Canyoning in Cairns: Adventuring Through Behana Gorge

cairns canyoning
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Canyoning is a relatively new adventure sport to hit Cairns, but if you like the idea of abseiling, sliding and swimming through rivers and waterfalls, this might be just what you’re looking for.

I must admit I wasn’t totally sure what canyoning was before I went on this tour with Behana Days but as we started the day by learning how to abseil and then descending down a 12 metre rock face into the river below, I realised this was going to be an altogether different way to experience Behana Gorge.

This is one of my favourite swim holes in North Queensland. It’s a beautiful spot for swimming in natural freshwater rockpools and the views are glorious.

Our guide Sam Day grew up in this area and obviously spent many weekends exploring different ways of adventuring from the top of the gorge all the way to the bottom.

He knows it’s nooks, crannies and crevices and he’s now set up a tourism business called Behana Days, so you too can take a more adventurous route down the gorge.

ready for action

The day we joined Sam for a tour there were the maximum of 10 people in the group.

Our day started by driving up to the top of the gorge and gearing up in wetsuits, helmets and harnesses before being given individual abseiling lessons off the front of the van.

I had never abseiled before but Sam assured me that it would be just as easy off the rock face and since I didn’t have to stress about doing the ropes myself, it did actually turn out to be a lot easier than I imagined.

The big jump

canyoning in cairnsThe initial descent into the gorge gave us our first dip of the day before climbing back up to the top where Sam took us on a “bit of a jungle walk”.

One by one we attached ourselves to a rope and slid down some rocks through the bushes until we came out onto a rock ledge.

As we gathered on the ledge and looked over the edge, it became obvious that there was only one way down from this point.

Did I mention that ‘canyoneers’ do quite a bit of jumping?

At this stage I was feeling over-excited so I stuck my hand up and volunteered to be the first jumper. It was a 6-metre drop into the swim hole and nobody in the group hesitated.

We then made our way further down the gorge by clambering across rocks, sliding through gullies, swimming across pools and drifting through rapids.

If there is such a thing as an adult playground – this is it.

More abseiling

abseiling cairnsHalfway through the morning we stopped to stock up on some much-needed morning tea, which was bananas and water (you really burn up a lot of energy doing this).

Once we’d regained some energy we re-entered the gorge by abseiling down another cliff with a few more tricky bits to conquer.

The rest of the day was spent continuing swimming, drifting, rock hopping and sliding downstream.

It was an awesome way to experience Behana Gorge and highly recommended.

On to the practical stuff…

swimming

swimming in behana gorgeApparently non-swimmers have successfully navigated this tour thanks to a lifejacket (which everyone has to wear) and some helpful towing from the tour guides.

I personally can’t imagine going on a trip like this if I wasn’t a good swimmer. The day we went the water levels and currents were quite strong since it’s the wet season so a good swimming ability would give you more confidence. Water levels are obviously not as high outside of wet season.

age & ability

This tour is billed as an ‘adventure tour’ and while it’s certainly not in the ‘extreme’ category, it does still require a reasonable level of fitness and agility.

Children can participate from the age of 10 although I think kids from the age of 12-13 would enjoy it most. You would need to make a judgement call about how gung-ho your child is at jumping off cliff faces (the highest is about 6 metres).

Travel nq fast facts:

  • Behana Days provide all equipment (inc. helmets, lifejackets and wetsuits)
  • Morning tea and lunch are included
  • Take closed in shoes, the more grippy the better because the rocks can get quite slippery
  • Wear boardshorts and a rashie
  • All helmets have Go-Pro mounts on them. You can also take underwater cameras with you.
  • The water is ‘refreshing’ so if you’re the kind of person that feels the cold (like me!), then you might want to take a full wetsuit and a hot drink in a thermos for morning tea.

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