Beach Wheelchair

Apr 2023Community, Health, Stories

Written by Raina Robinson.

We need Beach access for everyone and that includes people with a disability. Going to the beach is part of Australia’s culture but for many it can be a limited experience.

The town attracts 200,000 tourists every year, with the population of the town swelling to 8,000 during holiday seasons. People visit Kalbarri to enjoy our breathtaking attractions and expect accessible tourism and inclusive practices for visible and invisible disabilities at the beach. Those who are physically impaired and keen to explore the Murchison river can use the Sandcruiser wheelchair for easy access to the water and boat fishing.

The Sandcruiser beach wheelchair is designed for use on sand, equipped with large, wide wheels which roll across the sand without sinking. The chair is an accessible free service stored on the foreshore next to Kalbarri Boat hire.

I would like to acknowledge Chris Bayliss for his enthusiasm and expertise erecting the storage shed on the foreshore for the chair. Chris has been working in the Midwest region for near on 10 months now, leaving a very busy workload in Perth behind to come up and lend a hand in the rebuilding of the region after TC Seroja.

Chris felt community projects are so important especially when rebuilding the town is taking so long. The shed itself is a fairly lightweight composite UV stable material, so will withstand the extremes in heat during long hot summers. Construction of the shed and panels is fully screwed with interlocking tongue in groove panels.

The shed has a solid internal floor that was Chemi Anchored to the slab, the wall panels slot into channels running around the edge of the base and are screwed into place. This means water can’t just run under a panel into the shed.Roofing side trusses are also slid down over the top of the walls locking into place with roof panels also overlapping and slotting together tongue and groove. There are metal braces from floor to roof fully screwed and bolted in place, also added in extra hoop iron strapping to hold framework secure.

Future upgrades such as Disabled parking and the need for a ramp for easy access into the shed has been discussed with the Shire. People who use the chair is at “their own risk” and the Northampton Shire can not be held liable to any incident which may occur whilst in control of a third party.

The wheelchair operator has the responsibility to ensure that they take reasonable steps to avoid any accident by operating the chair in a safe and careful manner. A life jacket will be supplied and along with chair must be returned to the Boat hire facility in good condition.

Ensure the user has support to transfer into the chair as the Boat hire owners aren’t available to assist. Any damage or mechanical issues must be reported to Shire office for assessment and repairs.

For the comfort of the next user a hose down with fresh water is available to prevent damage from salt and sand. Kalbarri Boat Hire is operational 363 days of the year weather permitting from 8am.

Great opportunity for local business to promote beach accessibility advertising the chair as their visitors deserve to explore our tranquil river enhancing their holiday. Being part of a community unites us and can make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than just being wheelchair bound.

Accessing the foreshore can give us opportunities to connect with others giving everyone a sense of community.

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