‘Just lie back and think of England’. It’s not often you hear that while tied and suspended by ropes in a rainforest canopy. Calm down, kids – it’s not that kind of story.
The rainforest canopy we speak of is the Daintree Rainforest in Cape Tribulation, 2 hours and 40 minutes north of Cairns, and the rope suspension is a little more 50 shades of green, thanks to Jungle Surfing Canopy tours, an adventure activity ziplining through the oldest rainforest in the world, overlooking the edge of the Great Barrier Reef – two dueling UNESCO sites, where the rainforest meets the sea.
Thankfully, to quell all fear of heights, I find myself in the very capable hands of our Jungle Surfing tour guides Ashton ‘Astro’ Wenham and his mates McFlurry and Jordan, who fit the perfect image of what you’d expect from off-duty-surfers-come-adventure-warriors. Having lived to tell the tale of swinging from great heights, I got the down low (up high..?) with Astro on what it’s like to live the tropical adventure dream of a Jungle Surfer.
How does one get to write ‘Jungle Surfer’ on their CV?
About 4 – 5 years ago, I had a semi-corporate job working for the government behind a desk. An epiphany one day made me realise that that lifestyle really just wasn’t for me, so I packed up, moved to Alice Springs to became an eco-tourism guide, and I’ve been following that gypsy life ever since. Every role I hold is an adventure and comes on the recommendation of someone. I pinch myself every day knowing I have the luckiest lifestyle in the world. Anytime I worry, I think back to that office job and realise this is exactly where I want to be.
What’s the best part about living in the world’s oldest rainforest?
The Tropical North and the Territory are almost polar extremes apart, but similar in so many ways also. My favourite part is definitely the disconnection. Both are perfectly off the grid – no mobile phone reception, most of us don’t have internet in our houses, so we leave notes for each other. Not everyone has phones, so it’s very personal. You actually go to people’s houses when you want to speak with them. In disconnection, everything here is connected. The sounds of the rainforest are always in the background. There’s a lot of really amazing people here, all with extraordinary stories. Every day I think about how lucky I am to be here.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
Get up at about 4am, 10KM run along the beach, wrestle and catch a crocodile, crocodile steak for breakky, zip lining through the rainforest for about 10 hours, then head home to do it all again the next day. Tropical paradise, indeed.
What song best describes your day at work?
I actually sing a lot when on canopy tour! The song that most resonates at the moment is ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’. Every time I get someone onto the platform before I connect them to the tree, I have to tell them to ‘…turn around…’
When it’s time to say goodbye to Cape Tribulation, what’s the best memory you’ll take away?
Definitely the vibe of the village and of the Jungle Surfing crew – it’s like a family here at Jungle Surfing. Depending on the time of the year, there are about 12 guides and another 6 in the office, so small but large enough to always have someone around.
The stunning setting of the rainforest and its energy is unmatchable, but to be honest, I’ll mostly miss the crispy chicken wrap from Turtle Rock Café. That’s the standout.