TO SAY that I have butterflies in my stomach would be an understatement.
They are bats.
Standing at the top of a 50m platform looking down, the lake I am about to jump into looks like a pond.
I can see Cairns beach in front of me and the beautiful Saddle Mountain, surrounded by pristine World Heritage-listed rainforest to my left and right.
This gorgeous view does little to ease my queasy stomach, though, and the thought that I am about to plummet (possibly to my death) makes me short of breath.
I knew I would be nervous, but I never expected my body to go into full panic mode. Sweaty palms, shaky knees - the works.
I felt my legs give way on the third flight of stairs to the top of the AJ Hackett Bungy Jump.
Now that I have reached the tenth flight, I am positively petrified.
"Big breath, don't be soft," I say in my head. These guys are experts.
The two instructors, a man from England and an Aussie with dreadlocks, greet my friend Nikki and I with a big smile: "Welcome ladies. Are you ready?"
"No," I say. Honestly, I am not.
They instruct me to sit down on a bench with my legs out in front of me.
The nice Englishman cracks a few jokes as he wraps my calves in a black towel, followed by a red cord, which reminds me of rope used to tie down rubbish for the tip. A reassuring thought.
The finishing touch is a thick band of velcro and the bungy cord: a large rubber band attached to my ankles and the platform.
In my head, I am screaming, "That can't be it. Don't you have to wrap me in a bubble wrap first?"
Obviously not because the next thing I know, I am hopping along to the end of the platform.
This awkward hop is slightly reassuring as I literally cannot move my legs apart.
I am also attached to a back-up harness around my waist - "Just in case," the Aussie instructor says.
I hold on to his right hand, while his other hand is holding on to my harness at my lower back.
"Okay, Kate. This is it. Now, remember to hold your chin to your chest and jump out to that breathtaking horizon," he says.
This piece of advice would have been useful if I could understand him. All I am thinking right now is, "Get me out of here!"
"Fearless Kate. You're fearless," the English instructor, who just strapped my feet into a bungy harness, says.
Pffft. Fearless. Yeah, right.
I stand on the ledge for what feels like a lifetime, but really it is maybe two minutes.
They tell me the longer I stand here looking over the edge, the harder this is going to be.
I listen this time and realise there is no turning back.
The next thing I know, my hand is being peeled off the hand rail, which I have clutched on to for a quick escape.
I place my grasp on the instructor's arm. Poor guy must be losing circulation because I am holding on so tight.
I decide it is now or never so I shake out my shoulders, take a huge breath and count down.
One, two, three, four ... jump.
Eyes open, hands above my head, I reach out to the horizon.
I feel my body start to fall and I forget everything. Except how to scream.
I scream louder than I have in my whole life as I continue to fall for what seems like forever.
And then, all of a sudden, I am being flung back up into the air, and back down again.
My body is as limp as a rag doll. I have no control over what this rubber band is making me do.
It is a sensation I have never felt in my life.
Adrenalin has kicked in and I am filled with excitement, courage and relief.
As the bouncing stops and I hang like a bat from the cord, a guy in a rubber boat releases me from the bungy and plants my feet back on the ground.
This moment will stay with me forever. I cannot believe something I was so afraid of doing could make me feel so full of life.
Let's do it again!
IF YOU GO
- The AJ Hackett Bungy Jump in Cairns is at Smithfield, along McGregor Rd.
- The 50m Cairns Bungy Tower has seen hundreds of thousands of people pushed to their limits and laughing in the face of gravity each year.
- The tour was organised through Wotif's experience company, GoDo.com.au.
- For more information, go to cairns.ajhackett.com.