As anyone with a disability that confines them to a wheelchair can attest, the biggest obstacles to overcome are in the mind. There are disabled rock climbers, surfers and adventure travelers who are living testament to this truth. However, access can frequently be a problem. That, combined with the restraints of time and occasional extra expenses can be a deterrent to getting the most out of a wheelchair vacation in Australia. These are 5 wheelchair friendly adventures in New South Wales for visitors who want to get the most out of the time they’ve got Down Under.
Cape Byron Lighthouse
Everyone who visits beautiful Byron Bay goes up to Cape Byron lighthouse at some time during their visit. Located hundreds of feet above Australia’s easternmost point, the 360 degree views from the lighthouse are nothing short of breathtaking. Although not rated as an easy place to access by wheelchair, it’s not that difficult, either. Rated ‘Medium’ by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Cape Byron Lighthouse, “access presents some minor difficulties, such as a grassy surface. However, you should be able to get around without assistance.”
Just a couple of hours west of Sydney by wheelchair friendly train or coach service, the Blue Mountains are ideal for time-strapped wheelchair travelers. There are several great ways to take in the views and fresh mountain air in the Blue Mountains and with prior arrangement and a qualified guide, you may even be able to arrange an abseiling lesson. Here are a couple of easy-to-access places to start with:
- The Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in Blackheath is set up for easy wheelchair access, with a ramp from the parking lot to the visitor center and wheelchair access toilets. If you arrive by train, you will need to make your way to the Heritage Centre, but this is doable on your own or by taxi.
- While you’re in Blackheath, you’ll want to check out Govetts Leap lookout. Govetts Falls plunge nearly 600 feet down into the Grose Valley far below. While access is rated Medium, it’s not all that difficult unless you have to fight your way through the mesmerized crowds who flock here during peak holiday seasons.
- Down in Grose Valley, the Fairfax Heritage Track is a mile long walking track that is designed for easy wheelchair access. It’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Blue Mountains.
Kosciuszko National Park
Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest mountain. During the winter months (June-September), it is a haven for snowboarders and skiers. The summer months provide visitors with an opportunity to explore one of Australia’s most scenic areas to their heart’s content. There are many wheelchair access paths and lookouts throughout the park. These two come highly recommended:
- The Willis day use area is set aside for picnics and day campers. All facilities are wheelchair friendly.
- Although rated ‘Hard’ (requires assistance) by the Parks and Wildlife Service, Yarrangobilly Caves deserve special mention because access to these caves is not easy for anyone, but it is possible to explore one cave, Jillbenan Cave using a specially designed wheelchair that can be provided you on site. It’s a great way to go caving that is rarely possible anywhere in the world in a wheelchair.
This is just a taste of a few of the wheelchair friendly adventures you can have in New South Wales. For more information and ideas, check out the NSW Parks and Recreation wheelchair accessible facilitiespages. Combined with wheelchair friendly Australia accommodations, there’s nothing stopping you from experiencing the best of Australia.
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