Alice Verrall is 27 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. Her ambition was to raise money and awareness for Assistance Dogs Australia. A little about Alice:
I am passionate about nature conservation, and am currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) at LaTrobe University in Melbourne. My carer and I spent my semester breaks hiking and riding through National Parks and along Rail Trails through Australia.
Alice and her carer Angela visited Christmas Island to witness the amazing natural phenomenon that is the red crab migration, inspired by one of her lecturers at LaTrobe University – here is the story of Alice and Angela’s Christmas Island adventure …
A story told by Angela Skehan and Alice Verrall
We had always talked about visiting this wonderful place in the middle of the Indian Ocean to see the Red Crab Migration, inspired by Pete Green (Dr Peter Green, Head of Department, Ecology, Environment and Evolution, LaTrobe University). Alice had the opportunity to do this through her fundraising bike and hiking trip for Assistance Dogs Australia. So, we embarked on this exciting adventure of a lifetime.
We spent a week in paradise – and after we got used to the climate we began exploring this wonderful place. A delightful lady we had met at the airport had suggested we check out her talk on Marine Debris and the ways we might be able to assist with this ongoing issue on the island. As we are both passionate about the environment and conservation we jumped at the opportunity to meet with locals and learn more about this issue.
Flying Fish Cove was a magical place filled with excitement for Alice as she had never snorkelled before and we were not even sure if it was possible due to her Cerebral Palsy. After much help from the locals, we had Alice down the jetty and with a mask and kick board in hand she was off experiencing the wonder of the reef at Flying Fish Cove. She was amazed and delighted at the many colours and diversity of the fish and the healthy state of the reef. After many days of practice in the shallows, Alice increased in confidence and was able to swim out to the drop off and was excited to see the giant plate coral and vastness of the deep blue. After many days on the island we started to experience the joys of driving around, dodging the red crabs, the marvels we had come to see. We investigated the crab bridge that Pete Green had always talked about in his lectures and the crab fences and tunnels helping these unique creatures navigate the island on their migration to the sea. Robber crabs were another experience for us, we had not seen the infamous robber crab until we came across our first one on the way to Greta Beach, it gave us such a fright, we soon realised what everyone had been talking about.
We visited Margaret Knoll the most breathtaking place on the island with its picturesque views. We saw bats, frigate birds, brown footed boobies and geological formations of an abandoned guano mine. Many more hours could have been spent here exploring the fungi and insects that enchanted us, but we wanted to check out the Golf course look out before it got dark.
Towards the end of our trip Alice ventured into town on her trike to do some collecting and was delighted and humbled to receive $100 from a collection of one morning. Thank you to all who donated and what an amazing end to 3 years of fundraising while traveling Australia.
Alice is fortunate to have an amazing companion dog from Assistance Dogs Australia, called Kooper. Kooper helps Alice with many practical tasks as well as providing compansionship. He accompanies Alice on rides and walks at home, but he was unable to travel to Christmas Island … Kooper was provided to Alice without charge, but it costs $35,000 to train one assistance dog. Alice’s goal was to raise this amount for Assistance Dog Australia, to show her appreciation for Kooper.