Wrap up warm and get out and about this winter with our guide to inclusive destinations and activity ideas. From immersive museums, indoor escapades, festivals, and seasonal adventures on snow or ice there’s no shortage of inclusive experiences to enjoy during our cooler months. Use our ideas below for some inspiration to put together your own family to do list!
Indoor Ice-Skating Rinks
Indoor ice-skating rinks can be a fun and accessible winter activity, and you don’t have to head to the snowfields to experience one. You’ll find that many rinks have wheelchair accessibility and provide equipment to suit all abilities. Look out for the following:
Regular frames or a fun Penguin are perfect for kids who are new to the ice, unsteady on their feet or require assistance with balance, as the design gives stability to the skater.
Seals are used for when seated skating is preferred and the child has adequate core strength to balance. A parent pushes the skater to glide across the ice, ensuring stability.
Ice Gliders allow individuals in wheelchairs to experience the gliding sensation of ice skating (check each ice glider for individual accommodations for chair sizes).
Custom Ice Chairs (as featured) was built by TADWA (Technology for Ageing and Disability WA). The Ice Chair features studded tyres and independent left and right brakes to aid steering, allowing the skater total freedom, as another skater pushes to allow the sensation of gliding on the ice.
It’s recommended to check with the specific rink you plan to visit for their accessibility features and any sensory-friendly sessions they may offer. Some places to contact are:
Accessible Snow Resorts
A trip to the snow may fee like it’s in the ‘too hard’ basket for many families of children with a disability. All those layers of clothes, slippery ice, lifts, equipment, etc! With a little bit of forward planning and resource gathering however it’s possible to get everyone on the slopes.
Wheelchair-accessible snow resorts offer adaptive skiing and snowboarding programs for individuals with disabilities and Disabled Winter Sport Australia (DWA) offer one of the most advanced adaptive skier programs in the world with both private lessons and ski camps on offer at various Australian resorts like Perisher, Falls Creek, Thredbo and more. Membership of DWA is essential to use their services and members range from recreational skiers all the way through to Australia’s Winter Paralympians. Adaptive stand-up skiing, sit-skiing, adaptive snow-boarding and more is available through their programs.
http://www.disabledwintersport.com.au/ to learn more about how to get involved.
Learn & explore at a museum
Our brilliant museums around the country cater for all ages and abilities, and you’ll find that many provide sensory kits, social stories, support for the hearing impairments and more.
There are too many different museums to list them all – here are just a few of our favourites:
ACT – Questacon – questacon.edu.au
Victoria – Melbourne Museum – museumsvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/whats-on/childrens-gallery/
New South Wales – The Australian Museum, Sydney – australianmuseum.net.au/access-at-the-australian-museum
NSW Rail Museum: nswrailmuseum.com.au
Queensland Museum – qm.qld.gov.au/
Western Australian Museum – museum.wa.gov.au/
South Australian Museum – samuseum.sa.gov.au
Museum & Art Gallery Northern Territory – magnt.net.au/
Also check out your local library (and also your state library if it’s close enough) – they run some brilliant programs for kids throughout the year and especially during the school holidays.
Winter Festivals & special events
Several cities in Australia host winter festivals or special winter-themed events during the colder months. These festivals often feature accessible activities alongside entertainment and food stalls to keep the whole family happy. The specific accessibility features and sensory-friendly offerings may vary, so it’s advisable to check the festival’s website or contact the organisers for more information. Some of the key events to look out for include:
Vivid Sydney: vividsydney.com/whats-on
Bathurst Winter Festival: bathurstwinterfestival.com.au
Christmas in July – Canberra: christmasinjuly.com.au
Snowtime in the Garden – Newcastle: huntervalleygardens.com.au/events/snow-time-in-the-garden
Glow Winter Arts Festival – Stonnington, Melbourne: stonnington.vic.gov.au/Community/Arts-and-culture/Festivals-and-events/Glow-Winter-Arts-Festival
Puffing Billy Train of lights – puffingbilly.com.au/events/train-of-lights
The Winter Village – Adelaide: thewintervillage.com.au/adelaide
Illuminate Adelaide: illuminateadelaide.com
Indoor Aquatic Centres
Swimming and water-based activities can be a great way to stay active and have fun during the winter months. It might be too cold to dip our toes in the ocean but you’re lucky enough to have an indoor pool near you – a fun splash around in warm(ish!) waters can be an awesome way to sneak in some physiotherapy in disguise!
Wherever you’re headed on your days out, it’s important to note that accessibility features and sensory-friendly offerings may vary, so it’s advisable to check the specific details provided by each venue before visiting. Additionally, contacting the venues directly can help you gather more information about any specific needs or requirements your family may have. Have fun out there, and stay warm!