Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Scott Crowley, I am happily married with two kids (2.5 and 5) and we all love to travel.
I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, and I spent my early childhood in Adelaide and Auckland, New Zealand. As a teenager we moved to Vancouver, Canada and that is where I completed my high school years. Being a teenager in Vancouver, that is where my love for skateboard and snowboarding began. After completing high school, I moved back to Adelaide where I started a Bachelor of Tourism and Marketing at the University of South Australia. Half way through this degree, I took a snowboard/working holiday, back to Canada, Whistler. It was during this holiday that I sustained a spinal injury doing a sport I loved. This was 2002. I went back to university and completed my Bachelor’s degree.
Since my injury in 2002, I have played wheelchair tennis at the Australian Open, I have played wheelchair basketball for Australia and had the opportunity to live in Northern Italy and play a season of wheelchair basketball. I currently compete around the world in Paratriathlon, representing Australia.
I am passionate about accessible travel and in 2014 launched Push Adventures, an Inclusive Tourism Consultancy in Adelaide, South Australia. We want to see a world where everybody can participate in tourism experiences equally, across South Australia and beyond. We work to find the best accessible and inclusive facilities and experiences; share our experiences as a family to inspire others to get out and explore; and we also work with tourism industry organisations to help them become more inclusive.
How did your passion for adventure begin?
Growing up, we always went on little holidays, to the beach or up the river, and these trips are where the adventures first began. As I got older, living in New Zealand & Canada, I was lucky enough that the adventures got a little more elaborate.
Now with a family of my own, we are ‘redo-ing’ these beach and river trips, however we now obviously have accessible tourism in mind. A few beaches along the South Australia now roll out beach mats every summer, so beach breaks have become more accessible again.
What is the most wheelchair friendly place you have been to?
We’re pretty lucky here in Australia, particularly our major cities. But Adelaide where I’m from is pretty great… you can explore the city, football oval, zoo, the museums, the major shopping strip with ease, then take a tram from the city and be at the beach in half hour, no problems at all! Plus I love the Riverland, we take our Bell Tent camping and the kids have a great time or (before kids) a houseboat holiday is a must!
I love Barcelona. It is beautiful, it’s rich with culture and history, and it’s reasonably flat. I also love Berlin, again, rich with history, however super accessible to get around.
What is the least accessible place you have visited?
I spent some time Guangzhao, China, and I found that extremely difficult to get around. No access, no toilets, and a language barrier that I was not able to crack.
I also loved Prague, however I did get my wife to push me to the top of the hill to the Prague Castle which was very steep. Also I did struggle getting around the old city, I had a 4” caster wheel and with the cobblestone streets spaced a little further apart then normal I battled.
What kind of problems have you came across while traveling in a wheelchair? How did you overcome them?
I’ve come across a hundred problems in my travels. Broken lifts, stairs, poor policy, bad attitudes, language barriers to name a few. I overcome these situations by doing a fair bit of research before I go, or letting them know that I’m coming. For those unforeseen circumstances, it is about making the best out of bad situation, and think about where I am and what I am doing…and that I could be doing the boring 9-5 work.
What are some of the top items on your bucket list?
I’ve crossed a fair few items off my bucket list including sit skiing in New Zealand, skydiving, helicopter rides over the Flinders Rangers (South Australia), eating and drinking all over Italy, but especially a little hidden restaurant in Praiano called Il Pirata.
But next up, shark cage diving in Port Lincoln, after exploring some caves in Naracoorte, South Australia!
Do you have any tips for other wheelchair users that might think traveling is not possible?
Research and planning is always key, but try to find some local organisations or blogs such as Curb Free, or facebook groups that specialise in accessible travel. These days there are organisations like us at Push Adventures who can not only offer great advice, but plan trips too in order to take all the worry and anxiety out of it.
Another tip would be to ensure your chair is in good condition! Or a freewheel makes exploring a little easier in a manual wheelchair.
Lastly, expect the unexpected.. you are bound to come across a hiccup or two, but with the right attitude things can generally be overcome!
Most importantly, where to next?
I’m off to Rotterdam in September for Paratriathlon World Championships, with a brief stint in Spain beforehand. Other than that, just plenty of little holidays away with the kids around the Incredible state of South Australia.
Published on Curb Free with Cory Lee August 2017.