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.