Cocky Guides has had to shake things up a little of late. Like much of the travel industry, business as usual was turned on its head by travel restrictions and social distancing recommendations. But that hasn’t stopped its founder, Buck McFarlane, and the Cocky Guides team from conceiving of awesome multi-sensory travel experiences for people who have a vision impairment. We caught up with Cocky Guides to hear their latest news.
Cocky Guides is an Australian travel company that typically designs holidays and day trips for small tour groups of people who are blind or have low vision and move using canes, guide dogs or the help of a sighted companion. Their impressive line-up of experiences includes anything from tandem skydiving in Wollongong to a visit in historic Audley with a picnic lunch.
While COVID-19 restrictions prevented such trips from running, Cocky Guide Sharon (who ran walking tours in South Australia’s Hahndorf) launched Hahndorf from Home. The sensory pack involved an immersive storytelling experience via Zoom.
Kellie, a Cocky Guide who had been a personal stylist in London, kicked off the Personal Styling service from a distance. She too ran Zoom sessions, including a wardrobe refresher workshop for Vision Australia community groups from Newcastle and the Central Coast.
Cocky Guides’ important White Cane Travels has ploughed on ‘full steam ahead’ while in isolation. The initiative invites travellers to donate spare or old folding canes in good working order. Instead of gathering dust in the back of a wardrobe, these white canes are passed on to communities where they are otherwise unavailable. Cocky Guides has recently coordinated with Guide Dogs NSW, Sione Academy and the Tonga National Vision Impairment Association (TNVIA) to gift canes to community members in Tonga with sight loss. The TNVIA and its president, Ofeina Leka, have identified thirty candidates to receive the first shipment of donated canes from Cocky Guides and Guide Dogs NSW.
“More than 4000 people in Tonga have a vision impairment,” says Buck McFarlane. “In Tonga, it’s a combination of limited awareness and affordability that limits the number of white cane users. The White Cane Travels initiative will be our first step together to change this situation in Tonga.”
As restrictions ease and regional travel is easier to access, check out the latest offerings from Cocky Guides.