A 100-kilometre trail around Launceston is now fully wheelchair-accessible.
Completing the mighty Launceston Urban Fringe Trail is a great feat by anyone's measure and Derrick Jonas is about to complete the feat in his wheelchair.
The LUFT is pedestrian circuit around the edge of Greater Launceston that connects existing streets, roads, parks and reserves.
In February 2019, it was formally recognised by the three local government areas.
Launceston personal trainer Dr John Ralph created the LUFT and has been taking groups of walkers and individuals around the course since.
"The LUFT has been increasing in popularity since it was formalised by local councils and there's also been three non-stop completions as well. To date, there's been almost 100 official completions which is great.", Dr Ralph said.
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In June last year, Mr Jonas posted in an online bushwalking forum, enquiring about what options there were for people in wheelchairs to visit "under their own steam".
That post became an online conversation which became coffee with Dr Ralph.
"The idea of a wheelie completing the LUFT had been on my mind," Dr Ralph said.
"Derrick was fit, strong, nine axe handles across the shoulders and keen to give things a crack. The perfect candidate."
Since then, the challenge for Mr Jonas and Dr Ralph has been to not only complete the LUFT, but to create an accessible trail as they go.
"Some parts of the LUFT, like Duck Reach, aren't chair accessible. They also aren't road bike accessible, either" said Dr Ralph
"So, the challenge before us morphed into something even bigger: we were going to create a LUFT for wheelchairs and road bikes."
If completing the LUFT wasn't enough, the extra challenge was that some hills on would not be ideal to descend in a wheelchair, so Derrick went up them from both sides.
These hills have included some of the biggest in Launceston: Basin Road, Denison Road, Outram Street, Stephensdale Drive and the mightiest one of the lot: Riverside's epic Rowsphorn Road hill.
As the challenge continued there have been some lasting results already.
The most significant change has been retro-fitting the access to the Rocherlea Old Rail Trail at the bottom of Dover Street in Mowbray.
The retrofit now means that the entire 3.5km trail that connects Mowbray to Lilydale Road is now accessible to wheelchairs and prams.
On Monday, May 31, Mr Jonas will complete the last stage of the LUFT from Windsor Park to Tailrace Park.
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