Quad Squad

Reporter: Mark Gibson

Four quad bikes, one month, 5 thousand kilometres. Four men on an emotional pilgrimage to the places that changed their lives. "Yeah, this is exactly where it is. And then he says mate, you've broken your back, you're never going to walk again." Anton Zapelli was 17.

"It definitely changed my whole life in a big way." Craig Parsons was 16. "A guy hit me and a couple of guys ran over us and I broke my neck."

Terry Mader was just 15. "To go back and we all sat around and looked and you told a story, it was much more emotional than I thought it would be."

And Jim Cairns."I turned 50 this year and I had my accident when I was 25, so it was symbolic to me, 25 years in the chair and 25 years out."

You could say these blokes have been dealt a rough hand in life but don't tell them there are things they can't do. "So Jim what were you thinking riding around Australia in one of these? Well, what was I thinking, it was the only real way to get that independence, get out there and have some fun."

There was plenty of fun and plenty of challenges, mainly the weather. "We don't want to take the risk of going into the desert and getting stuck there for too long.. When it's wet around here it's wet."

They arrived at Jim's crash site in Birdsville at midnight, after driving through the Simpson Desert for 18 hours straight. Then, there was Anton's accident scene in the Goldfields.

"Part of me saying it's bulls**t, but a bigger part of me saying nah, this is real. And I remember just shutting my eyes and I just thought I don't want to wake up, I've just lost everything. It's kind of like reliving it and having these guys around and just seeing the expressions on their faces at the time while I was sharing the story you know that breaks you up as well."

With a documentary crew in tow, they used personal heartache to educate others, visting schools and Aboriginal communities. Jim says "We explained that you know if you break an arm or a leg generally it repairs, but if you break your back there's life long consequences. The next morning after our presentation there was a group of them going out to a water hole and the little kids were saying we're not going in there if you haven't got a seatbelt for us and we're not going if we can't wear a seatbelt so we actually thought that was quite positive because quite often they fit a fair few people in those vehicles without any seatbelts."

The highlight of the trip was two little words with suits flown in for the boys, Anton and partner Kate said "I do" at Uluru. "The rest was a honeymoon on the road, a honeymoon on the road with 3 guys in the mud."

Back home, Craig's in training for next year's Paralympics in hand cycling. "I've got a world championships in September in Denmark so hopefully I'll go okay there and prepare myself for London which will be my third Olympics."

They're working on a documentary called "Quad Squad" - a powerful account of their journey across the country. "Really with a bit of creative thinking and a bit of determination you can really get most things done in life."

Jim says "I think that's the difference, that near death experience, you just want to embrace life."

Further Details

The West's Article


Jim Cairns said the four were seeking financial help to complete the documentary. He can be contacted on 0418 915 747.