By Kelly Wilton
Making the OUTDOORS GREAT AGAIN!
National Parks have come a long way in recent years with accessible tracks and adventurous additions like accessible canoe launchers, free loan all-terrain wheelchairs and assistance dog-friendly tracks.
Accessible canoe launcher – Mildura
Victoria’s first all-accessible floating pontoon and canoe launcher is at Psyche Bend in Kings Billabong, Mildura. The facility provides a stable platform on the static jetty, a secure ramp with hand rails and supportive rollers for people with mobility limitations to easily launch into the water (and get out safely).
Accessible accommodation – Wilsons Prom
Wilsons Promontory National Park offers modified accommodation and accessibility equipment to make it easier for people with disability, families and carers to stay and enjoy the spectacular natural beauty.
Wheelchair to boat access – Patterson River and Tooradin Jetty
A free electric hoist at the Patterson River boat ramps assists wheelchair users to transfer safely in and out of boats.
All abilities walk video series
Accessibility advocate Ryan Smith details some of Parks Victoria’s best all abilities walks, inspiring people to be active and connect with nature.
TrailRider all-terrain wheelchairs are allowing visitors with limited mobility to access more rugged walking trails in a number of Victoria’s parks. Local staff can provide expert advice on the best routes for chairs. A minimum of two chair operators are required. Free to use, but please book in advance.
Assistance dogs in parks
Assistance dogs are welcome in Parks Victoria parks and reserves. Entry requirements apply for parks and reserves that are usually dog prohibited, such as national parks. You do not need to notify anyone of your visit, however when visiting the park, handlers are required to carry evidence that the dog is an assistance dog.
Social stories, created in partnership with autism peak body Amaze, are available for Brimbank Park, Buchan Caves, Jells Park, Serendip Sanctuary and Wilsons Prom. They feature photographs and simple text to explain what may be seen and experienced during a visit.
Beach wheelchairs are enabling visitors to explore many spectacular beaches and walking trails that have sandy surfaces.
Blind or vision impaired visitors
The Walk in the Park program provides group walks in parks for visitors who are blind or vision impaired.
Sandcruiser and Sandpiper wheelchairs are available for hire for use on Normanville Beach in Encounter Marine Park. Free of charge, however a donation of $20 is encouraged by the Normanville SLSC.
Belair National Park offers visitors free use of the MT Push, an all-terrain assisted wheelchair with mountain bike-style tyres. The MT Push is a perfect partnership for both the rider and the assisting person pushing – offering comfort, safety and ease of use.
The District Council of Yankalilla have a TrailRider wheelchair available for free hire for up to three days that can be used in Deep Creek National Park.
Sydney and surrounds
NSW national parks offer some amazing wheelchair-accessible tracks. Around Sydney, Royal National Park and
Sydney Harbour National Park have wheelchair access areas. On the outskirts of Sydney, Fairfax Heritage walking
track provides incredible views along an easy path suitable for people with disability. Further north near Taree, Devils Hole lookout walk has a flat paved track that takes you to panoramic scenes of World Heritage-listed wilderness.
Bundilla accessible track, Thredbo – Perisher
Mostly flat with a small slope at the end, this short track is fully accessible and is great for walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users and families with young children in prams.
Accessible Kayak launch – Murray Valley Regional Park
All abilities can enjoy kayaking or canoeing using a wheelchair-accessible launch at Edward River Bridge picnic area.
Free to hire mobility chairs
NSW National Parks provides the all- terrain TrailRider and Hippocampe mobility wheelchairs for visitors at Royal National Park, Morton National Park and Kosciuszko National Park. Free to hire.
Accessible parks in Queensland feature walking tracks with tactile indicators for visitors with vision impairment, as well as many other recreational activities.
Reel in a big one at Burrum Coast National Park on the wheelchair- accessible fishing platform.
Turtle spotting and animal watching
Spot a sea turtle from the wheelchair- accessible jetty on tropical Green Island. Or get closer to the state’s most fascinating creatures at Daisy Hill Koala Centre, Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre and David Fleay Wildlife Park with tracks suitable for all abilities.
Guide, hearing and assistance dogs in parks
Visitors with certified guide, hearing and assistance dogs in parks are welcome in all public areas of Queensland’s parks and forests.
Cradle Mountain, Freycinet and Mount Field national parks have TrailRiders available for free-hire to explore the rugged tracks. Bookings essential.
Guide Dogs and assistance animals are permitted in national parks and reserves, however an authority needs to be granted prior to arrival.
Accessible tracks and accessible fishing
Big Brook Dam, near Pemberton, is on the Karri Forest Explorer and provides a 4km sealed trail following the shores of the dam. There are accessible fishing platforms along the way.
The Brook Forest Path
Near Dardanup is a hidden jewel, featuring interpretive signs about flora and fauna on a 600m loop trail.
Karri Forest Explorer drive trail
Winds through some of the south west’s most magnificent karri forest around Pemberton. Big Brook Dam, Beedelup Falls and Cascades have accessible facilities.
QLD 2023 YEAR OF ACCESSIBLE TOURISM
We are thrilled that Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has declared 2023 to be the Year of Accessible Tourism, announcing a $12 million investment “that will ignite change and create opportunities for Queensland tourism operators, including small to medium tourism businesses to build infrastructure and install technology to assist travellers with an impairment; awareness of accessibility needs and services; promoting accessible Queensland visitor experiences”.
The project is aimed at ensuring Queensland is a destination for people of all abilities.