Saturday, December 19, 2015

50,000 - 4,000 - 200

Page views over the life of the blog
It is with great pride that I announce the, strangely synchronous, occurrence of these three milestones.

50,000 page views on the blog

For a while now I have felt that I can begin to hold my head up in the blogocracy. Dear departed Denis' My Unwelcome Stranger has over 600,000 but that is royalty, not aristocracy.

As the picture shows there has been a drop off in the last year but I have been posting less often after all the immense excitement of the World Parks Congress.

I am still fascinated by the small proportion of comment though. 430 to date but half of that is my replies. So a ratio of one write for every 250 reads. Blogs (or mine anyway) are not chatty places.

4000 views of Wild Places

When Parks Victoria commissioned Storyscape to make a short video about the TrailRider I could not have imagined what a pleasure that would be. The interweaving of pictures, a short video and the original music is a work of art from Pip and Zoe. The title was their choice picked from the words of my narration.

We are looking forward to their next production where the focus will be on the broader reach of Healthy Parks, Healthy People.

200 Likes on the TrailRider Tales Facebook Page

Page Likes are the meat and potatoes of the Facebook world. Pages are themselves Public but to Like you must join Facebook.

What I find fascinating about Facebook is the way that  it has lowered the threshold for engagement of some type. This might be as little as clicking Like on a post but may extend to commenting or sharing the post within your own circles. The Facebook stats do not distinguish between these but fully 50% of the people that click on each post (to view the blog post) also engage in some way. Remember the equivalent figure for the blog was less than one half of one percent!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Bonjour Bradley


Imagine my surprise when Bradley Fauteux, the new CEO of Parks Victoria, came on the radio the other day. I was so surprised I had to phone and say hello.

I don't think he knew who Dave from Newstead was but he mentioned the TrailRider.

The caller after me was upset by a Canadian hire but for me that simply confirmed how Parks Victoria, with Healthy Parks, Healthy People is leading the world in this respect and therefore hired from the world stage.

The World Park Congress last year was where we saw the reality of this. I felt this most keenly in the huge and glowing wrap up for the Healthy Parks, Healthy People stream.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pinnacle Possible?

Imagine being up there on a TrailRider!
In the days when I was still walking I fell in love with the walk in the Grampians known as the Pinnacle. It is a good deal more taxing than the approved - and signposted - TrailRider tracks. Indeed if you look at the post about signs it would be a five or six operator grade which does not officially exist.
They made it!

Despite this, Caitlin O'Reilly (Grampians volunteer co-ordinator) and three rangers did the walk, from the Wonderland carpark, and are assessing whether there could be an expedition in March.

This warms my heart.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mount Dandenong gets a TrailRider!

The Grants On Sherbrooke cafe - the chair is there
International Day of the Disabled saw the launch of a new location for another motorised TrailRider.

The location is a new and exciting one - many tracks and near to Puffing Billy - but this is not an additional chair. The one at Lysterfield Park was not getting enough use so it has been transferred.

The chair is hired out at the Grants On Sherbrooke Cafe and all the contact details can be found in the Directory.

If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the Grants On Sherbrooke page:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

National Disability Awards - Canberra 2015

Alan Tudge (Assistant Minister for Social Services), Bradley Fauteux (CEO
Parks Victoria) and John Kenwright (Access and Inclusion Coordinator)
Parks Victoria has just won the National Disability Award for Excellence in Community Accessibility. This is an enormous tribute to the Health Parks Healthy People program which has launched Parks Victoria to a position of world leadership in this field. 

That was so clear at the World Parks Congress last year when PV hosted the world in a stream on this theme.

TrailRider is a part of this but just one part. John Kenwright, Access and Inclusion Coordinator, has driven this. In 2010, when Ros and I first showed photos of the TrailRider to PV, John was the one who bought the first two. HPHP had been going for a couple of years then. I frequently ask him what portion of his week is devoted to the TrailRider and says about a fifth. That is a token of how much else is going on.

