Conquering Fear with a Treetop Challenge

True Stories by Jacqx
conquering fear

Conquering Fear with a Treetop Challenge


Whether you have a fear of heights, or hidden fears, I’ve discovered the ultimate therapy to conquer fears. It’s called the Treetop Challenge. There are multiple locations, but my first experience was at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast, Queensland. I’m thankful I started here because I later tried the Treetop Challenge at Mount Tamborine, which was a lot higher up the treetops. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has a lot more to offer if you’re planning a family visit with members that are not so brave and want to experience everything the sanctuary has to offer such as Australian wildlife, Aboriginal culture, and a great family day out. The Tree Top Challenge was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve done in a very long time. Not only did I learn how far my fitness level had dropped, but the strength of my mental fitness was the biggest shock. The Treetop Challenge offers 80 challenges, 11 of those are ziplines, also known as flying foxes. The most nerve-wracking is the Croc Shock where you zipline above crocodiles. My teenage children were excited, so I plastered an ‘I’m excited too’ look on my face as I looked up in horror at the tree we were about to climb. We were given gloves and overalls to wear over our clothes and were fitted with a security harness. After a brief training video on how to navigate through the course, we started climbing trees and got straight into walking on wire tightropes, wobbly bridges, black tunnels, Tarzan ropes and ziplines (flying foxes) all from a great height. I found myself constantly looking down… just to make sure my feet were behaving themselves.


I was able to handle most obstacles but came unstuck on the Tarzan swing. My hesitancy came from a combination of the height and the fear that my arms would not be able to bear my weight. The instructor watching from below assured me that the safety harness would catch me if I wasn’t able to hold on to the net on the other side, yet I just couldn’t bring myself to leap off the platform. I whined and carried on like a five-year-old, much to the amusement of spectators and the safety staff below. As much as I thought of myself as adventurous and brave, this exercise made me realise that I had hidden fears holding me back.

‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ called out the young safety officer below me. I could think of a few things, but I kept my mouth shut, or maybe it was frozen shut with fear. Actually, I was thinking a broken neck and the rest of my life in a wheelchair… but I threw him a smile which I think probably looked more like I was baring my teeth. 

I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I would be okay, yet the fear was paralysing. I could not jump. I did not trust my arms to hold me. I was tired, my arms were aching, I was up high, and it all looked too hard. I noticed I had attracted a crowd of spectators who found my fear amusing. I tried to laugh it off and play to the crowd. Now, I had the pressure of people watching me! My 13-year-old daughter was standing next to me. Her encouragement to get me to jump was turning into frustration as the minutes ticked on. I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to quit, but getting down was not an easy option, because by then there was a queue of people waiting behind me. I was angry at myself for being scared. I wanted to be the strong inspirational mum that could do everything. Instead, I was a blithering mess, making a big scene and whining like a child. I tried to be comical, to save face, but the truth was, if no one had been watching, I would have turned around and gotten off somehow and not jumped. Unfortunately, all the commotion I created had attracted a group of amused spectators who wanted to see if I would take the plunge. The pressure was on. I concluded that it would have been more embarrassing to give up and retreat with my tail between my legs than to bite the bullet and jump.


I now understand how the Tarzan yodel was invented, although mine was a very high-pitched version and, may I add, very helpful in releasing the pent-up tension from the entire spectacle. Because of the one hundred plus questions I had asked the safety officer during the twenty minutes before I jumped, I had a good idea of what to do when I finally got to the other side and I’m proud to say that my brain retained the information and thankfully complied. I did not miss and swing back, as I had feared. I succeeded in grasping the rope on the other side, rather ungracefully, I might add, but I’m sure you already pictured that. There’s a possibility that some smarty pants filmed the ordeal and it’s floating somewhere on YouTube. Please let me know if you come across it.

