‘Just jump, fly and enjoy!’ That’s the advice from first time trapeze flier, Rodrago Buenavida. Rodrago didn’t expect to be flying through the air. He was simply heading to the beach for a surf but, after encountering a full-sized flying trapeze rig on the lawn of Denning Park, he had to check it out.
Cleverly dubbed ‘Park&Fly’, the trapeze rig launched last week and will be in place on Byron Bay’s foreshore until mid-February. An initiative of the Byron Shire Council’s Placemaking Seed Fund and run by Circus Arts, it gives everyone the chance to fly. On opening day, many first-time flyers had a go.
Awesome was the main word used to describe the experience by first-time flyers, closely followed by exhilarating. Surprisingly low on the list was scary. ‘I thought I was going to be a lot more scared up there but I wasn’t says Tara McGready, a staff member at the Byron Shire Council. ‘It was unreal.’
Tara found the ladder climb to be the scariest part of her fly – understandable given that the ladder is nine meters high and has a tendency to wobble. For teenager, Paris Astley, who works at the nearby ice-creamery, it was leaning out from the board at the top and grabbing the bar that got her heart racing.
Flying trapeze is an experience that looks high-risk but is surprisingly safe. Yes, you are high in the air but safety harnesses and ropes mean that you are within the control of coaching staff all the time.
First-time flyers on opening day were full of praise for the coaches. Moana Pearl, a HUB volunteer commented on how simple the coaches made it. Rodrago noted how the Circus Arts crew made him feel ‘chilled’.
Some, like Paris, knew that they were going to fly. Others, like Rodrago just happened upon it. This was the case for Gary Bloomfield who, in his 60s, was the oldest of the first-time flyers on opening day. ‘I saw a girl walking along on stilts – that kind of gets your attention – and she was telling people how something was going on down here.’ He was intrigued: ‘I wanted to see what the big trapeze thing was but I never thought I was going to go on it!’. He did and declared it to be one of the most exhilarating things he’s ever done.
The youngest first-time flier on opening day was Max Green, aged just 6 and in his kinder year at Byron Bay Public School. He was initially unsure but, after trying the practice trapeze (which is at ground level) he was super keen. His favourite bit was doing a backflip somersault to get from hanging on the trapeze to lying on the net.
As you can see, flying trapeze is open to anyone from age 6 – 60+. You fly in bare feet and whatever clothes you are wearing (though I would suggest something other than a tight skirt). You don’t need to be strong or flexible to enjoy the thrill of a fly.
First-time fliers are encouraged to do a ‘knee-hang’ trick – where you hook your knees over the bar and swing upside down. For some, this is the best bit, like Luke Karmen, who was checking out the rig before recommending it others during his time volunteering at the Schoolies Hub. For some, staying upright and simply having a swing is the go – in fact, this is the best way to appreciate your surrounds, including glimpsing the sea over the treetops.
Park&Fly is not just for first-time flyers. Those who have flown at the indoor rig at Circus Arts in the Industrial Estate, or elsewhere, are equally welcome. I have flown many times since catching the flying trapeze bug earlier this year but this was my first outdoor fly. I found it scarier – the board where you launch from is smaller and more exposed – but it was magical.
So will the first-time fliers have another go? ‘Yep, I want to do one of the classes!’ says 6-year old Max, looking expectantly at his father. Others are also keen to try again. ‘I want to do more!,’ says Tara McGready, and Rodrago plans to try a new trick next time the trapeze distracts him from surfing. For others, once is enough. ‘Maybe not,’ says Gary, when asked if he’d have another go. ‘But I can cross it off my bucket list!’.
So will you try a fly? To help you decide, I’ll leave you with the simple yet wise words of 6-year old Max: ‘It feels good when you are just flying in the air.’
Park&Fly is at Denning Park, in the grassy triangle at the end of Bay St, bordered by Lawson St, Middleton St and the beach. Choose from a 1.5 hour class ($66) or do a single swing ($20). For session times and bookings, go to https://www.circusarts.com.au/parkandfly/