Friday, December 30, 2016

Eponymous initials?

The interview with Marc - click pic to read it
Marc Stecker (MS) is the proprietor of the-Wheelchair Kamikaze blog. Like me Marc has Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - hence the title of this post. Just like the first ever person I contacted at Parks Victoria in the Grampians, Graham Parks, his name (in this case his initials) "fits". The reason that I am writing about him is that Wheelchair Kamikaze won the second prize in the Best Healthcare Blog competition that I recently posted about.

He won $500 and his readers have voted to donate this to the Tisch Centre but you, Dear Reader, may have helped WK win the prize in the first place.

I was absolutely fascinated to read this interview with Marc that Healthline conducted to celebrate their awarding of second place. It spoke to me on so many levels but most of all, his astonishment at all the people that read him. Maybe he'll do a guest post?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The newly polished Directory

A bit of the revamped Directory - click pic to visit
the real one
I spent this afternoon polishing up the Directory   

There are 18 TrailRiders listed and I know of 5 others - a rather grand total of 23. Four are motorised.

All the listings now show a full international phone number, a map link, an email address and a Facebook Page link if there is one.

Tomorrow I will phone all the numbers and make sure that there is a good reception - sometimes there isn't yet.

Warburton TrailRider - another one that got away

Is Cliff enjoying this? Click pic to visit website
I suppose an upside of having been so poorly in November is catching up on all the news that I was too sick to post about. The next one that  must cover is the TrailRider at Warburton.

The announcement of the launch can be seen at the Yarra Ranges Council website - it was actually of 1st September!

The hiring details can be found in the good old Directory.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Guest post from Alex Gaut

I have been raving for a long time, and especially recently, about Alex and it is time for you to find out more about her - in her words instead of mine.

It’s hard for me to believe I live in a state that is so far behind the times! South Australia just got its first TrailRider – literally. It just arrived in early November, just before my birthday and what a great gift it was.

I work for the Conservation Council of South Australia (Conservation SA) and in lieu of having missed the World Parks Congress in Sydney, one of my colleagues sent me the report from the ‘Improving Health and Well-being: Healthy Parks Healthy People’ stream. In the report there is the most wonderful photograph of a child in a fabulous wheelchair, being wheeled into the shallow beach water where the gentle waves are lapping – the look of sheer, pure enjoyment and happiness on the child’s face was the starting point for me. The text accompanying this photo also mentions all-terrain wheelchairs and specifically the TrailRider.
That was it. I was hooked.

From then on in it was a personal journey of discovery and realisation. Realising that even though nature should be for everyone, it’s not for every body – not right now but organisations such as Parks Victoria are blazing a trail for all of us to follow.
My next realisation was finding out that to my great shame, South Australia had nothing like this!!

Now that I was fired up, I started doing some research and made connections with, of course, the wonderful David S., who put me on to John Kenwright at Parks Victoria. John and David have both been immensely helpful and supportive.
I also started connecting with people in SA with these interests, including Push Adventures who advise ecotourism businesses how to be more access-friendly, and a staff member in the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources here in SA. This particular staff member is, amongst other things, looking at how to make some of the high use National Parks around the Adelaide region more access-friendly.

Moving forward
Fortunately the SA Department of Communities and Social Inclusion had a grant round open just for equipment, which fitted the bill perfectly. We ordered the TrailRider in June 2016 and it eventually arrived, with motor modification, in November 2016.
Conservation SA will, eventually, be hiring out the TrailRider for free for up to a week at a time so that people can really go to remote places, maybe the Flinders Ranges, maybe Kangaroo Island – who knows?!
But in the meantime we are searching for funding to develop proper sherpa training materials and workshops, and to develop a booking system. This is not as easy as it sounds but we want to make sure that TrailRider users are as safe as possible and enjoy their bushwheeling adventures with well-trained, safe and trustworthy volunteers.
During this journey I have discovered the incredible proliferation of designs for outdoor mobility. It has really grown and now there are dozens of designs with and without motors, for accessing different environments such as beaches, and even a floating wheelchair that can take people right onto the waves in safety – the SA Marine Parks team are very excited about that one!
I look forward to helping every body to enjoy the benefits of nature.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The First South Australian TrailRider

Alex and her expensive,
not-yet-sherpaed friend
I have been hinting at this for several posts but it actually quite old news that my health scare interrupted.

