Skennars Head resident Bob Harvie with Gulliver the Giant Guide Dog, which was in Ballina yesterday to help the Guide Dogs team raise awareness of its free mobility services.
Skennars Head resident Bob Harvie with Gulliver the Giant Guide Dog, which was in Ballina yesterday to help the Guide Dogs team raise awareness of its free mobility services. Doug Eaton

Gulliver is a guiding light

GULLIVER, the Big Guide Dog, was in Big Prawn territory yesterday as part of his tour to raise awareness of Guide Dogs NSW’s free mobility services.

The 4.3-metre high Gulliver was met at the Ballina Library by Bob Harvie, of Skennars Head, who has Stargardt’s disease, a genetic eye condition. He has been using a cane to help get around for 17 years.

But in the past 12 months Mr Harvie has been learning to use the K-Sonar device, which attaches to his cane and acts like submarine sonar.

It sends a pulse via an earpiece to Mr Harvie when it detects upcoming obstacles up to 10 metres away.

“It’s been really good for me in busy places like Ballina Fair and Lismore Square,” he said.

“My pet hate is shopping trolleys, but the sonar can detect them.

“I’m still learning to use it. I just need to practise more, but it has made a really big difference.”

Guide Dogs Northern NSW regional manager Jeremy Hill said many people did not realise they provided services for people who were starting to lose their vision.

“Our tour aims to inform communities that it is easy to access free mobility services,” he said.

Gulliver the Giant Guide Dog will be in Lismore today between 9am and 10am at the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT office, 107-109 Molesworth St.

He will journey to Casino Post office in the afternoon, between 1pm and 3pm.


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