Whitewater Rafting Through A World Heritage Site

Our rafting group on the Tully River. Photo posted on Facebook by Raging Thunder.

Our rafting group on the Tully River. Photo posted on Facebook by Raging Thunder.

The Tully River is a gift to Queensland. The area is rich and fertile – home to banana plantations and sugar cane farms. The idyllic countryside is criss-crossed by train tracks to deliver the goods throughout Australia and the world.

Tully is a World Heritage Site and part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland.Tully River is considered Level Four rapids; Level Six is the maximum (think Victoria Falls), so we had quite a day. We rafted for about five hours (I’m not certain how many kilometers), rafting over about ten named rapids.

We let into the river about two hours outside of Cairns, so it was an early morning call time to board the bus for our trip. We stopped midway through the morning ride for a quick brekkie and to pick up more rafters joining us from Mission Beach. After an excellent safety briefing, we were off the bus, grabbing our helmets, paddles and life jackets. We stopped midway through the day for a quick river-side BBQ, then we were back in the boats. We must have had one of the most beautiful days on the river.

I was struck by the evolving geology as we rowed down the river. About an hour into the trip, the geology turned from limestone-looking rocks, into clearly volcanic rock. Alien-looking trees lined the riverside – and while I didn’t see much wildlife, birds including cockatoos chattered at us from above.

When you vacation solo, group outings like rafting can be a tad bit intimidating. I’ve found though, especially in countries like Australia and Ireland, the folks are good-natured and pretty friendly to visitors.

I lucked out to be in an adventurous group made up of folks who took the rafting seriously, but also enjoyed swimming outside the raft. I was added to a group of four and two: Matt, originally from Melbourne, his girlfriend Larissa, a native of the Netherlands who now makes Sydney her home, Larissa’s friends Anna and Marcha visiting from the Netherlands, Kieran and Shawna from Dublin, Ireland, and our intrepid guide Jose, a native of Chile who has been guiding raft trips in Tully for about five months.

My rafting partner Anna is sending me the photos from our trip, so I hope to update this post with pictures soon!

I’m told there are two major rafting companies in Cairns/Tully: Foaming Fury and the company I picked, Raging Thunder. I selected it based on the name (yells adventure, right?) and because they were highly rated on TripAdvisor.

I made one major rookie mistake; I only reviewed the packing list on the confirmation form and not the one on the website. Thus, I didn’t realize there would be a place to stow extra dry clothes, so I didn’t bring any. It was a bit uncomfortable on the return trip wearing my wet swimsuit, but I was probably the only person who made this error. (See? You learn something new every day.)

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