The photo shows him with Bradley Fauteux, the new CEO of PV (from Canada just like the TrailRider) and Alan Tudge, the Assistant Minister for Social Services.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP) filming day

Filming and interviewing near the cliff edge at Sundial in the Grampians. WidPlaces II?
Yesterday was another day to remember on the TrailRider in the Grampians. The setting was the filming and interviewing for one of seven short films being made for HPHP by Storyscape (who made Wild Places) 

The highlight for me was the wonderful group of people that came together because of the TrailRider. I want to mention them all by name so this will be a longer than usual post.

Myself and Ros and Joanne and Rodney. One of the interview questions was about how the TrailRider has changed my life and this gang of four was right at the heart of that. With Jo and Rod wearing their Sherpa Volunteer T shirts I, was reminded how central they have been to the whole venture. Rod, coupled with John Kenwright and the motorised TrailRider sherpead me to places that were more difficult than any before. The motor really does make a big difference What we learnt was that the difference extends to getting over rocky obstacles as well as ascending steep hills.

John KenwrightAccess & Inclusion Coordinator for Parks Victoria - more than anyone else - has made this happen. Right from the first HPHP connection in 2011. And the TrailRider is only part of what he does. I could say so much more about HPHP, and did when interviewed, but I want to focus here on the people.

Tanya Smith, from Parks Victoria in Bendigo, was the centre of our world at the Congress a year ago in Sydney. She is a very strong part of HPHP, an utter delight and we even got to meet her daughter this time.

From Conservation Volunteers Australia there was Caitlyn O'Reilly who co-ordinates volunteers in the Grampians, but in the TrailRider context, has been most deeply involved in establishing the first Sherpa Volunteer Program in Australia. The trained volunteers are getting their paperwork sorted out so that visitors call on them. I plotted with her for a trial run from Ros and me.

Storyscape is Pip Chandler and Zoe Dawkins (plus partner  and "token male ;-)" Darren) The Storyscape website will give you some sense of the brilliance of what they do. Working with Pip in 2012 on WildPlaces was a delight as was yesterday, with them both. The last time we saw Pip was when she filmed the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge in 2013

David Roberts, Head Ranger and Ben (Park Ranger) were both there. David Roberts was the first person Ros and I showed the Canadian TrailRider pics to in 2010 and he simply "got it" and passed them on to John Kenwright. "Mighty oaks!" (from tiny acorns grow) was my greeting to him yesterday - he truly has a lot to answer for. And he is working hard on tuning bush walking tracks in the Grampians to TrailRider use. More on this later. Ben was one of the sherpas on the very first TrailRider rocky bushwalk in the Grampians - the first in Australia come to think of it. 2011 - pre blog so nothing to link to.

That it folks. Ros and I dwelt on how a gathering of people like this is very greatest gift of the TrailRider project!


The Gang of Five - Rodney Brooke, Joanne Brooke, John Kenwright, me and Ros Hart




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TrailRiding by the Murray River with brain cancer

This came to me from Bacchus Marsh where one of the Shire-based TrailRiders lives. Kate Norman wrote this after "hiring" (quotation marks because it's free!) the TrailRider there and taking her Dad to the Murray. My heart sings when I hear stories like this.

Thank you to the Moorabool Shire Council for providing our family the opportunity to make the most of a very important and lovely weekend on the Murray River. Without the use of the all-terrain TrailRider wheelchair, we wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things we wanted to.

Family shot, complete with champagne, beside the Murray
My family and I grew up spending most of our holidays camping by the Murray River. We have so many fond memories unwinding by the river, relaxing in our camping chairs on the sandy beaches, playing cards, cooking on the open fire and watching Dad attempt to catch fish. We recently organised a weekend by the Murray River, only this time we stayed at a caravan park, Time Out Holiday Park in Tocumwal. This trip was a bit different as my Dad is no longer able to camp in a tent. This is because my amazingly strong Dad was diagnosed with a Grade IV Glioblastoma brain tumour in April 2014. Since then there have been many challenges which have led to him being permanently in a wheelchair and needing my mum to become his full time carer. She is an absolute inspiration!

