. That was probably 15 years and 50 lb ago. I remember the first time I did it, I had no qualms at all. I stood atop a cliff unshaken and fearless. I even volunteered to be the first to do it among my friends, when no one else would step forward.
For some reason, it was different this time around. Over the past decade and a half, I have evolved into this overthinker who paints every possible scenario in his head. I knew I had nothing to worry about. Stuart, our instructor had done this many times every single day for years. When he asked if anyone of us wanted to do it first, I raised my hand but Vins (my blogging partner, the other Poor Traveler) beat me to it. I was thinking, the longer I wait, the longer my brain gets consumed by thoughts of my extinction. “Travel Blogger falls to his death,” not a very good headline for the next day.
The session began with a demo of how to properly wear the harness and making sure that every gear was safe and comfortable. Then, the actual abseiling demo. Stuart was a really cool guy. He was patient, laidback, and hilarious. He’s also a rock climbing and kayaking instructor at Riverlife, basically your all-around adventure guy. Riverlife promotes itself as a lifestyle and entertainment playground. Situated on the bank of Brisbane River and at the base of Kangaroo Point Cliffs, they provide a fantastic venue for many functions (especially weddings) and adventures. Aside from
rappelling abseiling, they also offer kayaking, rock climbing, standup paddle boarding, and segway tours. They provide all the equipment needed for these activities. In the case of abseiling: harness, helmet, rope, and gloves.
Vins, being physically fit and all, made abseiling look easy. Besides, the view from here was nothing short of spectacular. Just ahead of me was Brisbane River, gently rolling and tickling the private boats that danced with the waves. Brisbane’s cityscape forms a wall on the other side. All the apprehensions I had went with the cool wind. Before I knew it, Vins was nowhere in sight. The only assurance that he’s still in one piece was our instructor’s constant yelling, as he looked over and watched his every step. “Lean back, lean back,” he calmly said. I was like, “Lean the eff back, Vins! Why is it so hard?” Of course I didn’t say that out loud.
After a quick recap of what to do and what not to do, I was ready to make my way down to the base. At this point, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit scared. Of course, I was. But it was nothing I couldn’t overcome. When my whole being was completely dependent on the rope, the first thought that popped in my head was: Man my tummy is big. And that I was heavy.
Apparently, leaning back was easier said than done. (Sorry, Vins.) It was difficult to trust the rope. But I realized it was key to having a smooth glide down. The less I trusted the rope, the heavier I felt, and the less comfortable it got for my arms. Almost halfway down the slope, when I reached a groove steady enough to stand on, I took a deep breath and decided to do it right this time. Trust the rope. Legs apart. Push yourself from the wall. You’re not gonna die. No headline tomorrow.
I finished the second half twice faster than the first. Trust goes a long way.
When I hit the ground (physically unscathed and emotionally steady, of course), I could not believe I did it. Granted, Kangaroo Point is only 20 meters tall, but it was still a bit nerve-racking. I sat on the ground and took photos of everyone else.
Overall, it was an excellent experience that I will never, ever forget. Would I do it again? Absolutely. In fact, a return to Brisbane later this year is in order, and I can’t wait to try everything else Riverlife has to offer.
Address: Naval Stores, Lower River Terrace, Kangaroo Point QLD 4169, Australia
Phone: +61 73891 5766
How to get to Riverlife Brisbane. Coming from the Central Business District, you may walk over the Goodwill Bridge and then turn left. Just follow the river and you’ll find Riverlife to your right.
Coming from Brisbane City YHA, Brisbane City Backpackers or Chill Backpackers, I recommend the long but scenic route. You will need to walk down Upper Roma St., turn right onto Grey St., walk over William Jolly Bridge until South Bank Parklands. Just walk along the river through the park and you will finally get to Riverlife. If you follow the river, you won’t get lost. Don’t worry, it’s a very scenic walk and you’ll get to see many interesting sites including Lagoon South Bank, Wheel of Brisbane, Nepalese Peace Pagoda, and Queensland Maritime Museum.
You may also reach it by bus. Hop into any Brisbane City Council bus to the South Bank Busway Station. From here, you will be taking a 2km walk along the river.
Where to stay: Brisbane City YHA Hostel offers clean and affordable accommodations in Brisbane.
*cover image courtesy of Riverlife