Falling for Melbourne's Rap Jumping Scene

Leaping off a seven-story building is no easy feat but overcoming your fears will leave you feeling as if you’ve been bitten by radioactive spider. Rap Jumping is an advanced form of freestyle rope work and forward abseiling which originated in the Australian Army in the 1960s, known then as the “Carabiner Rundown”. Culture Trip spoke to Rap Jumping CEO Derek Whittingham about the history and commercialization of this extreme sport, the future and how it can positively impact the lives of participants.

The history

Founded and commercialised by former SASR soldier Peter “MacKa” MacKail, Rap Jumping leaped into existence at Barron Gorge, Cairns in 1989 and soon after MacKa swapped cliffs, such as Split Rock and Macka Bluff, for high rise hotels. In 2006, Rap Jumping found a permanent home at Urban Central Backpacker Hostel in Melbourne, and it has since become Australia’s #1 abseiling and rappelling provider. Unfortunately, in June 2014 MacKa passed away following a short battle with cancer and the company was left to CEO Derek Whittingham. Since then Rap Jumping has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and they now run four different experiences and are open seven days a week.

The experience

The original Rap Jumping experience lasts two hours and begins with an induction before you’re taken to the roof and fitted with a harness and helmet. Following an equipment run through, safety briefing and a demonstration by the instructor you’ll get your chance to rappel, face forward over the edge. Don’t fret though, as the company has a 100% safety record. The Rap Jumping experience includes three rounds where you’ll learn to open your hands, bunny hop down the building and conquer the wall in one giant leap of faith. You can even stand on the edge of the building which Derek Whittingham told us is something clients “can brag about”. To commemorate your achievement, you’ll receive a group photo free of charge. Rap Jumping can accommodate up to 40 participants, but typically the group consists of 15-20 people.

Something to brag about Courtesy Rap Jumping

If face-forward abseiling seems a little intense, the company offers ‘Intro to Abseil‘. Ideal for beginners, the experience involves the traditional backward method which allows you to descend at a slower,more controlled pace and includes plenty of practice time to help build your confidence. Intro to Abseil also has an intimate session size of just 10 participants.

Intro to abseiling Courtesy Rap Jumping

For an intensified adventure Rap Jumping now runs sessions at night where you’ll descend into darkness and be treated to Melbourne’s sparkling skyline. There is also a VIP Ultimate Experience package where you’ll get five jumps, instead of three as well as a souvenir t-shirt and GoPro rental.

Culture Trip also discovered that by the end of the year Rap Jumping will open cliff locations allowing you to scale four, yet to be revealed sites with an unlimited amount of jumps per session. There are also plans to open locations in other Australian states and by 2020 the company hopes to expand into the New Zealand and US markets.

Who can do it

Believe it or not, you don’t have to be James Bond or Ethan Hunt to go rap jumping, all you need is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone. Rap Jumping can even accommodate visitors with physical limitations. CEO Derek Whittingham recounted how recently a man who’d lost the use of his right arm, during a workplace accident, visited in the hope of making the descent but unsure as to whether he could. With the use of a single hand method, the team was able to help him achieve his goal. “It changed his world. It let him know that he can still participate in life,” Derek told us. “Everyone’s going to face different challenges and hurdles, they come in all shapes and sizes, but showing them that they can overcome this one hurdle; facing their fears, challenging their boundaries, getting over that edge, they can apply that in so many areas of their lives.”

Rap Jumping is also popular with school groups as it teaches adolescents the importance of teamwork and leadership in a challenging environment.

Even Spidergirl can rap jump Courtesy Rap Jumping