Brain cancer is an awful disease which kills more children than any other disease. Survival rates are low and have hardly changed for 30 years, despite significant increases in survival for Australians diagnosed with other types of cancer, such as prostate and breast cancer. Treatment is challenging because it affects our most vital organ. Brain cancer costs more per person than any other cancer, yet only receives a small fraction (< 5%) of federal government cancer research funding. Please show your support and make a donation, small or large, by visiting the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation website (curebraincancer.org.au/donations).

A two-sherpa trail
When organising this weekend away, I had several concerns about how to make it more enjoyable for my Dad and an experience closer to what he used to get. A standard wheelchair would not be able to be pushed over rough terrain or sandy beaches. Then I discovered the TrailRider that can be hired from most shires/councils for up to 7 days at a time and it’s FREE, I was over the moon! It’s places like Time Out Holiday Park and Moorabool Shire Council as well as the people involved who make this extremely challenging journey that little bit easier. Having access to the all-terrain TrailRider wheelchair meant that we were able to experience some of the things we wouldn’t have been able to, like taking a stroll on the dirt track through the tranquil Australian bush, spot some lazy koalas & bouncing kangaroos and get up close to the Murray River soaking up the beautiful serenity.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you very much to the Moorabool Shire Council for helping make our family weekend away a memorable and enjoyable one. I would definitely use the TrailRider again!

Written By: Kate Norman

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What is happening in Ukraine?

Page views in the past month - more from Ukraine
than Canada
One of the more fascinating aspects of blogging is the statistics showing how people came to the blog. One set of data is about which part of the world they were from.

The USA I can understand - it is the third most populous country in the world. Australia too - I live there. But why does Ukraine outrank Canada where the TrailRider was invented?

I'd like to meet some Ukrainians. Leave a comment to say hello?

Monday, September 21, 2015

To Machu Piccu by TrailRider

The two TrailRiders. Emanuelle and one other not quite there yet
In terms of exotic destinations in the whole world this 15th century Inca temple, high in the Peruvian Andes, would be right up there. A ten day trek brought two riders, courtesy of two TrailRiders, to the top of the world.  

This inspiring story came to me in the latest Facebook post from BCMOS, British Columbia Mobile Opporunity Society, who first brought the TrailRider to the world.

You can find out more about them through an earlier post here or via their website.


Machu Piccu - what they saw after ten days
If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the BCMOS page:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Out and about in NSW

BJ in beautiful surroundings. The TrailRider
makes this possible
First though a comment on the rate of posting on this blog - which has been slow of late. By and large I try to post when there is genuine TrailRider-related news to tell, so few posts broadly translates into a slow news period. What is frustrating for me here is that I know that there are things emerging, behind the scenes, that are just not quite ready yet for public announcement.

My personal inclination, perhaps part of the current social-media world, would be to post along the lines of "blah blah is being worked on" To me this seems part of a collective, transparent effort but ultimately the news will be announced when the actors are ready to go public.

Having said that I was excited recently to see a post on the Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog about a TrailRider outing to Muogamarra Nature Reserve in New South Wales. The Reserve only open six weekends a year and currently boasts a TrailRider as well as the three-wheeled Hippocampe wheelchair.

Two approaches to the bush


You need to book ahead to use the TrailRider and Hippocampe by phoning the Kalkari Discover Centre on (02) 94729300

Like the Have Wheelchair Will Travel Facebook Page.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

New CEO for Parks Victoria

Bradley Fauteux
The new CEO, in the seat that Bill Jackson left vacant, comes from the same country that the TrailRider does - Canada. What's more, in true Canadian style, he has a French name - Bradley Fauteux.