This is the first one ever in South Australia and just as with the one in the Grampians in 2013 awaits volunteers.

Hats off to Alex Gaut at the Conservation Council SA and the very next post will be her Guest Post.

For the reason stated above there is no entry yet in the Directory.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merry Christmas from TrailRider Tales

Yes I know I'm early but it just feels like the right moment. There's much more to share as I catch up on my downtime but I'll try and keep to one post a day.

I have two presents for you. The hay bale sculptures are to be found just outside Newstead on the Maryborough road. They are a whimsical delight and now (thanks to Ros) are now the Cover photo on the Newstead Community Facebook Page - see below.

Santa in a TraiilRider? Two years ago, courtesy of Kriss Ellis, from his Shire's Christmas gathering.

While I'm here I talked one of my dearest, oldest friends through leaving a comment yesterday and realised how difficult Google make it. I'll try and do something about that. Thank you Tony and consider this a reminder to watch Wild Places

If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the Newstead Community Facebook page:

Friday, December 16, 2016

My very own TrailRider

My very  own TrailRider
Photo: Ros Hart
I recently turned 65 - I am now "officially" retired. For my birthday Ros presented me with a motorised TrailRider of my very own. It was not a surprise because it was an extraordinarily tricky exercise with much support and help from Rodney, Munro Engineering and John Kenwright. Importing, we have learnt, is not an easy thing.

So Newstead beware! I will be out there, luring sherpas for walks down the main street, up Mount Alexander, along the river etc etc etc!

Connor, in the foreground here, was on his first day's work as a sherpa, sorry ranger, and grew up in Vancouver. He has met Sam Sullivan, inventor of the TrailRider. FWIW he speaks fluent Mandarin - this is something I really rate.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Nature for You

Click pic to hear Alex
We have spoken here often about Connection With Nature (CWN) - this is what the TrailRider brings to the frail or disabled. Alex Gaut, who we will hear from soon in a Guest Post, has guided the Conservation Council in South Australia toward the first TrailRider in that State (upcoming post) and is busy with her Masters on CWN. In a "post truth" world research and data is a tonic.

The ABC in Adelaide interviewed her the about the Nature for You program which brings disadvantaged South Australians back in touch with nature and incidentally gets data S for the Masters. She has the temerity to suggest that we turn off our phones. She tells the story of a gen Xer even deleting the Facebook App!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Healthy Parks Healthy People Global

Click pic for your own copy of the eToolkit
Bill Jackson was the CEO of Parks Victoria - you can meet him here in his guest post. What did he move on to? The answer is here

The eToolkit guides managers of resources in the great outdoors towards doing what Parks Victoria has already done so well - linking human health with park health.

Behind this is the power of Connection With Nature (CWN) about which I have written before and spoken of in the Drawing Room on Radio National. Shirin yoku (Forest Breathing) is something that you will hear much more about soon here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Birthday - Parks Victoria

As regular readers will realise we are fans, big fans, of Parks Victoria. They seriously lead the world with Healthy Parks Healthy People.

Imagine my surprise to receive this bulletin and find that they were only 20 years old.

Thank you to our volunteers and partners
Today marks Parks Victoria’s 20th anniversary, since it was established in 1996.
Parks Victoria thanks you, our volunteers and partners, for the enormous contribution you make to parks and the Victorian community. The work you do to protect parks and engage communities is extremely appreciated and valued.
Together, we inspire the community to conserve and enjoy Victoria's unique natural and cultural heritage. Together, we care for Country and promote the value of parks and waterways for the benefit of all Victorians and their visitors.
This bulletin provides a thank you video message, and a few inspiring videos.
Hope you enjoy.
Margaret Gillespie
Acting Chief Executive

Listen to this thank you message from Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP; Parks Victoria’s Chairman, Andrew Fairley AM; and Parks Victoria’s Acting Chief Executive, Margaret Gillespie.

