Monday, December 22, 2014

Seasons Greetings from TrailRider Tales

It had to happen - thank you Kriss Ellis, Rural Access Coordinator, for this picture from the Northern Grampians Shire Christmas celebration

Saturday, December 20, 2014

13, 14, 15, 30,000

Front sherpa and rider are sister and brother Jones. Father
Mark Jones is in the blue shirt accompanied (l to r) by
Wendy Affleck NPWS Visitor Centre Manager
Michael Wright Head of Parks NSW and
Mr Mark Speakman (MLA for Cronulla)

Three new TrailRiders launched on Tuesday in NSW, and 30,000 page views on this blog. 

Let's get the page views out of the way first. We bloggers hold page views very close to our hearts. They are a token of the mark we have made in the world - how many people's attention we have got. It's all a bit self-serving really but I can side step because this is not primarily about me but rather about the TrailRider.

The first 10,000 took 4 years to March 2014. The next 10,000 took 5 months to August. This 10,000 took 4. Things are ramping up. 

Now for those NSW chairs.

Parks NSW has bought three chairs and the launch took place on Tuesday. They had been hanging out for the State Minister to have space in his schedule but finally decided to publish and be damned. Sadly the woman at NSWP who made it all happen, Christina Bullivant, could not be there but Michael Wright, the head of parks was. Also the Jones family about whom we will hear much more in the New Year. For now just take a peek at Have Wheelchair Will Travel to see why.
Brendan (with his dad Mark) obviously liked it

Two of the TrailRiders will be permanently assigned to Dorrigo National Park and Kamay Botany Bay National Park, closer to the city. The third will "float" but Christina just took it down to Kosciuszko where it will be for a while.

Check the Directory for all contact details. As with all the other chairs these will be free to use.

Do your Facebook duty and Like the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Page

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NDIS is listening! (National Disability Insurance Scheme)

I have never posted so much - 10 times last month, 7 so far in December - I'm just trying to ride the crest of the wave and tell you all about it.

So this one took me by surprise. It came to my attention when someone on Facebook shared this website and helpfully tagged me which brought it to my attention - thank you Kat McGregor.

The Every Australian Counts website (click on the picture) is the public face of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The NDIS sets out to do for disability in Australia what Medicare did for illness - namely to make the treatments and the consequences available to all - regardless of wealth.

In the previous post I talked about Healthy Parks, Healthy People and the way that Parks Victoria uses this key notion to bring green places and human health together.

The TrailRider sits at a sweet spot between beautiful natural places and the disabled riders and perhaps the wholesome mental boost that bonds the sherpas into the team. 

Somewhere at the edge of that lies the NDIS who are waking up to the therapeutic value, mentally and physically.

Watch this space. If you're a Facie I encourage you to like the Every Australian Counts page

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Seasons Greetings from Parks Victoria

2014 Parks Victoria Christmas Card. Great Ocean Walk near Apollo Bay
Photo: Flynn Hart 
If you are on Parks Victoria's mailing list you will have received this eCard greeting - they chose this picture from amongst many. Taken by son Flynn Hart, rear sherpa son Josh Hart, front sherpa John Kenwright and me in the hot seat.

Thank you!

But really I want this to be a love letter to Parks Victoria. I hope some PVers are reading.

When we first approached David Roberts in the Grampians back in September 2010 the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program was already well established. As I write this, wearing the HPHP tee shirt that I brought back from the Congress, I feel so grateful to that global gathering for showing us HPHP in its true worldwide context.

We saw that Parks Victoria leads the world in the strengthening of the link between healthy green spaces and healthy humans. As CEO Bill Jackson pointed out this is not just exciting for those humans but also for the parks themselves. It brings an entirely new source of funds to Parks - the Health Budget. Medibank sponsorship of the HPHP stream at the Congress eloquently made that point.

It raises issues. Rangers have expertise with the green but what about the pink/brown? New skills and awarenesses will evolve.

TrailRiders just happened to arrive at the right time and place and Australia, increasingly all of it, is the beneficiary.