He is strongly focussed on the Healthy Parks, Healthy People approach in which Parks Victoria leads the world as we saw last November at the World Parks Congress. This bodes well for the TrailRider in Australia and behind then scenes I know of a number of up-coming announcements. Silence in the meantime though.

We look forward to meeting and working with Bradley

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Would you feel safe?

Although this blog is about TrailRiders I keep an eye on the general wheelchair and disability area for things that might be of interest.

Four Segways head down the track

So the topic of this post could best be described as wheelchairs that lead on from the Segway. The Segway is an astonishing pogo-stick like device that an upright can stand on and ride down the road steering, braking and accelerating by leaning in the appropriate direction.

The genius is in the control mechanisms that keep the device upright by constant small exertions of the motors and also detect leaning and adjust the motors to comply.

In the wheelchair domain I have now seen this extended in two different directions. Neither of these two are available to buy right now but that's another story.




The first one, historically, is the iBOT. When it was possible to buy these the $40,000 price tag indicated that this was a serious and significant contribution to the power wheelchair market. By using Segway-style technology this chair can climb stairs, raise to normal upright eye height as well as proceed normally.

When standing up the iBOT maintains its posture in the same way that the Segway does and actually cannot be pushed over.

At the Congress in Sydney we had the good fortune to meet Max Burt who owns two iBOTS and as the video shows Ros was invited to try very hard to push him over
Kevin Halsall shows off the Ogo
Just recently I was made aware of the Ogo. This was invented in New Zealand and adapts Segway technology to make a hands free wheelchair that responds to leanings in just the way a Segway does.

We see here the prototype with work underway to bring this novel device to market.

I must confess (hence the title of this post) that this scares me. I often shift my posture while riding in my power chair and the thought that this might steer me into the road....

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beat this!

Volunteers from Iadaho Trinity Lutheran Church youth camp out beside
the sea with five TrailRiders
I see many photographs of people out on TrailRiders and the more chairs in the picture the higher my regard. Imagine my delight at this picture from BCMOS (British Columbia Mobile Opportunity Society) with five TrailRiders in it.

BCMOS are, in a very real sense, the home of the TrailRider. It was from them that my first ever TrailRider was hired and all summer long their volunteer sherpas take people from the region out into the beautiful mountains of the Lower Mainland. At the same time there is next to no involvement of BC Parks.

In Australia we struggle still with the volunteer programs but Parks Victoria are right there. Which is better?


Like the BCMOS Facebook Page
Like the Parks Victoria Facebook Page

Friday, July 3, 2015

NEWS from NSW

Princes Rock
One of the best parts, for me, of this all is the people around the country that I am getting to know online and sometimes to meet in person. 

I had exchanged a lot of emails with Christina Bullivant from New South Wales Parks as she made it all happen up there and at the Congress was lucky enough to actually meet her briefly. So this week I sent her one of "What's Cooking?" emails.

As you might remember there are three TrailRiders in New South Wales and recently she combined staff training in Kamay-Botany Bay National Park with meeting a user of the TrailRider there who had been a keen bush walker until chronic fatigue halted her. She was in tears at being out there again after such a long time.,.

Next stop was the Blue Mountains to assess some tracks there and the photos are from there.

Looks like a great spot to be TrailRiding!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Helmets

This post has been knocking around in the back of my mind for some time now - ever since I was offered a photo to post of a child in a TrailRider without a helmet

There were, of course, some very real reasons why the child did not have a helmet but the thought prevailed - Should anyone, ever, ride without a helmet?

The argument was presented that a waiver could have been lodged (it wasn't by the way) such that the TrailRider provider was exempted from any insurance claim if there was an injury or worse. However I have found no legal expert who could say that a waiver, under Australian law, was watertight.

That leaves me concluding that it is the absolute bottom line of all TrailRider use. The first serious accident or death of a rider could be a death knell for the TrailRider in Australia.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spreading the word

The Wild page - click to view
Wild Magazine is an Australian magazine that talks about the Wilderness - the places and the people who get out there. They too have heard the news about the Daylesford TrailRider track and here is their article.

