So often, you have a corporate retreat, a junket or just a group of friends who wants to go on a trip; you love the water but you members of your group who cannot scuba dive or do not want to snorkel. Where can you find a happy medium? One of the paths that I suggest to people in this situation is taking your group white water rafting. If you go with a reputable company, it is one of the safer adventure activities that you can do, thus you can still have the adrenaline rush while staying within the comfort zone of most people. It is something for 20-50 somethings, while older and younger can go 20-50 is the sweet spot. This means that it is usually a good activity for middle management. Best of all it is an activity that men and women can enjoy.
One of the best places that I have visited on my adventures is the Tully River area of Australia. This paradise in northern Queensland is where the Jungle meets the water. The rapids of the river make it one of the safer rivers in Northern Australia because crocodiles cannot handle the rapids and a series of falls keeps them from swimming upriver. That being said, this is still an adventure activity and you need to obey the instructions of the guides. The view getting to and during the trip is amazing, in the morning you drive through the Atherton Tablelands, where you have the opportunity to see the Australian sugar cane fields. From there you enter parts of the rainforest, which are important enough to earn World Heritage Status. The river itself is a meandering river that starts in the hills and works its way to the shore. Most of the trips are 4-6 hours. It is a great area that is close enough to Cairns that it is merely a day trip, but far enough away from the city that your team (or friends) can feel like they are getting away from it all.
One of the reasons that rafting is such an interesting adventure for a team is because it is not what most people expect. When people think of rafting, they think of constant battles with white water and that the entire trip is rapids. The truth is on most rivers the white water makes up a small part of the trip. Most of the trip is a time where you can talk to your boat mates and take in the sites that you can only see from the water. This is why I highly recommend getting a cheap “go-pro” style camera (a good company will have helmets that you can mount it on). This will allow you to make a video of your time on the river. Do not get me wrong, the white water is fun, but you will find that the glassy calm water in-between rapids in when the real corporate bonding takes place.
Before you take a group on a whitewater rafting trip, there are somethings that you need to know. First, make sure that you know the cancelation policy. Since it is a watersport, you cannot do it in a thunderstorm or if the river is too high or too low. Make sure that you choose a reputable company that will allow you a refund or reschedule is something beyond your control cancels the trip. Another option is to have travel insurance (which I recommend anyway) that covers such cancelations. Second, make sure that you check the “what you need list” on the company’s website. The first time I traveled the Tully River, I did not bring a towel or a change of clothes. Since, at that time, the company was using a rental bus to haul people, they did not want to get the seats wet. This meant that my friends and I had to choose between going without shirts or riding home commando. We chose to go shirtless, which led to some very bad sunburns (even with lotion, remember Australia’s sun is much rougher than the sun in other countries). Finally, make sure that you tell them that it is your first trip (if it is your first trip), this will get you an experienced guide who can be a little more “hands-on” with your group. If you have new people who are nervous, an experienced guide can go a long way towards helping them enjoy the trip.
As for accommodations, I recommend the Ameroo at Trinity Beach. Ameroo is a little 30 odd room hotel in the Town of Trinity Beach, which is about 20 minutes from Cairns by taxi or Uber. The town has a grocer, a couple of little shops, and several nice restaurants. There are several beaches and some good fishing just a short walk up the road. For your actual rafting tour, I use Raging Thunder Rafting. Having gone with them a couple of times now, they are a strong outfit with good support and excellent staff. They also do a good safety presentation and have “watchers” at each rapids to make sure that if someone does fall out there is someone to throw them a line. This is a fun event for small corporate groups or groups of friends, and as you know adrenaline draws people together. Adventures create memories and memories are the foundation of a good team, so I highly recommend that if you are looking for an event for “non-snorkel/scuba people” rafting the Tully River is a good option (not to mention it gets you close to the Great Barrier reef if you schedule a free day).
About the Author
Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.
Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.
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