Season 1, Episode 5

Experience Co

Host Benjamin Starr continues driving his own adventure through the beautiful city of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland.

Talking to Brett and Sandz from Experience Co, they offer 16 experiences anywhere between mild to wild in Queensland including the exclusive Snuba Dive aboard Reef Magic Cruises.

Hosts & Guests

Benjamin Starr

Brett

Sandz

 

Read the transcript

Ben: Well we’re driving our own adventure there’s lots to see and do in far north Queensland and we’re having a ball up here. We’ve got Brett and Sandz with us joining us  in the studio at the moment. We’re talking about some amazing things that you can do up here with experiences now everything’s an experience up here tell us about the company that you represent guys.

Brett: We represent a company called Experience Co which has a range and a raft of beautiful opportunities and adventures up here in north Queensland from skydiving to ballooning, rafting, canyoning, Great Barrier Reef let’s not forget that and of course the Daintree Rainforest, the most beautiful place in the world up there hundred and thirty kilometers north. Green Island, Fitzroy Island, pontoons what have I missed out Sandz?  

Sandz: GBR Helicopters.

Brett: Holy happening hap fish I have indeed – yes GBR helicopters those birds that fly in the sky.

Ben: It’s a pretty big portfolio of experiences.

Brett: Yeah.

Ben: You have to represent what what do people really come here to see and do? What what’s the experience that they all have to have?

Sandz: I generally find over the years it’s been the reef and the rainforest has been definitely the more popular. Obviously having the Great Barrier Reef up here and having all the options of islands and pontoons and boats, diving, snorkelling, glass bottom boats, semi submersibles. We’ve got an exclusive product also called Snuba which is called Snuba Dive and Snuba Doo . Which is amazing as well. There is always a good variety and lots to do.

Ben: There’s lots to do.

Brett: We really push on the whole idea that safety is our biggest concern full stop before any of the tours go out. A lot of our trips like the rafting and canyoning and even ballooning to a degree like zero emissions so we push those kinds of factors too but absolutely safe and the snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef totally totally. Skydiving, fantastic, not a problem, I’ve jumped twenty-nine times, jump by myself, I’ve had these guys throw me out and it’s perfectly fine. But just being up here north Queensland just being here is a wonderful thing specially this time of year when it when we really love it. Like this morning it was dead cold at twelve degrees and the majority the village was sort of like pulling the punches and going wow this is really cold, but now you can see in the sunlight out there beautiful winter’s day, it’s absolutely glorious so a day like this on a tropical island it’s pretty hard to beat.

Ben: All these things that you do have an amazing impact on people’s lives. I mean you must get people up here that have lived in fear of heights and all this sort of stuff and they come up here and they think “you know what I’m here I’m just going to do it”. You must see some amazing transformations with people?

 

Sandz:

Yes, so I guess for me my experiences of actually lived up here for the last twenty-nine years and promoted Green Island for all of that time. The marine life the just the experiences that you get as a grandparent I was just recently able to take my six-year-old grandson out on our new Snuba Dive and Snuba Doo experience where I was able to dive underneath the water up to three meters and he had a life jacket on and he was actually on top of the water. There is an air tank in the raft, we had the regulators, we were out on Marine World on Reef Magic chasing Wally the resident Mallory rustled around there so yeah just even for me after twenty-nine years there was still a new amazing experience. Things that I’ve done with my sons that I can now do with my grandsons.

 

Ben:

Steve Irwin did a great lot for tourism in this this region I mean, even sort of the daredevil man and everyone got to love him. Do you think people come out here with that sort of experience in their mind? Thinking “I’m gonna see a croc I’m gonna do all these things”?  

