Walk in my Wheels

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Filtering by Category: Life with SCI

Destination Darwin

We have arrived at our destination; our new home in Darwin! Yep we made it.

Leaving Adelaide we traveled along the Flinders Ranges on our way to our first stop Port Augusta. We stayed at the Shoreline caravan park, Jes thought the cabin was dated but it suited my needs.  The interest the croc  is attracting is amazing with one fella wanting to buy it.

This croc surely has made us the most photographed vehicle on the Stuart Highway in 2016

This croc surely has made us the most photographed vehicle on the Stuart Highway in 2016

Up early and 600kms to travel to our next stay Coober Pedy, it's a pretty barren drive but we stop at Pimba and Glendambo and start our sticker collection for my toy hauler I'm towing up. Coober Pedy is a real example of anti social behavior in and around town going out of a night is not an option. We stay at a cabin at the Big 4 caravan park (Stuart Ranges Outback Resort) a little out of town and is a grouse place to stay with a little band playing away at the pizza bar next to reception. Refreshed from a good nights sleep and more travel today we head into town for the morning market, after chatting to many different characters it was sadly time to hit the road..

The Stuart Highway sticker haul on the toy hauler

The Stuart Highway sticker haul on the toy hauler

Another 600 kms today as we head for Alice Springs with Marla and kulgera stop at it is a pretty easy drive apart from the road trains and caravaners everywhere. It's Saturday night and Jess has been great so we decide to unwind with a couple of nights at the casino and relax and sit around the pool jess or gambling macca. It's a very luxurious place and is just what we need.

Monday morning we head for Tennant Creek traveling the Stuart Highway the countryside is stunning  as it changes all the time, we stop at Ti Tree, Barrow creek , Wycliffe Well and Wauchope for coffee and stickers and arrive at the motel about 5pm. We have tea at the restaurant and get a good nights sleep. We head into town and meet a few fellas and one particular bloke had me in tears as he told me the struggles of isolated life and his time in the war and how some locals treat him and three other diggers - a fair dinkum tear jerker. I had a couple of frozen crayfish with me and gave them for him and his mates to enjoy.

Crays caught in South Australia that made their way to an old digger in Tennant Creek

Crays caught in South Australia that made their way to an old digger in Tennant Creek

Daly Waters here we come - 400 kms until I can have a beer at the oldest pub in Australia. We collect stickers at Renner springs, Elliott, Dunmarra to name a few.  Temperatures have changed dramatically since Coober Pedy 18 degrees to Daly Waters 33 degrees, ah feeling better already. We book at the Highway Inn and enjoy the night.

Darwin and our new home at Howard springs are 600kms away it's a very easy drive with Mataranka and Katherine to enjoy with rivers flowing because of recent rains.

Although we did have our new toy hauler with us, it was so jam-packed with stuff and it was first of all too cold, then too hot and we don't have air con or heaters sorted in there yet, so we opted to find accommodation along the way. Below is a few pics of places we stayed, reviews on these to come.

 

My initiation into Darwin life has been one of going shirtless and shoe-less, and pouring water over my head in attempts to prevent myself from overheating (quads have no body temperature regulation).

Jess has also been struggling to adjust to the heat but her real initiation has involved the wildlife in her nightly trips out to the outdoor bathroom. This morning the squeals were due to a giant grasshopper perching on the shower curtain (a google search just showed this is actually a thing) and a green tree frog hiding under, and then refusing to get off the toilet seat.

There's going to be steep learning curve I think in terms of life in the tropical north. We just learnt today there's a scary disease you can catch from mossie bites... any other stuff we should know fellow Territorians?!

We've spent our first few days cleaning, unpacking, buying up furniture and home stuff, and exploring the neighbourhood... and we'll likely remain busy doing all of that for a few weeks as well as tidying up the property and house improvements... luckily I love to work myself hard, and Jess is a goer too, when not snoozing the afternoon away!

The plan at this stage is to spend the next few months in Darwin, and see how we go in the wet season, with perhaps a trip south in the new year. Let us know if you're coming up for a break, and tell any locals WE HAVE ARRIVED!

 

Me Ol' Mate Jamie - 20 years on

I recently had the pleasure of spending some quality time with me ol' mate and his family in his home town of Launceston... we met in the spinal rehab 20 years ago... but here I'll let him tell his own story:


My typical day starts about 6 am rising up out of bed ready for a days work on a construction site as a carpenter, pushing my body and brain to the best of its capabilities like any 22 year old healthy male's body is designed for. On weekdays after work depending on what day of the week or what time of the year it is, I would do what most guys would do which was hang out with mates, and have a drink at the pub after work meet my girlfriend or depending on the time of year during summer cricket training, during winter boxing and running. Weekends play or watch sport, mow my lawns and my father's as he relies on me as he is older now an unable to or take my dog for a walk go fishing.

