“Are you religious?” asked the Tangalooma guide as I laid paralysed on a razor thin plank of wood seesawing on the tip of the island’s mightiest sand dune.
I shook my head trying not to break the state of balance that my plank and I had managed to agree upon when the man who held my fate in his fingers – let’s call him The Executioner – muttered, “Well now’s the time to be” and gave me a swift nudge.
With that the board tipped forward and I was off; over the edge with a fast whoosh, a loud whoop and with the mantra of “keep your head up, arms up, feet up” bouncing around in my brain as I hurtled down the 400 metre arc of white like a snowball out of control.
This is toboganning tropical style.
Delete all images of powder white snow and thick layers of thermals and replace them with t-shirts, boardies and millions of granules of warm, gritty sand, each with the capacity to find its way into every body orifice should you do the wrong thing and dice with the dune.
After watching an Asian tourist, whose English extended to “preeze” and “sankyou” do a perfect face plant, I prided myself on a perfect performance – an Olympic 10 – on the first go. Anything to avoid eating the grit!
Move over Dreamworld, sand tobogganing on Tangalooma Island is the original thrill ride. And while – or maybe because – the equipment only costs about two bucks from any neighbourhood hardware store, it’s considerably hairier than the computer-generated rides available in the theme parks today. There are no safety belts and no harnesses. So for someone who has never driven a car without a seatbelt or cycled without a protective helmet, this was as close to Man vs Wild as a forty-year-old city slicker was going to get.
There’s more to Tangalooma than fast fun. This island paradise, just one hour’s ferry ride from Brisbane’s CBD, has a week-long list of action from wreck diving to all-terrain quad bike adventures, parasailing and the chief reason for coming - the chance to hand feed wild dolphins every night.
Tangalooma doesn’t shy away from its history either and smack in the middle of the landscaped beachfront is a building that looks like a left over from the battle for Libya. Grey, drab and slightly Stalinistic in its functional design, this is a remnant of a whaling station when Australian society was more focused on killing the magnificent marine creatures than watching them in awe from the stern of a tourist boat as we do today.
Australia has moved on so much since the dark days of the first half of the century. And that alone deserves a drink. Thankfully, Tangalooma has a beachside bar to go with the transparent blue seas in front of it.
For more information, visit Tangatours Moreton Island.