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!