In mid-May I met up with my brother and two sisters in the sunny Gold Coast for a weekend of fun, food, and catching up. We hadn’t all hung out together in years, and the one bonding experience we were all keen to take part in was Treetops Challenge in Mt Tamborine.
We booked online in advance, and unanimously decided that mid-morning on the Sunday would be our best bet in terms of making sure we could get there in time, while also avoiding the crowds.
We were staying in Broadbeach, which is about a 50 minute drive from Mt Tamborine; so we were up bright and early, and on the road before we’d even had time to sort out breakfast or coffee (red flag alert).
Treetops Challenge is based in Thunderbird Park. An important fact to note, as we didn’t initially realise this, and almost missed the turnoff (we ended up walking along a track for 10–15 minutes thinking it would lead to Treetops, when instead it led to a waterfall, albeit a beautiful one!).
Once we arrived in the right place (all it took was a right turn rather than a left), and checked ourselves in, it was time to get our safety gear on—harness, helmet, gloves—and watch the safety video where we learned how to use the Smart Belay System. We then had to practice using the belay and carabineers before we were free to roam the Park by ourselves.
At first, I was scared stiff to take part in the Treetops Challenge! Although I had been ziplining before, it was quite a different experience—with ziplining we had a guide with us the whole time, and they were the ones to hook us on and off each of the lines. At Treetops, we were left to our own devices!
However, once I learned how to use the belay system I felt much safer. The Smart Belay System consists of two connected carabineers that communicate with each other. You simply hook and unhook the carabineers one at a time. There is actually no way you could have them both unhooked at the same time while you’re on a course, meaning that even if you lost your balance and fell, you would remain supported by the belay and your harness.
Although initially scared, it was less about the height of the course, and more about the falling. But, I got up there and got over it. I had an absolute ball.
Treetops is made up of many courses, set to different difficulty levels. Everyone has to start on a Green course, which is for beginners. After that, you can roam the grounds at your leisure and try your luck at the harder courses: Red is second easiest, Blue is considered medium difficulty, and Black is the most challenging.
Difficulty rating is based on the actual height of the course, the individual challenges that make up the course (a variety of zip lines, rope walks, swing bridges, tunnels, platforms, planks, tarzan swings, etc etc), and the ascension. Each course takes around half an hour to an hour to get through.
You could easily spend all day there.
There are two Green courses right at the start, and staff alternate groups between each of them, meaning that we didn’t have to wait our turn, and we could take our time without having to worry about holding anyone else up.
In fact, it wasn’t until we got to the Black course that we had a bit of a wait as another group made their way through.
My two sisters buddied up and went first through the course together, with my brother and I following (slowly) behind. I’m sorry to say that I expected him to regret being my buddy, but instead he was patient and supportive and actually gave me the confidence to power through (chur bro!).
After a slow start, I got the hang of the Green course and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but totally underestimated how physical it was! The only thing that stopped me from really going for it was the heat of the day, my empty stomach, and my lack of fitness.
That’s right folks, I ran out of steam pretty quickly!
Throughout the courses, you are constantly pulling yourself along (forwards and backwards), climbing up and down, and hanging on for dear life. By the time I got to the end of the Green course I was exhausted and ready for a break.
My brother and sisters were keen to keep going, and led us up to a Blue course—yup, the second hardest level. I got through three of the challenges that made up this course (each one forcing me to climb higher and higher) before I realised that I physically could not go any further. So, I told the others to keep going, while I dragged my sorry self back down to the ground.
From there, I cheered them on as they not only completed the Blue course, but also the Black one, which was insanely challenging and so high up; before we were all ready to call it a day.
A staff member advised us that it would not only be more fun, but much quicker to take the Red course (second easiest) back to reception, as it was full of ziplines. So, once again I strapped myself on and flew through three ziplines, climbed down three ladders, and tried not to close my eyes the entire way.
Overall, we had great fun and really bonded as siblings. We cheered each other on, supported each other through the tough parts, and laughed a lot.
I would definitely recommend Treetops to anyone visiting the Gold Coast, and my hot tip would be to take a water bottle with you. You will thank me for it.
How do you think you would go, Tarzan-ing through the trees?
Have you tried a Treetops Challenge before?
Would you like to give it a go now?!