Click on the photo to see and read. It is an outstanding piece of writing by Genevieve Barlow. Way to go!

I've been having a quieter time as my broken leg heals but I know there are some exciting announcements coming up

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kelly Runs the Gap

Read more about Run the Gap on their website - click the pic
The second powered TrailRider in Australia (perhaps the world) took Kelly Pearce, who lives in Halls Gap, from beginning to end of the Run the Gap event.

The sherpas were her parents and Parks Victoria staff Caitlyn O’Reilly and Tammy Schoo
The Kelly gang
“Kelly enjoyed the lovely walk in the park on the TrailRider, watching all the other people and the wildlife,” said her father Andrew. 

They completed the 6km walk in 1 hour and 15 minutes and along the way would have attracted the attention of hundreds of other competitors and spectators.

Like the Run the Gap Facebook Page

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest Post from John Kenwright - his non-TrailRider days

The Lasher Sport BT beach wheelchair
will soon to be available for visitors
with paraplegia who come to Wilsons
Promontory NP
Hi everyone

David Stratton has asked me to write a few words about some of the other park programs that I manage in addition to the TrailRider program. In summary, as part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People branch at Parks Victoria, I work on projects that enable park visitors with disabilities to engage with nature and get active in our parks. The Healthy Parks Healthy People approach that Parks Victoria uses captures the fundamental links between our health and wellbeing and the health of ecosystems. This approach is also supported by strong research about the human need for connection to nature. 
A trained volunteer from the Walk in
the Park Program assisting a blind
visitor in the Great Otway NP

One of the community partnership programs that I manage is called the Walk in the Park program. This is a bushwalking program provided in selected parks for blind and vision impaired visitors. The program recruits community volunteers and trains them as park companions to assist blind and vision impaired visitors to explore our many spectacular park trails. The park companions assist the program participants with park orientation, reading of interpretive signs, describe the natural surroundings and provide opportunities for participants to connect with nature using their other senses. The program also provides social opportunities for the program participants who in many cases experience social isolation due to their disability. The Walk in the Park program is a partnership between Blind Sports Victoria and Parks Victoria




A family enjoying the beach at Wilsons
Promontory NP using a Parks Victoria
Hippocampe beach wheelchair
One of the other programs that I manage is the provision of park equipment that greatly assists visitors with different disabilities to explore coastal park beaches. Accessing beaches can be very difficult for visitors with mobility limitations and so Parks Victoria now provides beach wheelchairs of various designs for child and adult visitors to borrow. One new model that we recently trialled in partnership with the Spinal Unit at the Austin Hospital is the Lasher Sport BT beach chair. This lightweight wheelchair is well suited for visitors with paraplegia who wish to access the beach independently and will soon be available at Wilsons Promontory National Park. 
A young visitor using the Parks
Victoria electric Stairclimber in
Fairy Cave, Buchan Caves Reserve

Another new experience for visitors is better access to Fairy Cave at Buchan Caves Reserve. Parks Victoria recently introduced an electric Stairclimber for visitor use. The provision of this equipment now makes it possible for children and light-weight adults with disabilities to explore sections of this spectacular cave for the first time. 

As the environment is inextricably linked to our quality of life and our health the projects that I am involved with vary considerably but they all have the shared aim of improving park access and the park experience for visitors with disabilities. Nature, health and wellbeing are part of the same equation. 

For further information on accessibility and inclusion in parks managed by Parks Victoria go to http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/

Sunday, May 10, 2015

40,000 pageviews!

Pageviews are the meat and potatoes of the blog world. Thank you, dear readers, for bringing me to this new milestone . With this kind of number under my belt I am beginning to feel I can hold my head higher in the "blogocracy" (my word to describe people with big blogs)

Naturally I have been checking a lot recently to spot the roll over. I remember that kind of odometer watching from my driving days. My blog is set to not count my views so I haven't been secretly boosting the count.

