Get your white-knuckle thrills in Penrith
If it’s good enough for Olympian Jessica Fox, it’s good enough for us. Fox – the Australian world champion slalom canoeist – trains at the stadium found a six-minute drive from Penrith. It was built for the 2000 Olympics, and the man-made course is open to the public from September to June for whitewater rafting and kayaking. When we arrive at the stadium the concrete channel is an empty cavern, like someone’s taken the lid off an underground car park. Water is pumped from the neighbouring lake at 2,800 litres per second and within minutes it’s a gushing river. We’re suited up in wetsuits (available to hire for $10-$15) and given a sobering pep talk about those concrete boulders and what it’s like to be sucked in by the rips and spat out downstream. Confidence in the water is a must and the minimum age is 12 years old – this ain’t no waterpark ride. In fact, the first task is lifting the raft out of the water and hauling it to the start of the course (the conveyor belt was broken on our visit). In 90 minutes, you’ll do this several times (and the quicker you do it, the more times you’ll get to ride the waves). Our instructor goes easy on us on the first trip down the 320-metre long obstacle course; everyone gets a bit wet but no one loses a paddle or a tooth. We gradually build up the team confidence to sit facing backwards and ‘surf’ one of the stronger rips. By the end, we’re soaked and have minor war wounds to take home as mementoes. It’s a tiring experience but we walk away feeling victorious.
|Venue name:||Penrith Whitewater Stadium|
|Opening hours:||Open daily Sep-Jun. Check website for water times|
|Price:||$94 per person|