Australia

Tasmania


It is one of the fundamental rules of abseiling that your harness should be a good snug fit. I wrenched the blue nylon cords as tight as possible. And then gave them another determined tug. It's not the done thing in the macho world of extreme abseiling to ask for a hug before you 'go over the edge'...but that's exactly what I needed. Tasmania's Gordon Dam is the site of the world's highest commercial abseil. To put it in perspective, stepping over the safety barrier on top of this 140 metre-high concrete wall is like climbing out of a window in the middle floor of the Empire State Building.


 

David Whitley faces the ghosts of the convict – and tragically more recent – past at Port Arthur in Tasmania.

 

 

At a certain point in time, the name ‘Port Arthur’ would be enough to strike fear into many a heart. If Tasmania was a convict settlement, then Port Arthur was the spot where those who the system hadn’t worked for got sent. In other words, it was the place where the bad boys who continued to be bad boys were kept. Nowadays, this isolated Tasmanian outpost is the perfect spot to get a chilling insight into the whole transportation system and Australia’s European-era history.


 


 

David Whitley swings from the treetops near Launceston.

 

The tree is shaking almost as much as I am. The towering eucalypt can blame the wind – every gust sends it lurching from side to side. For me, it’s just cowardly nerves. I’m stood on a ‘cloud station’, 23m above the ground. It’s essentially a circular metal brace around the tree, complete with a trampoline-like platform for the trussed-up victims to wobble about on as they prepare for the death swoop.

 


 


 

 

David Whitley raises a glass to the unwilling pioneers who first settled in Australia back in 1788.

 

Captain Cook wasn’t, as many people believe, the first person to discover Australia. The Aboriginal people who’d been on the continent for 50,000 years might have something to say about that, but Dutch and Portuguese explorers had been here way before Cook arrived in 1770.


 


 

 

David Whitley raises a glass to the unwilling pioneers who first settled in Australia back in 1788.

 

Captain Cook wasn’t, as many people believe, the first person to discover Australia. The Aboriginal people who’d been on the continent for 50,000 years might have something to say about that, but Dutch and Portuguese explorers had been here way before Cook arrived in 1770.