The latest ten thousand has taken four and a half months and stimulates my curiosity about what leads people to read TrT. Blogspot offers me some background as we can see here. 



I find the map of the world interesting. The tinge in Peru corresponds to some people I know about for example.

The list of top traffic sources tells me that Google search and the TrT Facebook page are top feeders but also that a lot of views of pages are from within the blog.

What is missing is any personal stories. What made you come here? Are you in the disability sector - professionally or personally? Are you a lover of the bush?

Leave me comment - however brief or anonymous. I'd love to know. -

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ooops

Last Saturday, 2nd May, I fell awkwardly when I was being dressed. 6 days later I am sitting, re-united with my computer and finally can post.

Having had, to use a phrase coined by Ros and Fay, "thirteen screws in one day" I am busy re-rehabilitating, not load-bearing for 12 weeks and probably not TrailRiding much.

There is lots to write about though as the next few days will show. Watch out for a Guest Post from John Kenwright disclosing how he spends his non TrailRider time and a discussion of hemets.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Welcome to the Parks Victoria Community Inclusion Coordinator

John Kenwright - Community Inclusion Coordinator
Through the TrailRider a friend
After Ros and me, the next person who has made the TrailRider possible in Australia has certainly been John Kenwright. Over dinner in Halls Gap John revealed that he finally had a permanent position at Parks Victoria. 

All these years he had been holding on, from our point of view, by the skin of his teeth as the Community Engagement Coordinator with no permanence. Now that role, with the switch of title from Engagement to Inclusion, has been cast in stone. 

John does amazing work. My bashfulness leads me to quiz him often about how much of John's time the TrailRider takes up and the answer is still an average of a day a week

Beyond that what is happening is an incredibly broad opening of Parks to people of all abilities that gives true voice to Healthy Parks, Healthy People 

As I write this I realise that the next step is to invite a guest post from John so that he can tell you in his own words what he gets up to for the rest of the week!


If you're a Facie I encourage you to like the Parks Victoria page

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sherpa Volunteer Training #3

Class of 2015 with kangaroos
Last Saturday Parks Victoria held their third SVP training session in Halls Gap. That is what all the media exposure in the last few posts was leading up to.

Eight new potential sherpas were there - all can be seen in the group photograph here along with the kangaroos.

What was most exciting was the fact that only two of those eight came from the nearby community. Three folk from Ballarat were there, which is some sense the beginning of an SVP there, along with three from Melbourne who had heard me give out Caitlyn's number on the ABC.

Further to that Caitlyn took quite a number of calls from people who could not make it to Halls Gap that day.
A walk in the park
I would add to that the continued momentum toward a High School/TrailRider connection. 16 year old Matt was there with his Mum setting out to make being a sherpa part of his community volunteer curriculum. In the radio interview with George McEncroe I just happened to have picked 16 as a threshold age for sherpas.

My vision is of Halls Gap, with its fantastic facilities and range of trails steaming ahead as a location for training people to participate in a series of programs gathered around each TrailRider.

My prediction is that those programs will be in some sense auspiced by Conservation Volunteers Australia who employ Caitlyn and that Ballarat/Daylesford will be the next location.

Hats off to John Kenwright for another splendidly organised session and also to Caitlyn O'Reilly for her part as the volunteer co-ordinator in the Grampians.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Press and more press

As you may by now have gathered this Saturday is a sherpa training day at Halls Gap in the Grampians. 

It is great to be telling you all about it but the people that really need to hear the news are those who live near enough to become part of the gang that can show up to help a rider. Arrarat and Stawell are the two nearest towns and the PV media team have secured coverage  in both towns local papers.

Click on the pictures to view the articles

Article only published on paper. That's what counts though

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

On air again - Parks Victoria strut their media stuff

I feel a little sorry for the media staff in any large organisation. They keep churning out the Press Releases and in many cases nobody notices. This time though they struck gold and I was interviewed this afternoon on ABC Radio Melbourne (AKA 774) by George McEnroe.