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

and if you agree that HPHP rocks why not Like their page too

Monday, December 15, 2014

You too might become a sherpa - Sherpa page added to blog

A TrailRider expedition to Everest Base
Camp led  to this picture of  Pippa's normal
wheelchair being carried by a sherpa
This page (with the exception of this sentence!) is now a permanent part of the TrailRider Tales blog.

Do you picture yourself as a sherpa? If you love being in the bush then how would it be to be part of helping someone be out there that couldn't otherwise.

Becoming a volunteer sherpa is first and foremost becoming a volunteer with all the usual registration, police check, ethics and so on that would apply to any volunteering. On top of that there would be some simple TrailRider training - it is not difficult. Most people are surprised on their first attempt how easy it is. 

At each TrailRider location there will, eventually, be a volunteer program. As they are established they will be listed here and you might want to pick one that is geographically convenient.

If you are on Facebook then consider joining the closed group Australian Bush Sherpas  where you can privately chat with other sherpas

Sherpa Volunteer Programs

Halls Gap  - Caitlin O'Reilly 0428553040

Alternate Expression of Interest

If you'd like to express an interest in becoming a volunteer sherpa somewhere else then send us your email address. .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Parks in their hearts

I think I'm getting blase about doing interviews because I don't remember this one but the phrase, that made the headline and title of this post, does ring a bell.

It is the kind of thing I would say.

It was the same with the phrase
wild places which I used several times in my text and which Pip at Storyscape picked out as the title for the video.
That Thursday in Sydney, in many ways the biggest day of our life, still has repercussions. 

The video of the Adventurers Panel has finally surfaced.

Here you will see, very English, Paul Rose - vice chair of the Royal Geographic Society introducing Jessica Watson (around the world teenage yachtswoman) Sibusiso Vilane (Chief Scout of South Africa) and little old me.

I have cut out Wild Places as you can view that directly.

The interview with ABC Canberra, an excellent pre-cursor to our visit to Tidbinbilla one took place in the afternoon, before the Plenary.

Early in the interview I introduced the vocabularty wheelie and upright and I loved the way that Karen Sloan used one of these words later on.

Sadly she did not take up my invitation to come to Tidbinbilla.

This is the Radio National Life Matters interview again. This experience was head and shoulders above any other radio interview.
Firstly because, for the first time, Ros and I were interviewed together - in separate rooms on separate phones. We loved the chance to be together in this way.

Second was the thoroughness of their preparation. Forty minutes of pre-interview the day before, as we drove to Sydney. It was such a luxury to do an interview where I knew roughly what the next question would be.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Final IDPwD post - Federation Square, Melbourne

International Day for People with Disabilities was celebrated in the centre of Melbourne in Federation Square with the Disability Sport & Recreation Festival 

That is right up  Parks Victoria's street and who should we see there but John Kenwright guiding many interested punters around the cobbles of the Square.

A venue like the DSR festival that draws so many wheelies is the ideal place to show off the TrailRider.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

IDPwD events roundup

The International Day for People with Disabilities is a special day each year for the TrailRider - no more so than 2014.

The last post was about the event in Canberra and I am still to receive information from Melbourne's Federation Square but here is news from Ballarat and Stawell.


In Ballarat, as promised, the Ballarat Specialist School hosted a fun run.
This, of course, resulted in quite a number of junior riders but was also an excellent breeding ground for the new breed of Ballarat volunteer sherpas.

The official program has yet to be launched but the connections and interest that will make it work are evolving and the local media may well spread the word - somebody keep me posted please.


Stawell is the town nearest to the Grampians where the first Australian TrailRider was and the first sherpa volunteer program is running.

The Stawell Neighbourhood House was packed as over 100 people showed up.

Caitlin  (CVA) and Caillin (PV) were rushed off their feet taking people out around Cato Lake and answering questions about riding and sherparing.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


The Tidbinbilla TrailRider on show in central Canberra
Acronyms. Love them or hate them. I'm quite partial because they save my addled fingers so much typing but then I keep having to spell them out which kind of misses the point. 

One of my favourite acronym tales is from the days when I was writing my doctoral thesis by talking to my computer. The Dragon Dictate software learnt the acronyms I was using (XML, DTD, XSL etc etc) and could, in the end, correctly type sentences that were full of such mumbo jumbo. 

