Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 26th 2014
Bushwalking with a (great) difference
Imagine not being able to get out and enjoy these beautiful Grampians (c) JP Mundy 2013
Ever felt you'd like to share your joy of the great outdoors with those who are less able-bodied? Fancy having a tilt at the 'sherpa' title - those amazing Nepali mountain men and women who laugh in the face of hills? How about combining both in this fantastic new volunteer program in The Grampians National Park?
Parks Victoria's 'Trail Rider' all-terrain chair in use
The National Park has a great new initiative going: they are on the lookout for volunteer wheelchair sherpas, who will be trained as all-terrain 'Trail Rider' wheelchair operators, and enable those with limited mobility the chance to get out and enjoy this truly gorgeous national park. It can take between 2 and 4 operators to use teh chairs effectively on long trails or walks with significant gradients, but can you think of a better way to get fit? What a fabulous gift to both the operator and the chair user. Having pushed my son around some fairly flat and well gravelled bush tracks last year (and nearly tipped him in the Yarra River!) when he was wheelchair bound for 6 months, I have a tiny glimpse into how liberating such a gift could be to those who are permanently restricted.
Standard wheelchairs and the bush don't always mix! (c) JP Mundy 2012
This initiative is part of a wider accessibility focus by Parks Victoria, and the all-terrain chairs, which include adults and children's beach wheelchairs as well as the Trail Rider. In addition to the Grampians National Park, they are free to borrow from Wilson's Prom, Cape Conran Coastal Park and Point Nepean National Park as well. Users need to bring their own bike helmet and should book in advance is at all possible on 13 1963. Those interested in volunteering in The Grampians program should get in touch with Katherin Dyson, the Volunteer Coordinator via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0428 553040.
Such a wonderful idea and yet simple. Being in nature and having the freedom to explore should be something that everyone can do and this all terrain chair enables that. I would happily volunteer to push one of these all terrain chairs in the most difficult terrain to share the view from the top of a mountain.