We’ll row, row, row the boat

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

I’m al­ready ap­proach­ing coun­cils about mak­ing this hap­pen so we can one day see these all the way down the river

AN Aus­tralia-first kayak launch that caters for peo­ple of all abil­i­ties was un­veiled in Mathoura on Mon­day.

Com­pleted just in time for In­ter­na­tional Day of Peo­ple with Dis­abil­ity, teams from Vivid and Com­mu­nity Liv­ing and Respite Ser­vices were among those who gath­ered to test out the gamechang­ing new fa­cil­ity at Ed­ward River Bridge Pic­nic Area.

Project man­ager and NSW Na­tional Parks ranger Amanda Laven­der said the light­bulb mo­ment for the wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble launcher came af­ter it was sug­gested by a lo­cal tour op­er­a­tor.

In­stantly sens­ing po­ten­tial, it wasn’t long be­fore she and her team had se­cured $60,000 fund­ing for the project from Trans­port NSW.

They then knuck­led down to de­velop the de­sign.

‘‘I had a con­cept in my mind but noth­ing like this had been done be­fore in Aus­tralia so I couldn’t find any ex­am­ples,’’ Ms Laven­der said.

‘‘So I looked over­seas and found some ideas then started putting to­gether sketches.’’

The in­no­va­tion con­tin­ued with the very ma­te­ri­als mak­ing up the fa­cil­ity.

Part­ner­ing with re­cy­cled plas­tic con­trac­tor Re­plas, 1.6 tonnes of re­cy­cled plas­tic (that’s the equiv­a­lent of 4 mil­lion plas­tic bags) from Moama was used to cre­ate the launcher.

‘‘NSW Na­tional Parks wanted to use lo­cal waste and re­cy­cling — firstly be­cause it’s main­te­nance-free and long-last­ing,’’ Re­plas’ Mark Ja­cob­sen said.

‘‘But more im­por­tantly, they wanted to get some of the com­mu­nity’s waste back in as prod­uct, in­stead of it just go­ing to the tip with no end use.’’

From there, NSW Parks passed the project to SR En­gi­neer­ing’s Steve Raw­son.

And while the na­tion-first de­sign had its chal­lenges, Mr Raw­son said it was worth ev­ery headache in the end.

‘‘The river floods and also dries up down to the mud so we had to cater for that in the de­sign — so we used cable stays in­stead of pil­ings. We’ve used a gra­di­ent in­di­ca­tor sys­tem on the start of the gang­way river­ine­herald.com.au

‘ ’

which al­lows peo­ple to ac­tu­ally make an in­formed de­ci­sion be­fore they progress down the gang­way, to know whether it suits their abil­i­ties.

‘‘We also in­cor­po­rated a trans­fer seat and rail­ings to make the launch more stable for ev­ery­one.’’

Mur­ray Re­gional Tourism chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Fran­cis lauded the new fa­cil­ity, say­ing he hoped it would be the first of many.

‘‘I’m al­ready ap­proach­ing coun­cils about mak­ing this hap­pen so we can one day see these all the way down the river,’’ he said.

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