The Illawarra Fly experience

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I recently visited the Illawarra Fly Treetops Adventures  (the Fly) in the southern highlands of New South Wales, Australia with my family to experience the 500m treetop skywalk which is an average of 25m above the temperate rainforest floor and includes the Knights Tower spiral which takes guests to a height of 45m.

Upon arrival at the Fly we made our way to the counter at the Visitor Centre where we were greeted by a friendly staff member who made conversation around how we had heard about the Fly and whether our visit was part of a day out or if we has especially made the trip to visit the Fly – a great conversational way to make us feel welcome and for the Fly to collect data about guests.  During the conversation it was suggested we use the toilets before heading out (no toilet facilities on the walk) and make sure we had water which could be purchased in the cafe; we were then welcomed to set off on our adventure when we were ready.

To help us find our way we were given a map of the Fly and on the reverse of the map there was a fill in the word activity to encourage guests to read the various information boards located on the walking trail.  A great way to keep adults and children engaged throughout the experience.  A Fly branded pencil at this point would have provided an easy way for people to write down responses and act as a inexpensive piece of memorabilia to go with the map which many I am sure many would take home.

Through the turnstile and to lead us in the right direction we followed the oversize animal footprints on the path and then a large colourful snake with both small kids and adults winding their way along the snake.

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The use of the snake gave the message to stay on the path and also acts a reminder that snakes are found within the area.  The message is reinforced through a cut out picture board featuring a snake and a sign stating “stay on the path”.

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It is evident that kids have been thought of in design of the picture boards with a stand and handles on the back of the board.  There were several of these cut out picture boards throughout the walk used by many children and the young at heart.  They also have iFly4KIDS which offers school holiday activities – catering for various markets and the fact that different activities are offered provides an incentive for people to return.2006-01-01 01.50.39 - Copy - Copy - Copy

Photo by Tim Hall

Heading off along the sealed path we walked towards the sky walk we stopped at the various information boards along the way and learnt interesting facts about the native fauna and flora and also about the area and construction of the Fly itself; facts such as how many people and how long it took to build and also that the path was previously a fire trail and that no trees were felled during the building process.  Catering for a wide range of people the Fly also provides an electric cart shuttle service which takes people directly to the sky walk.

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Photo by Tim Hall

While walking to the sky walk we were able to watch other guests who had chosen to participate in the other activity offered by the Fly, zip line tours.  At 35m this is Australia’s highest zipline experience which sees guests participating in a guided tour via a series of suspended cables which see guests travel from platform to platform.  Available for children 4+ the safety harnesses allows children to travel on the zipline with an adult. Great fun I am sure for those participating and great to watch for those of us on the ground as people fly above you.

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Photos by Tim Hall

Once on the skywalk guests have 500m to explore the life in the treetops with a range of birds and trees to capture ones interest along the way.  At either end of the skywalk is a 25m cantilever which features clear panels to enhance the view to the forest floor.  You are also provided with interesting facts such as the cantilever can hold “a maximum weight of 28 tonnes or 800 wombats” – a nice tie in to the wombat burrows which are highlighted on the trail and map.  In addition there is stunning views of out to the ocean which can be seen from various points of the skywalk.  Interestingly you cannot see the ocean from all parts of the skywalk which draws your attention back and forward between the tree canopy and the horizon which maintains guest interest in the experience.

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 Photos by Tim Hall

For the more adventurous the Skywalk also includes Knights Tower which allows guest to even further immerse themselves in the experience with 106 steps (yes I gave away an answer to one of the questions on the map but there is a reason you will see further in this post) that take you to the top of the tower and 45m above the forest floor.  One of the questions on the map is how many steps are in the tower, a great way to distract people on the way to the top of the tower.  Once at the top of the tower you are not only treated to the amazing view but also able to view it in more detail through coin free sightseeing binoculars – a nice surprise!

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Photo by Tim Hall

Making our way back to the from the skywalk we looked for more answers to the questions on our map and again stopped to watch people on the zipline.  Approaching the Visitor Centre we again wound along the snake on the path and upon arriving back at the Visitor Centre there was a sign welcoming us back.  Once in the Visitor Centre we made our way through the gift shop which provided an opportunity to purchase a wide range of memorabilia to remember our visit.

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Photo by Tim Hall

Once through the gift shop guests are able to sit down in their choice of an indoor or outdoor area with both lounges and chairs.  This area also caters for the southern highland climate with gas heaters available for the colder months.

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Photo by Tim Hall

So why did I give you the answer to how many stairs there are to get to the top of the Knights Tower, well because the answer provides a great linkage back to the name of the cafe

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 Photo by Tim Hall

The Fly also provides exclusivity for guests with option of participating in a Sunrise Walk from 6:00am to 9:00am which includes a guided walk and hot breakfast in Cafe 106.

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Photo taken from Illawarra Fly website

Overall a great day with some great examples of elements from the experience economy.

 

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