Does the relaxing of COVID restrictions make you itchy for some action and adventure? While we may not be venturing too far afield just yet, why not check out some of these accessible leisure experiences in your state that you can do with the kids, or work with your support workers to get them out and about in the community.
If the weather is warm enough then there’s a whole heap of fun to be had here. The Splash Pad, Dinosaur Lagoon and The Beach are all wheelchair-accessible. Water wheelchairs and strollers have historically been available for loan from Guest Services but unfortunately due to covid safety measures this service is currently unavailable.
Raging Waters Sydney also offers people with disability a discounted disabled admission rate, which can be purchased at the box office on the day of your visit. ragingwaterssydney.com.au
Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Dorrigo National Park
NSW National Parks provides a TrailRider all-terrain wheelchair for visitors at Kamay Botany Bay (located at Kurnell and La Perouse in Sydney) and Dorrigo National Park (an hour from Coffs Harbour). They are free to hire but bookings are recommended and you need to bring your own guides.
At Dorrigo you can experience World Heritage listed rainforests, waterfall walks, scenic barbecue areas and enjoy excellent birdwatching opportunities, while at Kamay Botany Bay you can explore the historic Captain Cook’s landing place. For more info call 1300 072 757.
NSW Rail Museum
Located in Thirlmere, approximately 1.5 hours South West of Sydney, The NSW Rail Museum is a must for the locomotive buff in your family and is a fascinating and exciting step back in time with interactive displays, kid’s activities, glimpses behind the scenes at Australia’s newest locomotive roundhouse and a priceless collection of historic locomotives, carriages, wagons and memorabilia.
In terms of accessibility there are accessible toilets, single level access to all areas and ramp access to the Great Train Hall platform and Roundhouse. Prams and wheelchairs will not fit through the doorways of the carriages on steam train rides. However, a safe storage place will be provided and assistance to board the trains is available if required. nswrailmuseum.com.au
There is so much for kids to see and do here and so many visiting exhibitions that one visit is never enough. And, we love that the museum has pretty much set the standard for creating accessible and welcoming experiences for people with autism and their families. With social stories, sensory maps, quiet times and more, find out what’s on by visiting – museumsvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Who doesn’t love an African safari experience? Just 35km west of Melbourne, admission to Werribee includes a 45-minute safari tour where you’ll see grazing rhino, giraffe, antelope and zebra on savannah-like plains.
There are four wheelchair- accessible safari buses which can accommodate two standard wheelchairs, or one electric wheelchair per vehicle. The wheelchairs are accommodated at the front of the vehicles alongside the driver and will be safely strapped in.
Zoo volunteers also offer free tours in an electric golf cart designed to assist with accessibility through the zoo grounds. Vehicles can carry up to three passengers at a time and they travel at a slow pace so that carers, families and friends can walk alongside the cart. Tours run for approximately 60 minutes. Bookings are advisable. For more info call (03) 9731 9601
Brimbank Park Playscape, Melbourne
A haven for creative play, Brimbank Park Playscape was designed to create opportunities for children of all abilities, including those in wheelchairs. The playground design embraces several themes which focus on the Aboriginal and European history of the land where Brimbank is located. There are a range of tactile circular paths and animal sculptures that children can explore. There is signage in Braille and Auslan throughout the playground and an accessible water fountain. The playground includes swings catering for younger and older children with physical disabilities, a hammock, an accessible sand pit, interactive colourful murals, a build it yourself cubby house and many other exciting features.
Adelaide Zoo is within easy walking distance of the central business district. The biggest attractions are Wang Wang and Funi, the only giant pandas in the Southern Hemisphere. See devils, kangaroos, giraffes, lions, meerkats, lemurs, squirrel monkeys, penguins, chameleon and hippos. All the walkways and trails are wheelchair accessible and the wonderful all abilities Nature Playground has an accessible toilet that contains a hoist. adelaidezoo.com.au
Hendrie Street Reserve Inclusive Playground, Marion
This is South Australia’s first truly inclusive all abilities playground brought to life by the awesome team at Touched by Olivia. Consideration has been given to children who may have mobility issues, vision and hearing impairments and spectrum disorders such as autism and incorporates principles of inclusive play. There’s a fun multi-station for all types of play, sand and water stations, carousels, different types of swings, a bike track and more.
The park is adjacent to the Marion outdoor pool (open from October) so after a tiring, warm morning of play you can cool off in the water!
