Abseiling and having a cliff picnic while suspended off a sheer cliff edge 300m above a sweeping valley floor – not your everyday experience. Well, that’s exactly how I spent my birthday this year. Turning 29 and doing something that quite frankly terrified the hell outta me is one to remember for sure! So much so, I’ve decided every year from here on in to celebrate my birthday (and fight off the oldie feels), by doing some form of activity that scares the absolute bejaysus out of me! I’m contemplating an aerobatics flight for my 30th next year. Dear god, I hope my lovely parents don’t read this.
The cliff picnic was the ideal birthday treat for me, as most of you know I love a unique dining experience (dining in the dark in London with a completely surprise menu is still one of my favourites) and the cliff picnic is also one for the records.
Our weekend started with a scenic drive to the mountainous region of Mount Buffalo (approx. 4 hours drive from Melbourne city centre). We stayed overnight at a unique AirBnB eco cabin in a small village called Harrietville.
What’s an eco cabin you ask? Well, it had a composting toilet (an experience to say the least if you have never used one before – pouring sawdust over your poo is an eye opener), a repurposed shower and is powered by solar panels. A really cute property and it actually gave us some sweet ideas for our own future home (once adulting officially commences). After our eco cabin stay, we headed for the mountain heights.
The cliff picnic experience is ran by Bright Adventure company, who host everything from kayaking, rock climbing, abseiling to underground rock caving.
We met our friendly guide at the car park in Mount Buffalo George Park, who got us into our safety gear for the day. The first part of the day is a warm-up abseiling session. This was my first time abseiling and I’ll have to admit, the first initial step off the cliff is terrifying. After the initial heart attack, it’s actually so much fun.
Jack was a natural at abseiling and was literally jumping down the cliff. Such a show off – he’s a Arborist for those of you who don’t know, so he lives and breathes heights and jumping out of trees (with ropes, of course) everyday (I’ll stick to my marketing role, thank you very much!)
After an intense hour long abseiling session on one of Australia’s biggest cliffs , you then get ready for the extreme abseil down to the picnic experience. The ledge you sit on for this is probably the scariest bit. You have probably seen pictures of the portaledges that professional climbers use to sleep on while hanging off cliff edges, well that’s basically where you sit and dine. The picnic itself includes locally prepared delicious goods and you get a starter, main and dessert – all of which we devoured.
You sit and take in the majestic views of Mount Buffalo dangling below your feet for over an hour. Surprisingly, you do relax into your surroundings. The views are absolutely incredible and it’s quite romantic enjoying your picnic hamper for two on your private dining ledge. Not many restaurants can supply that service!
One thing I will say is make sure you use the toilet first. Getting off the cliff edge isn’t a task you want to repeat too many times. They give you a rope ladder which you use to pull yourself up off the cliff edge. It’s more difficult than it sounds. If you could hear the (heavily Irish) screams coming from me trying to do this. I swear our guide was convinced I wasn’t the full shilling. He was a great sport though and made us feel at ease as best as he could throughout the whole experience.
Overall, the perfect birthday adventure experience and I’d highly recommend to anyone (once you’re not scared of heights that is). I’m super happy I spent my birthday doing something that challenged me physically and terrified me just a smidgen. This is definitely one to add to the adventurous bucket list for adrenaline junkies in Melbourne.
Other things to note
Experience is $395 for two people
Book for breakfast, lunch or dinner