Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket - Feb 25, 2021

10 Years ago, Global Ballooning Australia’s Managing Director, Kiff Saunders had a severe motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk for an extended period of time. Through years of rehabilitation he has been able to return to flying hot air balloons over his beloved Melbourne.

 

While extremely grateful for his recovery, this accident left Kiff with a deep appreciation for the challenges that come with loss of mobility, and the barriers of entry for outdoor activity.

As a thankyou to the medical fraternity, Kiff embarked on a project witrh Burt & Davies to provide a hot air ballooning experience for people with mobility issues. This is how the Easy Access Basket was born.

 

Recently, we had the pleasure of flying with Brooke Parsons. Suffering a major physical disability 28 years ago, Brook and Jacob, her carer recently took to the skies over the Yarra Valley with Chief Pilot Steve.

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

“For a brief time I got to forget how sick I am and just enjoy the moment of doing something spectacular that not everyone gets to do in life. I was so lucky to wake up on Thursday morning and see the sky full of colour like confetti with three balloons”

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

Having undergone 92 operations to date, Steve and the other guests were delighted to share the excitement and splendour of lighter than air aviation with Brooke.

 

“I will truly treasure the moments yesterday brought me and the fleeting moments of clarity as I get ready for more specialist appointments and more surgeries.”

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

Over the past decade, Global Ballooning Australia has flown hundreds of people who otherwise would not have been able to take flight in a balloon. It is without question, the most rewarding project that both Kiff and the company have been able to successfully undertake. We receive many lovely messages from past passengers after our balloon flights. The heartfelt and personal message we received from Brooke makes us so proud as a company; To do what we love and share what we love with every person, no matter the limitations that can get in the way.

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

“…a heartfelt thank you for all the trouble you all went to in making a dream of mine reality.”

 

Thankyou Brooke for your lovely message, we truly hope your continuing surgeries are going well and hope to see you in the sky again. In the mean time, we proudly celebrate and operate our Easy Access Basket and share more stories like yours!

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

Balgownie Estate is a stunner setting where we meet all our Yarra Valley flight passengers pre-flight each morning. This is where Brooke and her carer,  Jacob had the pleasure of staying in an accessible room.

On site there is a fully wheelchair accessible Spa Suite room, which has lower benches, wheelchair accessible shower with railing and a seat to accommodate guests. There is also 6 other accessible rooms. Ramps are set out amongst the property to accommodate access into the Pool & Natskin Spa Retreat building, as well as the Eatery.

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

 

Yering Gorge Cottages is another perfect accommodation option - there is a fully accessible cottage and facilities available. Only located 15mins away from our meeting location. Enjoy the surrounding beauty with kangaroos commonly seen metres from your cottage.

 

*Global Ballooning Australia’s primary location for the Easy Access Basket flights is in Melbourne but can be booked on a last-minute basis in the Yarra Valley location on request.*

 

Wander through Warburton - accessible:

  • Warburton Golf Club
  • Girt by Dirt - Bicycles & Adventure
  • Rayner's Orchard
  • Seville Estate
  • Seville Hill Winery
  • Payne's Rise Wines 
  • Brumfield Winery
  • Round Bird Cafe

Open in Summer:

  • Kookaberry Strawberry Farm
  • Cherryhill Orchard
  • Blue Lotus Water Garden

 

Top Yarra Valley Accessible Picnic Spots:

  • Yarra River Warburton
  • Willawilla Rainforest Walk
  • Maroondah Reservoir Park
  • McKenzie Reserve
  • Lillydale Lake
  • Eltham Lower Park

 

For much more information on ACCESSIBLE accommodation & experiences in the Yarra Valley, please visit: https://visityarravalley.com.au/facilities-activities/wheelchair-accessible


by Kate Esposto

Making a difference - accessibility with the Easy Access Basket

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