Darwin, AU – Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014

I get picked up at 7:15am by Neville from Offroad Dreaming.  There are 9 people on the tour today. The bus is a 20 passenger bus I’ve been on several times before.  It’s a 45 minute drive to our first stop, Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise.  During the drive, I realize I forgot my gloves in a rush to get ready this morning.  It could be a rough day on my hands today.  The parking lot at the Crocodile cruise is loose gravel and a little difficult to wheel on.  There is ramp down to the boat that is easy to wheel down then a small step up to the boat that Neville helps me out with.  Once on the boat there are two viewing decks.  Either down 4 steps or up 6 steps.  I get out of my chair and bump down the 4 steps.  Neville carries my chair down and helps me up a small step to the prime viewing area under were they feed the crocodiles.

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The boat ride is about 1hr long with a close up view of jumping crocs.  These are some very powerful animals.  The boat crew hangs meat over the side to get the crocs to jump for the food.  They can get up to half their body length out of the water.

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We then have a 2hr ride to the Litchfield Tourist Park for coffee/tea.  This is a short stop and I do not get off the bus.  The entrance has loose gravel and pavers.  It would have been difficult to wheel through.  The next stop is Wangi Falls.  It is very accessible with paved walkway, boardwalk and lookout deck. Some of the deck has been wiped out by the recent flood only 2 weeks ago.  They usually allow swimming but it is prohibited for a while because of possible crocodiles.  Our guide, Joan, walks us to the falls explaining some of the uses of the surrounding plants by the aboriginal people.

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We have lunch at the picnic area by Wangi Falls.  This area is also accessible with accessible bathrooms.  Our next stop is Tolmer Falls.  There is a paved walkway to the falls with some steep down hills in sections.  It is a very hot and humid day and the push rims on my chair are hot.  This is where forgetting my gloves start to take a toll on my hands.  The friction from the hot rims on my hands causes small burns on my hands.  It’s very difficult to control my speed going down hill and I make several stops to let my hands cool down some.  I make it to the lookout without help but will need Neville’s help going back up some of the hills.

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We head to our next stop, Florence Falls.  The falls are only accessible to the first lookout via a paved walkway.  I have the same issues as before with my hands.

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The rest of the group head down the steps to the bottom of the falls.  Neville and I go back up the walkway and he backs me down 15 steps close to the top of the falls.  I can wheel around a few places once we make it down the steps.  This area is not accessible but a nice quite place to relax for a few minutes.

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Neville pulls me forward up the steps.  He has help up the last 4 steps from a guy on our tour returning from the bottom of the falls.  There is an accessible bathroom located next to the parking lot.  I don’t even get out of the bus at our next stop, Buley Rockholes.  This stop is not at all accessible and no accessible bathroom. The Cathedral and Magnetic Termite Mounds our are next stop.  It is accessible with packed red clay to wheel on and a lookout deck.  The Cathedral mound is over 5 meters tall and estimated at 50 years old.

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On the way back to Darwin we make an ice cream/bathroom stop in the city of Bachelor.  There is an accessible pubic bathroom and the Bachelor store is accessible.  It’s about a 1hr ride to Darwin from Bachelor and I arrive back at 5:45pm.  I meet Richard for drinks at Melaleuca and have dinner from the Monday grill out by the pool.  We meet another traveler, Sammy from Finland, and head out to shoot pool at The Vic.  After a few games we head to Monsoon’s for a late night.

Most of this tour was accessible.  Neville went beyond what he had to do for me to see as much I could.  If I would have had my gloves I would have been able to wheel up some of the hills by myself and going down the hills would have been much easier.  Getting on the bus I transferred to the bottom step, then to the floor, then the seat.  Not difficult but will need good upper body strength.  This tour would be good for an independent wheelchair user with a light manual chair

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