A simple but happy every day life, not complicated but what I felt was the life for me. Many other people would probably agree - a job, steady income, girlfriend, mans best friend a dog, mates, a roof over my head, and fantastic health - it seems perfect life on track really AND THEN THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED.

Let me introduce myself my name is Jamie Kelly from Tasmania, and on the 29th of October 1995 at the age of 22 I became part of a group that I knew nothing about, that is a spinal cord injury (SCI) or in my case a T-6 Complete paraplegic. I woke up not knowing where I was or what was going on and very groggy not being able to move to be told eventually when I could understand things that I was involved in a motor bike accident and have broken my back and would be staying in Melbourne for 6 months or more for rehabilitation at the Royal Talbot along with other injuries such as loss of sight in my right eye, breakayl plexus in my right arm, jaw rewired with missing teeth a loss of over 20 kilos a trachy in so I cannot even communicate back to ask questions all I can do is listen as a doctor just keeps telling me what is in store for me. Face reconstruction when I saw myself in the mirror I could hardly believe the reflection to see that I was actually looking at myself and not someone else.

When I was told my back was broken I knew that meant I could not walk again, which a lot of people knew from common sense or word of mouth about that injury - but was I shocked to find out the other symptoms that go along with a SCI such as no feeling from level of break, spasms, hyperreflexia (also known as autonomic dysreflexia), loss of bowel and bladder control, bladder infections, pressure sores, and if that wasn't enough then the rush of other things started to enter my thoughts like where am I going to live? My place is not wheelchair accessible it has stairs, a bath, tight corridors and there goes sport and what about an income because there goes my job.  Will I be able to drive again? What world am I living in now, can I cope and am I strong enough to do this? Have I really got friends or people just hanging around and relationship wow that's friggin scary to even think about, and can I still have kids? So many questions and things to organise and yet I'm supposed to concentrate on getting healthy and strong again just to sit up so I can start rehab.

Well you too may have these thoughts and the answer is yes you can have these things and after rehabilitation you can adapt and continue on. I'm now 41 and married from a new relationship since my accident with children and yes we can learn to drive with hand controls. You will find your friends will stand by you and help when needed after all that's why you can call them your friend.

You will learn to LIVE in a different way but it's still worth living so don't give up, it's just a new chapter to your life.

Like any injury it will test your spirit and who you are as a person, but at the end of the day you are still you - just not walking - so keep on "fighting" for you and your family.

Tasmania Travels - Triabunna Cabin Review

For our first week we stayed at the Triabunna Cabin & Caravan Park on the east coast of Tasmania, about an hours drive from Hobart. It's a lovely quiet quirky little fishing town with everything within walking (or wheeling) distance.

We enjoyed our stay at this small but busy cabin & caravan park. We had the Superior Cabin which is a new one bedroom, wheelchair accessible (level entry) cabin with a roomy lounge / dining area, and full kitchen. It suited our needs well.

The owners were friendly, they introduced themselves upon our arrival and were eager to hear our feedback and to improve things where they could.

Only things that let it down was the shower bench wasn't installed properly and thus didn't fold up as it should - I was concerned I would injure my feet on it while showering - hopefully this will be fixed. Also the bed was a little too high (we usually find them not high enough!) but the feet could've been removed if we'd wanted it lowered, other than that it was a comfortable bed with lots of room (we had it set up as a king bed, but it can be separated into two king singles).

Other notes:

  • The laundry, main toilet block (for campers), & reception office were not wheelchair accessible. 
  • My companion dog was allowed to stay, but not in the cabin. 
  • The free wi-fi service was very good - much better than the usual camping ground networks.

One of the greatest attractions in Triabunna is the ferry service to Maria Island (pronounced Mariah -  like the singer), apparently a beautiful pristine island with great walking tracks - I'll never know as this proved to be yet another ferry service that has a strange definition of wheelchair accessible. This ferry is definitely NOT wheelchair accessible - hopefully thanks to the chat I had with the booking lady, they won't be telling people from now on that it is - there's no way I could make the trip sadly.

Highlights of the town for me was watching the activity on the wharf - there were tonnes and tonnes of squid being bought in while we were there, an archaeological dig that was underway at the old Barracks next to the Spring Bay Hotel, and the friendly locals including John who kept offering us plums off his trees.

Next stop... Snug Bay Cabin & Caravan Park...