So returning to the title of this post the Australian Capital Territory held a very successful celebration of International Day of People with Disability that was particularly notable for increasing attention from the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

For readers outside of Australia (or those inside who haven't been listening) the NDIS might, Abbott permitting, be almost the only surviving piece of bi-partisanship under the current government. It sets out to achieve for disability what MediCare does for illness - to bring an end to it being an economic issue. That is why the previous Labor government named it DisabilityCare.

In an environment where disability was properly funded the TrailRider can be treated as an important part of the system. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Friday in Ballarat - toward an SVP? (Sherpa Volunteer Program)

Some of the best, most gratifying, TrailRider moments have been when a child, or younger person is the rider. The approach in Ballarat will lead to many such moments. Craig Donaldson from the City of Ballarat has had a focus on special schools from the first moments of moving toward the TrailRider.

Now the Ballarat Visitor Centre houses a TrailRider but, as with every chair, usage depends on public awareness and volunteers who will act as sherpas. 

In recognition of International Day for People with Disability (3rd December), there will be a TrailRider promotion on Friday 5th at the Ballarat Specialist School when all are welcome to try being sherpa (two TrailRiders will be there), to race in the Fun Run and to see the delight in many young faces

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Can you help me get to Daylesford?

A thoroughly evaluated and signposted track in Daylesford that I would
love to go on
This is the first time, as far as I can remember, that I have asked straight out for something here but I am so excited about the work going on in Daylesford, planning for their TrailRider that I really want to try out their 5km Cornish Hill track.

The people in Daylesford are going gangbusters as this map suggests - all courtesy of Fiona Robson at Hepburn Health who convenes the regular TrailRider committee as they move towards a fully-fledged Sherpa Volunteer Program. This would be the first outside Parks Victoria.

So my appeal is a direct ask for potential sherpas to walk this hilly 5km track. Down the track you might be interested in a longer term involvement. You can express your interest via the form in the Directory 

If you are a potential sherpa for me send me an email (

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sherpas In Suits

From the left - John Kenwright (PV), me, John Schutz
(SA Parks) and Bill Jackson (PV)
Ros, not being an employee of Parks Victoria, had much more leeway in ordering parks CEOs around than most of the 30 or so Parks Victoria people that were at the Congress.

After the plenary she suggested to John Schutz (CEO South Australia Parks) and Bill Jackson (CEO Parks Victoria) that they had a try at being sherpas.

Off we went, with John Kenwright at the important aft controls. Never, in my life, have I had such well-dressed sherpas.

I think they must have liked it because they just wanted to keep going!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Now you can give me feedback - if you want

For a long time now Ros has been urging me to add Reaction buttons to each post."Denis does it, why can't you?"

Today I actually read up how to do it (the word "reaction" was the key) and the picture shows my first stab. This will appear at the foot of each post- new and old.

I can control the categories. I fully expect this post to be marked Ho-hum

Of course a Comment says more. I love your comments and promise always to reply.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tidbinbilla - "pronounced success"

ACT Parks photographer Matt got us all to pose under the tree
In my grandfather's joke a punchline similar to Ň£his led Count Willi to shoot himself. The joke would not work in writing but if urged I would tell with my voice. 

Thirty of us gathered at Tidbinbilla nature reserve, home of the ACT TrailRider, to show the contraption off to an interesting collection of people.

Some were potential volunteer sherpas. Tatanya, the CVA (Conservation Volunteers Australia) employee in the region was there and she will be the one that enrols, co-ordinates and arranges training for the volunteers.She is the exact opposite number of Caitlyn in the Grampians.

A lot of people were involved in the health sector - very true to the Healthy Parks, Healthy People theme that was so prominent in Sydney. There was strong representation from Woden (did not get the precise organisation written down - help me out), there was a man called David from one of four special schools who speculated about them having a TrailRider all to themselves because kids just love it so much. And most interestingly there were two there from Canberra NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). I think that could get very interesting indeed.

