Mission Beach is a tiny seaside town with one of the most sunbathe friendly beaches we have been to; it’s huge and it’s gorgeous. Honestly if you didn’t know you were in Australia, you would think you were on an exotic tropical island somewhere. The town centre is very small but very lovely, with some great locally owned cafes and boutique shops that made me want to dig into that alarmingly diminishing purse of mine. I ate the best banana and blueberry loaf from this lovely organic place and then went back for a white chocolate and raspberry muffin (don’t judge me). We had two beautiful days here chilling out, catching a tan and watching skydivers land at various times along the beach in front of us…
There were two main reasons we decided to pitch up in Mission Beach for a few days. Predominantly we wanted a couple of days of relaxing Sunshine, without having to drive anywhere or be anywhere. Secondly, it just so happened that our rep at Peterpans (the travel company we used to book our Australian excursions) persuaded us to also book our skydive here, due to the guaranteed beach landing and the beautiful sights of the Great Barrier Reef.
I have wanted to do a tandem skydive ever since my best friend at University showed me the footage of a dive she did in New Zealand, and it was the one thing I wanted to achieve when I came out on this 7 month backpacking trip. For some reason the idea of a skydive seemed easier than a bungee; most notably because I would have someone strapped to me and by the time I decided against the idea, it would be too late. If I’m honest I wasn’t entirely sure I could go through with it; I cried at Go Ape around a year ago and haven’t been that keen on suspending myself in midair ever since and we all know how my attempt at scuba-diving went BUT I was absolutely determined to do this and so we booked it in for our second day in Mission Beach.
The morning of the dive rushed past in a bit of a blur and it felt very much like one minute I was sat on a bench outside the skydive centre fidgeting like I had ants in my pants and the next I was on the beach having just jumped out of a plane. The process was all so swift that we were barely given a chance to contemplate what we were about to do! We signed in at 8am and by 9 were meeting our skydive partner, being kitted up and receiving a safety brief that went something like…
‘Cool, so Caroline here’s some pictures of what you’re going to do. When you first sit on the edge of the airplane you’re going to hold onto those straps there. Head back, feet back, hips out and do the banana. When I tap your arm you can put you hands out and fly. Cool got it? Great.’
Yeah great. As we were piled onto a minibus to the airstrip I was sat worrying whether or not I in fact knew how to do ‘the banana’ and if I didn’t manage the desired position what would become of me.
Once at the airfield we were straight onto the plane after a quick photo, strapped in and before we knew it dramatically gaining height. My legs were shaking uncontrollably as my crew member said in my ear ‘so yeah right now we’re at 2,000 feet, only 12,000 more to go and we’ll be jumping out and flying’ – ‘brilliant’ I smiled and laughed as I looked out of the window and thought ‘holy **** that’s high’. As we reached optimum height above the clouds, a green light suddenly came on and people started being sucked out of the door with alarming speed – it was like a bloody army parachuting operation. Matt disappeared ten seconds before me and before I knew it, I was sitting on the edge of a plane and being pushed out into nothingness.
The first 20 seconds were the worst; it felt like my gut had just left my body as we tumbled through the air and according to the video I had my eyes closed and was swearing and shouting A LOT. Once we had stabilised and I had the guts to open my eyes however, it was the most bizarre but at the same time the most amazing feeling I have ever had. As we fell through the clouds and began to see the sea and beach below, I finally felt the violent pull as the parachute opened above me. The next 5 minutes was spent wooping with adrenaline, admiring the beautiful sights 4,000 ft below me and practising my landing technique. When I finally touched down on to the sand and met a windswept Matt, we were both on a high. For the next half an hour we strolled up and down the beach reliving our experiences and trying and failing to walk off the motion sickness that continued to plague us for the rest of the day.
I have never been so scared about doing something in my entire life, yet felt so powerful and invincible after having completed it. This experience has definitely taught me that overcoming your fears can only lead to positive outcomes and whenever I fear anything again I can say ‘if you have jumped out of a plane at 14,000ft, you can do anything’.