 

Brett:

Not so much, but this time of year it’s an easy time to see crocodile. I mean there’s a few contentious issues which I won’t touch on, but crocodile population we stopped culling them 1974 in Queensland so their population as a protected species has increased now. However, this time is the best time see crocodile basically they’re cold blooded creatures so when it’s hot that would be under the water, and when it’s cold they want to be out of the water in the sun, using their electric scales on their back to warm up and get their energy for the feeding time. So, it’s a good time but I’m not sure. Steve Irwin was out at Batt Reef which is incidentally one of the reefs that we visit on one of our boat charters out of Port Douglas, on Calypso, and it’s an absolutely sensational part of the Great Barrier Reef it’s it really is alive and beautiful. And when we’re talking when Sandz was saying about her grandson, also for the foreign tourists that come here, and indeed the southern people who haven’t actually been to the Great Barrier to get their reaction first off. We have a little program out on one of our vessels, on Dreamtime, which is our Indigenous journey to the Great Barrier Reef. And we basically, at that the back of the boat when they come up on the boat we sort of what we’re helping them with get on the boat with their fins and mask we ask them how their trip was and their adventure and some of the reactions. It just makes you so happy to be in the tourist industry up here, because sometimes they’ve never seen things before that they’ve imagined. We always encourage them to do three things; go slow, look for the little things, because the Great Barrier Reef is made of billions and billions of tiny little things and also don’t  think that the Great Barrier Reef that you’re gonna need your Maui Jims or your Ray Bans  under there  because not all the beautiful creatures they are brightly coloured there’s lot of dull khaki, bones, tans, browns all those kind of colours so we ensure the we we drum that into them before they got there and it enhances their experience and their adventure full stop it it’s great to be part of witnessing their excitement.

 

Ben:

If you were to sum up the area, how would you how do you see it Sandz? In your mind like how would you describe this whole area?

 

Sandz:

Just absolutely gorgeous, yeah, I just I love the people, I love the area, I love the experiences that I’ve had with with the Great Barrier Reef with the rainforest. Being able to show my children now being able to sort of like showcase all to my grandchildren. Yeah just the total experience.

 

Ben:

And how about you Brett?

 

Brett:

Yeah, it’s just a magic place to be. I mean when you consider it just north of where we are here we have,  for me and for some other people including a naturalist a little fella called Sir David Attenborough; “the most beautiful place in the world” according to him and according to me and that place is in the Daintree which where we also run tours through – and it’s actually the world’s oldest tropical lowland rainforest botanically  unchallenged for more than a hundred and thirty five million years.

 

Ben:

Isn’t that amazing?

 

Brett:

And its beautiful white beach coconut palmed and other palm tree beach, and it meets the world’s largest living organism – the Great Barrier Reef. And it’s just sensational to be there you’re kind of transforming to some other thing like another being like being, almost like a hippie to be honest with you, and it’s just absolutely abundant in in every kind of feeling so we’ve got so many beautiful places here just to drive around is just fantastic.

 

Ben:

You do see a lot of people making not a sea change but a complete life change – from corporate world into tourism, micro tourism all these other little businesses it’s an area that, really, relies on the tourism but it’s interesting how the tourism creates all these other little jobs on the side the people that look  after the boats, the mechanics, the fuel people.

 

Brett:

Absolutely.

 

Ben:

It’s got a whole knock on affect hasn’t it? 

 

Brett:

Absolutely.

 

Ben:

And where do the kids fit into this? Like it in terms of youth up here do they have lots of opportunities to get involved in the sort of tourism industry?

 

Brett:

Well they do, Sandz is probably better.

 

Sandz:

We’ve got the educational programs.

 

Brett:

And a successful challenge for the kids is actually to go elsewhere and study and they’re returning to Cairns, eventually at some stage whether it be over ???  or Bond University or

  1. U. T. or wherever. So that that they go, and they come back because they realise how much Cairns has to offer.

 

Sandz

Yeah and I guess personally for me I had my oldest son come out do his traineeship through the school. Worked out on big cat going out to Green Island, loved it, got his cocksons, drove the submarines, the glass bottom boats – decided he liked looking at the engines and now is a diesel mechanic working on boats. So, you know its sort of evolved for him as well.