George thoroughly "got it" in terms of the connection between mental well-being and the connection to nature and even introduced an experience of her own which is well worth hearing.

This connection is very clearly addressed by the Parks Victoria Healthy Parks, Healthy People program that we have spoken of so often and is also emphasised by Feeling Blue, Touch Green

Call Caitlyn O’Reilly on 0428 553 040 to get involved. If you love the bush you'll love it even more as part of a Sherpa team.


David Stratton is interviewed on ABC Melbourne by George McEnroe Here is the Press Release. Hats off to Kate Milkins and David Petty at Parks Victoria
Get out into nature and help others do the same If you enjoy bushwalking and would like to help someone who can’t walk to get out into the bush, then the upcoming TrailRider sherpa volunteer training day may be just for you.
 TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs are a cross between a rickshaw and a wheelchair and allow people with mobility limitations to get out and enjoy more rugged bush trails where conventional wheelchairs cannot go. There are ten TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs located around Victoria and people can book these chairs through Parks Victoria or through selected local councils free of charge.
 The TrailRider needs sherpas to push and pull it along a trail and the number of people needed depends on the difficulty of the trail.
 Parks Victoria is aiming to train people as sherpa volunteers to help TrailRider users in the Grampians National Park. When a TrailRider is booked by someone in this park, there is a group of people available to help sherpa the rider along. You don’t need to be super fit, but a love of being outdoors and good general fitness will be useful.
 “Parks Victoria will teach everyone involved in the training how to manoeuvre the TrailRider and how to support the person in the chair to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable park experience. We will spend some time out on a bush trail to practise our skills in a real situation,” said Parks Victoria Community Activation Coordinator John Kenwright.
 The details of the training are:When: 10.00am to 1.00pm, Saturday 18 April 2015Where: Brambuk - the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls GapRSVP by 14 April to: Caitlyn O’Reilly on 0428 553 040
 “Being able to get out in the bush once again is an absolute joy,” said Dr David Stratton, the man responsible for introducing the TrailRider to Australia. “For many years after my MS diagnosis, I thought my days of bushwalking were over. But now I can enjoy that pleasure again, I want to ensure that as many other ‘wheelies’ as possible have the chance to get out into the bush too,” said David. Parks Victoria Chief Executive Dr Bill Jackson says there is irrefutable evidence that parks are good for our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

 “I encourage everyone – regardless of your level of mobility - to get out of the house or work place and find your park connection. It’s time to re-connect with nature,” said Dr Jackson. If you would like any further information about the sherpa training or the TrailRider all terrain wheelchairs in general, please contact John Kenwright at Parks Victoria on 13 1963. For more information on this and other accessibility features in parks across Victoria go to http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/improving-park-access-for-all/victorias-parks-are-more-accessible-than-ever

Monday, April 13, 2015

SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) Training #3 - come and join us

There have already been two sherpa volunteer training sessions at the Grampians Park in Halls Gap. Each step along the way more people are joining the growing, and so far only, SVP.

This program is "hosted" by CVA - Conservation Volunteers Australia. Each newcomer is  signed up as a CVA volunteer, which takes care of  the fundamentals of volunteering, before being introduced the fundamentals of guiding a TrailRider.

The next step, being patiently worked on, is for CVA to develop, across Australia, a program that can mesh with each and every chair.


