Disability access for Buchan Caves
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Disability access for Buchan Caves

Nessa Williames experiences the Buchan caves for the very first time thanks to Parks Victoria’s new stairclimber guided by Parks rangers, Danny Mitton and John Kenwright.

A new stairclimber and motorised all-terrain wheelchair at Buchan Caves Reserve will help people with a disability to enjoy the spectacular caves and its surrounds, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said yesterday.

Mr Bull joined Parks Victoria staff and other guests to launch the innovative equipment at Buchan Caves Reserve and see it being used.

“This stairclimber will allow children and small adults with a disability to experience the spectacular beauty of the Fairy Cave for the first time ever. It’s wonderful that these popular experiences will now be available to more people,” he said.

In the past, the steep and narrow steps leading to the caves made it impossible for those using a wheelchair or walking stick to access the caves. However, the specially designed stairclimber that will be operated by Parks Victoria cave guides can take children and small adults with limited mobility into the Fairy Cave.

Also launched today was Australia’s first motorised all-terrain wheelchair that will be available to help people with limited mobility explore Buchan Caves Reserve and Cape Conran Coastal Park.

“All-terrain wheelchairs are suited for sandy and semi-rough tracks and this new motorised version was designed to make it easier for people to explore the hilly trails in these areas,” said Mr Bull.
The all-terrain wheelchair is suitable for children and adults, is easy to disassemble and fits in the back of a station wagon. There is no charge for visitors to use the chairs.

“Victoria is the first state in Australia to have these all-terrain wheelchairs and other states are now showing interest in the program and utilising our expertise and experience with them. It’s exciting that we have the first ever motorised version here in East Gippsland at Buchan Caves Reserve,” he said.

Two new picnic tables that can be accessed by people in wheelchairs are also soon to be installed at Buchan Caves Reserve. The Victorian Government has invested a total of $28,825 for the new accessibility equipment at the reserve.

The equipment is part of a broader program instigated by Parks Victoria to improve park access for all. The program has resulted in 15 wheelchairs being provided in seven parks across Victoria in the past three years.

Special accommodation equipment has also been installed in selected parks, and park programs for people with disabilities and carers have been established. In addition, Parks Victoria’s website has new park access information, photos and descriptions for over 35 of Victoria’s most visited parks to make people’s park adventures more enjoyable.

For further information visit Parks Victoria at www.parks.vic.gov.au or call 13 1963.