 

Ben:

Fascinating career choices that people make and the journeys and the stories. In terms of the tourism side of it with people coming up here, the misconception is you can see Cairns in a week. That’s not true. So, if they’re coming up for a holiday in the school holidays what would you advise families to do in that say that two-week period? If they were going to do two or three really cool things with kids, what would they be apart from the reef? 

 

Brett:

To head up and up Daintree way and see why our rainforest is so particular and special. You know? And learn about how in the west of Africa in the late sixties they we’re discovering and putting the world together, and then you know, they finally after the ologists and biologists and geologists and archeologists everybody decided signed it off a year later – they found it all living up here and had to start again. I mean it’s pretty unique in its way up the Tablelands here I mean it’s absolutely exclusivity beautiful today, particularly this time of year. All our farming activities near the volcanic crater lakes and just on the other side of the Tablelands we get out stark beautiful outback which is you know Indigenous rock art and all sorts of things. So apart from everything we do have absolutely wonderful culture up here, Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture you know from south of Cairns, Townsville way across to the border of Northern Territory up to the tip we have nearly fifty percent of the Indigenous population up here. So that really sort of marks through in daily life here in Cairns which is beautiful, and we embrace it a lot. So up here for the education for the kids, up here at the Great Barrier Reef is a must, must learn absolutely must learn. Our Indigenous culture is a must learn too, and of course our greenery and you know particularly the Daintree or indeed the wet tropics which span all the way down from Townsville, up to north near Cook Town basically and across to the west to the tablelands. So, they’re the three big pulls I guess reef, indigenous, rainforests.

 

Ben:

And if you’re gonna do some funny adventure stuff, some fun stuff, what going down the Tully as you said in the tube?

 

Brett:

Yeah, yeah probably more suited for the the barons on the kids. But however, we do have canyoning options, both up here at Crystal Cascades and also down at the Behana Gorge and that’s ??? and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s it’s and that is also a self-pressuring you know? Abseiling you know, repelling, zip lining, all that kind of stuff so you actually challenge yourself in those ways too but the rafting and the reef at little bit older maybe we could throw you out of a perfectly good aeroplane. 

 

Ben:

Why not? Going on a hot air balloon ride today, that’s the reason why we’re up early. This noise that you’re hearing behind is the hot air balloons all getting set up. So you can hear all the fire going in and it’s amazing they light up every now and again with a burst of flames, and once they get ready to go they’ll start to ride themselves in the basket. Then gets into position so people can get on board. It’s just an amazing thing to watch the size of these things is massive. Now one of the guys was just telling me they only get about a thousand hours out of a balloon and then after that, you can use it as a car cover so who knows what happens to all these balloons once they go into retirement. But this is a phenomenal thing to be watching as the moon’s going down on the horizon, the sun is starting to come up but let me tell you it is cold. So, the glamour and the glamping, if you want to put it, to hot air ballooning I always thought it was just so relaxing, and it’s just such a nice thing to do in the morning. It is freezing up here today so if you’re going to do hot air ballooning, just make sure that you do bring some warmer clothes. Because you have to factor in the fact that if you’re a morning flight like I am you’ve got to be up here four thirty or five o’clock in the morning.

 

Balloon Operator:

Ok team, please get ready in your landing positions for me landing positions. Hands on handles guys just going to be a little touch, little bounce and then we should stop on the second hit. Three…two…one. touch…down. Stay there stay there. Guys you can stand up and relax well done! You survived my flying! Please stay aboard the balloon for us, we’re just going to position the balloon around, so we can pull it down.

 

 

Ben:

I think what’s interesting is it’s really about experiencing life, but also pushing your own boundaries. I think if you’re going to go on holiday and you’re going to live in fear of everything “Oh I can’t do that, I can’t do this” you’re really not going to get the best holiday out of it. So sometimes the gift is throw yourself into the thing that you’re most scared of, if it’s skydiving, and actually do it and you’re gonna get a good view either way from up here.

 

Sandz:

It’s absolutely amazing.

 

Ben:

You’ve done it have you Sandz?

