We writers are a sadistic lot.

We know that true character is revealed under pressure, so we force our protagonists to confront their deepest fear, then we crush them, just to see what they’re made of.

Well, what goes round, comes round… I’m about to find out if there’s any iron in my own filings.

On August 13, look for me amongst the rigging of Brisbane’s Story Bridge, where I’ll be joining a shortlist of CBCA Notable Authors to promote this year’s Book Week theme, Across the Story Bridge.

I said yes to the climb, despite the fact that I’ve been backing away from precipices, anything higher than the teacup ride at the Ekka, and the windows of high rise, for more than thirty years.

My dislike of heights dates back to my teenage years when a cousin dangled me over the edge of London Bridge on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road (in the days before it collapsed into the sea).

‘Hysterical’ does not do justice to my reaction.

Years later, I suspected I might have a problem with heights when I froze on Ayers Rock … at the beginning of the chain.

I’m improving with the years, after giving abseiling a go, hurtling down the odd flying fox, and most recently, taking all the really big chair lifts on the ski fields of Niseko.

I figure August 13 will be my Acrophobic Graduation ceremony.

I will climb the Story Bridge, and finally kiss my fear of heights (or my ass) goodbye.

  1. Elaine says:

    I had a fear of heights too and forced myself to take my children on the ferris wheel many times to overcome it. Like all other fobias, it never really leaves you, but if I am secured, or inside a cage (like the ferris wheel one) I’m okay. I still can’t walk any closer to a cliff’s edge than six feet though. Good luck with your climb, I’ll be cowering for you.

  2. chrisbongers says:

    Elaine, I’m hoping that my fear of making a public spectacle of myself exceeds my fear of heights… guess we’ll find out on August 13. :!

  3. Lynn Priestley says:

    I think you are so brave. I salute you. I have a fear of big billowing objects (sails, theatre curtains, anything that can catch the wind and fill) my brother used to leave an inverted giant black umbrella open in the doorway of the toilet because he knew I was too terrified of it to go. He’d squeal with delight when I’d pee my pants. I addressed this fear of big billowy things and took myself up in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti. I pee’d in the bushes 20 times before we took off. But once we got going it was magical. I hope your climb is as magical. I’ll be cheering for you…Good on you! xx

    • chrisbongers says:

      Lynn, that’s hilarious. It also sounds like the synopsis of the most gorgeous picture book. Get thee to a desk and get the roughs done before any of those fabulous images drift away!

  4. Lynne the Lurker says:

    You are SO brave, as well as talented. I hope it goes well for you, and you have a great time.

  5. chrisbongers says:

    Me too, Lynne. You’ll probably read about it over your cornflakes if it doesn’t.

  6. Sandra Makaresz says:

    I’m sorry… you’re doing this on Friday the 13th. Are you nuts!

    I too have an insane fear of heights and once got stranded on the high tower at Chandler swimming pool. Apparently it was none too graceful when I finally made it down about thirty minutes later.

  7. chrisbongers says:

    That was exactly the reaction of a friend (who had to lead me down from Ayers Rock twenty-odd years ago). But as I say, I’m getting better. I think….

  8. jason nahrung says:

    I remain regretful I never took the opportunity to do the bridge climb. I *love* the Story Bridge! Good luck, Chris: I’m sure you’ll rise to the occasion!

  9. chrisbongers says:

    We shall see, JN. We shall see…

  10. Good on you, Chris! Heights aren’t my thing either (despite previous ski lift experiences and circus aerial classes) but if we don’t challenge ourselves from time to time, we’ll never grow. Make sure you get a photo up there 🙂

  11. chrisbongers says:

    That’s just how I see it too, Kathleen. And don’t worry, there will be photos!

  12. Hi Chris, I too have a fear of heights but climbed the “Pyramids” at Girraween National Park on the weekend. My advice … keep your eyes forward, don’t look down. Face your Fear … Karen :))

    • chrisbongers says:

      Karen, I’ve also climbed the Pyramids at Girraween – hmmm, in 1978, perhaps? Post ‘London Bridge’, at any rate. It’s a bit like writing – one step at a time, just keep on going, and you’ll crest that mountain eventually. 🙂

  13. Joan Small says:

    Go Girl. Hope your climb and promo goest well and you face your fears and are victorious.
    Me, heights don’t bother me although I’ve not done Everest or anything like it.
    I have done the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – top of Ayers Rock – with a little help from a friend – even the top of the Glebe Island Bridge Sydney when it was still under construction.
    Flown in a gyrocoptor, helicopter and glider – but not jumped out of anything – yet!
    True about making the story characters do it first. Must be something about the imagination helping us overcome.
    Happy overcoming.

  14. chrisbongers says:

    Thanks Joan, it’s been a long time since I was in a helicopter, but I remember it was fun. I’m imagining that Friday’s climb will be fun too!

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