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