Wheelies Tour 2009
Nine young adults with disabilities embarked on the trip of a lifetime when they toured Australia’s outback for the first time, as part of an epic 16-day 4WD expedition called Wheelies 2009. The journey, organised by Drive 4 Life; a not for profit organisation set up by 4WD enthusiasts, kicked off from Sydney, 30 May 2009.
Transporting people with a disability on an outback Australian adventure was a first for Drive 4 Life and offered these nine Northcott Disability Services clients and their carers, with the opportunity to take part in an experience they would normally be unable to undertake, due to their disabilities. These include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, acquired brain injury, severe bilateral talipes, bone displaysia and carpal osteolysis.
The exciting tour allowed the young adults to explore barren wilderness and diverse breathtaking landscapes, beginning at Nyngan in Central Western NSW, out to Broken Hill in Far Western NSW and onto various remote outback towns, such as Birdsville in Queensland and Innamincka in South Australia.
Highlights of the adventure included traversing “Big Red”, the tallest dune in the Simpson Desert, camping throughout the outback and visiting Tibooburra, famous for being the hottest place in NSW. Other experiences included visiting “The Big Picture”, the largest painting in Australia, taking a dip in a hot bore at Mungerranie and tantalising the tasting palette with traditional outback cuisine, a camel pie. For most of the young adults taking part, this adventure was a first time experience.
Drive 4 Life founder Mick Whitehead, who led the expedition was thrilled to be able to assist in making their aspirations a reality.
“The young adults with varying disabilities had a once in a lifetime opportunity to encounter the true outback experience. It was so rewarding to be able to share my 4WD passion with these young people who would never be able to experience the beauty of Australia’s landscape in this way”.
The group traveled in brand new 4WD vehicles, all 12 generously supplied by Toyota Australia, to ensure a trouble free and safe journey. Toyota also provided a constant supply of diesel with IGA NSW supermarkets providing groceries along the way.
For other members from the community and 4WD enthusiasts, Drive 4 Life also organised two charity 4WD tours for 2009 – one through the Alpine National Park in Victoria from 19-24 April and the other through the Simpson Desert in Northern Territory from 6-11 August. Funds are raised by each of the vehicles, including the tour guides, paying a $1,000 donation to register for each event.
All proceeds raised by these tours are directed towards Northcott Disability Services equipment loan pool, a unique service that provides equipment and support to people with disabilities across NSW and the ACT. The equipment loan pool includes a fleet of manual and electric wheelchairs, hoists, walking frames and shower and commode chairs that are available for clients in need until their own equipment is available.
The idea for the events was the brainchild of Drive 4 Life founder Mick Whitehead, who saw first hand the costs and support required for Ben, the son of a close friend who lives with Arthrogryposis – a condition that is characterised by immobility in one or more of his joints. Ben uses a wheelchair for mobility and is supported by Northcott Disability Services.Northcott Disability Services was established as the NSW Society for Crippled Children in 1929 by the Rotary Club of Sydney and is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary. Today, Northcott provides support to over 10,000 people with a disability and their families across NSW and the ACT by offering a range of quality programs which promote a genuinely inclusive society. For more information on Northcott, please contact (02) 1800 818 286 or visit www.northcott.com.au.