I generally consider myself a fairly fearless traveler. But there’s one thing that’s always gotten me: heights. Just watching a commercial with a cliff is enough to make my palms start sweating. So when I ventured to Australia recently, I decided enough was enough. In Melbourne, my final stop, I went all in and signed up to go skydiving with Skydive the Beach and Beyond.
I opted for the first morning jump and arrived at their St. Kilda office at 7 a.m. on a clear autumn day. After filling out waivers and suiting up, my fellow intrepid jumpers and I took a van to a nearby airport. My instructor, Kras, told me that he alone had done 20,000 jumps, which helped assail some of my jitters. Our group loaded into a small plane, and once it reached 14,000 feet, the door was taken off. A loud rush of wind filled the aircraft. Before I knew it, Kras tapped my shoulder and we ambled—me first, with him strapped tightly to my back—to the exit.
When it was time, he let go of the doorframe, and we started free falling. I screamed like a little girl—a fact confirmed by the video taken courtesy of a GoPro on Kras's wrist—and felt all my fear leave my weightless body. At 14,000 feet the free fall lasts about a minute, but I lost all sense of time as we dove through the chilly atmosphere. Once Kras pulled the parachute, I felt a quick jolt, and then we started gently floating down. I marveled alternately at downtown Melbourne and the sea, in awe of the beautiful juxtaposition that lay below me.
If you want to get high in Australia, Skydive the Beach has outposts across the country; check their website for details. I would definitely recommend the Melbourne location. St. Kilda is a young, hip neighborhood that's perfect for a celebratory post-jump drink.