Little did I know things would get tougher. I got to the netted ropes, which didn’t look too bad until I was a quarter of the way across and my arms were burning with fatigue and I thought there was no way I was going to make it all the way. My screams of ‘get me off! I can’t do this anymore!’ went unheard. I was up high and there really was no way of turning back. I hooked my arms and legs through the net and decided I was just going to hang there and get the safety officer to get me down somehow, but the ropes digging into my flesh, even through the overalls, was just as unbearable. I heard my children cheering me on, telling me I could do it. I screamed over to my boys, ‘Get over here and help me!’ Through my peripheral vision, I realised they were in hysterics and had no intention of coming to my rescue. There was the urge to sob in self-pity when I had to admit, to myself only of course, that I was a legend only in my mind. Ah, the cruelty of aging, where the mind is willing but the body is weak. I pulled myself together and inched my way painfully and slowly to the other side. That day, I also discovered that I could walk like an ape and camouflage my groans of agony by pretending to be an ape. You need to get a visual of that one.


I had to conquer fear with the Tarzan swing and exhaustion with the net. Although both were mentally and physically challenging, I found conquering the fear was much harder than overcoming the fatigue. Both required a strong will to get through it, but I found getting the fear under control was much harder. Another challenge that I found particularly difficult was having to step across loose swinging logs at a very great height. The logs were too far apart to reach them by stretching out my foot. I needed to jump across and use my arms to lean on the wires for support. It took me about five minutes of psyching myself up to finally take that first step. Unfortunately, once I’d taken that first step, there was no turning back and there were another twenty or more steps ahead!

All up, once my body recovered from the shock, I acknowledged that it was a fantastic experience. Although I’d found it very challenging, I went back for more! Three and a half hours later, I could barely walk. I was completely spent. It just goes to show that once you know you can get through something that seems so challenging at first, you gain a psychological and physical advantage with each attempt. Okay, so, I’ll confess that it took me fifteen minutes of psyching myself up at the Tarzan swing, instead of twenty, the second time around, but let’s not dwell on that.

I thought about the experience and how similar it is to our life experience. We can be faced with challenges that paralyse us with fear and make us procrastinate to avoid the pain we perceive ahead. We can choose to give up and stay in our comfort zone, or in some cases uncomfortable zone, and retreat rather than face the fear. Or, we can make a change in our life by taking a leap of faith, knowing it won’t be easy, but we will come out the other end a much stronger and confident person. Through these challenges, we may run ourselves to the ground until we are too exhausted to continue and then choose to throw in the towel, or we can rest a little when things get too tough and then persevere until we make it through. We can convince ourselves that something’s too hard and make excuses as to why we can’t do it. We can find ways to retreat and give up, or we can feel the fear and exhaustion but choose to move forward knowing that we will come out the other side a much stronger person and proud of our achievements. We fail when we stop trying!

I challenge you to give the Treetop Challenge a go. Are you going to be a spectator in life, or are you going to live it to the fullest? The Treetop Challenge has two Gold Coast locations. Currumbin and Mount Tamborine

Do you have a story about conquering fear or any other major obstacle in your life? Have you ever thought about writing about your experience in a memoir? Sharing your experience may help someone else. Get in touch with me if you would like to discuss the possibility of writing your story. Click on my Services page to find out more. I would love to hear your story.

Business Information

Business NameCurrumbin Treetop Challenge
LocationCurrumbin Treetop Challenge is located inside Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which is located on 28 Tomewin Street Currumbin Queensland 4223
General InformationAbs are not necessary, but some fitness is required to complete the course as you do need the strength to climb through the trees. Bookings are essential to guarantee a spot in the session.
WebsiteTreetop Challenge – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
BookingsTreetop Challenge – BOOKINGS – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Jacqx Melilli, author, editor, writing coach & playwright. Helping you write your legacy.


"I secured Jacquelin’s services to edit my book. The book was transformed under her guidance and I was grateful for the clear-sighted direction which she imparted with logical and also creative reasoning. The publisher was impressed with her edit and I know they have a better product as a result of her input."
Lyn Traill
Coach, speaker, author

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