Ros' auntie Rosemary, in her eighties, was there (khaki slacks, front right) She had been there last time and made the important point that use was free and that you could fold up the TrailRider and take it places other than Tidbinbilla.

Brother Keith, and sister-in-law were there, after Rodney, the most experienced sherpa and probably set (sorry Keith!) to be one of the first volunteers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Calling the SES (State Emergency Services)

At Cradle Mountain in Tasmania the critical factor in getting their TrailRider (still to be launched?) was rescue.

At the Grampians a recent broken ankle took twenty SES volunteers and about four hours to resolve. The ranger at the Congress who told me this thought that two rangers with a TrailRider could have coped.

I'd love to have discussions with the right person in each State SES about how TrailRiders could help. Does anyone have any contacts that would help?

The next step, and the next post, would be about whether the TrailRider design could adapt to allow someone with a back injury to be in a prone position.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What to squeeze into 8 minutes

Eight minutes may sound like a long time but Wild Places takes four so I really had to focus on the balance. I focussed on my six favourite TrailRider pictures and wove a web around them.

This is what I said - unusually for me it is all written out. It was handed in early for translation..

Few walking tracks are too difficult for the TrailRider as we just saw. Provided you have the right Sherpa team.

Here we see a team of five – the rider/pilot/passenger is part of the team. Together they work their way over boulders, logs and steps. There is a lot of talking, a lot of trust, a lot of shared exhilaration when the top is reached.

Academic studies in Canada have explored the mutual benefit but clearly I am the winner. How else could I be here?
The real meaning to each individual rider will be as varied as the riders themselves but a recent outing for me in the Grampians National Park brought me face-to-face with this creature.

Strangely this Shingleback Lizard crossed the track just as I was telling the tale of a previous encounter.

I have read of a blind rider whose delight was the smell of the forest.
Which brings me to one of my all time favourite TrailRider pictures that doesn’t even have a TrailRider in it!

Canadian Pippa Blake and her fit and willing family made it to the Everest Base Camp in 2007.
Of course she needed her normal wheelchair in camp at night and of course it was carried by a Sherpa.
Parks Victoria have been amazing. As I act out my role of TrailRider Advocate I have interacted with parks organisations in other States. Parks Victoria are way ahead with their “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” focus, making disabled access a high and visible priority.

Behind this picture of Ros and me on the Great Ocean Walk, was Parks Victoria making sure that recent trail upgrades worked for the TrailRider
Which really brings us back to Canada and the beginning of the love affair. Ros’ picture of me, my son and his friend is the one we first showed to Parks Victoria

Having a TrailRider chair is just the beginning of the story. Sherpas, volunteers who are themselves bush enthusiasts, are an essential part of making it possible for the isolated disabled person to get out there.
This picture says it all. Pippa Blake again. Looking at this I feel a fraud on the Adventurers Panel. This is a real adventure - to be high amongst the glittering peaks. To breath the thin air. To be disabled yet enabled. That is the power of he TrailRider idea and the genius of making them freely available in Parks

Friday, November 14, 2014

What a day!

Yesterday was,arguably, one of the best days of my life. Certainly one of the busiest.

Without Ros and Joanne and Rodney I could not have done it. They stuck with me throughout the entire craziness of it. Together we did it.

Special thanks as well to Tanya Smith from Parks Victoria who was to blame for the media stuff.

9 am Radio interview for Ros and me with Natasha Mitchell on Life Matters, Radio National. 16 minutes of easy, informative banter about our TrailRider story.

What knocked our socks off was the care and consummate professionalism of their preparation the day before. 45 minutes of pre-interview. 
11 am Media photo opportunity amongst trees, frogs and bushes beside a beautiful river a short walk from the concrete jungle of Olympic Park.Go figure. 

Because John Kenwright had brought the motorised TrailRider we were able to do impressive ascents of steep grassy slopes while photographers crouched for the low angle

From this point on I was in the TrailRider
12 pm Launch of the Parks Victoria 
 Improving Health and Wellbeing: Healthy Parks Healthy People stream. Bill Jackson, CEO spoke and mentioned all the dignitaries and mentioned the TrailRider.

