At the age of 21, I was a fully qualified heavy duty mechanic about to travel the world. I was celebrating the end of work with colleagues at Karijini National Park Gorge. I swam to a ledge beneath a waterfall and noticed others diving off the top into the water. Immediately I wanted to do the same. Ignoring a warning sign about climbing up the gorge, I proceeded to climb to the top of the waterfall. I had a realisation moment, that what I was doing was not safe and decided against jumping. I was making my way back down the track when my foot slipped on a big rock I’d passed earlier, and I was sent hurtling over the edge. Even though I had my hands above my head, I didn’t manage to avoid hitting the rocks.
After I landed in the water below, I checked and could feel my feet and hands, so I knew I was okay. A friend called out to me, I turned my head towards him and knew that something was wrong when I became completely paralysed because my spinal cord had been severed at C4.
Months of hospitalisation and rehabilitation followed. Spinal cord injury is debilitating, and the lack of independence is difficult to come to terms with. Fortunately my football club was a corporate member of PBF, which meant I was able to claim the member benefit payment. The money made a huge difference to being able to have modifications done so I could get home sooner to family and friends. I cannot emphasise how much this meant.