A new all-terrain wheelchair was tested in the Grampians National Park on Wednesday 15 June.
The chair, purchased through the Victorian Government’s Go For Your Life Initiative, was trialled by Dr David Stratton with rangers in the park.
Dr Stratton said: “I first used this chair in Vancouver, Canada. To be able to reconnect with nature and the places and activities I love brought tears to my eyes. I brought the idea to attention of Parks Victoria, which has now lead to this wonderful trial of all-terrain wheelchairs in parks. I encourage anyone in a wheelchair to support this new venture and experience the great outdoors.“
David Roberts, Ranger in Charge said he thought the idea of all-terrain wheelchairs was perfect for the Grampians when Dr Stratton first spoke to him about it earlier this year.
“It is difficult for persons with physical disabilities to access some of our parks, particularly those in remote and regional areas,” said Mr Roberts.
“One of the key reasons has been that tracks, trails and beaches are not suitable for conventional wheelchairs. Some of the most beautiful areas of the state are hard to get to and that’s part of their appeal. What this trial is about is making those areas a little more accessible for all.”
As part of a range of strategies to improve park access for all people, Parks Victoria will be trialling the introduction of special all terrain and beach wheelchairs in selected parks around the state.
“The wheelchairs are specially designed to enable park visitors with a significant physical disability to access a number of bushwalking trails and beaches with carer support,” said Mr Roberts.
Parks Victoria has also purchased a beach wheelchair, which will be trialled at other locations later this year. The chairs will be free of charge and made available for loan to park visitors.
Dr Stratton said he hoped the use of all-terrain wheelchairs would become more prominent across Victoria.
“Our next goal, Tasmania!” said Dr Stratton. The Victorian Government’s ‘Go For Your Life’ initiative is in partnership with the Department of Sustainability and Environment and aims to develop stronger, healthier communities through promoting healthy eating and increased physical activity.