Watch this video showing some of the incredible places we manage and protect. In displaying the diversity of landscapes and experiences available to people in Victoria it's easy to see why we love what we do.

Over the past few months, we have heard from the community about what they value most about Victoria’s parks.
Their feedback is helping us to understand how we can best deliver outcomes for visitors, our economy, and the incredible Country we care for.

Well Rewarded

Tracey Skinner, Sue Fox, me, Julie Davies and Ros
Photo: Rodney Brooke
Last Monday, 5th December, we all headed to the Grampians for the Kookaburra Award ceremony. Parks Victoria were celebrating their 30,000 volunteers and I caught a glimpse of what lies behind the creation of the Sherpa Volunteer Program.

Three lifetime achievement awards were presented and Ros and I were honoured for the TrailRider Improving Health Benefits. What impressed me was the time, 20 or 30 years that these people had spent doing what they did.

My personal highlight, apart from the birthday present of my very own TrailRider about which I'll write separately, was being sherpaed by Connor on his very first day as a ranger. He hails from Vancouver and has met Sam Sullivan who invented the TrailRider. I feel I have touched royalty!. He asked me what my favourite hikes were there, a sure way to an old man's heart, and knew them all!

Julie Davies was given a lifetime award for 30 years of steady work on the Great South West Walk - a 250km circular track, partly coastal, in the Portland region of South West Victoria. Walking the track is now becoming harder for her. Is another TrailRider needed?

Tracey Skinner had, with other volunteers including a stone-mason, patiently worked on stabilising the walking track up Mount Arapiles. Rock steps, many kilometers of them, now ensure that path lasts for ever.

Bernie Fox was awarded posthumously so his widow Sue accepted the award. Bernie and I have been in email contact since October 2012 when he and others took the Grampians TrailRider up into the Wyperfeld National Park in Northern Victoria.and showed a disabled and elderly woman round mallee fowl nests. He worked tirelessly, for many years on the Glen Nayook bush reserve as well as the Point Nepean.

The People's Choice award went to the Ballette family in Gippsland who had undertaken camp ground host volunteer work in parks for many years. Ros and I came fourth in this category Thank you all for your support.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Wheelchair Kamikaze

Click pic to vote
Because I blog, and because I have MS, I follow other blogs in this area. Of all that I've seen Wheelchair Kamikaze takes the biscuit. Marc, from New York, has a measured, careful approach to the minefield of MS in the US healthcare system and a very different approach to mine in writing blog posts.His posts are long, very well researched and personal. They remind me of Denis Wright 's, about which I have written here.

He has invited his readers to vote for his blog in's "Best Healthcare Blog" contest and I extend that invitation to my readers. Voting continues until December 12

If you visit the site to vote take care to scroll down the page to vote. You do NOT, as it first appears, have to join Healthline.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Loddon Shire TrailRider

Glennys White in the Loddon Shire Trail Rider chair.
Last month saw the launch, in Wedderburn north of Bendigo of another Visitor Centre TrailRider. Once again a local government and Parks Victoria have teamed up to make access possible for disabled locals and visitors.

Mark Kearney covered the launch superbly in this Bendigo Advertiser article.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Catching up

Click on pic to visit  their site
I have been having health issues which have meant that my posting, of late, has been less frequent. Fortunately, or perhaps not if you dread getting yet another email about something to look at online, I am getting back on track and am assessing the Australian TrailRider situation.

TrailRiders, as you probably know by now, are made in Vancouver by the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation. They tell me that so far they have shipped 25 Down Under so I now need to track them all down which is a wonderful position to be in!

I will be doing a post about the Loddon Shire chair which was announced a couple of weeks ago and also one about the Adelaide chair, the first in South Australia. There will also be something to shout about next week when I will be given my very own TrailRider (motorised) for my 65th birthday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Vote, vote, vote - deadline tomorrow Wednesday

Click to visit the Parks Victoria website 
If you have voted already - thank you

If you were meaning to get around to it consider this reminder

If you are sick of me going on about it this is the last time but my shamelessness relates to the way this award seriously honours Ros.