 

Sandz:

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been skydiving a few times as well yeah, and the view it’s almost paying for not just the skydive, but for a scenic airplane flight. Because going up and over the inlet and seeing out over the reef, and the mangroves and rainforest, the hills behind it’s almost like a two in one.

 

Ben:

So, what’s the most scary moment of skydiving? Is it actually getting dressed and getting on to the plane and then the sort of think to yourself “oh my gosh it’s getting high” or is at that moment when you stand and look and go “I’m gonna jump now”?

 

Brett:

Up to sixty seconds of free fall for at about two hundred kilometres an hour which is lots of fun.  

 

Ben:

Yeah who needs a facelift you’d get it from that wouldn’t you?

 

Brett:

Well there you go

 

Ben:

No botox

 

Sandz:

There’s some interesting videos.

 

Ben:

I bet that there is and.

 

Brett:

And then minutes under canopy, you even get our….      

 

 

Ben:

What’s the sound like up there?

 

Brett:

It’s absolutely amazing. It’s hard to understand and comprehend when you’re in your free fall. However, when you’re under canopy, and our tandem masters are the the most educated tandem masters, and you’ve got to do a thousand jumps by yourself, before we even entertain the idea of becoming a tandem master. So what happens is they, give you the the toggles and you can have a little fly of the parachute then, and it’s the wind. And when you turn, and when the wind hits your other ear it’s just such a beautiful feeling, and it’s so exhilarating. Mind you whilst you’re doing this, your adrenaline is still flowing freely through your body and you approach the ground very gently and slowly after several minutes, and you lift your feet up and bottom up and then you land and it’s fantastic.

 

Ben:

Now you’ve got a website, so when people come up here what they they would go through Ingenia Holidays and then book their tours through people like yourself.

 

Brett:

Absolutely. Ingenia facilitate the booking happenings also experienceco.com but that’ll be linked up to Ingenia.

 

Ben:

Yeah and then all your pamphlets and stuff are all on display.

 

Sandz:

Yes definitely.

 

Ben:

And you’ve got your website as well so yeah you know it’s a it’s a great experience. So how many experiences do you offer? Is it about ten or twelve? I was just trying to count them before. I mean you two are an experience so that’s fourteen.

 

Brett:
We’ll go with twelve.

 

Sandz:

Green, Fitzroy, Marine World, Dreamtime, helicopters, Calypso, Calypso Half day.

 

Brett:

It may even be sixteen, plus Daintree Day tours, Ballooning, Canyoning one, canyoning the other.

 

Ben:

Because the Daintree tour, what do you have lunch and all that out there, yeah, it’s all provided?

 

 

Brett:

We also do a crocodile cruise on the Daintree, which is look it’s the most amazing thing to do a crocodile cruise because I’m a bit of a reef and rainforest geek. When you see no it’s not all just about the crocodiles, like I say winter coming in the next several months up until about October, really good time to see crocodile. Because they are out sunning themselves but it’s not just the crocodile, it’s the King Fisher, it’s the snakes, it’s it’s everything on the river it’s like in an intensely like our little Amazon River it’s not as big but it is colder.

 

Ben:

When you get further north, it is like Jurassic Park.

 

Brett:

It is too parts of. 

 

Ben:

You sort of think this could be a movie scene.

 

Brett:

It’s actually twice as old yes.

 

Ben:

There you go. Well Brett and Sandz, thank you very much for talking to us. It’s been very very interesting, and I love the fact that you do the youth education stuff, and all these wonderful experiences the website again is?

 

Brett:

experienceco.com

 

Ben:

There you go you can drive your adventure with Ingenia Holidays, find out more information on Ingenia’s website as well. Thank you, guys, for joining us today.

 

Brett & Sandz

Thank you.

 

Voice Over

Thanks for listening to Drive Your Own Adventure with Ingenia Holidays. With Holiday Parks and resorts across New South Wales and Queensland, Inegnia Holidays offers the ideal place for an extended break, weekend getaway, or short stop over. Find your dream destination with Ingenia Holidays at www.ingeniaholidays.com.au.           

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