Matt’s Kalbarri Trip

The day finally arrived when we could actually leave. Stephen had a headache which made him unwell for a couple of days, we couldn’t leave on Tuesday as planned. The support worker was also sick, but our provider, Auscare, quickly found another person. Unfortunately he is too young to drive a hire van, you have to be over 25 for insurance, but Stephen made a miraculous recovery and was able to do about half of the driving on the three days we were away.

We left on Wednesday 19th July and returned on Friday 21st July, 2023.

Day 1 – Villa 3 to Geraldton

Mum, Dad and our support worker arrived at about 8.00 a.m. Bec and the other staff had been working hard to get me ready in time. We still had a little bit to organise and Bec did a handover of my medications, etc. with Abel, our support worker. Then, we loaded everything, or almost everything, into our hire van. We couldn’t fit in the folding hoist and Aunty Marie and Uncle Geoff, who were coming as well, took the hoist for us.

It was a long driving day, starting off in the rain, though later there was some sunshine. We had some stops along the way for coffee for me and takeaway food for everyone else. I had a cooked meal from home and Mum had cooked enough food to have a hot meal in the evening on Wednesday and lunches for me for two days.

Our van is very old, a 2006 model that has been modified with large viewing windows, a sturdy step to the sliding door, and the hoist at the back. As we had already checked to make sure we could fit my toilet chair behind me we weren’t worried about everything fitting in. The only thing that was a bit annoying was how noisy the lift was when we went over bumps. If I tried to nap I kept being woken up!

Our support worker, Abel was wonderful. He fitted in with our plans and we four worked as a team to get me ready in the morning, have meals, tidy up and do dishes.

I enjoyed looking out of the windows as we travelled along but it was a long day in the van and I was glad to get to our accommodation in Geraldton. We had two cottages, one for Abel and me and one for Mum and Dad. They just used their cottage for sleeping and having showers and spent the rest of the time in our cottage.

Aunty Marie and Uncle Geoff came to the house to deliver the mobile hoist. They didn’t stay long as we would be seeing them in the morning to go to Kalbarri.

Abel was responsible for the medications and Mum prepared meals. I didn’t want to go to bed even though I was tired, because it was so interesting. Eventually Mum persuaded me as she wanted to get to bed herself. That was when we found the hoist would not work in my room because the queen sized bed was too low for the legs to fit under. We tried using it with the legs closed and it fell over. Fortunately Abel was already holding me over the bed and Mum and I weren’t hurt, just felt a bit silly.

I found it hard to sleep, but the bed was fairly comfortable and Mum and Abel checked on me in the night.

Day 2 – visiting the Kalbarri Skywalk

Mum and Abel got me up at about 6.15 a.m. and put me on the toilet. Mum had been thinking in the night about how to manage without the hoist. She folded the thick doona on the floor and helped me to roll out of bed and down onto the doona. I can hold myself stiffly so that I don’t get hurt. Then Mum and Abel dragged the doona into the living room where they could use the hoist. It was a learning experience for us and we were all a bit tired by the time I had been to the toilet and had a wash.

I had wheatbix and Sustagen for breakfast with Abel whilst Mum went to have her shower. Then we packed up some lunch for me and other stuff that I need. Aunty Marie, Uncle Geoff and Glenn then came over and we all loaded up our van and they followed in their car. We took a scenic route to Kalbarri and even saw some emus on the way.

In Kalbarri I had a flat white and everyone had a bit of a break looking over the beach. Then it was time to set off for Kalbarri National Park. At the entrance we had to pay a fee for the van, but there was no charge for people.

We arrived at the Skywalk and Dad thought that the café would close soon and rushed off to check. We got ready more slowly and then followed him. Turned out that the café stayed open for the hour or so that we were there.

I had lunch before going out onto the first of the sky bridges. I wasn’t nervous about being over the edge of the cliff, probably because I couldn’t see the cliff below me due the chair. Anyway, my cousin Glenn wasn’t worried at all. We used the eye level lift of my chair to help me see over the railings.

Later Abel, Mum and I went to the second sky bridge to take some photos and enjoy the views. It was pretty awesome. I’d seen photos taken by Mum and Dad but it was different in reality. We had a bright and sunny day, so glare was a bit of a problem, but the temperature was cool and it wasn’t windy.

After we had all had our fill of being there we went back to the van and car to travel home. We decided to go a different route home so that I got to see different views of the countryside. It was a lovely evening.

We had a takeaway Chinese meal. I didn’t like the taste much, so only ate half, then had fruit with Sustagen. Mum didn’t like it much either and only had a small serving. I wanted coffee to drink so Mum made weak coffee, really just warm milk with a bit of flavour.

Day 3 – returning home

This was going to be our third long travel day. Mum and Abel found it much easier getting me up as they knew how to make things work. I did the rolling out of bed onto the doona again, had my coffee during my toilet time, then a wash. We had to be careful not to get the toilet chair too wet. We were able to use the hoist in the spare room which had single beds and room underneath for the long arms of the hoist.

Even though we had to have breakfast and pack up both cottages we were ready to leave at 9.30 a.m. Uncle Geoff came over to pick up the hoist. Abel had already worked out how to fold it up again much to Uncle Geoff’s surprise.

We decided to go a different way home to avoid the busy roads near the coast. This actually took longer, especially as we found a nice café in Carnamah for lunch. Mum and I stayed in the van having my lunch, whilst Dad and Abel went to organise their lunch. I was delighted to see them when they came back with my flat white.

Later in the day we were driving past the place where my Nana used to live. We had many Christmases there and I also had my 30th birthday (we think it was the 30th, anyway a Big Birthday) at the local hall. We had one more little stop so that the parents could go to the toilet, then drove home. This was perhaps the least interesting part of the drive and I was longing to get home for my tea and being able to go to bed in my own nice bed. It was dark and nearly 6.30 p.m. by the time we got there.

I was welcomed home by staff. Abel stayed to hand over the medication charts, then we said goodbye. We had become fond of each other and I’m glad he sometimes works in villas here and we will meet again.


I am glad we went though it wasn’t always comfortable. It was nice to have the experience with Mum and Dad. They said they really enjoyed it.

Many thanks to the staff at Villa 3, especially Denka and Bec, who helped to get things ready at Villa 3. A special thanks to Brigid from MyIntegra who made sure we had a support worker. That part worked out really well. Thank you Abel for going with us and fitting in with our family as well as taking so much professional responsibility.

Thank you to Aunty Marie, Geoff and Glenn who helped to make the holiday fun and for bringing the hoist. Aunty Marie also gave us a roll of plastic bags for the used pads, much appreciated.

Thanks to Mum who had a dream of taking me on this holiday and was so happy to see it come true. Thanks to Dad who helped with driving and was always cheerful and positive and a big support to everyone. And thanks to me as well for being cheerful, patient (never grumpy) and doing my best to help.

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