In the next hour I met more State park CEOs than you can imagine. More will follow.
2:30 pm Interview with ABC Radio Canberra. Tanya found us a quiet room and I had the unusual experience of doing a radio interview with a live audience in the room with me.

Because we are heading to Tidbinbilla on our way south for a TrailRider Sherpa Volunteer event I made sure that word was often mentioned.

I'll post the interview when I get a copy.
5 pm The Big One! A plenary session - the Adventurers Panel A ramp up to stage level meant that I could line up in the TrailRider.Ros sat beside me to manage, and hand me my papers so that I could stay on track. 

Extremely pressed for time and I blew a large part of mine showing Wild Places. A specially prepared 2GB version looked amazing on the 10 metre high screens

6 pm  Bill Jackson again launching the pop-up park that Parks Victoria had set up in the Exhibition area.

The "pop-up park" idea, with the close involvement of AILA (Australian Institute of Landscape Architects) staged a design competition that was won by RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of

The designers were there. They turned out to be colleagues of Flynn's and explained the thinking behind the design. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Come and join us in Sydney!

The World Parks Congress live streaming blog - click to view
World Congresses being what they are (!) they have set up live streaming of the main events.

Here is the link that will include the Adventurers Panel that I, and a trusty TrailRider, will be part of. The Plenary starts (and the link should go live) at 1pm AEST. The Adventurers are towards the end - at 4:30pm.

The other streamed events at the Congress can be accessed via the WPCSydney  live streaming blog

Friday, November 7, 2014

Welcome to the World Parks Congress

The "speaker notes" - click to view the site
On Sunday we will hit the road, destination Sydney. Ros will have packed our Caddy van to the roof and by Wednesday night we, with Joanne and Rodney, will be at Homebush Conference Centre in Sydney.

Thursday afternoon I'll be in a TrailRider, on the stage.

The Adventurers Panel, chaired by Paul Rose from the Royal Geographic Society will feature around-the-world yachts woman, Jessica Watson, Chief Scout of South Africa Sibusiso Vilane and me - in a TrailRider.

I plan to show Wild Places and a few of my favourite TrailRider pictures. It is probably not good form to post that now but I will next week.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What would you say to the World?

I am in the extraordinarily fortunate position, with the upcoming World Park Congress of needing to answer that question. Today is the due date for the words of my 8 minute presentation to the plenary Adventurers Panel on Thursday 13th November at 2:30pm

The program entry for the 2:30 pm plenary. Double click to read
I must decide what to say now in order that my words can be translated for the delegates that will be there - 5000 of them from around the world. In a way I have cheated. The Wild Places video tells the story so well that I can justify using up four and a half of my eight minutes like that. For the rest of the time I have picked my six favourite TrailRider pictures and woven a little story around them.

At the outset my Parks Congress involvement was part of the stream organised by Parks Victoria - Improving health and well-being - Healthy Parks, Healthy People.That drew the Geneva organiser's attention to Wild Places and a part in the Pleanary. That makes it quite appropriate to show it there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Australian Bush Sherpas - a Facebook group for the "sherpaly inclined"

Click on the image to see the group - ask to join
Unusually this is a post that really targets Facies (people who use Facebook) 

Despite its questionable reputation Facebook does certain things really well and the "closed group" is one of them. Instead of visibility of material being based on friendship circles, or even public, in a closed group what you say can only be seen by group members. You must request to be accepted as a member of the group.

Maggie Marriot was a trainee sherpa at the second Halls Gap session and has started the group and she will be the one that approves you.

Once in the group you can chat and share experiences with other sherpas.

If you are not on Facebook clicking the image will just invite you to join.

I have been putting a lot of thought into using Facebook for this and other useful purposes and listening to the reasons that people don't join:

  • Personal information at risk
  • Silliness of much that happens there amongst "Friends"
  • Identity theft
In response to this I am suggesting the idea of Zero Friends Facebook and the link will lead you through setting up an extremely minimalist account.

Bear in mind though that when you request to join the group Maggie may not be able to tell who you are so send her a private Facebook message to put her out of her misery.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) thoughts

A couple of weeks ago I went down to Daylesford Secondary School to meet a group of VCAL students and tell them about the TrailRider.

