The car negotiates the winding peaks of Arthur’s Seat National Park. We reach 145 metres above sea level and keep climbing. We are high and about to climb higher into the tree tops. Soon I will be amongst the canopy of a 100 year old Messmate Eucalypt Forest. I’m about to become a Koala.
From the ground we saw a number of orange and blue helmets bobbing about the trees. This will be easy, I thought. My perspective altered as I became further removed from the forest floor and my comfort zone. I’ve arranged to spend two hours in the tree tops with mere ropes and chains beneath my wobbly feet. The only exit is to throw oneself from the edge of a platform and plunge towards the forest floor on a zip line. Is it too late to back out?
The Enchanted Adventure Garden team has created an environment that people can effortlessly whittle away the hours. Adults are permitted to join the children on five different tube slides which reach a surprisingly swift speed. The garden boasts a vast array of covered and uncovered picnic spots. The grounds have numerous mazes to lose one-self in. For the sweet tooths, there is a lolly shop joined to the cafe. Tree Surfing is for all ages with five Grand Courses and one for the kids, the Nipper’s Course.
Adorned in safety harnesses and brightly coloured helmets, we turn our attention to the friendly guide. There was talk of losing hands if they are placed on the wrong wire. And I thought the worst that could happen was to fall. The directions to utilise your equipment and avoid hospitalisation went by in a blur. I was otherwise engaged pondering how I could join myself to the wire grid with a mere carabiner and be safe. My husband patiently takes me through the ropes again. With the safety briefing under our belt, we form an orderly queue. I’m still having thoughts of escape, so I motion for the brave to go ahead.
Walking the steps to our first platform gives me a chance to test the equipment before I lose balance. We make a beeline for course number two, it has less people. I’m almost left behind as the other half finds his feet. There’s only one way to go, straight ahead and onto a wooden swing bridge. One foot is placed gingerly in front of the other.
I’ve just watched my husband wobble through the tunnel as it swayed with his movement. I lean forward, depositing myself into one end of the wooden conduit and inch forwards at a snail’s pace. The equipment shakes almost as much as my quivering body. Staring straight through the tunnel to the foliage, I try and overlook the fact that it is suspended on ropes. I surface and leap towards the platform that is securely wrapped around a tree. I’m not even fazed as red gum seeps into my hand. A young boy catches up to me at the next platform. I fear he wants to overtake me. He turns to his mate and shouts “I hate that tunnel.” You and me both, kid. You and me both.
Negotiating courses three, four and five are a cinch once I forget how far from the ground I am. At the end of course five I am rope-running at a respectable pace and I overtake a woman. Her daughter is ahead and she’s wracked with nerves. “Don’t think about it and look straight ahead” I shout as I go. “I was the same as you a few hours ago.” I become a self-appointed coach and the transformation is complete. I fear that I may now have a little too much confidence.
Two hours are up and somehow I graduated from quivering mess to confident show-off. I started off with the pace of a sleepy Koala and now I’m exhibiting signs of a Flying Fox. What a difference a few hours in the trees can make.
The Enchanted Adventure Garden is off the M11 Mornington Peninsula Freeway at 55 Purves Road, in Arthurs Seat. The drive takes one hour from Melbourne’s city centre. Two hours of tree surfing costs adults $59 and children (must be over 135 centimetres tall) $39 for the Grand Course. Ticket price includes park access to tube slides, mazes, adventure garden and cafe. For more information, click here.