People with disabilities will now be able to visit the Flinders Rangers in an all-terrain wheelchair, thanks to a grant announced by Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock.
Mr Brock, who is Regional Development Minister, revealed the winners of the ‘Fund My Idea’ grant.
The nominees were published to the YourSAy website. Over a three-week period the public voted for how they felt the money should be spent. Alan Clarke, of Bangor, and Quinten van der Werf, of Wirrabara, are managing partners of ‘In the Flinders’ and were awarded $13,950 for their Trails for Everyone initiative.
The money was granted to their program for the purchase of an all-terrain wheelchair that will allow people with disabilities to explore previously inaccessible trails.
The two say they have “always had a passion for the outdoors” and began ‘In the Flinders’ to provide an authentic Southern Flinders Ranges experience to the world by offering unique and memorable nature-based adventures
They said that the southern Flinders Ranges were the best place to introduce the wheelchair because they are more easily accessible from towns and roads than other iconic hiking trails.
Both feel that the ranges are a relaxing environment that provides non-daunting experiences of serenity and solitude.
The single-wheeled, off-road wheel chair known as the Trail Rider will be used at Mount Remarkable, Wirrabara and on the Heysen Trail, a 1200km path from Cape Jervis to Parachutist Gorge.
It is equipped with brake assist and an electric motor that will maximize their ability to freely offer it on tours of Mount Remarkable National Park and surrounding trails of the iconic southern Flinders Ranges.
By introducing the Trail Rider Trails for Everyone aims to promote the inclusivity of people with disabilities and their families.
The funding has also gone towards training people to assist with wheeling, an exercise that both Mr Clarke and Mr van der Werf will personally undertake.
The training of staff and the Trail Rider itself ensures that when people with disabilities and their families plan vacations in the Flinders Ranges, they won't miss out the experiences that only ever been accessible to able-bodied people.
The Trail Rider will also be used to assist senior citizens.
Wilma Cillie, nursing unit manager at Booleroo Centre District Hospital, has experience in caring for people who suffer from dementia and have suffered strokes.
She believes that because they are mostly outdoor people and farmers, it will “be great to get them out and about on a track and allow them to feel and see what they used to”.
She is a strong advocate of the Trails for Everyone program and says that they will use the service at the hospital.
Regarding their motivation for creating this program, Mr van der Werf said: “We hope to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to experience the outdoor scenic wonders of South Australia that many of us take for granted.
Mr Clarke added: “We tried to put ourselves in their shoes and thought about how we would feel if we were prevented from exploring the outdoors that we love because of a disability.”