Every two years Parks Victoria make their Kookaburra Awards. The awards are in  number of categories - from Young Kookaburra to Conserving Victoria's Special Places - but the general idea is to recognise and honour individuals and groups who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to the Victorian park system.

The overall best award is the Public Choice Award that you all get to vote for and there are eight to choose from - including Ros and myself who have been nominated for Connecting People To Parks.

Please vote for us and encourage your friends to.

Public Choice Award

Monday, November 28, 2016

Learning to be lazy

Profoundly disabled and profoundly in love
with Ros and with life
Over the years I have probably not been straight with you about the extent of my disability. Clearly I can't walk - why else would I be so passionate about the TrailRider - but the reality is that I am very profoundly disabled.  None of what has come to pass, from the very first outing on the TrailRider in Vancouver in 2009 to the present day reality of 20 Australian TrailRiders would have been possible without Ros.

That is why it is so appropriate that the Kookaburra Award from Parks Victoria is to Dr David Stratton and Ms Ros Hart and also why I am so shameless in urging you all to vote before November 30th for the Peoples Choice award.

Learning to be lazy is what I am finally understanding will make life more bearable for the one on whom I depend so utterly. There will be less, of everything.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Healthy Parks, Healthy People - the long awaited films

Last October we all spent the day in the Grampians filming for some short movies extolling the Parks Victoria Healthy Parks, Healthy People program about which we have spoken about so often here. The idea that park health and human health are so closely linked and that this should be organisationally welded into a state park body is one in which Parks Victoria leads the world as we saw at the World Parks Congress in 2014.

Those films have finally been made public. The craft and care involved is one reason. The abrupt departure of the PV CEO was the other. The two that involve the TrailRider are here and the whole set are at a location that still eludes me. I will post when I know!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Garfield again

Caro's picture of the crew -  Ros  and Josh, Flynn, Joanne and
Rodney. Me, naughtily riding  withiout a  helmet. Never,
ever  do  this!
In July we were out in the bush near Castlemaine with Win News, spruiking the State Disability Plan, with the stunning visuals of the Garfield Wheel Foundations as a backdrop.

On Sunday we went back there. The occasion was my looming 65th birthday and the cast was therefore very family-based.
In front of the imposing foundations that
once bore the axel of the water wheel
                                                                                          We learned a lot of mining history as the sturdy rock-built foundations used to support the axel of a 20m diameter water wheel that powered an ore-crushing machine.

We also learned about the Flynn Effect - the persistent increase in IQ test scores. Very apt as son Flynn was the rear sherpa for the whole outing!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Please vote for us! (before November 30th)

Click to visit the Parks Victoria website 
Every two years Parks Victoria make their Kookaburra Awards. The awards are in  number of categories - from Young Kookaburra to Conserving Victoria's Special Places - but the general idea is to recognise and honour individuals and groups who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to the Victorian park system.

The overall best award is the Public Choice Award that you all get to vote for and there are eight to choose from - including Ros and myself who have been nominated for Connecting People To Parks.

Please vote for us and encourage your friends to.

Public Choice Award

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How many TrailRiders in Australia now?

I, of all people, should know but, as I've said in the previous post I have been a bit disconnected lately and coming back into the world I think it about time for a stock take.

The majority of Australian TrailRiders are in Victoria, courtesy of Parks Victoria and John Kenwright and, at the last count, there were 14 that were publicly announced and available to use. At that stage there were plans for more that I was privy to but not yet to be included in the "official count"

At that stage there were also one in the ACT, one in Tasmania, three in NSW and one in WA so that, at the last count, meant 20 which is the number I've been using loosely for a while.

Hello there and tune in at 10:20

Hello there.

It has been the longest gap (ever) between posts at TrailRider tales as I have struggled with health issues - chiefly an adverse drug reaction to sleeping medication. I am well and truly back on deck and full of things to write about.