It was great to meet a group, almost all year 12 and soon to graduate, of young people heading out into the world, to show them Wild Places and to tell them about the Sherpa Volunteer Program that is emerging in Daylesford. Two very interesting points arose.

  • I was astonished to find that the word "sherpa" was completely unknown. They thought I was saying "chauffeur" Quite a thought - we could welcome in the Chauffeur Volunteer Program. There are all the time little bits of current affairs (in this case the ascent of Everest) that are slowly slipping into history
  • The much more exciting development was the prospect that the TrailRider could become a theme within the Applied Learning curriculum at the school. Students would engage as sherpa volunteers and also assess and prepare tracks. This would indeed be an exciting development

Monday, September 29, 2014

Have drone, will travel

Half way there we take a break. The flies were fearsome
Almost a year ago we went out on the Great Ocean Walk testing the newly upgraded tracks for TrailRider use. 

We were fascinated by Adrian Marriner's airborne camera, 

A light-weight four rotor drone, controlled by Adrian, carried a high resolution camera to heights and angles that were otherwise unimaginable. 
On the bridge at Aire River

I remember being fascinated by the proposition that the drone might fly out of radio range from the controller. Indeed they thought of that - the GPS in the drone simply leads it back home.

To me it is fascinating to see the curved horizon and astonishing to see the resolution of the photos.

Adrian has just posted some of the shots on Facebook and they are stunning.

If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the Living Trails page

Friday, September 26, 2014

Come to Apollo Bay - launching the twelfth Australian TrailRider

Click on the picture to view the invite.
Photo: Flynn Hart
The latest (twelfth) Australian TrailRider is being launched at Apollo Bay next Monday at the Visitor Centre where it will be housed. All are welcome.

10am, Monday 29th September

Last December we were there testing out the improvements to the Great Ocean Walk and laying the foundations for this latest roll out.

The Great Ocean Walk is truly one of the most magnificent locations for TrailRiding as Flynn's photo shows. Josh Hart is rear sherpa, his GoPro video camera is on my helmet and John Kenwright is in front.

Congratulations, once again, to John Kenwright at Parks Victoria for making all this happen.

Visit the Directory for contact details of all the 12 TrailRiders in Australia.

The Visitor Centre is at 100 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay, Victoria 3233

Phone: 13 0068 9297 | Fax: 03 5237 6194


If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the Apollo Bay Visior Centre page

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The motorised TrailRider

First my apologies for posting something that did not work.

Now let's get down to the promised rave about the "electric chair"
At the sherpa training session we put it through its paces. It was obvious, as two person sherpa team after two person sherpa team ascended a significant slope that running the motor dramatically eased.

At the end of the trail, getting back into Brambuk, comes a short, sharp rise that Rodney had filmed in the April session - with five sherpas. This side-by-side video shows this alongside Saturday's ride - this time with a team of two.

Two small points were noted

  • The trigger needs a sprung return to motor-off
  • The battery pack obscured the rear sherpa's view of the kickstand. Battery under the seat would be better and have a lower centre of gravity

We need a better name for it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grampians second sherpa training session

A rare photograph of the "Gang of Four" - from
the left Ros, Rodney, me, Joanne and last but
not least Caitlin, the volunteer coordinator
This Saturday we all (Ros, Rodney, Joanne and I) went to Halls Gap for the second SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) training session put together by John Kenwright from Parks Victoria

There we met with potential volunteer sherpas Fiona, Phil, Kevin, Maureen, Blake and Maggie who had all seen this as an opportunity to not only be out in the bush but to be part of helping someone else be out in the bush. As Phil put it so well "I like the bush and I like bush walking and I would like to get out more often so why not take someone out and enjoy it with them at the same time"

Doing steps - an important skill for a budding sherpa to learn
Caitlin O'Reilly is the newly appointed volunteer co-ordinator at the Grampians. She is employed by CVA (Conservation Volunteers Australia) to oversee the hundred or so volunteers at Halls Gap but also to be the central reference point for TrailRider use in the Grampians.

