Accessible Travel

Sporting Dreams founder Marayke Jonkers is a professional travel writer  and qualified journalist covering accessible travel. 

As an avid traveller  herself,  Marayke and has become something of an expert in travelling with a disability and  has combined this with the love of writing  as a freelance travel writer  specialising  in accessible travel destinations. In addition to being a published author Marayke is a qualified journalist,  having studied communications at University while training for the Paralympic Games  where her lecturers often remarked Marayke has a ” nose for news”  and  unique ability to  always see a potential story in every travel situation. 

 Whether it is riding camels in Egypt,  elephants in Singapore or quad biking on the Greek islands Marayke is  equally happy to tackle  an adventurous challenge  or relax  by the pool on a tropical island.

Accessible Travel Stories

  • The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, but is it accessible for wheelchair users? Travel writer Marayke Jonkers discovers that North Queensland is not only beautiful, but unexpectedly accessible.               Published link Disability Magazine, October 2015. Click image to read magazine article. Dive Into Life- Explore North QLD Bonus info for link readers The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and on many travellers bucket lists. But is it accessible for wheelchair users? I set out to find out for myself as I explored North Queensland and fell in love with the region on a selfdrive journey not only for its natural beauty but for the unexpected accessibility features. “Mum I found Nemo, I shouted excitedly over the sound of gently lapping waves above the coral of the Great Barrier Reef as a small clown fish swims away from me. I’m 66 km away from Port Douglas on Agincourt Reef. I entered the reef several hours earlier via a water powered lift designed especially for passengers of the quicksilver fleet who use wheelchairs. The Quicksilver boat complete with ramped access has delivered me to Agincourt 3 , a floating platform complete with a buffet lunch, wheelchair accessible bathrooms and access to the water for smokelling or scuba driving. While the underwater observatory is downstairs and not accessible I am more than happy snorkeling in one of the most spectacular areas of the reef with high levels of visibility and exquisite sights from parrot fish to coral and clam shells encouraging me to venture far from the boat exploring. However there are guide ropes and flotation devices for less confident swimmers. Prescription snorkel goggles are also provided free of charge for those with various levels of vision impairments. All too soon the ships horn blasts, calling swimmers back to the boat where we can change on board the boat in the wheelchair accessible toilets and enjoy our 90 minute trip back to shore, while warming ourselves with a cuppa checking out the many photos we took on our underwater digital camera hired from the crew. Access : Quicksilver operate regular tours to be Agincourt court platform. Tours to Lowe Island are not recommended for those with reduced mobility. Discuss your needs at time of booking.   Gateway to Paradise:Cairns My journey to the Great Barrier Reef began days earlier when I flew into Cairns airport along with my mum Marion. We opted for a hire car with a boot large enough to carry my wheelchair, giving us the option of visiting the regions attractions without needing inaccessible tour busses. Cairns may be overlooked as the gateway to more famous attractions, but it’s well worth a stay in the palm tree lined city. Wander along kilometres of pathways on the scenic esplanade and you’ll discover the wheelchair friendly lagoon, filled with salt water from the Trinity Inlet and providing a all-year round, safe,
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  • In this blog you will find tips for aspiring snow bunnies on: Using a wheelchair in the snow Temperature regulation Where to stay at NSW Snow fields How to get there: NSW Snow fields Adaptive skiing equipment: How will I ski Benefits of joining Disabled Wintersport Australia (DWA) My full un- edited story ‘Let it snow’ for Link Magazine   Let it Snow- full story    Few things in life are more exhilarating than skiing down a mountain in Kosziusko National Park, awestruck by boulders between picturesque snow capped snowgums – except if your doing so in adaptive ski equipment enabling you to access the great outdoors for the first time in your life. Having used a wheelchair since childhood I never imagined I would be a top of the highest mountain peaks in Australia until I discovered sit skiing. Sit skiing, a ski mounted on a seat, was a great leveller in terms of ability. I was able to holiday with my sister Gemma who learned to snowboard. We learnt at the same pace with an instructor each because I had never skied before and she had never snowboarded. There was nowhere I couldn’t go with Gemma, we could even ride the same lifts up the mountain. My disability didn’t disadvantage me I was simply learning a new sport like everyone else. While initially we relied on our instructors, and then volunteer guides by the end of what quickly became annual trips (I must warn you it is addictive) my sister and I would spend hours exploring together as we both became more independent and our instructor trained Gemma to assist me if I fell over.   Me and my sister Gemma hit the slopes at PerisherAspiring Paralympic skier Jordan Carrol, who returned to the slopes after acquiring vision impairment feels the same. “I just feel on top of the world. I forget all my eyesight problems and I just feel fantastic,” says Jordan. Adaptive equipment and instructors trained in assisting to select and use this equipment are the key to an enjoyable snow experience. Outriggers, specially adapted crutches with mini ski tips on the bottom, are used by many adaptive skiers including by wheelchair users who use a sit ski on the snow. Those with one lower limb affected ski ‘3 track’ meaning with one ski on the snow and two outriggers. 4-trackskiing is the designed for standing skiers who usually require crutches or a walking frame to assist with balance and on the snow may require a “ski bra” or a “bungee cord” to keep the two skis together and outriggers for balance. Both Jordan and I ski through Disabled Winter Sport Australia (DWA), the peak body in Australia assisting people with disability to access the snow from recreational through to elite level. Their services range from fitting and hiring adaptive equipment to providing adaptive ski instructors and volunteer guides to accompany you and a 50% discount on lift passes for skiers with
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  • Few things in life are more exhilarating than skiing down a mountain writes Marayke Jonkers in Link Magazine, click the image above to read the article online.
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