The urgent matter, if you read this in Central Victoria, is to tune in today at 10:20 (Thursday 13th October) to ABC Central Victoria and hear Caitlin O'Reilly from Parks Victoria at the Grampians talk about the TrailRiders there and the upcoming sherpa training (another post)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Enough Said

As you know we are big fans of Parks Victoria. They, through their Healthy Parks, Healthy People program and the efforts of John Kenwright, have made the TrailRider happen. Without them it would have been incredibly hard - if not impossible.

This film, which recently came out through Facebook, shows some of their many faces including a brief glimpse of Rodney, me and John. Few words, two words  - Enough Said - the title of this post.
Parks Victoria so deserve to be Liked!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

They did it so right - Win News excels

A new experience for all of us today - being behind the scenes in a one and half minute Win News story.

Thanks first to, aptly named, cameraman Cable who took five takes of one shot - you will see the TrailRider passing behind the presenter.

And then there was her - Alyson who researched and interview to perfection. Thank you for sticking with us.

Then there was our team. Ros, Flynn, Joanne and Rodney. 

None of this could have happened without you four. Thank you again and again.

And then there were Corey, Ryley and Alexander - visiting with their mum. Rodney just happened to say hi to and who joined in, as you will see, and have assured futures as shrpas.

Last, but not least, there was Noel, from ParksVictoria, Castlemaine who just happened to be in the Garfield Wheel park and was seeing the TrailRider in action. One in Castlemaine next?

Australia Channel 10 - Central Victoria - 6pm tonight - on the news!

Garfield Wheel at Chewton - mic, camera, action
Tune in tonight if you're in range for a spot of coverage in the campaign for submissions to the 2017-2020 Victoria State Disability Plan

We filmed and interviewed at Garfield Wheel, Chewton where Parks Victoria have a small (?) "property"

The camera operator was called Cable, for gods sake - nothing like a name to match your job.

Ros, Flynn, Joanne and Rodney made it possible and I'll post the video a soon as I can.

One extra highlight (NB Tanya Smith from Parks Victoria) was meeting Norm who is in the background wearing his green Healthy Parks, Healthy People gear and making sure that tree does not fall over!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bendigo Advertiser

The consummate TrailRider photo taken by Ros Hart (my wife
and Carer) -click to view the article
Yes, I know you've seen this before, but readers of the Addie probably haven't.

I was delighted to be interviewed by journalist Emma, especially as I have my eyes on the Visitor Centre there for yet another Victorian chair. 

Some unholy alliance of the City of Bendigo, Parks Victoria and the State Emergency Services is what I have in mind. Here (and her apologies for Mr instead of Dr - I did tell her) is her article

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On the beach

Child insert, volunteer and English Bay
In Australia it is completely normal for TrailRiders to be put in place by Parks Victorian or one of the other "owners"

After that, well after that, comes the sherpa volunteer program. Only setup, so far, in the Grampians. More to come we hope but that is the way it is for now.

In Canada, birthplace of the TrailRider, it is precisely the opposite. British Columbia Mobile Opportunity Society runs a huge and flourishing volunteer program - has done from the very start and Parks has barely started.

Curious eh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Drawing Room - this time for real!

Patricia Karvelas - host of the Drawing Room

This time it really is on air

On Australian Radio National, each evening, the Drive program ends, at 7:15, with a 15 minute chat in the Drawing Room. The host, Patricia Karvelas, has conversation with one or two interesting guests.

Tonight, the two people will be myself and Claire Dunn. Claire's  thing is Rewilding which, broadly speaking, is bringing people and wild places back together again. Her website will tell you a lot more.

What brings us together is talking about the important connection between human health and nature. See my earlier post shinrin-yoku, Japanese for forest bathing. 

In more academic circles this is referred to as Connection With Nature or CWN. There is a growing body of research in this field but Parks Victoria were way ahead of the game when 8 years ago they launched Healthy Parks Healthy People.

My story will be about about how the TrailRider enables disabled folk to get in on the act.

Tune in if you can. In case you can't I'll post the link after the broadcast so you can listen online.

If you are a Facie why not like Claire's Year Without Matches Page

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Stop press!!!