As before, at the first session, the practical training was a roll around Fyans Creek loop - two TrailRiders with Rodney and John Kenwright providing direction about being the front sherpa, being the back sherpa, using the brake and for the first time using the motor.

Was this fine specimen listening as I told my lizard story? Now
I have two lizard stories!
Trying out the motorised TrailRider, featured in the previous post, was brilliant. So brilliant that it will be the the subject of a whole new post.

One of my favourite TrailRider stories is the Blue Tongued Lizard that I met once on that track. I was telling my team that story when, lo and behold at that precise moment, this fine Shingleback crossed our path.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it's a motorised TrailRider

Only very slightly different to look at
The new motorised TrailRider prototype that Parks Victoria has developed has finally arrived.  

This is a TrailRider with an electric motor that I spoke to you about a few months ago. This chair will make it much easier for visitors with disabilities and their sherpas to explore some of our more hilly trails in parks and will reduce the number of sherpas needed for pushing and pulling the chair.
Close up of the battery pack

It is an electric hub motor with a lithium battery adding just over 4kgs in weight to the chair and was trialled by Parks Victoria with a 73kg passenger (PV staff member) rider.
Here are the controls  - Keith take note!

The motor showed a lot of torque going up steep hills and was used on hilly trails for over 2 hours. There was plenty of charge left in the battery.

We are looking forward to doing some further trials using the chair in the Grampians at the upcoming SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) training session.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BCMOS (British Columbia Mobile Opportunity Society) rocks!

These guys invented the TrailRider and they do something that we do not yet do in Australia. They are out there, throughout the summer months, with teams of volunteer sherpas guiding many disabled riders through the extraordinary and exciting British Columbian bush.

Here is their latest Facebook post winding up the year's activities:

Our hiking, kayaking and gliding season is now over. 

(We unfortunately had to cancel glides intended for the first two weeks of the month due to circumstances beyond our control.)

Rather then feeling sad about the season being over, I'd like to celebrate the record-breaking 126 hikes we arranged for people with disabilities. And praise the volunteers who made this possible each year.

To repeat: there would be no BCMOS without volunteers. Thank you all.
If you are a Facie, here is another chance to Like the BCMOS page:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are you free on September 20th? SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) training in Halls Gap

The second Sherpa Volunteer training session will take place at the Grampians National Park at Halls Gap at 10 am on Saturday 20th September.

This post will tell you a little more of what to expect. 

If you are interested in volunteering for the Sherpa Volunteer Program please contact:

Caitlyn O’Reilly
Volunteer Coordinator
Grampians National Park


Saturday, August 16, 2014

SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) thoughts

The Ballarat TrailRider brochure - click
to view. Remember it's a folded booklet
so the pages appear in an odd order
The other day Craig Donaldson (Ballarat Access and Inclusion), Rodney Brooke (Australian sherpa king) and I had a very useful meeting concerning SVPs for Shire chairs.

The SVP concept, which so favourably influences the uptake of TrailRiders, is well-understood and rolling on  in Parks Victoria thanks to John Kenwright.

In Shires not yet. There needs to be an established volunteer program of some kind and there needs to be a definite way that liability for volunteer sherpas can be effectively covered. A sane approach is that somewhere, some time, a sherpa or rider will be hurt and that must be planned for.

Ballarat is well onto this and Craig is planning some kind of round table meeting of appropriate participants and hopefully nut this one out and, by the way, show other Shires the way to go.

If you are a Facie, here is another chance to Like the Ballarat Visitor Information Centre (where their TrailRider lives) page:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Five NEW TrailRiders on their way (16 altogether!)

The official announcements are still to come so I don't quite "count" them yet. That moment will come when they can go in the Directory with a phone number to use each chair.

However it is underway and when complete will bring the total number of TrailRiders in Australia to 16.

All five chairs are at about the same stage of evaluation and assessment of specific deployment details.

"Cradle Mountain/New South Wales/Apollo Bay have recently received their TrailRider(s) and staff are in the process of assessing tracks for suitability with the aim of a public launch later this year. More news and updates will be provided soon.”

It is especially gratifying to see that SVPs (Sherpa Volunteer Programs) are part of those assessments.