A long journey around Australia on a wheelchair scooter, with a top speed of only about 70km/h, stopped in Albany to start the week. Three decades on from a motorcycle accident that left him battling for his life, Queenslander Bevan Kearsley is riding around the country in an effort to raise funds for a new rehabilitation centre for spinal patients. He said after delivering a mentoring talk at the same spinal unit he went through 30 years ago he realised nothing had changed. “Spinal patients still have to spend their whole rehabilitation living in a hospital ward, which can mean anything from six months through to two years living away from their families,” he said. “In such a traumatic time family needs to be close because they need to be rehabilitated as well. “A cutting-edge rehab centre would have accommodation for families and everything would be set up so it’s user-friendly for spinal patients.” Mr Kearsley was going for a “quiet Sunday afternoon ride” from Toowoomba to Brisbane through Mt Glorious when he “cut one corner a bit close and didn’t make it to the next one”. “I smashed into a guard rail and severed my spinal cord at T45 then woke up two days later in a hospital ward with a nurse sitting beside my bed saying ‘welcome back, we thought we’d lost you’,” he said. Having just ridden across the Nullarbor, which he said was both a nice ride and a bit boring, he arrived in Albany on Sunday afternoon and spent Monday enjoying a well-earned break. He said one of the main challenges he had faced on his ride so far was finding accessible accommodation. “At some places, they just don’t exist and other places they say have accessible bathrooms don’t because they’ve got small steps,” he said. “People still believe if you’re in a wheelchair then you’ve got somebody to help you all the time, but a lot of us want to enjoy our independence and we all want to travel Australia just like anybody else.” After leaving Albany on Tuesday, Mr Kearsley and his team will travel up the coast to Perth via Margaret River and Mandurah. From there it will be up through the Northern Territory, down to Uluru before returning to the east coast. He has a target of raising $1 million for a new centre that he said he was well short of but will continue campaigning for by doing other rides. “With the population of Australia if everybody just donated $1, we’d have $25 million and two rehab centres off the ground,” he said. You can follow Mr Kearsley’s ride or make a donation through social media @accessozride or at his website https://bit.ly/3MK6OjZ.