Charles grew up in Naracaoorte in the South East of SA. He has a passion for sports such as AFL, cricket and nearly all motorsports. He was brought up around aviation and began his pilots license when he was 15. In 2010 he broke his neck in a motorbike accident which left left him a quadriplegic. He then spent 72 days in the Royal Adelaide Hospital and a further 14 months at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre.
I’m currently studying journalism at UniSA and I also have my own drone operating business – Quad Aerial Services – which provides aerial photography and videography. For the last four or five years I have been playing wheelchair rugby and have recently purchased a handcycle. It’s great to get back into competitive sport which is something I always loved doing prior to my accident.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to a number of great locations around Australia in the past eight years such as the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Perth, as well as regional places like Busselton and Phillip Island. One of my favourite trips was to Marion Bay on the Yorke Peninsula with my girlfriend, Sarah. It was great to get away from busy civilisation and to explore the region and throughout Innes National Park. Innes was a highlight for me as the landscape and coastline were stunning and we often found ourselves just staring out to crashing waves enjoying the scenery. Although I was able to experience a lot throughout the national park, much of it is still inaccessible. If it wasn’t for Sarah willing to drag me through sand or over rocky terrain to get me to a lookout or it wouldn’t have been the trip it was.
The thing I love most about traveling is getting to explore your new surroundings whilst living without the dealings of everyday life. Australia has so much to offer and has so many beautiful places to discover.
What causes me the most grief while traveling is the lack of accessibility. Although there has been a greater awareness of accessibility in recent times, I still regularly find myself missing out on activities or venues which could easily be fixed.
When planning holidays, I do quite a bit of research around accommodation. Finding a hotel or rental house with suitable facilities can really make or break a trip. Researching activities at the destination is something I do to be able to make the most of a holiday. Prior to my accident, I was a very spontaneous person. A bit of that still lives on within me, which is important when traveling. In the past, I have used a travel agent when traveling internationally. This took a lot of pressure off as hotels, transfers and activities were booked for me. Sometimes though, a travel agent can book a hotel which doesn’t have the best bathroom facilities, so doing your own research is still necessary.
My tip for anyone in a wheelchair that’s traveling is to keep an open mind. A lot of the time things don’t go to plan, whether that be broken parts on your wheelchair, unsuitable accommodation or even people not being educated about wheelchair needs. You’re away on a holiday so don’t let small things ruin the trip. Similarly, keep an open mind on the things you CAN do. There might be an amazing helicopter flight around Hawaii or there might be five or ten steps up to the bar overlooking the ocean, but grab a few of the locals and get them to carry you up. It’s amazing how willing strangers are these days to help others out, and often it’s those times when you need help to get somewhere that is the most memorable.
As for my future adventures, I’d love to go to New Zealand again and explore what they have to offer. A trip to America to check out aviation museums and air shows is also on the agenda. I’ve always wanted to visit Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon too, so I will add that to itinerary.