Our bad - today is only taping for the Drawing Room. You will hear here when it's broadcast - we're told it might be a few weeks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Drawing Room

Patricia Karvelas - host of the Drawing Room
On Australian Radio National, each evening, the Drive program ends with a 15 minute chat in the Drawing Room. The host, Patricia Karvelas, has conversation with one or two interesting guests.

Tomorrow, 9th June at 7:15pm, the two people will be myself and Claire Dunn. Claire's  thing is Rewilding which, broadly speaking, is bringing people and wild places back together again. Her website will tell you a lot more.

What brings us together is shinrin-yoku, Japanese for forest bathing, which in turn is talking about the important connection between human health and nature.

In more academic circles this is referred to as Connection With Nature or CWN. There is a growing body of research in this field but Parks Victoria were way ahead of the game when 8 years ago they launched Healthy Parks Healthy People.

My story will be about about how the TrailRider enables disabled folk to get in on the act.

Tune in or listen to  tomorrows episode online.

If you are a Facie why not like Claire's Year Without Matches Page

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Encore bonjour Bradley (Hello again Bradley)

You and I will have to stop meeting like this Mr Fauteaux! ;-)

Bradley Fauteaux, the now not new CEO of Parks Victoria, was the guest of Hilary Harper on ABC Melbourne on Saturday.

They chatted for 20 minutes and took calls.

My personal highlights were:

  • They planned to repeat this every six weeks or so. This is a wonderful idea in terms of bringing our beautiful Parks to the front of people's minds. Especially on a Saturday morning.
    Thank you Bradley for donating your time.

  • Hillary recalled the time we spoke on air - almost five years ago. Her mentioning me satisfied my ego ;-) and made me think of a reunion

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Click the pic to view the site
This is not a TrailRider post - if you want more TrailRider news wait for the next post.

It more asking the question How do you feel about Google?

This post left me feeling good. They have donated $20m to a variety of highly innovative, world-shattering projects. All pushing towards the same goal as the TrailRider. Making it more and more possible for the disabled to function well in the broader world.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Monday at the Arboretum

Amongst the Himalayan Cedars. Arboretum CEO Steven
Allegria is the front right Sherpa
The TrailRider Tryout at the Arboretum yesterday was a great success.

Altogether eight different riders came and had a go.

The Sherpas though were significant. Arboretum CEO Steven Allegria had a try and saw, at first hand, how a TrailRider could enhance access.

Keith Hart, blue cap, at the rear controls.
Is that you at the back as well Graham?
Other sherpas of note were Keith Hart, Ros' brother, who did almost all the responsible rear sherpa work and Graham Scully who has masterminded so much of what has happened in Canberra. His words will end this post.

It was heart warming to see the happiness on peoples faces as they travelled in and around a forest, some for the very first time. One client, a young woman with high dependency needs, very much wanted a second ride. Another sent this message in an email: "Thank you so much for the enjoyable ride today I really did enjoy it, l felt like a celebrity with all the photos taken of the outing.Thank you for organising it, it really does make a difference to ones day when people help others achieve the things they take for granted. Regards Elizabeth" 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TrailRider in NZ?

Merle in one of the off-road wheelchairs being tested
Click the picture to view the announcement
I have been looking across the Tasman for some years now. I looked even harder when Ros walk the Milford Track, on the South Island, a few years ago. The tales she told of magnificent, unspoilt wilderness screamed TrailRider. Perhaps, I thought, I need to track down a contact in New Zealand.

I have been spared the effort. The New Zealand Department of Conservation (Te Papa Atawbai) is trialling a number of chairs and this press release tells the story well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

At the Arboretum

One of Australia's treasures, located in Canberra, is the national Arboretum. The terrible 2003 bush fires in Canberra left a large area, within sight of Parliament House, bare and burnt. The response has been the National Arboretum which extensively plants, and cherishes, a wide variety of threatened forests.

Forest 11 is the Himalayan Cedar forest and it is there, next Monday, that the TrailRider which lives at Tidbinbilla, will be on show. Volunteer sherpas will be on hand so why not give it a try? Phone 02-6205-1233 to book a spot.

