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Trailrider allows wheelchair-bound Australians to go hiking
An innovative all-terrain wheelchair – the TrailRider – is improving access to Australian national parks and special places for people of limited mobility.
Traditionally it has been very difficult for people in a wheelchair to gain access to spectacular locations in the great outdoors and to enjoy most walking trails in Australian parks. However, custom-made TrailRiders, featuring a single rear-mounted wheel and handles at the front and back for guidance along tracks by sherpas, now means that people in wheelchairs can enjoy these special places.
With the assistance of Dr David Stratton, who uses a wheelchair, Parks Victoria led the way with developing the TrailRider, which are now available in parks and scenic locations across Victoria and in other states.
Parks Victoria also launched a motorised version of the TrailRider, with surprisingly little fanfare, at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress in Sydney in November last year.
The world first motorised TrailRider wheelchair gives access to even steeper and rougher tracks with relative ease.
Commenting on the motorised TrailRider, Dr Stratton stated "I’ve tested the new motorised TrailRider and I can tell you it makes the sherpas’ job that much easier, making it possible to get into even rougher, more remote and beautiful places."
In Victoria, Trailriders can be booked from Parks Victoria and specified local government offices and other locations.
Sherpas – the people who guide and steer the chair – can either be family or friends of the person in the chair, or volunteers who receive training and wish to help others enjoy the great outdoors.
Dr Stratton added "these Trailriders are just one of the ways that Victoria is improving access to national parks and other great places.
"The joy I felt when I got back out into the wilderness after so many years of not being able to enjoy that pleasure was almost indescribable.”
In NSW National Parks, TrailRiders are offered to visitors at two parks, Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Dorrigo National Park.
In Tasmania, the TrailRider is available at Cradle Mountain for visitors with impaired mobility enabling greater access to the National Park and provides more opportunity to discover all Cradle Mountain has to offer.
With the TrailRider being easy to disassemble and fit in the back of a station wagon, the ACT Government allows their use at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Namadgi National Park or any other urban park.
Images (from top): The TrailRider at Wilson's Promontory; in use at Tasmania's Cradle Mountain; and in the ACT.
18th February 2015 - NEW ZEALAND MOVES FORWARD WITH GREEN PRESCRIPTIONS
9th December 2014 - FLOATING WHEELCHAIR GENERATING INTEREST FROM AUSTRALIAN AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS
11th November 2014 - ACT PARKS AND CONSERVATION SERVICE LAUNCHES NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAM
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