THE recent World Tourism Day which celebrated accessible tourism across
the globe had special significance for one Victorian caravan builder.
Anthony Wake, the man behind Olinda-based Accessavan, was not going to let
the spinal cord injury ‒ which left him a paraplegic ‒ get in the way of
his love for the outdoors.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he gritted his teeth and set about
designing a special caravan which would allow him to continue his passion.
And his determined efforts led to the launch of Australia's first business
to specialise in wheelchair-accessible caravans.
Anthony experimented with different set-ups with varying success in an
effort to continue travelling the way he loved most.
'We were back on the road
having a ball like everyone else'
Eventually he decided that to truly live the Aussie dream with his wife, a
modified caravan would be the answer ... and it was.
He said: "We were back on the road having a ball just like everyone else.
It gave us the freedom we needed to go anywhere, anytime."
Fellow caravanners were fascinated with Anthony's caravan and it became a
focal point of interest wherever he went.
And after many suggestions, he finally decided to start designing and
building fully accessible wheelchair caravans so others could enjoy the
"We design all Accessavans so the user can be totally independent, whether
that be a wheelchair lift or a push button jockey wheel," he explained.
"And an unintentional bonus of our caravans is that they actually help
able-bodied partners as well."
Anthony said the biggest issue for people with a disability when
travelling could be accommodation because it did not come with all the
comforts of home.
Added to this, accessible accommodation was in high demand which often
necessitated booking well ahead to guarantee a room or a cabin with
"The beauty of towing an accessible caravan behind you is that you don't
need to worry about these things, you can travel in comfort where you
want, when you want," he said.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are an estimated
4.2 million Australians with a disability, equating to about 18.5 percent
of the population.
New technologies in caravans have made them increasingly accessible and
more and more people with disabilities are enjoying the freedom of
travelling Australia’s vast landscapes.
Add a 4WD power wheelchair and sandy tracks and a swim in the ocean or a
riverside campsite all become possible.
These products truly enable tourism for all, and as Anthony pointed out:
"We are part of an ageing population so demand will only grow."
World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on September 27 to foster
awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism
and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia said it applauded all caravan
and camping businesses in Australia, which led the way in providing
innovative products and services supporting accessible travel.
Chief executive Stuart Lamont said holiday parks were a fantastic choice
for diverse family groups and as such they understood that accessible
tourism was about creating a quality holiday experience for all.
One holiday park on North Queensland’s Cassowary Coast had even won the
Ray Fitton Award for Innovation in recognition of its excellent
development work in the field of disabled access, he said.
Kay and Marcus Kitchen of Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park completed a major
project to build an inclusive holiday park for guests of all abilities.
After installing a wheelchair-friendly beach house in 2012, they soon
realised there was a need for more accessible tourist facilities.
So they added accessible beach shacks and a purpose-built bathroom.
And the park went even further ... it bought a special beach buggy
wheelchair complete with rod holders to open up the beach to everyone,
including the disabled.