The Ultimate Wildlife Adventure! The famous (late) Steve Irwin’s zoo with a team of passionate conservationists working around-the-clock to deliver an animal experience like no other.
Located in Beerwah, Australia Zoo is the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the world with over one hundred different species including crocodiles, tigers, cheetahs, zebras and snakes. Australia Zoo is an accessible venue with disabled parking, amenities, wheelchair and scooter hire, accessible elevator, ramps, pathways and more! Keep an eye out also for their special behind the scenes sensory days. Also, hot off the press the zoo now has a Changing Places facility accessible via an MLAK key! More info (07) 5436 2000.
We can’t go past Queensland without featuring at least one theme park! Sea World is a wonderful destination for anyone using a wheelchair with wide, flat walkways and heaps of shows and experiences. The amazing dolphin encounter has a pool hoist for access and is a once in a lifetime experience for everyone. We also love that Parent Swap and Queue Proxy services are available within the park for guests who are unable to stand in a queue for extended periods or have children unable to experience a particular ride or attraction and require supervision. seaworld.com.au
The Ginger Factory, Yandina
The iconic Ginger Factory offers fun rides, fascinating tours, a unique retail precinct and cafe surrounded by beautiful sub- tropical gardens for all to enjoy. Free entry and open seven days, year-round, there is something for everyone here. Only the overboard boat ride is not accessible for wheelchair users. gingerfactory.com.au
Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Museum
About 40 minutes north of Launceston, the museum was given a major overhaul following the rockfall disaster that trapped two miners underground for two weeks. Be entertained by the interactive displays and live a different story around every corner with buttons to push, levers to pull, tunnels to crawl through and animals to search for.
A Tamar Triple Pass allows you entry into the museum and nearby Seahorse World and Platypus House for a discounted rate. More info (03) 6383 1473
Hastings Cave and Thermal Springs
Hastings Caves State Reserve is situated 125 kilometres south of Hobart. Made from dolomite, rather than limestone, it’s the largest tourist cave in Australia. A visit to the historic underground caves includes the use of the thermal spring pool and its facilities all day. These facilities include the pool, change rooms and hot showers, free electric barbeques, barbeque tables, picnic shelters, 10 minute platypus walk and 30 minute hot springs forest walk.
Both the thermal pool and the trail which leads through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users. More info see the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife website page.
Territory Wildlife Park, Darwin
At the Territory Wildlife Park, not only do you see wildlife up-close in their natural habitats, you meet them walking through tree top aviaries, strolling around a natural lagoon and even get to interact with them during daily presentations.
The park has an extensive system of wheelchair-friendly walking tracks that are well sign posted. Many of the exhibits are located quite closely together, so it
is an easy walk between many of them. There is also a free shuttle train runs continuously around the park’s 4km loop road, picking up and dropping off around the park. territorywildlifepark.com.au
Howard Springs Nature Park
Want to enjoy nature on Darwin’s doorstep? This beautiful park is 27km south-east of Darwin. Picnic in a natural bush setting, let the kids explore the natural playground and cool off in the safe, shallow rockpools after walking through the monsoon forest. The spring- fed waterhole is a great place to birdwatch and spot fish and freshwater turtles.
You can even hand-feed Barramundi and turtles. Plus there’s lots of shade and wheelchair access! More info (08) 8983 1001
Rottnest Island provides an access and facility-friendly holiday destination for all visitors with wide pathways, easy to read signage and ramps to most facilities on Rottnest Island. There are a number of specially designed chalets for disability access accommodation, with wheelchairs, electric scooters (gophers) and beach wheelchairs available for hire.
There is a wheelchair compatible shuttle bus for access to and from the ferries. Rottnest ferries take approximately 25 minutes from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, or 90 minutes from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty. More info (08) 9432 9111.
Forrest Place Water Labyrinth
Back in the city, this grid of nine squares, shooting walls of water into the area in constantly changing configurations is the perfect place to cool down and shake out those sillies.
It operates daily from 8am to 8pm unless there is an event in Forrest Place.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
In WA’s Southern Forests, you’ll find this internationally recognised nature-based tourism attraction, which is located between Denmark and Walpole in the Walpole- Nornalup National Park and in the heart of the Walpole Wilderness.
The Tree Top Walk features a stunning walkway positioned 40 metres above the ground in the spectacular heights of the tingle forest canopy. The 600-metre walk is accessible and suitable for children of all ages, wheelchairs and strollers. parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/tree-top-walk