“…..and that’s all you need to know about quad biking!”
As I zoned back in I realised with a jolt that rather than giving our guide Bernie my full attention during the safety briefing I’d actually been concentrating on filming things with the Go Pro. Uh oh, those things get nicknamed ‘go-dies’ for a reason don’t they?
Hang on, didn’t Ozzie Osbourne nearly get killed riding a quad bike once, and he’s almost indestructible? I probably should have been listening!
It was to be my first ever time on a quad bike, or ATV, and seeing as how I’m not the best driver at all I probably should have been taking notes. My driving test was only passed on the 5th attempt and I have been known to get strangers to park for me if I deem a space a bit too difficult. There’s a reason Mikey usually ‘volunteers’ to chauffer us pretty much all the time. So how on earth would I fare on a glorified tonka truck, hurtling through the rainforest towards very big trees?
For my first ever ATVing experience I’d chosen a company called Down and Dirty, who’s large property on the outskirts of Kuranda promised a muddy track through pristine rainforest. This would be proper ATVing and not on easy terrain.
Would I make it through the day unscathed?
Of course I needn’t have worried. Clearly very used to absolute newbies like me we started out on a test track devoid of all but a few harmless looking trees. First we got to used to the steering, which is pretty heavy, then to getting a run up for a hill and finally maneuvering through a few tight spaces.
The ‘proper’ track didn’t seem too intimidating after that and I soon relaxed in to feeling the rush of the wind as we explored the rainforest. I even managed to art of one handed driving as my Go pro was attached to my helmet and I had to reach up and press the button every time i wanted to take a picture. The poor bloke behind me was probably cursing under his breath every time I accidentally hit the brake rather than the throttle!
Fortunately for me there was someone else in our group of four who was worse at driving than I was. A young Chinese girl, she was clearly extremely nervous from the get go and had a habit of getting herself stuck or stopping in the middle of the track. Bernie was an extremely patient and supportive guide often hopping off his own ATV to help push her out of some boggy bits. I don’t think she quite knew what she was in for because at every muddy puddle she promptly popped her feet right up and crawled through, painstakingly trying to avoid getting any dirt on her pristine trainers, a technique also adopted by her husband.
I, on the other hand, would let them get a decent distance ahead and then plough into the muddy waters as fast as I could spraying myself and the quad with a torrent of mucky earth. Great fun! The company isn’t called ‘Down and Dirty’ for nothing and I certainly didn’t plan on going home without covering myself head to toe as effectively as possible!
It’s really a testament to the skills of Bernie that I had no idea this wasn’t a usual ATVing pace until he confessed later that in a year of working there it was the slowest tour he’s ever done, and we’d covered the least ground ever! Perhaps it was a good thing for me as it meant I really found my feet with how to drive and feel safe, it wasn’t really until the second half of our drive that I was really chewing a the bit wanting to fly over the ground.
My hour on that bike was great fun, and really a very different way to experience the gorgeous rainforest that surrounds Cairns. Plus I managed to get myself and the quad around in one piece, and thanks to the other leaner driver wasn’t the worst one in our group. A successful day all around!
Need to Know:
- I tried out the shorter lunch tour which doesn’t offer transfers so you’ll need to get yourself to Kuranda (the extended AM and PM tours will pick up from Cairns and Northern beaches).
- You used to have to wear long trousers but now their insurance has changed and I went on in shorts and a singlet with no trouble.
- Expect to get dirty and wear things that you either don’t mind getting a bit ruined or that will be enhanced by a rust coloured splatter or twelve.
- If you’re nervous or inexperienced they can offer you a smaller 150cc bike which is a bit easier to ride for newbies (unless you’re the girl on my tour, obviously).
- They have Go pro helmet mounts but leave your posh DSLR behind, there aren’t many stops for photo opportunities unless someone gets stuck.
- Slap on your sunscreen, you might be in rainforest but that tropical sun can still get to you.
- Unless you really are strapped for time book on the longer sessions. I felt like I was just getting the hang of things when our time was up!