John Kenwright is interviewed on ABC Central Victoria
Parks Victoria have been working hard at developing this program with John Kenwright being interviewed this morning on ABC Central Victoria. Also the official announcement


Parks Victoria is recruiting members of the community to train as Sherpa volunteers for assisting TrailRider users in the Grampians National Park. When a TrailRider is booked by a visitor to the park, the Sherpa volunteers take the visitor out in the  chair on various park trails and assist with pushing/pulling the chair. As a Sherpa volunteer, you don't need to be super fit but a love of being outdoors and good general fitness is required.
The details of the Sherpa volunteer training are as follows:When: 10.00am to 1.00pm , Saturday 18th April 2015Where: Brambuk -the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls GapRSVP by 17th April to Caitlyn O'Reilly on 0428553040 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In their own words

The team taking a break - beside a natural spring
Photo Ros Hart
My excitement about school students in Daylesford becoming involved is infectious. I am hearing a lot of talk about it but most of all feedback, in the form of blog comments, from two of the kids involved. Here is what they said:
Thank you to David and Ros for having me as a Sherpa it was really a wonderful experience for me I will tell everyone about this experience I hope to see u next year thank you to all the other people that help all the best
It was absolutely amazing learning to sherpa for you! The whole experience was very eye opening, and truly inspiring. I feel very lucky to have taken part in this, and think it would be a great idea to incorporate activities like these in the school curriculum. As a student, I love interactive learning, and learning to sherpa for you was very rewarding. It was great to hear your stories, and I felt privileged to share the day with you. Thank you to Ros, yourself and the rest of the team for making the day so pleasant. It was great to meet you all, and I hope to see you again.
This is exceptional in so many ways. Preconceptions about disability are being contradicted. New connections in the community are being forged. For the kids, who might not rate school so highly, something different is happening. who knows where it might lead.

For Cornish Hill, and later other tracks, Brendan and I are working on an online map for people toting smartphones. A QR code (those funny black and white square things) on each signpost will tell people exactly where they are.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Advocate advocates

Click to read newspaper article

TrailRiders are a good idea but they become a better and better idea as more and more potential riders and sherpas become aware of them. That is what publicity, in an increasingly noisy space, is all about and the traditional printed, often local, press remains a vital way to get attention.

The Dayelsford Advocate (now the title makes sense!) has published a beautiful article about the Cornish Hill Track launch a couple of weeks ago.
Click on photo to read online

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sixteenth Australian TrailRider announced - Cradle Mountain

Last March the four of us (Ros, Jo, Rodney and me) went down to Tasmania and, together with a TrailRider, visited Cradle Mountain and talked to the folk there. They went right ahead and purchased a TrailRider principally with mountain rescue in mind.

Click on the picture to visit the ste
Since then they have been busy rescuing people from the nearby rugged tracks. Between four and six leg-wounded-walkers have been rescued so far and by my calculations the chair has been paid for two or three times over. No helicopters, no huge - andvulnerbale - teams with stretchers.

Now the TrailRider is going to be made available to disabled park visitors.

The hire details are in the Directory.

Friday, March 27, 2015

One sign, three signs

A couple of posts ago I showed you the TrailRider direction sign developed by the school group in Daylesford to mark the Cornish Hill track. At the time it was a world first. Almost at the same time Parks Victoria were working on their signs and the accompanying  grading of tracks for TrailRider use.

John Kenwright has put considerable thought into this.

For a start the term Sherpa was too specialised and unusual (just consider overseas visitors) for Park use. As you will see here Operator has been used instead.


The principal factor that determines the number of these people needed is the grade of the track and John has represented the steepness of the track and the unevenness - what I would be inclined to call stepiness in each of the signs.


Whereas the Daylesford signs were based on a photo and we could hazard a guess who of the folk here are purely diagrammatic.

I am left wondering what the 5 Operator sign would look like!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dr Dave Tackles Mountains

To my consternation I saw that a friend's Mac was only showing a blank grey square. This should be better I hope.

One of my greatest joys in life is impressing my daughter Dr Jo Stratton and her husband Sander Jansen. It is even better when they let me know. A  bit over a year ago they surprised me with a copy of Dr Dave Tackles Steps which turns the tale of securing better access in Newstead into a delightful children's book.


Now they have produced the second in the Dr Dave series telling the TrailRider tale.

The next step is to publish properly - any thoughts?