Click on the picture below to see the details. If you are a Facie consider liking the Arboretum

Click to visit the Arboretum website

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thank you David Petty

David Petty was the rear sherpa in this award winning 2011 Melbourne Age photo
For me one of the best parts of any major venture is the wonderful new people that come into my life.

David Petty is one of them.

Since the earliest TrailRider days David has been the media voice of Parks Victoria.

As Parks' Manager of Communications and Media he has been tireless in his attention to spreading the word about the TrailRider. The 2011 Creswick gig (photo above) was his baby - resulting in a half page in the Melbourne Age.

Time and time again at public TrailRider gatherings Ros and I have had the opportunity to delight in his company and infectious enthusiasm.

Finally, the daily commute from Ocean Grove to the centre of Melbourne got the better of him and his new job with media and community outreach for the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC). In his new job he will "inherit" two TrailRiders so we will certainly stay in touch.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Get to know me better

Click to listen
The blog is a creature in my life that I turn to from time to time - mostly when something significant has happened in TraiRider land. I don my TrailRider Advocate hat and that is really how you know me - maybe you don't really want to know any more.

Then along came Ben Harding, author of the Doo Doo Podcast where he tries to make sense of all the interesting people he comes across. The name of the podcast would appear to emphasise what the subject does but, as Ben and I chatted, and then listening more recently, I found myself pondering my life in a way that seldom happens. I'd be honoured if you listened.

Click on the pic to hear the interview

If you are a Facie, peaase, please, please take this chance to Like the Doo Doo Podcast Page. Ben is good at this

Thursday, March 10, 2016

MS eNewsletter article

Click the pic to read more
My personal disability is Multiple Sclerosis which is why I have a particular soft spot for the MS Society Naturally enough they track developments in the disability field and not-so-naturally I failed to pick up this article about the Disability Awards last December.

Behind this lapse of attention on my part lies the question of how to pick up on stuff. Parks Victoria do a very good job - they pay a media scanning firm and most of my tips come from them, via Tanya Smith (thanks Tanya!)  If you, dear reader, come accross something please do let me know via the email link on the front page of the blog.

You can read the article by clicking on the picture.

If you are a Facie, here is a chance to Like the MS Society page:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Getting out there

I am pretty convinced that the main impediment to TrailRiders being simply everywhere is people knowing about them. Awareness. My business card features the classic Boronia Peak picture that Ros took and I delight in silently handing this to people and watching their jaw drop - "Is this for real?" sums up their reaction.
That is one part of my awareness survey work. The other reaction is the growing number who say "I've seen this somewhere"
Shifting the balance between these two reactions is where it's at. I'll do anything, media and publicity wise to help that shift but I am not alone. Parks Victoria media are hard at it too and I suspect are behind the latest article in the national Caravan and Camping with Kids magazine.

There is a tantalising reference in the article to an event at the YMCA Recreation Camp. I want to know more!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Click on the picture to read the article
This is the Japanese word - forest bathing - for what lies behind the TrailRider and Healthy Parks, Healthy People. Why do the wild places that a TrailRider will travel to make a difference? Why was Medicare Private one of the main sponsors of the HPHP stream at the World Parks Congress? The answer we all intuitively feel is that "forest bathing" heightens mental and physical health.

The Australian Conversation website has just written about new research that backs up this supposition with scientific research into beneficial bacteria, plant-derived essential oils and negatively-charged ions. If that sounds as if the physical is being preferenced over the mental checkout a linked article that discusses the growing attention to the gut and the relation to feeling good.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Profiling John Kenwright

The recent National Disability Award to Parks Victoria has really focussed attention of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program that so sets Parks Victoria apart from the rest of the world. That program has been around since Ros and I first took Canadian TrailRider photos to David Roberts in the Grampians and the sharp end of that has been John Kenwright whom I speak of often here.

The Sydney Morning Herald has had the sense to interview John in depth and it make fascinating reading.

He is a modest man and felt this put too much of the focus on him and I disagreed. Bringing the TrailRider to Australia has been, in a certain way, a bit of a "walk in the park" and the ease, and the success we have seen have been absolutely because of Parks Victoria, Healthy Parks, Healthy People and John Kenwright.

Click on the picture to read the article.