When it became clear that BJ would need a wheelchair as his main mode of mobility there was a feeling of being limited. I was worried that BJ wouldn’t experience all the things I’d imagined we’d do as a family and that he’d miss out on so much. Feeling limited isn’t a good feeling. With determination and a can-do spirit, we’ve tried to give BJ as many opportunities as possible and I thought I’d share 21 of BJ’s excellent adventures (in no particular order).
1. Tahune Airwalk Tasmania
One of our favourite experiences is cable hang-gliding at Tahune Airwalk just outside of Hobart in Tasmania. After watching Hubby have a go BJ was keen to give it a go himself. I felt excited for him and only had a moment’s hesitation when I saw him dangling above the river waiting to speed back to us. The two wheelchair accessible walks were also a highlight. You can read about Tahune here.
2. Fire Engine tour San Francisco
The whole family loved our time in San Francisco but for BJ the highlight was definitely riding in an Old Mack Fire Truck to tour the city. Wearing fire fighter jackets and singing funny ditties made it a fun and memorable way to see the city. You can read all about it here.
3. Dolphin experience Gold Coast
BJ isn’t fond of furry animals but he doesn’t mind reptiles and dolphins. When we found out that Sea World on the Gold Coast have a special needs dolphin experience we signed him up. BJ, AJ and Hubby had the opportunity to interact with a specially trained dolphin. BJ loved it so much we did it again a couple of years ago. You can read all our tips for Sea World here.
4. Sydney Tower Sky Walk – This experience is currently not operating.
I was thrilled to find that there was a specially designed wheelchair accessible experience at Sydney Tower where wheelchair users can experience the sky walk by going outside the Sydney Tower. Harnessed up the boys went outside and even experienced the glass platform at 268 metres up.
We’ve been lucky enough to visit Disneyland 3 times now and it has been a highlight of our visits to the US each time. Both kids absolutely love it. Access and staff understanding of the needs of guests with a disability is beyond anything we’ve experienced at any other attraction. I’ve written extensively about my Disneyland tips and how to use the Disneyland Disability Access Service Card.
6. Trike ride Uluru
BJ loves trike rides and has done several with the most recent one at Uluru. As long as the trike has a footplate he can ride quite comfortably and it is something he can do with Hubby and AJ. Read all our tips on what to do at Uluru here.
7. Dune Buggies Hill End – this particular dune buggy experience has now closed.
We had the best day at Hill End. BJ just loved the steep inclines, going through the water and going over the rough surfaces. AJ and I had one buggy and Hubby and BJ had the other.
8. US Intrepid Sea, Air Space Museum
It is rare to find ships accessible but we were thrilled to learn that the US Intrepid in New York would give BJ a glimpse at what a war ship is like. I wrote about our experience here.
9. Roar and Snore Taronga Zoo
Staying overnight in a zoo is a unique experience and we had a fantastic time doing Roar and Snore. Meeting the giraffes inside their enclosure was definitely a highlight. You can see all the accessible features of this experience here.
10. Wheelchair accessible cave
Caves are not generally wheelchair accessible and beach caves would normally be impossible but using a beach wheelchair we managed to explore the caves at Caves Beach. After our great experience I researched wheelchair accessible caves and found a few around the world which I popped into a blog here.
11. Toboggan Hill Park
We’ve been visiting Toboggan Hill Park since BJ was little. He loves the rush of the ride and we discovered earlier this year that Hubby and BJ can still manage the ride. You can see all the pics and info here.
12. Accessible bush walks
Once BJ outgrew the back carrier we thought it was all over red rover as far as exploring Australia’s beautiful bush. However, we were wrong. The TrailRider arrived in Australia and gave us the joy of returning to bushwalking. I’ve written about the feeling of liberation and the locations of Trailriders around the world here.
13. Skyrail Kuranda
Riding high above the rainforest in Cairns and getting out at the accessible stops along the way was amazing. BJ loved the ride and enjoyed the ranger talk at one of the stops. We did the gondola ride up and back but we took a peek at the train and it is also accessible. You can take a peek at both experiences here.
14. Accessible maze Tasmania
We were amazed to find that nearly all the mazes at Tasmazia are accessible. We had a wonderful day getting lost, having the joy of finding our way out and looking at the whimsical displays.
15. Ice skating
Ice skating in a wheelchair? Really? Yep, BJ has had many wonderful outings at ice rinks. In the school holidays he loves the social interaction the games bring. Ask your local rink if they allow wheelchairs on the ice.
16. Accessible mini-golf
Playing mini-golf as a kid seems like a rite of passage. Finding accessible venues is another story. BJ loves any ball games and mini-golf is no exception. We have made the best of trying inaccessible course but finally found an accessible indoor course at Putt Planet in Sydney and Aqua Golf which is also accessible.
17. First flying fox
Flying foxes are always a hive of activity at a park but sitting on a small disc swinging from a rope wasn’t possible for BJ until the harness seat became available. It was so wonderful to see BJ and AJ both zipping along the flying fox together. Even I had a go proving you’re never too old. You can find a list of great accessible playgrounds here.
18. Statue of Liberty
We were all so excited to be in New York and given that the Statue of Liberty is so symbolic of the city we were keen to go to the island. We were even happier to know that the Statue had undergone major work including the installation of elevators meaning we could go inside the statue and make it up to the viewing platform. Ironically on the day we visited the elevator was broken but that didn’t stop us getting BJ to the platform. You can see the gallant effort he put in here.
19. Luge in Queenstown
We caught the gondola in Queenstown and had the most magnificent view all the way. When we got to the top and saw the luge ride and the fun everyone was having we decided we had to get BJ on it. Hubby carried BJ and I bumped the wheelchair to the top and he was absolutely delighted with every minute. I think he could have done it all day but one go was our limit as I was pregnant with AJ and it wasn’t easy getting to the top.
20. Helicopter flight over Barrier Reef
We’ve done two helicopter flights with BJ. Last year we did a flight over the barrier reef because we thought that both he and AJ would find the 2-hour boat ride out to the reef too much. It gave everyone a good view and BJ thought the helicopter ride was an absolute highlight. We also did one years ago over Kings Canyon when we could not do the rim walk. The view was the highlight for Hubby and I and BJ just loved the ride.
21. Jet boating in New Zealand
The boys headed off jet boating in Queenstown New Zealand and although BJ was the smallest passenger in the boat he had the biggest grin.
Phew, that’s 21! I limited myself to 21 excellent experiences to keep with the theme of BJ’s 21st birthday but there have been many more. I can honestly say I my fears of him living a limited life have been unfounded. BJ is living a full and adventurous life and loving it.
Have you had an excellent adventure that we should try? We’d love to hear about it.
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