By Kaia Wallis
Towering mountains, sandy beaches and ancient South Australian landscapes are a few things no-one should miss out on. That’s the premise behind In The Flinders, a small business in Wirrabara striving to make the great outdoors accessible to those with a disability.
The Mid North trail tour company purchased a wheelchair with off-road capabilities last year in the hopes of providing tours for people with disabilities. Since then more than 100 people have ridden in the wheelchair, with In The Flinders travelling to other regions to help people with disabilities enjoy sites that are otherwise inaccessible.
“We’re avid outdoor hikers and trail runners and that’s just something that everyone should be able to experience,” says Quinten van der Werf, who runs the business with co-manager Alan Clarke.
“We realised that there was this big group of people who were missing out on these experiences because of their disabilities and we thought this was a fantastic way of opening up those outdoor experiences.”
The wheelchair was purchased after In The Flinders was awarded a $13,950 ‘Fund My Idea’ grant from the State Government.
Similar wheelchairs are available for hire at select national parks throughout Australia – including Deep Creek Conservation Park on the Fleurieu Peninsula – but are only able to be used on specified trails throughout each park, limiting people who may wish to head off the beaten track.
In The Flinders’ trail rider is the first privately-owned chair in SA and is able to be used anywhere in the state, with Quinten committed to making it accessible to as many people as possible.
“There isn’t anywhere too far for us, we’ll travel wherever the participant would like us to be,” he says.
“Two employees come along with the package as well, which means there’s no training for the public and friends and family can just come along and enjoy the day hands off.”
The wheelchair – or trail rider – has just one wheel and has been modified to include an electric disk motor, allowing it to operate for a full day along all types of terrain and Quinten says, “there isn’t much it can’t do”.
Since acquiring the wheelchair last year Quinten and Alan have taken it all over SA and have even tackled a 50km ultra-marathon through Cleland National Park in the Adelaide Hills and ventured up Mt Remarkable in The Flinders Ranges.
“One person who has been disabled since he was a child had a go and it just sort of blew his mind that he could get out to these areas where he wasn’t (previously) able to go,” Quinten says.
“He had sort of been a bit of a recluse but since trying the wheelchair his asked us whether we would be interested in taking him along the Kokoda Trail.
“So, his ready to jump straight into the deep end with it and it’s opened up possibilities that he never thought he’d be able to have.”
But it’s not just only remote destinations that In The Flinders explores. One rider was able to ride the wheelchair to the beach with her family for the first time.
“She’d never been able to experience a simple walk along the beach and this wheelchair gave her the opportunity to do something very simple that we all take for granted,” adds Quinten.
Header image: testing out the trail rider at Cleland National Park.
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