Visit Hollybank Treetops Adventure and dangle from a rope 20m above the ground? Are you mad? Sounded like a crazy idea to me, but the general consensus from the rest of the troops: very good idea, in fact. The opportunity arose when the kids had a rest day during a week of tennis tournaments in Launceston. After all, what better way to relax, than to fly through the Tasmanian forest (or the woods, as our friends from Sydney called it) at 80km an hour? So eight willing participants booked on the flight schedule (as manager David called it) and one chicken went along to observe. That chicken would be me! Well… someone had to hold the camera, yes?
Hollybank: Tasmanian Forest Flight
We arrived at our scheduled time and met Nikki, the very bubbly and competent receptionist for the day. Apparently Nikki is usually one of the guides on the Hollybank tour, and much prefers to be out in the Tasmanian forest. Can’t imagine why… the reception area seemed quite warm and comfortable to me. And safe!
Once we’d signed the appropriate forms, we were introduced to our guides, Greg and Jo. When they whipped out the bathroom scales, the adults suddenly had a look of panic in their eyes! But they were saved from embarrassment when only the younger children were weighed. Kids weighing less than 35kg need to fly tandem with a parent or guardian. I was very pleased to see Greg and Jo taking great care securing the harnesses for the kids. They were, after all, going to be a long way up in the tree canopy!
Greg has a background in the hospitality industry, but these days clearly loves his work at Hollybank as a senior guide. He manages the equipment and the training of other guides, and is a stickler for the rules. Again, fine by me! Just follow his instructions and don’t mess around and no-one will get hurt. Seriously!
Once the younger kids are safely strapped into their harness, you pass by the locker room to deposit all your valuables and any loose objects or jewellery. We don’t want anything dropping from the sky onto an unsuspecting bush-walker (or photographer) in the forest.
The adults and older kids are talked through the harness routine; everyone receives instructions and after one final safety check, the group moves out to the practice area. Then you experience the flying-fox at ground level. When everyone’s confident and at maximum excitement level, you are led into Tasmania’s beautiful forest to face your destiny in the treetops.
During the walk, Jo gives a talk about the history of the Tasmanian forest at Hollybank. Apparently, some of the trees were planted for the Alexander Patent Racket Company to produce timber for tennis racquets and cricket bats. The chosen trees weren’t suitable for the climate and when the whole project proved an epic failure, the area was taken over by Forestry Tasmania. Hollybank Treetops Adventure started in 2007.
Hollybank: Treetops Adventure
Part-way through the walk, I peeled off and made my way to the viewing platform. On the ground. While I set up my tripod, the others continued on to the first cloud station, and it wasn’t long before I could hear them coming. One member of the group was screaming; the rest were laughing and yelling and obviously having a ball.
You don’t need to bring a photographer along, so yes… I was actually surplus to requirements! Guide Jo carried a camera (safely secured to her) and everyone has their photo taken at a dedicated section between two of the cloud stations. They even take a photo of the whole group, and you can purchase a souvenir of your Hollybank Treetops Adventure back at the office.
As the group continued on their flight, I made my way back to base; all the while wishing I was a bit braver. But I did enjoy the walk. Wide, stable tracks criss-cross through the bush, and you could visit just to enjoy a BBQ in the trees. Eventually, as I was taking photos of the lovely daffodils, a much more subdued group also returned to base. The adrenaline rush was over, and they were all clearly in agreement with the Hollybank slogan: why walk when you can fly?
Hollybank Treetops Adventure: Need to Know
This multi-award winning tourism venture is located in the Launceston region, 20 minutes drive towards Bridport, and is currently open seven days. They do have a bus for anyone needing transport to and from Launceston, but bookings are essential. If you have your own wheels, you can always visit the Lilydale Tavern Bakery Cafe for a little dutch courage beforehand. Or you could make the five-minute trip after the flight as we did. Over a celebratory glass of lemonade, you can compare notes about who went the fastest and who screamed the loudest.
You can choose to fly in the morning, afternoon or even at night. I would strongly recommend making a booking, as they can only take a certain number each time. Our group of eight was joined by a couple from Adelaide on their first ever holiday to Tasmania, so the time-slot was almost full. The tour goes ahead in most weather conditions, and you can hire wet-weather gear if needed. Even on sunny days, they suggest dressing warmly and wearing enclosed shoes. For obviously reasons, a skirt or dress would be a very silly option.
Children aged under thirteen can’t fly unaccompanied by a parent or guardian on tour. And while anyone aged from three to 80+ can join a tour during the day, apparently the night tours are limited to people aged over thirteen. This did not impress one member of our party, who is just a whisker too young. He was already planning to return for a night tour, before he’d even taken the leap from the first of six cloud stations!
Some of the platforms soar over 20m into the canopy. You’d think that might be cause for some concern, but this still-twelve-year-old wasn’t phased at all. He had complete faith that he would love the iconic Tassie experience. A few of the others were quietly nervous; at least one promised screaming. Really loud screaming in fact, which she duly delivered.
But no matter how they approached Hollybank Treetops Adventure at the beginning, or handled their nerves during the flight; they were all in agreement at the end. It is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Tasmania. And I can certainly vouch that it’s still being talked about in our house!
Think Tasmania visited as guests of Hollybank Wilderness Adventures. Visit online for more information.